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64 posts from November 2012

November 20, 2012

Joe Philbin sticking to the status quo

Remember last year when the Dolphins started the season on a seven-game losing skid? Then coach Tony Sparano changed things. He changed the practice schedule, the meeting schedule. He poked and prodded with changes to try to turn the thing around.

Ultimately, the Dolphins did recover somewhat and won six of their final nine games. No, it wasn't a grand fix, but it changed the direction of things.

Well, the Dolphins are mired in a three-game losing skid and need desperately to change the direction of things again.

But new coach Joe Philbin has a different approach than his predecessor. He's not changing things. He's sticking to his guns. He believes in the approach he and his staff have taken and, darn it, that's going to remain the approach.

"Again, we hope we have a process in place of getting these guys ready to play the game," Philbin said Tuesday. "Now, whether it's the right process or not, that's certainly open for debate. But we kind of believe in certain things in terms of preparing players to play in an NFL game -- be it things they do in the classroom, the things they do in the weight room, the things they do on the practice field, they type of meeting structure we have.

"We believe in it. We're sticking with it. We're doing it. We hope it's going to bring about the desired results we're all hoping for."

That doesn't mean Philbin is feeling confident or great about the results the Dolphins are getting lately.

"I haven't slept as well as I'd like to be sleeping No question about it," he said. "But at the same time you have to have a faith and belief in something and we're going to stick to this process we have in place and this plan we have in place to help these guys reach their potential. That's what we're doing.

"As we said, there's lot of football left to be played and, most importantly, we're excited about this opportunity against Seattle."

And that opportunity will help determine whether staying the course alters the season's course.

Why not consider playing a couple of younger players?

Yesterday I shared with you the news Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman doesn't see Michael Egnew getting involved in the offense much this year and the reasons the coach gave for that.


It's bad news when a third-round draft pick playing a position that needs upgrade has been basically eliminated from playing this year. It's not a problem if a veteran ahead of him is playing great. It's fine if the rookie is simply caught in a numbers game.

But not playing based on his slow start while the guys playing are having a slow month?

Where does that make room for improvement? How does that keep the players playing from feeling entitled or too comfortable? Most importantly, where does that give Miami the opportunity to find out what talent is on the roster?

And that leads me down a road that eventually the Dolphins will travel. That leads me to thinking about the future. This year, you see, is on the brink of being over.

The Dolphins are 4-6 and have lost three consecutive games. And now comes the killer portion of the schedule. The next three weeks the Dolphins face three consecutive games against teams with winning records for the first time this season. (Also for the only time this season).

And we're not just talking about good teams. After Miami plays 6-4 Seattle on Sunday the team will welcome New England the following week and travel to San Francisco after that. The Patriots and 49'ers are Super Bowl contenders.

Unless the Dolphins find immediate answers to the issues they have been unable to solve the past several weeks, this team is going to find itself at 4-9 within the month. That's not a prediction. That is a statement of fact. The Dolphins must find their absent running game, must find a way to straighten out a suddenly leaking secondary, must get more consistent play and fewer mistakes at quarterback, and have to win battles along the offensive line or this is going to get ugly.

So think of what I'm advocating as desperate times calling for desperate measures. Sort of.

I, for one, am thinking this rebuilding season needs to get back to, well, rebuilding. The Dolphins have youngsters on the bench that may not be quite ready to play but could be the future for the team nonetheless.

Well, it's time to see what the future promises. Rishard Matthews finally got in a game last week and didn't seem overmatched.

“I thought he looked like he belonged out there," coach Joe Philbin said. "He did some good things. Hopefully, he can continue to develop. He earned the opportunity to play in the game. Some of these guys, you’ve watched them in practice and you see them make more catches, more plays, play faster and he deserved to be in the game and didn’t look out of place."

Great. Play him more.

Look, Jabar Gaffney is a better wide receiver right now. But at 32 years old next month and on a one-year contract that expires after this season, he's not going to be around next year and everyone knows that. Matthews will come to camp with the team.

So why not maximize the rookie's experience now, during a season that really isn't headed toward the playoffs anyway? You know, kind of like the Dolphins are doing with Ryan Tannehill.

Let's face it, Tannehill is in a slump because he cannot get the offense in the end zone lately. Maybe Matt Moore would do better. But the thought of a switch hasn't crossed anyone's mind (mine included) because Tannehill is the future and needs all the experience he can get now.

It's short-term pain for long-term gain.

Well, why not apply that to Matthews over Gaffney?

And while we're at it, why not apply that to Egnew over the veterans ahead of him who, by the way, are not exactly lighting it up lately and in Charles Clay's case haven't lit it up yet in over a season and a half?

Maybe Egnew doesn't have it. Maybe he was a reach or a bust. But isn't it better to find that out now than next year after the draft and free agency?

There's also the case of Lamar Miller. Perhaps I am biased because the University of Miami is my school. But the kid was dynamic in high school. He was dynamic in college. And I have seen hints that he can be dynamic in the NFL.

But he simply isn't getting many carries.

"We’re not getting a whole lot of snaps in the game," Sherman said, explaining why Miller doesn't get many chances. "If we were getting 65-70 snaps, which I envisioned -- actually I envisioned 75-to-78 snaps -- then I think there’s more snaps to be got. But when you’re not functioning like we’re not functioning, it’s hard to take a Reggie [Bush] out or a guy that has experience, whether it’s Daniel Thomas out of the game.

"I really like Miller. I think he works hard at it. I think he’s going to be a very good player. I’m excited when he gets in the game. I have no problem when he is in the game. It’s just only one of those guys can play at a time usually."

Timeout. Look, Bush is unsigned. I've told you time and again his chances of returning next year didn't look great at the start of the season. Then he got off to a fast start and that gave me pause. But he's come back to the pack and hasn't really electrified anyone to the point he must be re-signed.

He's been benched twice this year for fumbling -- once against the Jets, once against Tennesee. The foreshadowing here is obvious.

Well, why not give Miller more of a chance to show you if, indeed, he can help cure the ailing running game or at least give hope for the future?

Of course, the Dolphins don't plan anything such as I'm advocating. Philbin was asked this week if he planned any lineup changes in the midst of a three-game losing skid.

"Nothing really specific at this point," he responded.

November 19, 2012

Mike Sherman: May be too late for Egnew (this year)

The Dolphins have needed more production from their tight end position for several years now. It simply needs to improve and while Anthony Fasano is a solid player, he's not dynamic.

So some people hoped when the Dolphins invested a third-round pick on the position, the issue would be resolved. But Michael Egnew has so far not been able to be that solution.

And his chances of being that this year are practically nil, according offensive coordinator Mike Sherman.

"We're at that point in the season where you can't teach football weekly," Sherman said Thursday. "It's cumulatively. There's so much volume that if he hasn't had that rep two weeks ago, there's things we'll call in the game that we haven't ... we've walked through it. We've talked about it. But we haven't run it through full speed because there's not enough plays in practice.

And how does that affect Egnew?

"He doesn't have the benefit of cumulative learning of the offense so it limits him," Sherman said. "That's why it's so important and I tell rookies all the time, you have to come out of the blocks early because the guys that come out of the blocks get the reps. He didn't do that early. Now, he's getting better. He's working his butt off. I'm really excited about what he's going to be. But it's just harder to put him in there ahead of Fasano or ahead of [Charles] Clay at this juncture." 

So don't expect Egnew this year -- at least not at this juncture. The Dolphins view of him today is it is basically a redshirt year.

And that leads me to this:

So any young offensive player that didn't get out of the blocks early, as Sherman says, is pretty much out of the question later in the season?

Seems to me the problem there is not only with the rookie's slow start but also with a system or approach that basically doesn't allow for a player starting slow and then bursting onto the scene once he gets his NFL footing.

New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham, for example, was raw and needed a lot of work when he was a rookie. And he didn't have a catch in any of his first four games and had only one catch through five games. But did the Saints basically store him away until his second season?


Graham was given the chance to grow in-season. In his final eight games of the 2010 season, he caught 26 passes. He scored four touchdowns the final three games of the season. Graham, who had played mostly basketball at the University of Miami, developed slowly as a rookie. But the Saints made room for that development and plugged him in as he improved later in the year.

Doesn't seem the Dolphins can do that.


One more time for emphasis: Henne was not the answer

Stop it. Just, stop.

I should have predicted that today would mark the rebirth of the Chad Henne debate on this blog. While the Dolphins have their own serious and important quarterback issues, many on here have been debating whether the Dolphins should have kept Henne, Miami's former starter, during the past offseason.

This because on Sunday Henne had a very good day. Starting for the injured Blaine Gabbert, Henne completed 16 of 33 passes for 354 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in an overtime loss to Houston.

Let me jump into the fray.

The Dolphins did the right thing by moving on from Chad Henne.

He's a hard worker. He has all the physical tools to play in the NFL. But something is seemingly always missing. Something is lacking that keeps him from being a great NFL starter. I'm not saying this based on the fact his team lost on Sunday. I watched him the past three years. I listened to complaints from teammates and, yes, coaches, who came to the conclusion he wasn't franchise QB material.

He was not the answer and I doubt he'll be the answer in Jacksonville.

Henne, as usual, was streaky on Sunday. He was impressive at times. But then he went into the proverbial tank and nobody knew why. That's the worst kind of player, in my opinion. The guy who builds up hope and then waits or the crucial moments to play poorly is the biggest waste of time because teams keep them around and keep them around hoping he turns the corner.

Except he never turns the corner. He shows you just enough to keep you interested and hopeful. And he still slumps in the crunch.

That's Henne. And Sunday, predictably, he went into that tank at the most inopportune time.

Henne had a glorious day working for three quarters. He had completed 13 of 18 for 250 yards and three TDs. And then, he sort of disappeared.

In the fourth quarter and overtiime -- you know, when the game was on the line -- Henne completed 3 of 15 passes for 104 yards and one TD. Yes, he got the TD throw of 81 yards in the fourth quarter, but 3 of 15?

In overtime, by the way, Henne completed 1 of 8 passes for 15 yards. That was hero time. That was high-stakes time. That was the time to win the game. And Henne disappeared.

The streaky quarterback seemingly hit one of his skids.

So my evaluation of him does not change: Good backup, yes. Franchise QB, no way.

That doesn't make him a bad guy. He's actually a good man.

But it also doesn't make him a bad decision by the Dolphins. They needed to move on. They needed to stop wasting their own time.

Tannehill has regressed in November

September was a tough month for Ryan Tannehill and that didn't really surprise anyone because the Dolphins quarterback is a rookie and rarely does a rookie get welcomed into the NFL with a red carpet and a party.

Tannehill was 80 of 143 (55.9 completion percentage) for 1,046 yards in September. He threw two touchdown passes and six interceptions. His quarterback rating was 66.4.

Fine. We expected growing pains.

October was much, much, much better. Suddenly, Tannehill seemed to improve his accuracy. He was playing like a veteran at times. One could see steady improvement. And the stats showed the change.

Tannehill completed 40 of 60 passes (66.7 completion rate) for 426 yards in October. He threw two touchdowns and no interceptions. His rating zoomed to 98.3. I should remind you the relatively modest statistics were a product of the Dolphins having a bye and also Tannehill missed most of the Jets game with a knee injury.

It was nonetheless a good month.

But since that knee injury and since the calendar advanced to November, the Dolphins quarterback has suffered a nose dive.

Tannehill this month has completed 59 of 105 passes (56.2 completion percentage) for 648 yards. He has thrown two touchdowns this month and five interception. And his rating is a season-low 61.1.

This has nothing to do with the amount of duress Tannehill is under. He was sacked seven times in September, and six times each in October and so far in November. This isn't about the success of the running game as the Dolphins actually rushed the ball better in September than October and November.

This obviously has nothing to do with comfort level with talent around him because Tannehill hooked up plenty with Brian Hartline early on even though the receiver didn't play in the preseason. Tannehill also found Anthony Fasano plenty early on but the combination of quarterback-tight end has gone practically silent in recent weeks.

And no, this isn't about strenth of schedule, either. The last couple of weeks, for example, the Dolphins played teams with losing records whose defenses were ranked dead last in points allowed -- until they got through the game against Miami, anyway.

So what is it?

Has Tannehill hit the rookie wall early?

Is that knee injury still bothering him or affecting his delivery although last week Tannehill said he felt completely healthy?

Have defenses figured him and the Miami offense out?

Or, worse, is he simply regressing?

This week the Dolphins play Seattle to finish out their November schedule so the finish to this month doesn't seem promising. The Seahawks boast the NFL's fourth-best defense in allowing only 16.2 points per game.

Yup, November has been a nightmare for Ryan Tannehill.

November 16, 2012

Dansby playing with a torn biceps muscle

Karlos Dansby didn't quite hold on to that possible interception a couple of weeks ago and was perhaps half a step late and his arms weren't in proper position to get a possible pick against Buffalo on Thursday.

Maybe that torn biceps muscle that he's been playing with the past three games had something to do with that.

Dansby on Friday broke an unwritten team protocol and probably sent Joe Philbin into something of a panic for announcing on his weekly WQAM radio hit with Jorge Sedano that he's been playing with a torn biceps.

Dansby, who has been listed as probable with a biceps injury the past three weeks, says he suffered the injury against the Jets on October 28.

He's been wearing a brace that helps him play but also limits his range of motion ever since. Other than the missed interceptions opportunities, Dansby's tackles have not suffered significantly.

Dansby further said he plans on continuing his season although some other players have opted to have surgery as soon as they suffer the injury.

No word yet on whether Philbin will talk to Dansby about disclosing the injury. Philbin, in case you missed it, has a blind spot about injuries. He hates discussing them. He doesn't want his players discussing them. It's a thing with him.

So we'll see.

Bills beat up the Dolphins up front

BUFFALO --Sometimes football truly is, as coach Joe Philbin says, not that difficult a game.

Much of it is as simple as blocking and tackling.

And so if you're wondering why the Buffalo Bills, a team that is the worst in the NFL at stopping the run, could stop the Dolphins Thursday night, all you have to do is look at the blocking and tackling.

The Bills tackled and they beat the Dolphins off blocks.

It wasn't any exotic scheme that helped the Bills. It wasn't a team stacking the tackle box against Reggie Bush that limited Miami to only 60 rushing yards and 2.5 yards per carry.

It was the Bills simply beating the Dolphins physically up front.

"You got to give credit to them. They did a good job up front," said quarterback Ryan Tannehill. "They weren't bringing safeties down. They did a good job of shedding blocks and making tackles.There were a few times I turned around and there was really just nowhere to run. And that's with no safeties being in there. So you have to credit their front seven for doing a good job of making it difficult to run."

So, as I told Tannehill, what he's saying is the Bills were winning up front. They were beating the Miami blocking up front.

"For some of the game, yeah," Tannehill said. "We just couldn't get things going."

That's it. In a nutshell.

The team that was giving up an average of 163.7 yards per game on the ground coming into this game beat the Dolphins physically up front.

And that leads me to this question:


How is it that an offensive line with a first-round pick at left tackle, a first-round pick at center, a second-round pick at right tackle, a third-round pick at right guard and a guy who was signed as a free agent solution a couple of years ago at right guard get beat physically?

By that team that was so, so terrible previously?


November 15, 2012

Bills lead Dolphins 19-7 to start fourth quarter

BUFFALO -- Things didn't really change in the third quarter -- except that Miami finally crossed midfield.

The Dolphins are still struggling.

The fourth quarter will be telling.

The live blog continues in the comments section.

Bills lead Dolphins 19-7 going to third quarter

BUFFALO -- Well, the Dolphins are still waiting for their offense to show up to this late game.

The Dolphins first first down came on a Bills encroachment penalty in the second quarter. They have not crossed midfield in the first half. They have only 50 total yards on offense.

Nolan Carroll has three penalties, including two pass intereference calls, that have cost the Dolphins 51 yards.

And so the Bills lead 19-7 but it feels much worse because the Bills have dominated.

The second half starts soon. The live blog continues now in the comments section.

Bills lead Dolphins 13-7 to start second quarter

BUFFALO -- It's been exciting so far.

Punt return TD for Buffalo. Kickoff return TD for Marcus Thigpen and the Dolphins.

The difference in the game is two Rian Lindell field goals as Buffalo leads 13-6. Consider the Dolphins fortunate that's the deficit because they've been outplayed so far.

The game continues. And the live blog continues in the comments section.

Gaffney, McDaniel inactive, Matthews active tonight

BUFFALO -- Jabar Gaffney is inactive tonight. So is Tony McDaniel.

the Dolphins are also going with only two tight ends tonight because Jeron Mastrud is inactive. (That should tell you something about Michael Egnew's status because in a game Miami only has two TEs active, he is still inactive).

The Dolphins have activated Rishard Matthews for the second time this season.

The rest of the inactives are Pat Devlin and Will Yeatman.

The Dolphins will wear their aqua jerseys and white pants.

There's a live blog here tonight. It will happen in the comments section. I'll join you there at kickoff.

Tonight's game a chance for a little revenge

BUFFALO -- Here it is. The opportunity. This is the night.

If you are old enough and remember back long enough to know that Dave Wannstedt did enormous damage to the Miami Dolphins, then tonight is the opportunity for a bit of revenge.

It was Wannstedt who was pushed upon Dolphins fans when Jimmy Johnson convinced Wayne Huizenga to pick his friend Wannstedt to coach the team -- even after Johnson had failed in the assignment.

At first it seemed like a good idea. The Dolphins won the AFC East in 2000 under Wannstedt. And then the slow, steady decline of a franchise ensued. First the records got increasingly worse, then the team stopped making the playoffs. The wasting of talent Johnson drafted -- including Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas, Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain -- was underway.

And by the time Wannstedt was ousted (he quit after he was told he'd be fired) at midseason in 2004, the Dolphins were no longer the shining example of an NFL franchise they had been under Don Shula.

All that comes rushing back to me because tonight the Dolphins meet a unit Wannstedt coaches for the first time since 2004. Oh, Wannstedt was with the Bills last year when Reggie Bush went for over 200 rushing yards. But he was not the man in charge of the Bills defense. Now, he's the Bills defensive coordinator.

Did I mention the Bills have the worst defense in the NFL?

They give up more points on average than anyone. Perhaps the fact Wannstedt is still running that old 4-3 with press corners and not much change game-to-game is one reason. I was told by a long-time Buffalo observer the Bills didn't blitz the first four games of the season.

"Vanilla is a good word for it," he told me of the Bills defense.


All I'm saying is this is a purely emotional issue. This is not a football issue. The players on the field tonight have nothing to do with this. This is between Dolphins fans who still remember the start of this century and the man responsible for Miami's decline at that time.

Revenge, you say?

You bet.

By the way, there's a live blog coming tonight. I'll post the inactives in a few minutes. Hop on board. I'll join the blog at kickoff.

Miami Dolphins lineup is what it is

BUFFALO -- Earlier this week Dolphins coach Joe Philbin was asked if the changing of players' roles is more difficult this week based on the fact tonight's game allowed little time for change. And the coach was coy, knowing full well that he's basically locked in on practically every role and job.

“I don’t know that anything’s out of the question," Philbin said. "We’re obviously putting together the plan for Buffalo as we speak. We came back last night and worked on it. We’ll see as it unfolds during the course of the week."

Yeah, great.

Look, the truth is the Dolphins seem locked in for this game. And, furthermore, most players seem locked into their current job because circumstances are demanding it.

Sean Smith is going to start cornerback whether he plays well as he did earlier in the season or doesn't as he's shown the past two weeks.

Ryan Tannehill is going to start the rest of this season whether he plays well or not.

Jake Long is going to start at left tackle whether he plays well or not.

Jimmy Wilson has been terrible as the nickel cornerback except on the occasions he's blitzing -- he's been excellent doing that while struggling in coverage.

Richie Incognito is likely going to remain the starting left guard whether he struggles or not, commits a dumb penalty or not.

The truth is the Dolphins don't have enough depth in the secondary and viable talent behind the starters to make a significant change. The truth is Long has not been his typical self, but no one behind him is challenging him. The truth is regardless of how much Anthony Fasano disappears (three receptions the last three week), Michael Egnew is not ready to step up.

The fact is there is only one starter whose performance is lately not up to par that can be replaced by his backups and that's running back Reggie Bush. And while Bush can be replaced on a physical and performance level, that move might have repurcussions throughout the locker room making the move dangerous.

So, basically, these are your Miami Dolphins. Things aren't going to change much the rest of the season. Get used to it.

But here's the caveat to all that ...

Jobs are not necessarily at stake now or for the rest of this year. But there are players -- Smith, Long, Fasano, Randy Starks, Brian Hartline, Bush, Reshad Jones -- who must perform well to get the kind of contracts they all want once this season is over and their current deals expire.

That and professional pride will have to be the motivation.

Fear of being replaced?

Doesn't look that way.

November 14, 2012

Dolphins struggling offense needs to wake up

On Tuesday I reported to you that Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman had a career chat with his players and implored them to overcome the difficulties of the past couple of weeks and make their sons proud.

It was Sherman's way, I guess, of challenging his players.

Well, I challenge Mike Sherman to make necessary corrections and make fans proud -- because the offense the Dolphins have been putting on tape for much of this season, and particularly lately, simply isn't good enough.


The Dolphins are averaging 19.2 points per game this season. That is 25th in the NFL.

That is the worst mark in the AFC East so far.

That is worse than a season ago when Miami averaged what we all considered an unacceptable 20.6 points per game.

The Dolphins have not scored a touchdown in six quarters.

The Dolphins are tied with Kansas City for the fewest passing TDs in the NFL (6) so far this season.

This is not good. Fact is, it is terrible because the Dolphins haven't exactly been playing stellar competition. The hard part of the schedule is coming up, believe it or not, after the Buffalo game.

“I think it’s just a lot of things that we just have to execute better," Sherman said. "It’s typical coach talk. We’ve got to execute a lot better. We’ve got to not have penalties. Not turn the ball over. Those things all play a part in it. Got to have good plays. I’ve got to call good plays -- make sure they’re the ones that apply specifically to that defense.

"There’s a lot of reasons, which we have to get fixed. There’s no question. This is unacceptable."



I cringe at the idea that Miami still has to play against the San Francisco and Seattle defenses.

The situation is frustrating because generally the Miami defense and special teams have been good enough, with the exception of the last two losses to Indianapolis and Tennessee, to provide Miami with a winning team.

So the offense needs to hop on its horse and giddyup.

The Bills, Thursday night's opponent, provide an opportunity. The Bills, to put it diplomatically, stink on defense.

They give up more points (31.7) per game than any other NFL team. They are dead last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game. Combined, they allow 410 yards per game on the ground and through the air and that's 31st of 32 teams.

So the Bills are possibly a prescription for what ails the Dolphins offense.

Of course, I kind of thought that last week before the Tennessee game.

November 13, 2012

Dolphins face another fast, quick, dangerous back

The Dolphins were somewhat surprised on Sunday when Tennessee's Chris Johnson did something that 22 previous starting running backs had failed to do: He gained over 100 yards in a game.

Johnson had 126 yards on 23 carries.

The Titans basically dominated the line of scrimmage against the Miami defense. And Johnson did his thing both outside the tackles and, shockingly, between the tackles.

So it stands to reason the Dolphins want to get back to their typical selves. They eagerly anticipate starting a new streak against opposing running backs.

The problem is the Buffalo Bills on Thursday will come with a similar run scheme as the Titans did. And C.J. Spiller is a similar back to Johnson.

“Very similar, and their schemes are somewhat similar in that they feature like the type running plays," defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. "They’re not the type of teams that line up and try to mash you off the ball. They try to get body on a body, get some movement and let those backs find the creases and use their athletic ability.

"They have speed unlike most guys in the league, both Johnson and Spiller, in that you practice against it, yet when you see it for the first time in a game it’s a little bit different. Sometimes it takes some getting used to the speed of the game so to speak, but we can’t waste any time getting used to it here this week. We have to be prepared to go out there and I think we’ll do a better job. We started working on it here this afternoon."

The Dolphins this week are stressing fundamentals. They have to break down. Have balance. Keep disciplined in their angles. And wrap up Spiller.

Otherwise he can leak out and use his speed. Otherwise it allows the Bills to become multi-dimensional on offense. Otherwise it promises another long day.

Dolphins in better physical health than Bills

The Dolphins' trainers (Kevin O'Neill and Troy Maurer), the strength and conditioning guys (Darren Krein and Dave Puloka) and the doctors have been doing excellent work this year because, here we are about to start Week 11 and play a game with only three days rest, and practically the entire roster is going to be available Thursday.

The Buffalo Bills, meanwhile, not so much.

The Dolphins this week are worried about tight end Jeron Mastrud (hamstring) and OLB Koa Misi (calf). Both are being limited in practice. Both will play Thursday barring a setback today or tomorrow.

WR Davone Bress was the only Miami player not at practice Tuesday morning. He is missing practice for personal family reasons. It is not an injury, he's excused and he'll be back Wednesday.

Some other players on the team have bumps and bruises. But all of them are set to go, barring an unexpected fall down a flight a stairs or something.

The bumps and bruises are: LB Karlos Dansby (biceps), WR Jabar Gaffney (knee), WR Brian Hartline (knee), DT Tony McDaniel (knee), Spec. Marlon Moore (neck), C Mike Pouncey (knee, ankle), DT Paul Solliai (ankle, elbow), and DE Olivier Vernon (knee).

Again, all are expected to play.

The Bills have bigger issues.

RB Fred Jackson (concussion) is already known to be out for the game. LB Mark Anderson (knee) is already known to be out for the game. DE Chris Kelsay (neck) and CB Aaron Williams (knee) could not even participate in a walk-thru on Monday.

The club had eight players limited in their partcipation during that walk-thru compared. Again, the Dolphins had only two players limited for Miami's walk-thru. And the Bills reported another four players who are nursing bumps and bruises who soldiered through those to participate Monday.


Dolphins seem to be in a better health than the Bills now. In a short week, that's important.

Mike Sherman challenges players: Make sons proud!

 Yes, the Dolphins had their pride handed to them on Sunday.

And for players, particularly those on offense, the fact they have not scored a touchdown in six quarters also has to be a humbling experience.

That's perhaps the reason Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman apparently went all Gen. George Patton on the group Monday. During a team meeting with his players, Sherman implored, indeed, demanded that players respond in heroic fashion against Buffalo Thursday night.

"That’s the great thing about football, it really tests you, not just your character as a football player, but your character as a man," Sherman said. "How do you handle adversity? Do you point fingers? Do you accept responsibility? Do you move forward? Do you wallow in despair? Feel sorry for yourself or do you push ahead? It really is a good character test for everybody in that room.

"I told them I want all of their sons to be proud of them, how they handle themselves."

Sherman threw down the proverbial gauntlet and seems confident Miami's players will answer the challenge.

"I’ve never felt more confident about a group of guys being able to handle a situation than I do the guys in that room," he said. "It’s ugly when you lose a game like that and deservedly so. We looked like we never even practiced a day in that game, but we’ve had some good days and we’ve had some bad days.

"Now, we have better days ahead, so I’m looking forward to it.” 

November 12, 2012

Thursday games not kind to visiting teams

On the bright side, the Dolphins get to put the stinker they just played to rest quite early this week. They travel to Buffalo on Thursday and get a chance to forget and make you forget the 37-3 loss to Tennessee.

So a Thursday night game is good news.

"In some ways, when you play a game like we just played, it’s the best thing you could ever have happen because, all of a sudden, you have to move forward," offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said. "You can’t sit around and think (about) what just transpired. You have to move forward. So I think it’s a blessing in some ways that way."

On the side of the equation where no light shines, the Dolphins are on the road. And for the road team, a Thursday night game has been bad news lately.

The NFL has played 20 Thursday games dating back to last season. Of those, I am discounting the two Thursday night regular-season openers because for those the teams basically had an entire preseason to prepare for the game and then had another 10 days before the start of the season to get ready.

But in games where teams came off Sunday games and then played again on Thursday the home team has a 13-5 record the past two years.

This season, the home team is 6-3 on Thursday night. But if you look closer, two of those home losses were posted by the Jaguars and Carolina Panthers. And those two teams don't win at home no matter what day of the week you're talking about.

The Panthers are 1-4 at home this year while the Jaguars are 0-5 at home this year. So their inability to cash in on a Thursday night game is well overshadowed by the fact they, um, stink.

Buffalo also stinks but not nearly as much. The Bills are 3-6 this season and have lost three consecutive games. But they're only slightly worse than the Dolphins who are 4-5 and have lost two in a row.

So Buffalo isn't so awful as to not pose a problem for the traveling Dolphins.

Why, you might ask, do traveling teams struggle so much on the road during a short week?

Well, perhaps the fact they have condensed preparation time might have something to do with it. The Dolphins coaching staff left Sunday's game at Sun Life Stadium on a bus and had a police escort as they headed back to their training facility to prepare for Buffalo.

Coaches were at the facility until the wee hours and they struggled with not only their upcoming preparation but the haunting nature of Sunday's loss.

"I don’t know exactly what time we got out of here, but it was (late). It was a long night, put it that way, particularly after the way we played and coached that football game," Sherman said. "It was a long night in relationship to that as well. Dealing with trying to put one game aside and then get ready for the next game, that juxtaposition was difficult to handle at times last night, but we managed."

The Dolphins Monday morning were still finalizing a game plan and as of noon still hadn't gone through the corrections on Sunday's loss with players -- and believe me, lots needed correcting.

The club did not practice Monday. It had a spry walk-thru that was closed to the media. The team will practice Tuesday and then depart Wednesday afternoon for Western New York after another walk-thru.

"We had a good practice today and we move forward and I think that’s the best thing we can do as I told our guys today in my offensive meeting." Sherman said.

One game. One full practice.

Indeed, the Dolphins will spend more time flying to this game than they will spend actually in a full practice.

And you wonder why visiting teams struggle on Thursday night?

Three quarterback charts to chew on

Three quarterbacks. All making the first nine NFL starts. That's what you'll find below.

It is the first nine NFL career starts for Dan Marino, Chad Henne and Ryan Tannehill. In other words, you have the start of a Hall of Fame career, the start of a franchise quarterback bust career, and a hopeful future franchise quarterback career.

What do the charts below tell you?

I'm not going to editorialize today. I don't want to color the converation or lead in any direction. It's up to you to do that.

I'm going to let you make your own judgments and pour them into the comments section.

This is how it breaks down:

Dan Marino:

Date                Opp.           A      C     Y     Per.      TD  INT   W-L    Score

10-9-1983      Buffalo         29    19      322    65.5      3    2     L     38-35

10-16-1983    Jets              30     17     225    56.7     3     0     W    32-14

10-23-1983     Baltimore    18     11     157     61.1     2     0     W    21-7

10-30-1983    LA Rams       38     25      271    65.8     2     1     W    30-14

11-6-1983      S.F.             29     15      194    51.7     2     0     W   20-17

11-13-1983    N.E.             37     14      141    37.8     0    1      L   17-6

11-20-1983     Baltimore    21     14      240    66.7     1    0     W   37-0

11-28-1983   Cincinnati     28     18       217    62.1     3   0     W   38-14

12-4-1983    Houston        26      17       195    65.4    1    1     W   24-17

Marino 9-game totals:     256    150     1,962   58.6   17   5      7-2

Chad Henne:

Date             Opp.           A      C     Y     Per.      TD  INT   W-L    Score

10-4-2009       Buffalo     22   14     115   63.6      1     0      W     38-10

10-12-2009     Jets          26    20    241   77.0     2     0      W     31-27

10-25-2009     N.O.         36    18    211   50.0     0     2      L      46-34

11-1-2009       Jets          21    12    112   57.1    1     0      W     30-25

11-8-2009       N.E.         34     19    219   55.9    0     0      L      27-17

11-15-2009     Tampa      31     17   175    54.8    1     1      W     25-23

11-19-2009     Carolina    29     17   172    58.6    1     0     W     24-17

11-29-2009     Buffalo      31    17    175    53.1    1    3      L     31-14

12-6-2009       N.E           52    29    335    55.8     2   1      W    22-21

Henne 9-game totals:        282   163  1,755 57.8     9   6         6-3

Ryan Tannehill

Date              Opp.         A      C      Y        %        TD   INT   W-L    Score

9-9-2012      Houston      36    20     219    55.6     0      3      L       30-10

9-16-2012     Oakland      30   18     200    60.0     1     0       W      35-13

9-23-2012    Jets             36   16    196     44.4      0     1       L       23-20

9-30-2012    Arizona        41   26    431     63.4      1     2       L       24-21

10-7-2012    Cincinnati    26   17    223     59.3      0      0      W      17-13

10-14-2012   St. Louis     29    21   185     72.4      2      0     W       17-14

10-28-2012   Jets            5     2      18      40.0     0       0     W       30-9

11-4-2012  Indianapolis  38   2      290      57.8     1       0      L      23-20

11-11-2012 Tennessee    39   23      217    58.9     0      3      L       37-3

Tannehill 9-game totals:   280  165  1,979   58.9    5      9          4-5



Philbin confidence in short-yardage runs shaken

After early success with Jorvorskie Lane hulking into the line and picking up a couple of short-yardage first downs and even a TD, the Dolphins are officially struggling on short yardage runs of late.

They blew an opportunity to convert a third-and-1 Sunday. They've blown a couple of similar opportunities the previous two weeks.

So where is coach Joe Philbin's confidence when the team dials up a short-yardage run now?

"It's not very good," Philbin said Monday. "It's not very good. You look at the film, the film is not good to watch."

This says it all: After the Dolphins failed on a third-and-one run early Sunday, they faced three other third-and-one situations during the game. They passed on all of three.

The problem is there's a multitude of issues for the failures.

"It's a variety of things," Philbin said. "Sometimes penetration, sometimes read of the back, it's a combination thereof. Usually the things that affect runs are quick penetration and decisiveness running the ball or poor course or poor read. It's all those things. You throw on our tape for third-and-1 and you'll probably see all of that."

Philbin did not name names. But here's the issue on a personal level.

Daniel Thomas, at 228 pounds, is more a thoroughbred than a plowhorse. He's not really a move-the-pile on short yardage kind of guy -- at least he hasn't proven he is.

Reggie Bush isn't that guy either, although at 200 pounds, one wouldn't expect him to be.

Guard Richie Incognito and John Jerry along with center Mike Pouncey are fine when all is fair. But on third-and-one, the defense is expecting a run to attack the A-gap. The defense is stacked and ready. All is not fair. And when that has been the case, the Miami interior line hasn't consistently moved anyone backwards.

Well, how about wide runs?

That also hasn't been a solution because, well, Jonathan Martin needs to get a bit stronger and Jake Long doesn't seem as agile as he used to be. Also, the blocking out of Miami's tight ends has not been consistently good on such plays.

Lane, meanwhile, failed on a couple of attempts after showing promise early. Coaches have gone away from giving him the ball since those failures. The team did give him another opportunity on the first drive Sunday.

He failed.