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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.

Comments

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Fasono, by the way the rule is written, was not a catch. That was a major gaffe by the refs. YOU MUST MAINTAIN POSSESSION.

It's a dumb rule & it was obvious Fasano had it but the NFL doesn't rule it that way. If it moves, it's not a catch.

Regardless, the ball would have been at the 16, 2nd & 10 if it had been reversed. We could have come away with 7 pts or at least 3.

That was not the turning point. The turning pts. were the idiotic choice to run Bush at the end of the 2nd. & The Tanny int for 7.

Throw in the atrocious choices to run Thomas, not Miller & the dumb throws deep when we should have been trying to get a closer FG attempt.

Clue, as I didn't initially think Tannehill could even START in the NFL this year, I'm pretty happy with what he's shown so far. Guys, remember, in those 2 games Henne won vs. Jets, weren't they by 3 points? So in year 1, our rookie hasn't fallen off from our last few QBs. He put the team in a position to win in 2-out-of-3 games. Geez, what more would you like him to do? Be Favre in his prime?

Yes, he's inaccurate. Yes, he missed some throws. Yes, that pick 6 was almost a backbreaker.

With that said, his receivers have been Bess, Naanee, Hartline, Fasano, Clay and Anthony Armstrong. You're asking a lot if you want him to be Cam Newton (also, look at Cam this year, and he's not living up to him hype).

I'd be fine with consistent improvement from Tannehill, and see where he is in 3-4 years to decide if he's franchise material or not.

Cornturd, I totally realize that I sound like a complete azzhat here (seriously I do realize that), but actually when expressing thoughts here Mando, myself and a few others really are like "a man among boys." Most of you are completely clueless.

In summary, today for example, every single thing Mando has written is not only 100% accurate, but he was correct to "focus" on these things.

I swear I am not Mando, but I was seething all 2nd half about these very things and I could have written Mando's columns today.

Again, I do realize (unlike some here) that I sound like a totally arrongant azzhat, and I do a little of it on purpose, but yeah, actually very few people in tihs world or commenting here make $150,000 a year. I'm kind of exceptional at everythign I do and always have been.

With any sort of decent coaching we win this game easily, something like 24-9. The Jets' offense is atrocious and we *gave* them every point they scored with bad playcalling and using Thomas, period.

Just coach a normal game and the Jets don't score more than 9 points. They could not move the ball at all. Sanchez is horrible.

The reason I'm so pissed off today is that factor--THAT THE JETS ARE A TERRIBLE TEAM.

We really suck (or our coaches do) to even have this game be close. That's my main point today.

Should not have come down to FGs. We should have won the game 24-9.

Yeah, Tannehill's pick 6 was the turning point...

The fuc-ing Coach has to let the fuc-ing Player play to his strenght and protect him from his weaknesses. Yes? Alex Smith. Yes? YES??

I told you last summer why we can't get sacks: our "star" pass rusher, Wake, has great heart, but is undersized, overrated, and figured out. Should not have given him that money.

Why are we, on a DOLPHINS blog, complaining about the refs making the wrong call on the FASANO catch? Are you people fans of this team or not? STUPID!

By the way, the must maintain possession, but not FOREVER! Fasano DID maintain possession. Even on the ground. But the defender continued to work at the ball, and THEN, after being on the ground for at least 1-2 seconds, the ball was released. By then the play was OVER. So that could just as easily been called a catch as not.

Either way, Jets fans should be bringing that up, not SUPPOSED Dolphins fans (which makes people wonder who you trolls really root for).

DC, good post @10:41, but Tannehill is less than 55% completion pctg and currently has 1 throwing TD to 4 picks. Wonder what Rg3 and Luck stats are right now?

DC, if I may, Accuracy is a BIG DEAL. IT doesn't matter who your WR's are. If you're not accurate it's a BIG issue.

The throw down the sideline in OT. had it been accurate, it was a TD game over. I saw Luck & RGIII make those in stride throws multiples times this season already.

An accurate throw can be the difference between an int, a 15 yard catch or a 50 yard TD.

Is it coachable? We better hope so.

Danny, you are clearly one of the more enlightened thinkers on this blog. You call it as you see it. I appreciate that here because too many fans are blinded by their loyalties.

Loyalties are good. But let's have eyes, too.

Yesterday was not Mike Sherman's finest hour.

DC,

Very simply these guys are complaining about the Fasano call because they are NOT fans of the team. Plain and simple....we've established that, remember?

At this rate Hennehill will have 5 TD's and 28 INT'S. YIKES!!

Boy, I am POf or what!

let's hope bush comes back soon. We need him.

Daniel Thomas did good in the game.. you obviously weren't watching the game

@oscar canosa 10:28
Schiano is 1-2, as well

No, Craig, they are Fans of this Team but only fair weather Fans. Ignore them.

In any other year Tannehill would be a 3rd or 4th rd project QB. But it was slim pickens after RG3 and the Dolphins were very desperate.

Oh yeah good point, the other thing I was going to mention is with all the stupid pass calling, then we run poor Bush and get him injured up the middle at the end of the 2nd half for no reason. That was when we were NOT supposed to run Bush.

Yeah he's proven he can run between the tackles but that does not mean we should overdo it for no reason.

Absolutely ABYSMALLY coached game on all fronts.

Running Bush "too much" (when he got hurt) but too little at the same time, garbage Thomas instead of miller, the passes in the 4th quarter.

Just a horribly coached game to lose to a Jets team that is horrendous.

total fail by the coaches

DC,
Very simply these guys are complaining about the Fasano call because they are NOT fans of the team. Plain and simple....we've established that, remember?

Posted by: Craig M | September 24, 2012 at 10:49 AM

No one is complaining you sissy mary! We are stating a fact that it wasn't a catch & everyone who is not a blond biased HOMER knows that! We don't expect you, simple minded homer, to differntiate between the 2.

Get your head outta yer butt or shut up. We'd be happy in either scenario!

..so I think one of the reasons we abandoned the run in the 4th quarter was our poor yardage on first down. go look at the 4th quarter and we had only 1 play that gained more then 3 yards..A 4 yard run by Miller. The rest of the plays were incomplete, short runs, or penalties..so we got behind the chains, and out of rhythm. Also the stat is a little misleading because Tannehill had 8 of these attempts on th last drive of the 4th quarter.

About the playcalling..It is kind of ironic to me that Phin fans are complaining about this today..The way the game played out yesterday has been something we have been begging to see..I don't mean how the game ended. But the way we took chances down the field to try and win the game..In both the 4th quarter, and overtime..If any of those Tannehill throws are on target we win the game with a touchdown, and everyone questioning the playcaller is on his nuts today...The playcalling was fine..The execution stunk. IMO

Guaranteed that if this team had picked Luck or RGIII, all a lot of the fanbase would be saying is 'I told you these guys would be total flops. Our team is 1-2 and we suck'. Complete and total idiots!!

wow danny you make great points, over and over and over and over

If carpenter made the first kick we would not have had overtime and we would be 2-1. We also needed that pick 6 back too and it would have been a decisive win. We hurt ourselves yesterday more that the Jets could have ever hurt us. We just need more experience on every level. I do however see talent and heart on this team. How long will it last? who knows??

Craig M..or DC...you still out there...

Reality, yes, accuracy is a big deal. I'm just saying that doesn't seem to be a play Tannehill can make right now. They tried it what, 5-6 times in that game, both sides of the field, maybe even a couple in the last 2 games, and all were overthrown. Tannehill doesn't have the touch needed for that play yet. I wish they'd try another play to see if he's any better at those.

There were many plays Tannehill was off on. But unlike what I'm reading from many posters, I'm not surprised. Tannehill was brought in for his POTENTIAL, not what he could do immediately. That's the way I'm judging him. Does he have the potential to keep working with him.

To me, it's a pretty easy yes. Others might be ready to give up on him and put in Moore. I think that would be a big mistake.

Matt Moore would've easily won that game.

Yup, still here Kris.

Yep. Thanks corn.

I gotta do some work, but the main lesson from today that I want you guys to think about today is this:

THE JETS ARE A HORRIBLE TEAM AND WE WERE THE HOME TEAM.

That kind of critical thinking is what you need to really focus on. Not just the Xs and Os. It's really *everything* here as we analyze what happened yesterday.

The Jets are horrible. Sanchez is *terrible* and the Jets' offense is god awful. We were the home team. The crowd was loud.

It should not have come down to FGs. We should have cruised to a comfortable 27-9 victory or something along those lines.

That is all.

Oh, and all of Mando's points in the paper today are not only 100% correct, but Mando was smart to choose the things that he did to focus on.

Hey Homers,

You're a TROLL, nothing more and nothing less, OK! To come on here and fight over some stupid f*cking call that happened to go in our favour tells me where the allegiances fall OK. Let's call a spade a spade. When you don't have anything positive to say about the team and the game and want to argue about a call we got it tells me who you are. Now I'd ask the same of you that you asked me of.

ericatl, are you kidding me? Talent on the team? Our WR corspe is the worst in the NFL and our defensive line has 3 sacks in 3 games. Where do you see talent besides the Oline?

These Kids nowadays, Craig, are used to instant gratification. Press a button and, Poof!, I won the Game(Call to Duty, pow,pow). They have 0 capacity for frustration and of course don't know how to handle it except thru aggression, either to others or to self, included. We know that. Amazing stuff!

DC, I was not complaining about the non call. Perhaps you weren't referring to me??

But, if you were, since when is being objective considered complaining?

Based on the way the rule is written, it's NOT A CATCH! Period. Last year Calvin Johnson CLEARLY made a catch & when he got up the ball came out of his hands. They ruled it NO CATCH. He did not finish the process of making a catch.

Ridiculous as it is, that's the rule.

It wasn't that big of a deal as some people think & I don't see anyone complaining over it. They still would have had it 2nd & 10 from the 16. They would have likely still scored points there.

The point is, the replacement refs look worse & worse as every week goes by & they are going to cost a good team a game. As fans of the game, if you're knowledgable, we can discuss them. Whether they help or not help our team.

Try purchasing a thesaraus. It might help you understand the difference between being a homer & being objective.

The Jets may be a horrible team, but they are division rivals. I don't remember too many blowouts vs. division rivals. Even when we were mediocre, and still playing the Pats tight, or when the Bill would play us tight, being the worse team, most games vs. division rivals will be close. That's just the nature of the NFL.

Still here, Kris.

We put up 185 rushing yards on what is supposed to be the toughest D in the league by many so called experts.

The play calling will always be an issue the Monday after a loss, but I agree with Darryl in that the execution was lacking.

Tannehill was not accurate or consistent yesterday and that's why we lost the game. The coaches saw this and if you were watching...almost every pass called was a "sideline" route, or a check-down throw.

I never saw one strike down the middle of the field? why not?

Because the kid is not ready yet and the probability of an INT it too big to chance that's why.

The kid has a long way to go folks...

Tannehill = Henne

Hey DC...

Can you go back to the last blog...and cut and paste that ober here....

I can't cut and paste at work....

Its on the LAST PAGE...and it applies here...

On the Fasano thing, as I have pointed out, those football men running the NFL are not rocket scientists. That's the reason for the idiotic keep possession rule that's been in place for several years.

As a matter of metaphysics, when the player's knee or hip touches the ground with possession, it's a catch. The rule should be changed.

All one has to do is play football on Atari 2600 to understand this most basic of concepts.

If Fasano's catch was not a catch under the rules, the rule should be changed. AS someone pointed out he had it for 2 seconds ON THE GROUND and the defender kept fighting and ripped it out.

On Atari 2600 the play ends with a catch. Atari 2600 is better than the real NFL in this regard.

I am not joking. Use your brain if you disagree with me and try again.
The rule about keeping possession as it has been implemented the past several years is assinine.

Fasano made the catch. Why does he have to keep it from getting stripped 9 seconds after he's on the ground? Runners don't have do do that when getting tackled. Rule should be the same. I agree with keeping possession after hitting ground even, but not with having to keep it *forever* while the defense gets to keep trying to strip 9 seconds after the play is over.

Also DC is correct that it was a catch even under the current (assinine) rule. THe announcers on TV should resign for their incompetence.

Mando is only patially correct. First,Thomas was in because he IS a better pass protector but we should not have been passing that much. Its plain and simple that the coaching staff paniced when Bush went down. They felt that they could take advantage of Revis being hurt, but what they failed to think about is a rookie QB all hyped up in a pressure situation. Look back at the 4th quarter and you will see that the passes were badly overthrown because Tannihill was all hyped up for the win. Also an after thought is Armstrong must go, he has nothing but hurt us on the field through dropped passes and the in ability to be in the right place.

Tough loss yesterday.Still liked the way we played and continue to take steps in the right direction. It is what it is. Bounce back next week

Mine is 1 take, DD. That's it. But I can't recall poor tackling or execution in yesterday's Game. Just the Jets had the better Players and our Coaches did not help our Players much.

I agree that Tanne was terrible yesterday too.

Henne would have put up 450 yards and 4 TDs.

Tannehill gets too many passes tipped when he throws over the middle so they've reduced those plays in favor of more sideline throws.

Reality,

I wasn't singling you out, I'm talking about ANYONE complaining about that play (other than to mention the replacement refs are horrible). If you're bringing that play up to say they make bad calls, fine.

But I'm saying that play could just have easily been called the other way (as it was), because Fasano maintained possession of the ball, even as it was on the ground, and the ball NEVER moved, until AFTER Fasano was down and the defender was still trying to bat the ball away. So Fasano made the catch, was in-bounds, went to the ground with the ball in his hands, yes, it did touch the ground, but he still had it stuck to his helmet, and the ball never moved until well after he was down (at least a couple seconds). Could have gone either way.

But in a close game, like you said, where it didn't matter, I'm just questioning why DOLPHINS fans want to point that out? There are like 100 different things I saw I'd rather talk about (as a fan) than that play. And others seem to feel the same way I do, so seems I'm not the only one who finds that strange.

..DC Dolfan..what do you mean Tannehill isn't ready to make those kind of throws yet? I'm assuming you are talking about the end of the game? Those were WIDE OPEN. Hartline 3 different times. No excusses for Tanny here. You have to make those throws if you are a rookie, a 3rd year guy..basically if you are in the game playing quarterback you have to complete those passes. Again WIDE OPEN..Touch isn't something that is even an issue there. He has a strong arm right? He can get it down the field right? The reciver was open right? We can make excuses all day as to why this happened or why it didn't..The coaches obviously believe he can execute these plays. It is on him to do so.

Again..part of the learning process. I'm not banging on Tannehill here. It is ok that he makes mistakes. But these are throws he was brought here to make..He was given the opportunity yesterday. It didn't work out. I am glad that the coaches left it up to him in the 4th quarter..gotta see what we have, gotta see where we can get better.

Posted by: Craig M | September 24, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Craig M, You are the protypical homer. No one was complaining about the call you jackweed! You still don't get it!

People are talking about how the refs BLATANLY missed the call! They are missing too many, even the easy ones!

Can you decipher what you read? You seem awfully f-in dumb, yet, portray yourself here as some expert. Why are you calling everyone an idiot but, never give yourself that distinction?

You have Napoleon Complex because as you are here, you're SMALL & PETTY.

Get a clue or get lost. Everything someone says is an attack against you or the team. You're a fickle sensitive baby.

Hit the bricks!

DC I agree generally with your statement about the "division rival" factor, but in this case I would respectfully submit that the Jets are so HORRIBLE that this factor shouldn't have come into play yesterday.

We saw it on the field. The Jets' offense is a ridiculous pathetic joke. They could barely get a first down.

Don't throw a pick 6 from your own 6 and don't let Mr. Fumble Thomas in the game and we win the game 14-9 at a minimum.

We GAVE them that game.

1. by relying on Tanne
2. and Tanne failed.

(and thomas mr. 1 fumble every 4 carries)

Miller is more explosive. I'd start Miller & use Thomas as the 3rd down back.

The Fasano play was without a doubt a catch....

announcer sound silly...

This on Kris:

While our rookie QB played bad....our ROOKIE head coach was far worse in this one....FAR WORSE...

The play calling was horrendous....

NOTE to SHERAMN and PHIBIN....The jets had NO CHANCE of moving the ball on us...ZERO....

The only way prayer they had of beating us was a PICK(Rex says thank you)....

Please do not have the ROOKIE QB throw from HIS OWN end xone again until he is completeing 60% of his passes with regularity...

Posted by: Kris | September 24, 2012 at 10:55 AM

Homers,

Get a life, bud! I'm not actually reading your posts and I couldn't care less what you think of me. Go have a smoke or get some exercise. Just find something ele to do other than yapping at me incessantly, OK?

Miller is this team's #2 back except in Cam Philbin's pathetic universe.

I said that last Tuesday.

Thanks DC...@ 11:17....

Armando, I respectively disagree with you about Miller being a better back than Thomas now or in the future. I am concerned about Thomas's two fumbles in such a short span of time, but no way am I ready to write this guy off. Miller is a home town favorite and could easily become very popular, but dont get tricked by just looking at stats. Stats can be misleading. Sparano was mislead by Henne's stats. You've got to look at the situations,times and competition level when guys are in a game. You've also got to be able to see the natural abillity, instinct, and will of a player. Miller is not as discipline as Reggie and he's not as physical as D.Thomas. "IF" Thomas can solve his fumble and injury issues he is a better back than Miller. "IF' not he will have a short career and his potential wont mean anything if Miller becomes the dedicated and discipline player R. Bush has become.

and thats how I feel...

Armando: I was thinking the EXACT same thing while at the game yesterday in the 4th quarter, "Where is Lamar Miller?". GIVE HIM ONE SET OF DOWNS to see if he can change the dynamic a bit! If he doesn't produce then go back to Thomas.

Philbin and Sherman really did not have a good balance of playcalling (I don't care if Revis is out, as Tannehill was clearly afraid of zipping balls in the middle or throwing short -- after he threw that Pick-6.

I also criticize the use of Nenee and Armstrong at WR; they are pretty useless. Marlon Moore was out so Why not give Rishard Matthews a chance for ONE GAME to see if he can produce? Don't be afraid to hurt the feelings of the other WRs; if they have character and talent then they will come back the next week and play better.

Lastly, We really lost this game because of Special Teams! The penalties on the return teams and the decisions not to accept touchbacks were just STUPID. The curse of firing Westhoff bit us again.

If they just fix just SOME of these issues, we win the game yesterday, and probably can beat some of other lackluster teams on our schedule.

If our kicker does his job we are talking about something else. I see major issues with this team, WR and DB. I said it last week, Hartline was getting open on average at best DB's when we played Oakland. What happened when he faced Revis? Nothing. He wasnt even heard from until Revis when out. Now Revis does that to a lot of guys but at least get open once! Stevie Wonder could see that Holmes is the only legit WR the Jets have. Why not roll the safety over the top and make someone else beat you in the clutch????? Our CB's are average. Smith gets beat too much to be our best corner and I couldnt tell you who the other CB is right now!

wake = bust.
the nfl figured him out.
he only has 1 move.
rt's just let him run wide on by.putz.
lol

There's a story out there that Bush is going to miss a few games with his new injury. We're going to find out pretty soon just how good Miller, Thomas and Tannehill are. I'd start Miller right now and see how good he is.

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