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Sherman rejects idea he blew play-call late vs. Arizona

Mike Sherman, like most football coaches, has certain convictions. As Don Shula used to say to me, 'you must have the courage of your convictions."

I get that.

But sometimes there's a disconnect between courage and wisdom.

And so while it was courageous for Sherman, Miami's offensive coordinator, to continue pressing the issue against the Arizona Cardinals late in regulation Sunday, it absolutely hurt the team. It was not wise.

This is what happened:

The Dolphins led 21-14 with 5:14 to play. They had the football at their own 35 yard line.

On first down Reggie Bush rushed for 7 yards to the Miami 42 yard line. On second down, Bush gained 15 yards on an outside run to the Arizona 43 yard line with only 3:45 to play. First down.

Sherman called on Bush again and he gained two yards to the Arizona 41 yard line. There were now three minutes left in the game and the Dolphins faced a second-and-nine from the Arizona 41 yard line.

If Sherman gives the ball to Bush two more times, he could have taken the clock down to the two minute warning before, at worst, punting on fourth down. The way Brandon Fields is punting this year, the best Arizona could have done is probably get the ball at their 20 yard line with 1:50 or so to play.

Then it would have been up to the Miami defense to keep the Cardinals from marching 80 yards in less than two minutes to tie.

That's worst case scenario that assumes the Cardinals, playing with an eight-man front, would have stuffed the Miami running game -- something they didn't do on the previous set of downs.

Sherman didn't see this as the way to go.

He called a pass on second-and-nine. And the Cardinals blitzed and quarterback Ryan Tannehill not only was sacked and lost seven yards, he also fumbled the football.

The Cardinals took over at their own 49 yard line when Vonnie Holliday recovered the fumble.

It was a disastrous decision by Sherman and no, that is not hindsight, because I'm looking at it in the pressbox and expecting Miami to run the ball and play the odds and was as surprised as anyone with the pass.

 Of course, Sherman doesn't see it that way. He was asked Tuesday if he has to change his approach and he said he doesn't think so.

"We were never in a situation where the game was won, so it wasn’t like we could just sit back," he said on Tuesday. "When you have a 10-point lead, that’s a little different than seven points or three points obviously. How many possessions is it going to take? We have to play, I don’t think you can play conservatively at that point. Did we take some risks? I didn’t consider them risks necessarily, but we were going to try our best to the move the football against their defense and their defense was playing a lot of eight-man fronts, so we had to do some things there.

"No, I don’t think so. I think we just have to do things a little bit cleaner, a little bit better and I think we’ll be ok. I think that’ll come. I really do."

So it's up to the players to get better and perform at a higher level. And until then, apparently, the offensive coordinator will continue putting the pedal to the metal. And expecting everything to be "ok."


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So you want a 10 point lead in an NFL Game to feel "safe"? Bro, are you in for a rude awakening.

Armando, while a lot of what you say is true, at least we're not letting The players play scared anymore. That was my single Buddhist gripe With The sporano Era.

No disrespect at all for Coach Sherman who we acknowledge has forgotten more technical Football than us Fans will ever know. We are talking about following the odds, %s, probabilities whatever you want to call them derived from a long standing American Football History throughout the Years.

Playing To Win for a change...

I agree it was a terrible result BUT if the scenario played out as you suggest and Arizona still drove and scored a touchdown then we would all be sitting here complaining that they went conservative a la Dan Henning. If we all were surprised by the call, so too would the Arizona defense which was probably the point. Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda... Incognito, one of our best linesmen blew an assignment and we paid the price. Lets move on.

Whatever. If you won't follow the probabilities you are bound to lose. Guaranteed.

What's the worst that could have happened, that Kolb(no Peyton Manning) would have driven Arizona 80 yds for a score? So? We would be tied as we were but if going to overtime, at least with some dignity.

I agree with you, kziadie. Whether they allowed 50 yards or 80, the defense still failed to hold AZ in the end. How do we know that Bush wouldn't have fumbled the ball if he had continued the ground game. And don't think if that scenario had happened, that the wolves wouldn't have come out and called for Sherman to be fired for running the ball. I know this blog too well.

In order to estimate probabilities you have to take a myriad of details into account. And in these kind of Games whatever the decision has to be done in a millisecond. Some People can do it, some others can't. However, all Great Coaches have been able to do it and be correct most of the time and Win those Games.

Sherman blew it, Philbin should call run or pass and let Sherman call the actual play. His play calling hasn't been the best so far but when your defense is playing so well and your gashing them with the run, play it down to the 2 minute warning and take your chance on 3rd down. Good news is we finally have a 3rd WR, our offense should look even better this week!

sounds like mando has become a die hard wannstedt and sporano ball! Lets play not to win, lets run run run then punt and lay our defense to the wolves! Well with the way the defense played on that last drive it wouldnt have mattered if they had to go 80 or 90 yards, they moved it when they needed, thus is why Sherman went for the pass on second down, it was a risky move that had potential to blow the game open to a 2 score lead very late. That is what we need in a coaching staff. I am thankful for a talented OC for once! Sherman stay aggressive!

We are not trying to eat anybody here, navydolfaninva, just trying to Teach some probabilities(apparently without success up to now).

Last year everyone complained when Sparano would do the ultra conservative crap and lost games. Now you complain because Sherman didnt do the ultra conservative crap... C'mon Man

Should of blitzed on 4th down at the 15 and this blog wouldn't have been written! I blame coyle on this loss!!!

Please Mando, how many times have you and every other fan commissioned about them running into brick walks with leads late in a game?

There is a Time for everything. Time to be aggressive, time to be conservative. Wisdom lies in knowing which Time.

I have to go to work Today....Like in my work, Doctor, I am having headaches, then you order an MRI to rule out a brain tumor. Hmm... The most frequent cause of headaches is Stress. Later.

Ultimately, the decision to go for more points, or clam up and let the defense hold is a strategic decision - hence it's Philbin's call. Unless directed otherwise, it's NOT Sherman's place to decide to turn the game over to the defense.

And I can't think of a worse scenario than asking this secondary to hold against what essentially would have been a two-minute drill.

I'd rather have Sherman calling the plays than some wanna - be, never-was, second guessing hindsighting hack writer for the Herald or any of the know nothing fans of this blog. Of course you would have done something different because there was a negative result and you would have done something different on the plays that had a positive result too so stfu you self righteous idiots.

Enough of this blown call BS. You call a play and the offense has to execute. J-Train was late to the hole to block the blitzing LB. That's not Sherman's fault. Once the Fins get that first tough win, they will be on fire.

The funny thing is if he called run four times in a row ppl would complain about the conservative call...

The funny thing is if he called run four times in a row ppl would complain about the conservative call...

Posted by: Finsupremo | October 03, 2012 at 07:16 AM

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yes tya true

Posted by: Finsupremo | October 03, 2012 at 07:16 AM

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"Whatever. If you won't follow the probabilities you are bound to lose. Guaranteed."
Seriously? Your guaranteeing something based on a probability? look up the definition of probability bro.

He Blew it and they had the game won the Crowd was dead and the team was about to give up...

agree that the play call was unnecessary and risky and felt so at the time, especially since it seemed likely they were going to continue to blitz--sucks, but at the same time, if they convert that play and complete a pass for a 1st down, or make positive yards, no one notices-and it was obviously unusual for their D guy to get on top of Tannehill so quickly, doesnt happen normally, so a breakdown there--bottom line, can fault Sherman but they gotta make plays, make their blocks-if they did, they win and this is forgotten.


Totally agree!!

Hey Sherman, bite the bullet and take the blame!! You single handily blew the game for us. Period!!

If you constant blitz up the middle then run a sweep, a QB end a round!! Who cares if you lose a few yards!!

I blame this on Philbin too!! He can veto any call!!

Someone missed a block or this wouldn't even be an issue, I don't have a problem with the call because we were so used to being too conservative when Tony was coach and you saw how many games that won us.Look a turnover can happen on any play the key here is to execute better and the dolphins are getting better you can see it every week, they just have to eliminate the turnovers and they will be a very good team.

This isnt MLB it is the NFL.

Football is not a stats/probabilities etc league. If you want to go by the stats go watch baseball. Sherman did fine i hope he does it again next time and maybe the players will execute if they understand what is expected. In my humble opinion football is about doing the unexpected, surprise, deception and execution that is what makes it exciting. That is how big plays occur.

The only coaching issue I saw was when it was 4th and 10 and the the dolphins had one time out left, Philbin should have called a timeout to give his defense a chance to catch their breath and call a good play because if you stop them there you win and once they scored the dolphins knelt on the ball and the timeout was left on the board, you could see the D was getting tired from the cards no huddle and being late in the game. 480 yards of offense , 8 sacks, 2 picks, and one missed field goal, WE SHOULD HAVE WON AGAIN, TURNOVERS AND MISSED FIELD GOALS ARE THE PROBLEMS CORRECT THEM AND WE ARE RIGHT THERE.


That was the time to be conservative!! Come on!!

The way I see is winning teams pile on the points. Look around the NFL and it happens all the time now. New England, Green Bay, New Orleans, the Texans, they all pile on points until the last second ticks off. It is about winning, and not about playing to HOPEFULLY not lose the lead. I like the new attitude by the coaches and will suffer through this loss just like they will. The players have acknowleged it was their fault, and they are learning the true way of winning the hard way. Ask the players what they would do next time, and it won't be any different. When this team irons out all the wrinkles, they will be the new powerhouse in the AFC. Likely not this year, but next. I feel by the end of the season, this team will have put the rest of the NFL on notice. GO DOLPHINS!
Bengals 17

I disagree that being aggressive was a mistake. If the Dolphins would have ran the ball 3 times and had a 3 and out, then we would be talking how un-aggressive Sherman is.


Sherman made the call that most did not expect. You are second guessing every week due to a tough loss. Tannehill might have read blitz and changed the call. IF THE MIAMI DOLPHINS MADE A FIELD GOAL THEY WIN. IF THEY DO NOT GET BEAT AT THE GOAL LINE ON 4TH DOWN IN REGULATION TIME THEY WIN. Sherman is trying to call the unexpected and that does keep the defense off balance. Especially when both the running and passing games are working. The Dolphins outplayed Arizona but still lost. There is much upside in Miami playing at the level they are now moving forward.

Again, do we really want a team that is capable of holding on? Or, do we want a team that goes for the jugular?
Great call Sherman. Lets make men out of these boys so that next year[or it's still possible this year], we won't have to whine about a missed field goal or blown call costing us the game against punks like Arizona and the Jets.
love the game
love the coaches
love the players

Well, not to seem overly defensive of Sherman, but when your defense gives up the game tying td with 3 minutes to play it isnt exactly on him. How about a game winning stop by our defense for once.

Several things con tributed to this loss. I mean, if you want, the game could be disected, and bring afront several plays to this this was bad or that was bad. But bottomline, any bad play offensively or defensively, when brought affront in a singular critical analasis will always be one we wished we could have back.

The only mystifying event in my opinion, was with a hot qb and 22 seconds left to play, why not at least try to go for a game winning td or fg. I know the risk of pick was there, but with the game tied, we make the tackle and the game goes OT anyway.

Who's to say we dont get a blown coverage or pass inference call that at least ends in a chipshot game winning fg. With a redhot qb and 22 seconds left, I hated seeing a gift wrapped OT period for the opponent. IMO, OT usually favors the home, not road team.

Eh. The defense should have been able to hold. At that point in the game, you're trying to get first downs. 2 more first downs and the game would have been over... so... Sherman called a play where he assumed (based on probabilities) that the defense would be caught off guard by a pass... youre at 2nd and 9... if you go to 3rd and 7+, you know that they are bringing the house and you're in a bad spot for getting that coveted first down... so... you call the pass on 2nd down, try to catch them off guard and hope to get that first down and then let the clock tick away.

I was initially perplexed, but, looking back, I don't mind the call. Richie blew both of the big plays, that needs to get cleaned up quickly. Overall, I thought the game plan from Sherman and staff was very well put together.

The Dolphins where supposed to be blown out of the game, according to every analyst, anyway. We had a great opportunity to win this game and you are supposed to give your coaches credit. Well, as for this Dolfan....GREAT JOB! COACHES PHILBIN AND SHERMAN for putting us in the position to win. I mean you guys aren't the ones missing field goals.

With 22 seconds left to play and the game tied. 9 out of 10 times, the Brady/Mannings/Brees/ Rodgers, are at least going for the game winning td or fg. When we didnt allow the redhot Tannehill to do so, I has the worst feeling about going into OT. Those feelings became actualized.

If you cant try it on a day when your qb is redhot. W#hen the hell can you try it?

I agree with Sherman. I'm tired of this team over the years playing the clock. When the offense is on the field, they should run plays to put up points every time. Just like the Patriots who put up 45 points in the second half and destroyed the Bills. THAT is what an offense does. SCORE SCORE SCORE, that should be the offenses mindset everytime they have the ball, even if they're up by 40 points.

It seems Sherman has moved up the list of WHO CAN WE BLAME FOR THE L.

Still, if I were an NFL player, I would much rather play for a coach who plays to win than one that plays not to lose. I would feel much better about a loss when confident we played to win.

As Herm Edwards once said, "You Play To Win The Game!"

What about the call to try a 51-yard FG when they're up 13-0? Until then, they were winning the field position battle. And coming off a game where Carpenter missed two FGs shorter than that one, I don't see the logic. You're on the road, you're up 13-0 and you're dictating the field position. Why gamble on a long FG when the downside is handing momentum back to the Cardinals? Crazy.

Armando you are dead wrong on this one. If it was inside two minutes, or with a two-score lead, or already in easy field goal range, then sure, odds are to run. But up one score, out of field goal range, and almost 4 minutes left? No way. You have to keep playing for first downs and scores.

Sherman is right, Armando is wrong.

Wow, you tell Armando to get his head out of his rear, and he deletes your post! Didn't realize he was so sensitive.

Anyways, kudos to the intelligent bloggers on here that recognize a clear change from the fist pumping Tony Morono run, run, run, punt and watch the other team win philosophy. I hate the prevent defense almost as much as I hate the prevent offense, where you quit trying to score and willingly hand the ball over to a talented offense with 2 minutes to go rather than sticking with what got you the lead in the first place and keeping your foot on the gas.

No way we get a first down running the ball against an 8-man front geared up to stop the run. Did anyone see anything in from our defense on that last drive in regulation that suggested Arizona wouldn't have scored from 80 yards away? Thank god we have an O.C with the guts to keep his foot on the gas when the game is not yet decided. I'll take this anyday over what we've seen the last decade from this team. I'll even take the shots to the end zone over shaving a few yards off of a field goal attempt. That's FUN TO WATCH!!! It's also what the best teams do.


When kicking a 51yd fg, it means the line of scrimmage is the opponent's 34yd line. There isn an offense in the league that would pun the ball while sitting at the opponent's "34 YD LINE".

Not the best call for winning the game, but maybe the best call for Tannehill's development. He now has experience in that situation. He now knows when called upon to throw when the game is on the line and you have a lead that in the back of your mind you must secure the football. I also agreed with taking shots in the end zone in the 4th qtr of the Jets game. Tannehill is getting exposed to situations where the game is won or lost. What good will it do him to learn if they just run the ball 3 times & kick. If he continues to learn at his current pace, these last 2 losses might turn into 100 wins later on.

Turd Ferguson @ 8:41 AM,

Nice post, I believe there's lots of validity to that.

I have no qualms with Sherman's call. In fact it is refreshing to see the team continue to attack. The game was not won at that point, and if the D has proven one thing over the past few seasons (including this short one) it's that they cannot yet be counted on to get a stop when they really need to. And although Bush might have just picked up some quality yards on the previous series, AZ was stuffing the Fins ground game almost as well as the Fins were theirs. Not only that, up until that point, RT had been throwing the ball well and the O line had done a pretty good job protecting him. Hindsight is truly 20/20 but had the O line and blitz protection done their job the sack/fumble does not happen. I do not wish to return to the Henning Era, thank you.


The cave beard's finally shaven from the ofense in Miami. We've also traded the animal skin attire and club for an rmani business suit and ipad.

We've moved into the 21st century offensively. Get used to it. LOL

sherman thinks he's got Aaron rogers back there. Dude you got a rookie qb. To win with a rookie in this league you run the ball and you play defense. we'd be lucky to win 5 games this year with this bunch

Im so excited about the ongoing prospects of this offense. In 4 short games, we've proven we can both run the ball and pass it with a high degree of efficiency.

Plus we've gotten the highly sought after 3rd wr in Jabbar Gaffney. I now envision us as the team no one wants to play in the 2nd half of the season. No one will any longer look at the Dolphins on thier schedule and laugh or smile.

Sherman looks bad for these two losses, two weeks in a row. But if/when we are able to execute we will be putting points on the board and putting teams away. Who would have thought Incognito would have missed his assignment on that. He's been solid his entire Miami career Sherman would have to assume that wouldn't have happened, but you still have to take into account the possibility of Tannehill getting hit and fumbling. Regardless it's a lesson learned for Sherman and Tannehill. When our team matters we better not be making those mistakes

I agree here, shoulda run the ball. I was expecting a run.gotta be smart with the clock and the flow of the game. Miami's defense was balling and the OL was moving them off the line.

The Dolphins are now last year's Texas A&M.

Sherman is just trying to help our draft stock one last time before we actually start going back uphill as a team


No, we dont have Aaron Rodgers back there. We may have something better, Ryan Tannehill. After all, Rodgers didnt see the playing field for 3yrs, not day one.

$ games in and Tannehill has broken Dan Marino's rookie single game passing yardage mark. Now that's a great omen for things to come.

This is why I continue to put ultimate faith and trust in Joe Philbin and Mike Sherman. What a breath of fresh air!

"We were never in a situation where the game was won, so it wasn’t like we could just sit back,"

Mando and others have been so brainwashed from the past decade plus that you just DON'T get that a 7pt lead, with OUR SECONDARY, really is nothing to protect. Mando says worst case scenario they get it on the 20. Please. Worst case scenario is we punted to Patrick Peterson who runs it back for a TD. There IS no absolutes in football, no matter what you think the probabilities are.

And regardless, Coaches have tendencies. This HC, this OC's tendency, is to be aggressive and WIN games, not play not to lose them. How many games have we seen in the past where Miami played not to lose a tiny lead and got beat in the end. So spare me your second-guessing. Joe Philbin is the HC, Mike Sherman is the OC, and everyone else is just a spectator.

It didn't work this time. Do it 9 more times, and I predict we win using that strategy a majority of the time.

that's right sherman.
u don't think is right.

I like the aggressive play calling. We saw what conservative is with sparano and henne and now we see it in new York. Move the ball! Dolphins are actually exciting to watch then run run pass.. 6 yards right from carpenter we are 3-1 with "the worst receiving corp in the league"

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