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The troubles with Miami's running game decisions

I didn't like the Dolphins offensive play-calling in the fourth quarter on Sunday. As I wrote in my column today offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, with approval from coach Joe Philbin, abandoned the running game that had been working quite nicely for three quarters.

Sherman abandoned it when Miami was leading in the game. He did so to the tune of some eye-popping statistics for run-pass ratio. And then there was something that was not in the column that the Dolphins did that made it all the more puzzling:

Not only did Sherman go away from the running game which was working well and is the team's strength but when he did run the football I believe the Dolphins were giving it to the wrong guy.

I told you nearly a month ago how disappointed I've been with Daniel Thomas. Well, so far this season Thomas is the third-best of Miami's primary ballcarriers. The trouble with that is Miami has three primary ballcarriers -- Reggie Bush, Thomas and Lamar Miller.

And yesterday, after Reggie Bush went down with a minor knee injury, Thomas was summoned to take his place. And Thomas promptly fumbled. The fumble, by the way, is troubling because it's the second for Thomas in the regular season.

Two fumbles isn't a lot but when you've only played two games as Thomas has, the one-fumble-per-game average is not good.

Anyway, the fumble caused coaches to turn to Miller. And Miller was good. He was averaging 5.3 yards a carry during the game, including a 22-yard gain.

But then in the fourth quarter, for reasons coach Joe Philbin explained as normal substitution patterns to share the work as well as groupings substitutions, Thomas was back in the game. And Miller wasn't heard from again.

"That," Miller said with a shrug afterward, "is the coach's decision. I can't do anything about that."

True. But it's puzzling why it happened in light of the fact Thomas finished the game averaging 3.6 yards per carry, the lowest average of any of Miami's three ballcarriers.

Look, I get that Miller is a rookie and when you want to throw the ball, you go with the slighly more experienced Thomas as the pass protector. But otherwise, it seems pretty self evident that Miller is the better back.

He gets more production out of every carry on average and he does't fumble while Thomas obviously has.

What am I missing? Oh yeah, nothing. Miller is going to be better than Thomas in the future and, truth is, every statistic shows he's there now.

Obviously, the Miami coaching staff has a different opinion. They leaned more on Thomas on Sunday. Doesn't mean they are correct.


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Some facts:
Fasano did not make that catch (great throw nice catch, but did not maintain possession).
If the real refs were there it would be overturned and we lose.
Carpenter was hooking all day they tried to get to the right hash mark, he had a off day, I wont give up on him.
Thomas was in the game as they trust him, I now take my thoughts on Thomas back, he is number three on charts!
I am torn with the OT play calling, a lot of guts to go for a TD, would not have done it 2x though.(hindsight!)
Same with TO freeze Philbin did the right thing on that TO.
Sparano and Tebow are undefeated vs te phins and that makes me sick.
Posted by: ctfiins | September 24, 2012 at 09:47 AM

It's simple. The kid can't pass protect.

It's Miller Time!

Good points, Armando. Most of us know what Miller is capable of. This kid can take it to the house. He has a low center of gravity an excellent vision. Combine that with game breaking speed: We have something here. Question is, "Why aren't the coach's exploiting it?"

The only play that Thomas looked good on was the short screen pass were T-Hill was in trouble on 3rd down and hit Thomas with a check-down pass that he turned up field for a first down...nice effort.

Otherwise.... Lamar Miller is twice as fast and has better instincts.

Note to Philbin...swallow your pride and put Miller in the #2 slot.

We wouldn't be focussing on this if Carpenter had made one of his two kicks and the team had won the game. This is called MICRO-ANALYSING. What do you think they are saying in New Orleans and San Francisco and New Enmgland this morning. Same thing. They'd be saying the same in New York this morning if they'd lost.

Bigger concern for me that this is the play of our secondary. Take a look at the 65 yard touchdown again. Once again Clemmons is out of position and takes a bad angle to the ballcarrier. It breaksdown EVERY time with this guy. Even the pass down the field to Holmes that eventually lead to the tying touchdown, it was Clemmons who was playing too soft and giving the receiver too much room underneath. I can't believe this is our best option and no one else can play better. BIG need in the offseason I think.

Only the best of the negative from Armando Salguero and the Miami Herald amazing writers lololol.... the same negative b.s. every single day!!!.... 3 games have gone by and as always negative and more negative..... Dolphins lost cause of Mr. Carpenter... they had plenty of chances to win the game and did not very simple... not Thomas, not Bush.... not the coaches.... Carpenter is the only one to blame OH and that "icing the kicker" worked very well also!! NOT

I keep hearing that Miller can't pass protect...well then coach him up!

Or better yet, put Lane in the hole and let him block.

Thomas & Lane in on passing downs and Miller/Bush on running plays...seems pretty simple to me.

sherman was a disaster at texas a and m. they blew 5 or 6 second half leads last year. sherman kept throwing the ball even when they were substantially ahead, and tannehill responded with game-changing interceptions. sherman was ultimately fired for losing to texas, their arch-rival, in the last game scheduled between the schools. in that game, a and m again had the lead, but tannehill threw two very costly intereceptions in their own territory. one of these was to jeff fuller. the point is, sherman has proven he doesn't know how to effectively protect a lead.

I'll disagree with Armando on his point. I think what you're looking for at that stage of the game is someone who can wear on the other defence, not take it to the house. In those instances you're playing between the tackles and Thomas is better suited to that. Running outside plays runs the risk of losses and that's not what you want at that time. Thomas didn't do his job and hang onto the ball and it will likely cost him playing time if it continues, as it should.

I'll say again this team is LEARNING how to win. Sounds ridiculous but it's true. This includes the coaching staff too. They're not perfect and they weren't perfect yesterday. Nobody gets it right all the time as BB showed last night.

Some very troubling decisions from the Coaches up to now Mando. Aside from your apt observations yesterday, I've been troubled on them continuing (until this game) to go with Naanee. Now seems they finally see he's trash, not sure why he's still even on the team.

Also, in yesterday's game, they went THREE times to Hartline on the right side. All three passes went out-of-bounds and were a waste. Can't remember if that set up Carpenter's first missed FG, but that was a depressing series (I understand going for the endzone on one of those plays, but SAME play, THREE times, ALL incomplete (and not even in the field of play), obviously Tannehill isn't ready to be effective on that play.

I also HATED the timeouts at the end of the game. What was Philbin doing? You're on defense, ball is closer to the middle of the field, just take your team to overtime. What was the purpose of those timeouts. We weren't getting the ball back. They might have decided to change up and throw a pass there just to see if they get the PI. I thought that was Philbin being too smart by half.

And I'm wondering why EVERY TEAM IN THE LEAGUE uses the middle of the field to their advantage, as that's the place most mismatches are, and I don't see us taking that into account in our playcalling. Put Fasano and Clay in there, and one of them should have a mismatch in the middle. Those should be easy plays for Tannehill to see and execute. I think the playcalling can help him a little more that way, instead of asking him to make a huge play downfield (which is pretty limited due to our receivers).

Also, Tannehill needs to have some more faith in Bess. Bess should be his safety blanket. Anytime he's looking for a play, find Bess. I don't see that chemistry forming as of yet, and I think that will help Tannehill get through this Season much better if it did.

Thomas seems to have an attitude that says: "I don't want to play here". Let's oblige.


I'll take the opposite approach. I do think Tannehill uses and looks for Bess as his security blanket. Fasano sometimes too. I actually think Bess has a chance for 100 catches this year the way things are going. Sounds crazy but I like what's going on with these two. It's the lack of big plays on offence that is hurting this team right now. I watch Armstrong yesterday and I don't know if it's because he's missed a lot of time but he was a complete waste of time. Showed me he's completely unreliable.

Funny that people are just now realizing Clemmons sucks.

Have you ever watched a Phins game he's started?

He either misses a tackle, completely wiffs or is late in coverage. This is NOT news.

I have to agree with the post that said this is all micro analyzing. If the filed goal is good we are all talking about how Tannehil drove the team downfield to win the game. Dan Carpenter misses his second kick and all of the sudden, everyone form the players, coaches to ballboys messed up. If was a close game that could have gone either way. We get another change in Oct 28th, and for all the talking the Jets did they barely squeaked by with the win.

Craig, agreed on that last play to Holmes. He's really the only one who hurt them on the Jets. Should have been double-teamed, WAS double-teamed, but like you said, Clemons was playing WAY too soft. What was he thinking? Didn't he see the play develop. Holmes beat Marshall off the break (hence the penalty). Clemons should have been running up to make a play on the ball. As always, our defenders are playing back, trying not to give up the TD, when really, giving up the big catch was just as crucial. Secondary still has the same tendencies. We'll see going through the Season if that changes.

In Ireland's 5th year there is still NO TALENT. 4th losing year in a row. Ross, DO SOMETHING!


Nobody is saying it's news. I haven't pliked Clemmons for a long time. What I'm amazed at is how we keep running him out there to play the position and we don't have anyone else to take his spot. There are no consequences for his actions. Dashi, wants to blame it on Burnett and Dansby and I'm saying nonsense!

If we get Carpenter a couple yards closer in OT even with the hook I think it's good. Hopefully Philbin learns from this. Slept a little better especially after the Patriots going down on last second FG!!!

D Thomas will be cut. But they are dragging it out so Ireland doesnt look as stupid as he is.

DC, to answer your question, I rather have Tannheill at QB, Sanchez for a 4th year pro is utter trash, I never realized how inaccurate he was until I seen the stinker he put up yersterday.

My concern are we still have no Pass Rush(Is Odrick playing? Wake needs to wake up). Our DB are still terrible, SS still gets burnt and if Sanchez was accurate the game wouldnt even be close. Lets not even talk about Richard Marshll, Holmes put up 8 rec for over 100 yards, Cromartie said that the Jets can take advantage of the Dolphins secondary and guess what they did?

Joe Watts, when this team loses it is a negative result. Mando picked out one and showed why it mattered.

That is not negative. That is constructive.

Your comment was negative because there was nothing constructive in it and, you added more negatives about the team. So you are a tool.

The failure to see Lamar Miller as a better running back than Daniel Thomas puzzled.

Bingo. Mando I agree with you 100%. Was trying to type it all game on the blog but the Herald's website has issues with my home internet.

This game is 100% on the coaches, play calling, not using Miller, using fumble suck Thomas.

This loss is 100% on the garbage coaching. It has nothing to do with missed FGs.

The Jets are horrible, absolutely terrible. Yet they are a division rival and WE WERE THE HOME TEAM AND THE CROWD DID ITS JOB AND WAS LOUD. We should, therefore, have won comfortably.

And the pick 6, bad play call. Giving it to Thomas instead of Miller inside the 10 on the drive where we made the FG (should have come away with a TD on that drive).

The D played great. Jets could do nothing. Coaches lost the game.

We should have won that game something like 24-6.

So it's not on missed FGs.

Mando in his column and here on this blog has hit the nail 100% on the head.

If you guys are talking "at least it was close" like that was a good thing, you totally don't get it. THAT IN ITSELF WAS A FAIL. We were the home team against a bad team. We should have won COMFORTABLY.


Please explain how it as NOT a catch?

The moment your knees or butt touches the ground you are DOWN. THE PLAY IS OVER.

Fasano caught it and was down with the ball NOT movign around when his butt hit the ground. In fact if you look at it in slow-mo you'll see his entire BACK was on the ground before ANYTHING moved.

AFTER he was down, the CB who BTW had his hand up in there MOVED HIS hand and the ball finally moved around.

It WAS a CATCH and one of the few calls these replacement refs got right.

For example that running into the kicker one was crap and so was one of the calls the gave to Holmes being that Holmes SLIPPED on his own and not due to Marshall touching him. (nice FLOP by Holmes though)

There's always a million lame excuses why the Dolphins didn't do this or didn't do that and it's been going on for decades.

Until they're good enough to win a division game at home against a mediocre team like they played yesterday, they will continue to be bottom-feeders. Ireland is simply the latest in a long line of GMs and "talent evaluators" who suck at their job and are incapable of building a winning team.

What's the mystery?

No on Thomas, Armando. Everybody knows that Thomas is a slow learner and needs extra-time to see if he gets it. Yes, Armando, on abandoning the run while ahead.

Craig, yes, Bess had catches in 2 games. But to me, he's the ONLY reliably consistent route-runner on the team right now. Hartline seems to me (not sure if this is playcalling or what) to be a 1-trick pony. Doesn't seem to get open running different routes. Again, might not be, that's just my perception.

And it seems Tannehill doesn't really see the whole field yet (not blaming him, this is just being a rookie). His preference seems to be the right side of the field, and Bess is usually on the other side. And I understand you gotta spread the ball around, just when drives are stalling, Bess seems to me to be the guy you can count on to get something going.

John, you have to have coplete control of the football even after you hit the ground. Fasano clearly didnt maintain position when he hit the ground. Should of been overturn for no catch.

Carpenter hits one of those we are all singing a different tune today. It's a learning point. Hopefully Sherman recognizes him choosing to pass 3 times in a row deep to the end zone. Instead of going in closer even 5 yrds would have been better.


I said the exact same thing Sunday! Brilliant minds think alike!

The three straight misses to Hartline in the 4th quarter were stupid play-calling. Shelving Miller in favor of Thomas was dumb as well, but I'll have to defer to the coaches on that one as well. In general, I see some of this team's struggles as a result of the fact that they have very little talent at receiver and a rookie QB who, despite all claims to the contrary by the coaches and personnel department, still needs considerable development time.

It's a long season. Let's hope that, come December, we don't see a lot of repeats of what we saw Sunday.

for once Mando actually makes a valid point. play calling in 4th was atrocious. Miller def deserved more carries

Thomas's 2nd fumble in about 5 carries alone should have got him the permanent hook for the game. Miller EARNED the right to be there at least this game and he'd have had a 9 yard TD on that one drive where Thomas was his usual 3 yard bury head in a crowd cloud of dust on the drive where we DID made the short FG. That alone was a difference maker.

The coaches lost this game by playing Thomas, period. And calling all those passes inexplicably at the end as Mando also pointed out.

This was the worst coached game since the days of Cam Cameron.

I wish it were not so, but I truly feel we have Cam Philbin/Cameron 2.0 on our hands here.

Tanne didn't look very good, but play calling was HORRIBLE. Calling passes at the wrong times. The pick 6 and the entire 4th quarter, even at the very end when we should have run the ball down their throats. Chances are very good that Miller breaks a 16 yarder and gets us much closer.

But again, we were the home team, crowd was loud, and the Jets are a *horrible* team. They really are.

We should have won this game comfortably. Jets could not do anything because Sanchez sucks and they won't give Tebow a chance. 42% 3 INT Sanchez performed as I predicted.

We should have won this game something like 24-6 or 21-9. Should not have come down to FGs.

Philbin/Sherman lost this game single handedly.

Tannehill doesnt seem to have the accuracy of an NFL QB. TD's will be continue to be scarce with him at the helm. He's really not a 1st rd talent IMO.

Fasano made that catch and the TV announcers were morons.

I don't get that mad at Players. I get INCENSED at Coaches!! WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN WE ARE LEARNING TO WIN!!!. You win now, mofos, or we are going to get rid of you all!!

Clue, exactly. We're in a MUCH better position going forward than the Jets. They will soon need to pick up another QB to develop, their defense is getting old and wasted, they will soon be in complete rebuild mode. We're further ahead as we're just starting our rebuild. And seem to have pieces set to do damage in the next year or 2.

D Thomas is complete garbage. Thanks Ireland.

"Lucy you have alot of explaining to do." Coaches lost that one. Let us hope they can learn from their mistakes in yesterdays game. As far as Tanny goes, he gets a pass this year, if not only for the fact he is starting his NFL career on a team with no number one or two receiver.

Shula, Tannehill definitely needs help with accuracy. But with so few starts in college, I'm hoping that improves with time. He did throw some darts on point though (one I remember to Armstrong) which were dropped, so receivers need to help and catch balls that hit them in the hands.

Learning to win is loser talk. Appropiate for this incompetent FO and coaches.

DC, I still havent seen anything in Tannehill that shows he can be an all pro. Luck, RG3 has shown flashes of a potential franchise QB what has Tannehill shown in 3 games? Nada. On the Hartline play that should of been a TD and easy one. But guess what he led him too far leading to Hartline diving for the ball instead of catching the ball in stride. I understand he's a rookie I just want to see more progression from Tannehill.

Leave it to Craig M to be dead wrong on everything. LOL.


Thomas, playcalling, all of it.

I'm not blowing smoke up his you know what and I don't always agree with Mando, but Mando is 150% correct today on everything he has written.

I was trying to point all of this out AS IT WAS HAPPENING DURING THE GAME but the Herald's website has issues with my home internet and I have to keep refreshing and it won't let me leave comments.

All of it, namely continuing to play 3.3 or fumble Thomas after Miller showed explosion again.

Then all of the passes in the 4th quarter with the lead. The pass that led to the pick from our own 6 when we had the lead.

Mando is totally correct today.

Everyone blaming Carpenter does not get it. IT SHOULD NOT HAVE COME DOWN TO FGs.

We were the HOME team and the Jets are HORRIBLE, ABSOLUTELY ATROCIOUS TEAM in total disarray because Sanchez sucks and they won't let Tebow do anything or get any kind of rythmn.

We should have won the game COMFORTABLY and it should not have come down to a FG either in regulation or overtime.

Had I been the head coach of the team this game, literally fly me in there and let me coach that game, we win 24-9.

What, Shula had a long learning curve to Win? Jim Harbaugh? This guy Schiano from TB now? Get outta here!!

Everyone saying Thomas is garbage is correct.

Someone posted Danny Wherffel = Armando and I'm starting to believe that.

Posted by: Craig M | September 24, 2012 at 10:11 AM

You do realize you just made the case for firing Jeff Ireland in your 2nd sentence, right? LOLOLOL

Why he keeps running out there? Simple. WE HAVE NO TALENT in the back end!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For god sakes, in OT, we have Brunett covering a WR.

We have 2 decent lines, MAYBE a QB & some RB's in over 4 years of Ireland. THAT'S ABOUT IT!

S. Smith was, is & will alwasy be overrated garbage.

Wilson? Could he have looked more Statuesque on the TD he gave up on the slant to Curley?

Marshall was getting beat by Holmes all day! This was Holmes 1st 100 day in ALMOST 2 YEARS!

Ireland has failed to equip this team with any real NFL quality players. That is the answer to your question.

You are the most boring people on the planet.

Bess played like a gamer. Game ball to Bess.

We are in trouble without Bush.

I am not Mando. Mando is a professional sports writer who covers the Fins for many years.

I am a smart person who has watched football for 30 years and who can see obvious things when I watch games.

All we have is 3 sacks for the season. 3 measley sacks!! Where the bloddy hell is the pass rush?

In my eyes (alnog with announcers) he did not have control of ball when he cam gown, you must maintain possesion of ball even after you are down.

Tough to win games when Tannehill cant score.

Nannee did he get cut? Does he even start? Thanks Ireland for the biggest acorn bust in Dolphins history. Does Ireland even watch tapes of guys before signing them? He was rated as the worst starting WR by Pro Football really the worst

Remember Danny makes 150k as a lawyer he is rich, his kids are the smartest in the world.

Here's some subtlely that 90 IQ football coaches can't grasp, but I bet Mando follows me here:

In addition to the fact that he sucks generally, another reason not to pound Thomas so much this game is that HE JUST CAME OFF OF A CONCUSSION THAT APPARENTLY WAS STILL BOTHERING HIM AS OF LAST WEDNESDAY!!!!

And in his first game back, he fumbles in his own territory again, and then they proceed to give him the rock nearly 30 times after that, after Miller is getting his 6.5 ypc and not fumbling.

Simply inexplicable.

Horrible coaching.

One thing you guys need to remember is that the JETS ARE A HORRIBLE TEAM. The Jets really really suck. Teh point is that this home game should not have been close.

We should have cruised to a 24-9 victory. After we had 10 points, that should have been enough. We could literally have not called another pass play, because the Jets' OFFENSE unassisted by turnovers and pick 6s by the defense literally could not have scored more than 9 points on our D yesterday.

We should have won the game 10-9 WORST CASE SCENARIO by calling a running play every single play starting with the 2nd quarter, using Miller.

And chances are we'd have worn them down and even moved the ball and gotten 1st downs that way and scored even more.

There is no reason--OTHER THAN HORRENDOUS COACHING--that we did not win that game 24-9 or 27-9 or something close to that.




Shula, Tannehil scored 7 for the Jests.

not only is mando 100% correct he is 150% correct. And Danny called the whole thing (but his internet did not work with the heralds) sounds like a serious techincal issue. Money cannot buy internet happiness.

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