« October 2012 | Main | December 2012 »

64 posts from November 2012

November 12, 2012

Sunday proves Tannehill an untouchable while Bush is not

Reggie Bush fumbled in the first quarter on Sunday. It was his fourth carry of the game.

And he didn't get another the rest of the game.

Truth is he didn't see the field the entire rest of the first half. He did enter the game in the second half, but by then the game was a desperation affair for the Dolphins and they were passing practically every down. So Bush got no second half carries.

Afterward, Bush admitted he had been benched by coach Joe Philbin for fumbling.

"I was benched," Bush said. "And I deserved it. If I was the coach, I would have benched myself."

Interesting. Honest. And very respectful of Bush to let his coach off the hook ...

Because Philbin's approach with Bush is worthy of examination.

First, the coach could not bring himself to admit he benched Bush although that is exactly what he did. When he was asked, the man who benched Bush for fumbling, fumbled over his words on the benching.

"We had planned to – we’ve got a game coming up real fast – we had planned to use guys," Philbin said. "We’d been using Daniel Thomas and we used Lamar [Miller] sparingly last week. Our hope was to, not for this reason, but our hope was to spread the plays out a little bit."

That's a fair explanation except that earlier this year after a Bush fumble, the Dolphins coach benched Bush similarly. And the club didn't have a game four days later that time.

And, of course, it was merely a coincidence that the so-called spreading of plays began immediately after Bush fumbled.

But here's the question: Philbin had a quarterback on Sunday who threw three interceptions. That's three turnovers to Bush's one. One of those interceptions was even returned for a touchdown.

And Philbin stuck with Tannehill until the game was well decided midway through the fourth quarter when Miami trailed by the final margin of 37-3.

And Philbin was equally displeased with Tannehill as he was with Bush for his misdeeds.

"He had gone ... I don’t want to jinx the kid, but he had gone 98 throws without them," Philbin said of Tannehill's interceptions. "So I don’t know that you necessarily have to throw three. I’m not blaming him for every single one either. I don’t know that it’s absolutely mandatory to have a game like this."

So why the difference in how Bush and Tannehill get handled?

It's simple, folks.

Tannehill is the future. Bush is not.

The fact is the Dolphins are going to live or die with Tannehill this year. And next year. And probably the year after that, as well. If he plays well, he's going to play. If he plays poorly, he's still going to be on the field this year and next year for sure.

That simple.

The Dolphins are committed to Tannehill. Rightly so, I might add. They have a huge investment in him and that's the way it's going to be.

Bush is another story.

What you saw Sunday is basically how the Dolphins feel about Bush. They love him. They start him. They roll with him.

But only as long as he doesn't make a mistake.

And if he does make that mistake ... the Dolphins feel they have viable options. Daniel Thomas, whom they like gets the next most carries and actually had more than Bush on Sunday. And Miami also has rookie Lamar Miller in the stable. Coaches like him, too. Those guys are the future. Those guys will definitely be here next year.

Sunday proved Bush is not an untouchable.

And because of that fact, Bush's future is uncertain. He is unsigned for next year and it is certain he will not get a new deal before the season ends. When he eventually signs (with someone), he'lll probably get a deal that pays him in the millions. If you combine what Miller and Thomas will make next year it might only barely reach into seven figures.

This is not just a math problem for Bush. Thomas and Miller are younger than Bush. At the running back spot, age is important because younger typically means fewer carries and less wear. So unlike Tannehill, Bush's future in Miami is not certain just as his carries play to play are not certain.

Bottom line: Ryan Tannehill is an untouchable.

Reggie Bush is not.

November 11, 2012

Titans lead Dolphins 31-3 to start fourth quarter

Chris Johnson just went over 100 yards, marking the first time the Dolphins have given up a 100-yard game to any running back in 22 games.

On another note, the Dolphins are getting destroyed, 31-3.

Northing has gone right today. This has been a total team collapse so far.

And the live blog and game continue. Join me in the comments section.

Titans lead Dolphins 24-3 to start third quarter

This one is a smelly rotten egg so far.

The Dolphins have three turnovers, including two interceptions by Ryan Tannehill. And those turnovers have led to 10 Tennessee points.

The club is also playing sloppy -- with penalties and no discipline on contain lanes.

Richie Incognito was benched temporarily after a drive-killing personal foul penalty. Reggie Bush has spent a lot of time on the bench -- coincidently, after a fumble.

The Dolphins are getting their clock cleaned right now, 24-3.

The worst half of the season.

The live blog continues in the comments section. See you there.

Titans lead Dolphins 14-0 to start second quarter

The Sun Life Stadium has wide swaths of empty seats. And the team is making the fans that stayed away seem like geniuses so far.

Miami has not been able to stop Chris Johnson, who is owning cutback lanes against Miami and has a 17-yard TD on a cutback run. Jake Locker has a TD pass.

Sean Smith and Jimmy Wilson are struggling.

The offense has fumbled once and already has a couple of holding penalties.

It's not pretty so far as Miami trails, 14-0.

The live blog continues in the comments section. Go there.

Live blog here: Dolphins v. Titans

Tony McDaniel, who had miss part of the week of practice due to a knee injury, is active today.

The inactive players are Pat Devlin, Anderson Russell, Will Yeatman, Michael Egnew, Rishard Matthews, and Jeron Mastrud.

As always, there will be a live blog. It starts in comments section at halftime.



Dolphins puzzled by today's expected crowd

Today marks an opportunity for the Dolphins.

This game will kick off a string of five home games the next seven weeks and it offers wonderful opportunities for the Dolphins because, well, the Tennessee Titans are terrible.

The Dolphins have a chance to build on a first half of the season in which they surprised a lot of people, suggested they're on the right track, and played well enough in spurts to post some good midseason grades from yours truly. (Read the column to see if you agree on my grades).

The Dolphins have a chance to win the first of a couple of games in five days.

The Dolphins have a chance to score a lot of points because the Titans yield 34 points per game.

The Dolphins have a chance to finally put last week's loss to Indianapolis into memory.

So why isn't anyone showing up to this game?

The fact is ticket sales for this game have been bad. The club secured the lifting of the blackout, yes, but that was a purely philanthropic gesture by ownership -- which is buying up a good number of tickets.

The truth is the Dolphins expect between 15,000 and 20,000 empty seats for this game at Sun Life. I guess folks really are not fired up about seeing Jake Locker make his return to the lineup. Either that or the Hasselbeck family returned their 10,000-seat ticket allotment when they found out Matt probably is not starting.

Seriously, the Dolphins are simply perpelexed why folks are not expected to come today, barring a major walkup sale suprise.

The team is obviously competitive. The future quarterback seems to be in place. This one promises a victory. It has left some of the folks at Sun Life shaking their heads.

It has also solidified their already held belief that the stadium needs a major refurbishment.

This morning Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline implored everyone on his twitter to be loud at the game today. Little does he know there will be fewer people at the game than he thinks.

November 09, 2012

Four solutions for a struggling running game: (Titans D is one)

The Tennessee Titans are 30th in the NFL against the run. They are a dam with a lot of leaks, folks.

So it stands to reason that this week presents a wonderful opportunity for the Dolphins to get their limping running game -- which hasn't really stepped up recently after a fast start -- to get going again.

If the Dolphins cannot run up the yardage against the Titans, I would not expect them to do so against teams such as San Francisco (No. 5 against the run) or New England (No. 7) later this year. I would say that the first few games were something of a mirage and the truth is Miami's running game is mediocre.

But no one wants to come to that conclusion, least of all the Dolphins, so my understanding is the game plan is to run as much as Mike Sherman's pass-first orientation will allow. And my understanding is also that nothing much is expected to change with the Dolphins attack in that Reggie Bush is expected to get most of the carries and Daniel Thomas will get the rest.

So allow me to give three suggestions to improve the Miami running game -- not only this game but beyond.

1. Ask Ryan Tannehill to run more. Yes, Tannehill is just returning to health after being hobbled by a knee injury last week. But he is healthy. He is athletic, as the fact he played receiver in college proves. And he is fairly big and strong and fast (4.6s in the 40). Use that athleticism! Andrew Luck scored two rushing TDs last night. Robert Griffin III has an 80-yard run this year.

Coaches should make it plain to Tannehill that it is OK to run as long as the run finishes out of bounds or with a slide. Tannehill has not taken advantage of his running skills this year. He's run only 19 times for 24 yards (1.9 yard per rush average). It would be demoralizing to the defense to see the QB pick up first downs rushing the ball.

2. More Lamar Miller, please. I know that Miller isn't getting more playing time because the club is concerned about his blitz pickup and overall pass protection. He's also not 100 percent on his playbook.

But can't the Dolphins find three plays Miller knows and don't involve passing and put the kid in and let him explode? Miller was a 60-yard run waiting to happen in college. He leads all Miami runners with a 5.5 yard per carry average on 24 totes this year. He's explosive. He's a weapon. Give him a chance!

3. Throw in some Wildcat plays at people. Yeah, I know, I'm crazy. The Wildcat is very 2008. Nobody really runs it a ton anymore. But remember that Wildcat's purpose -- aside from surprising the opponent -- is to win a battle of numbers.

Simply, the Wildcat scheme puts as many blockers as defenders into the running play. It puts one more blocker into the play than the conventional running play. That's been one of the Dolphins' problem lately. Teams are stacking the tackle box with eight defenders to outnumber Miami at the line of scrimmage.

OK, then. Raise the stakes! Add a blocker. Let Reggie Bush run away from or Daniel Thomas run over somebody. Yes, it would put Tannehill at receiver for a play. Guess what? He's played WR in college. And as surprises go, this would be one, at least for a down or two.

November 08, 2012

Dolphins check in on Routt but signing not likely

The Dolphins have made an inquiry with the agent for cornerback Stanford Routt, NFL sources are telling me. But ...

The Dolphins are not interested at this time.

The team reserves the right to change its mind in the future. Things can change with player injuries and level of play, etc. But the club has no plans to sign Routt any time soon.

So there's that.

Routt is an interesting player because he has so much potential and the Raiders and Chiefs have paid handsomely for that potential. But both have been disappointed with him to the extent they both cut him.

The Raiders drafted Routt in the second round of the 2005 draft after he ran a 4.27 at the scouting combine. In February of 2011 he signed a three-year contract that included $20 million in guarantees over the first two years.

But Routt didn't last with the team into that second year. After starting 15 games in 2011, he was released after a season in which he didn't play up to his price tag.

Seeing an opportunity, the Chiefs last February signed Routt to a three-year deal, this one worth $19.6 million. But the Chiefs stink and Routt was apparently not fitting in well with the defensive scheme. So, yes, he was cut November 5.

Routt, I'm told, is best suited for man press technique. He apparently struggles to learn zone concepts and sometimes has blown coverages on calls.

Having said that, he's out there. The Dolphins checked in on his status because Richard Marshall is on injured reserve and they just gave up 433 yards passing to the Colts.

But nothing is going to happen with him here any time soon.  

Stephen Ross is becoming a pretty darn good owner

Stephen Ross has come a long way.

It wasn't that long ago that Dolphins fans had to cringe at the idea of Ross being the Dolphins owner. He miscalculated badly on that flight out to see Jim Harbaugh, and that caused friction within the organization. He allowed some embarrassing missteps such as Gator Day. He often spoke of being an inexperienced ownder.

And, against the will of many fans, he retained general manager Jeff Ireland when the public sentiment was not flowing in that direction. (Not flowing like the Niagra Falls don't fall up).

But Ross today is looking a lot better as Miami's owner.

He recovered nicely after failing to get Jeff Fisher by hiring Joe Philbin. Ireland has found a good starting quarterback, suggesting Ross made a good call in retaining him. The club doesn't have an soap opera issues as it had the past couple of years.

Things are looking better.

And then this:

Ross, the Miami Dolphins and Related Companies on Wednesday donated $500,000 to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York to support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. 

In addition, the Dolphins will donate the net proceeds from the sale of general individual game tickets for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans that are purchased between 9:00 AM Thursday and kickoff on Sunday to the American Red Cross South Florida Region to exclusively support the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

Ross, by the way, has made sure all Dolphins game have been televised locally regardless of sellout status and the team announced Wednesday that it had taken the necessary steps to ensure that Sunday's game will be televised locally.

“The devastation of Hurricane Sandy knows no boundaries, and I know I speak for the Dolphins and Related in expressing our dedication to help those in need during this difficult time,” said Ross in a statement. “We saw first-hand the damage the storm caused to our community, and with the close ties South Florida has with the Northeast, the Dolphins certainly want to support those families who are dealing with Sandy’s aftermath.

"But no matter where we live, our hearts go out to the people who suffered losses as a result of the storm, and we are committed to help them recover from the tragedy.”

Good stuff. Commendable.

Add that to the growing list of things Ross is getting right. He's growing in stature.

November 07, 2012

Marshall goes to IR, Dolphins claim new DB

The Richard Marshall saga has come to an end.

This morning I reported the cornerback wasn't expected to play the next two weeks. Apparently his prognosis was worse than that because this evening the Dolphins placed Marshall on the reserve injured list. I am trying to find out for certain, but I'm assuming it is season-ending IR.

[Update: Marshall won't be back this season. He is currently in Los Angeles seeing spine specialist and surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins. He is scheduled for back surgery Thursday.]

The club is replacing Marshall by claiming defensive back Brandon McDonald off waivers from Tampa Bay.

McDonald was with the Bucs the first nine weeks of the season. He saw action in eight games with two starts. He had 20 tackles and one interception in that time.

McDonald, a former fifth-round pick of the Cleveland Browns, has played 77 cames in his career.


Dolphins may want to re-establish running game

The Dolphins running game had it all together the first month of the season.

Miami plowed Oakland for 263 rush yards the second week of the season.

Then came 185 yards against Jets the following week.

Then a hard-earned 86 yards against Arizona.

And then the attack fell off the table.

The Bengals game was the low-point in which the Dolphins averaged only 1.9 yards per carry and that was one of four consecutive games in which the team rushing average was 2.9 or lower.

The Dolphins rebounded last week against the struggling Indianapolis rush defense, but even then the damage was modest -- 84 yards on 18 attempts.

So the question the Dolphins are asking themselves is how good they really are running the ball.

"Early on in the season if you looked at us and got a profile of us, I'd tell you we're a team that can run the football and defend the run extremely well," Coach Joe Philbin said. "Frankly the second part of the season, that hasn't stayed true to form necessarily. It's an area we have to solidify again and get back to basics on both sides of the ball. It's something we need to improve upon because if you looked at us after four weeks you say, 'Boy these guys can run and defend the run.' And it's not a 180 from there but it's not what it was."

Obviously the old adage about the other guys getting paid factors here. Other teams have decided they will gameplan against the Miami running game and take their chances with rookie Ryan Tannehill and his receivers. So the Dolphins are seeing a lot of run blitzes, stacked tackle boxes, everything.

"You don't want to over-react because there's a lot of factors," Philbin said. "You look at the stat sheet and at one point see we're averaging 150 yards rushing and now we're averaging 110. So you look deeper and whats the tape telling you. But the tape is telling you you got to get better, too."

The tape says the Dolphins are searching for an identity in the run game. There's nothing about their running attack that is consistent. They don't have a play that is their signature play. They don't run mostly to one side with tons of success. They are not predictable on when Reggie Bush is used or not and when Daniel Thomas gets work or does not. And Lamar Miller is a huge wild card because of the team's concerns about his pass blocking.

Bush averaged 17 rushes per game the first five games. He's averaging 12 rushes per game the past three weeks and, again, remember that last week the Colts came into the game with a struggling run defense. The Colts are currently No. 25 in the NFL against the run.

And yet Bush got only 10 carries.

Thomas, meanwhile, got six carries after he got 15 the week before.

Rhyme? Reason? 

Is Bush hurt?

"There's nothing wrong with Reggie," Philbin said. "I think Reggie played well. Some of it is dictated by the down and distance and type of game we're in. Score. All those things. Maybe the scheme we're utilizing -- inside or outside. We take into consideration a lot of factors but it's not a reflection of us being disappointed in Reggie in any way, shape or form."

Something the Dolphins need to consider:

The Colts wrote a book on how to attack their defense. It's called go after the secondary that gave up 433 passing yards.

One way to combat this approach is shorten the game and thus shorten the opportunities for the other team to expose your defense. The Dolphins (can't believe I'm saying this) have to run the ball more. (I'm a big fan of throwing the football).

Running the ball more often increases time of possession. It keeps your defense off the field. It is a great way to protect the secondary.

This week, for example, that should be the approach. The Tennessee defense is a slice of Swiss cheese and it is particularly weak against the run. The Titans are 30th in the NFL, yielding 141.6 rushing yards per game. They are 25th in the NFL, allowing 4.4 yards per rush.

Run the ball, Dolphins!

Get back to your identity.



Another week without Richard Marshall starts now

The Dolphins return to practice in preparation for the Tennessee Titans game on Sunday. They'll be on the practice field inside of 30 minutes.

Don't expect Richard Marshall to be there -- today, tomorrow or this week.

A source close to Marshall tells me the Dolphins cornerback who has been battling back issues is still not ready to practice. He has missed four games and has not played since Sept. 30.

The Dolphins are not surprised by this as Tuesday they signed former Cowboys, Ravens, and Raiders cornerback Bryan McCann.

McCann beat out a couple of other players who tried out, including former Dolphins cornerback Jonathan Wade.

By the way, you can bet that Marshall will miss the next two games. Becasue he's not practicing this week, he obviously is not playing against the Titans. And he's not playing against the Bills because that game is on a Thursday -- after a short week or preparation -- and that won't give Marshall enough time to gear up for the game even if he is fully healthy again, which also is uncertain.

So the earliest Marshall is back in the lineup would be Nov. 25 against Seattle.

[Update: The Dolphins overall are a relatively healthy team. Marshall and LB Koa Misi are the only players not at practice today.]

November 06, 2012

Kevin Coyle: Record day not a setback

Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle is a proud guy so he cannot be too happy his defense  -- until now effective -- was shredded by Andrew Luck on Sunday. Luck established a rookie record for most passing yards in a game.

It was a rookie record.

But a record nonetheless.

This is what Coyle said:

(On the defense allowing 13 of 19 third down conversions) –“It’s obviously very disappointing and that’s been one of our strengths throughout the year. We’ve been consistently getting better in that area. For a number of different reasons, we didn’t get it done yesterday. I think it was a combination of things. They made some plays against us. I wish I had a few calls back in the game. I’ll be the first one to take blame for a good portion of it. I think the combination of them executing and us not executing the defenses that we normally, we didn’t do anything different. We tried a lot of things as the game went on to try to change it up. We rushed them, we covered them, we spied the quarterback, we blitzed them. It wasn’t like, I went back after the game, wanted to see exactly what we called in what instances and tried to determine if there was a pattern or a trend. I don’t think it was that. It was just one of those games that they made some plays and we didn’t and we’ve got to do better. We’ve got to rush the passer better, we’ve got to cover better and I’ve got to do a better job of getting them in position to make the plays.”

(On the team’s struggles blitzing Andrew Luck) – “We hit him 11 or 12 times when we actually got to him, but we didn’t sack him only (but) one time. He made a couple of throws as he was going down to the ground. He made a couple of throws running away from the line of scrimmage. The long touchdown, if you go back and really look at the play, he just threw it up there. He never even saw Sean Smith overlapping the play and really laid it up there where we might have had a chance to make the play. We didn’t make the play. But to his credit, he’s very good in the pocket. He’s got great poise for a young player. As you watch him on tape, you see things that he does that you see a lot of veteran players in the league not do. In other words, when the rush is coming in his face, he’s not fazed by it. He doesn’t change his way, his demeanor. He’ll have a great pocket presence to slide and keep a play alive and we lost the edge a few times and he kept the plays going. I was really impressed with him. Even talking with some of their coaches prior to the game, they were concerned that he does it too much trying to extend plays and they’re worried about that fact. Certainly, yesterday, he made those.” 

(On if yesterday’s performance was a big step back for the secondary) – “No, I don’t think it’s a big step back. It’s a disappointment for all of us and that’s what we talked about today in the unit meeting with everybody, not just the secondary. We’ve been building something here since Coach (Joe) Philbin has come here and our first meetings with the players in April. One game is not going to set us back and I mean that and I told the players that. I said we’ve got a body of work where we were making a lot of progress and the secondary is one area where we have made a lot of progress. I don’t know if there’s anybody that has played the game or coached the game that hasn’t had a game where you come off and say, ‘How did that happen?’ Well, this is one of them and, I’ve got to be honest with you, I’m disappointed. I’ve never seen us get in a situation where we had a team in third-and-long and weren’t able to cash in. That’s always been something we’ve been pretty good at throughout the season here. Certainly, I don’t negate the fact that these guys, when you see them come to work every day the way they do, the way they prepare. It’s a bump in the road for us and a big one and we’ve got to get it turned around right away. Certainly, one game out of eight where we did not perform at the level of our standards, it’s not anybody else’s standards, it’s ours, is very disappointing. And we’re going to take that and energize ourselves as we get prepared for this next one. We’re going to come out and play a heck of a game come Sunday.”

(On the pass defense in the first half of the season) – “Well, rankings, you can twist rankings and statistics a lot of different ways and obviously we’re giving up way too many yards. Yesterday, we gave up way too many big plays in the game. You can also look at the fact that I think we’re somewhere around six or seven in the league in terms of completion percentages against us. I think that there’s been some positives in that sense. We’ve also had 45 passes-a-game thrown against us. By far the number one attempts in the league are against us. Tampa Bay is the only other team that has over 40 and they’re like at 41 and then everybody else is below that. But it’s a combination of we’ve got to do a better job in the coverage and we also have to continue to do a good job in the rush game (and) against the running game. I think, when you make teams throw the ball as much as we are, usually good things are going to happen sooner or later. It didn’t yesterday unfortunately for us. But the bottom line is, even with that being said, we were in the game with an opportunity to win the game at the end and we didn’t. The biggest disappointment… We had two scenarios that happened in the game – the one at the end of the first half where we had them third-and-long and they converted to kick the field goal was a big play in the game. Prior to that, I should say the third-and-nine in the red zone. It’s another area that we’ve been particularly effective in this season. I think right now Chicago’s the only team that is ahead of us in red zone defense in terms of touchdowns per attempts in the red zone per series in the red zone and that’s a good thing. But we gave up one on third-and-nine. We had them right where we wanted them. They gained nothing the first two plays and we gave up a touchdown there. We gave up the one right there before the end of the half and then we had them third-and-12 backed up and that play where they dumped the ball off and we missed a tackle (and) they converted and then eventually went down and kicked the winning field goal. That play was a big swing because, had we stopped them there, they’re going to be punting right around their end zone or out of their end zone and we would have had a chance hopefully to get the ball in good field position at that point, but we didn’t and they went on to continue the drive and score the winning field goal. Like I said, we’ve got our work cut out for us, but these guys have gotten better and I believe in these guys and we’re going to go out there and take the second half of the season. We look at it, we’re eight games in and honestly my wife had to remind me of this on the phone last night because I wasn’t feeling to good, but she said, ‘You know you guys have lost three games by three points, each of them.’ And I hadn’t even thought of that to be quite honest with you. That hadn’t even crossed my mind. When she said that, it kind of dawned on me that, yeah, we’re making progress, but we’re not where we want to be and we can be better. I think the players know that and we’re not going to accept anything less.”

(On if this Sunday against the Titans if the team will copy what the Bears did against them yesterday) – “Well, I’ll tell you what, the Bears did a heck of a job. They started fast. Yeah, we liked to do that, start fast. Actually, the first play of the game was a nice conversion for Tennessee and (Charles) Tillman came from behind and stripped the guy after they gained about 18 yards or so. It didn’t look good initially for the Bears, but they certainly swarmed on defense and they’re playing great defense. We’ll look at them and anybody else that we can get a good thought from and implement it into our package.”

(On how it affects preparation not knowing who the Titans starting quarterback will be) –“Not a whole lot. They’re kind of a system team. They’re going to run their offense. I don’t think the one quarterback changes things dramatically. So we’ll see. I think we’ll know a little bit more as the week goes on because I don’t think the young guy (Jake Locker) has practiced yet and if he’s out there practicing, getting reps, there’s a good chance he’ll play. If not, they made hold him off until after the bye week. They have a bye week after we play them.”

(On how much of a difference it has made with Richard Marshall being out)– “It certainly (has) not helped us. You’ve got a veteran player there who gives us that veteran competitiveness and leadership in the secondary, both on the outside and also in the nickel. Jimmy (Wilson’s) role has expanded. Jimmy’s played well at times. I think I mentioned to you guys last week how impressed I was with how he covered the slot for the Jets (slot receiver Jeremy Kerley) who’s a good player too. And yesterday, he struggled at times. But like I said, there’s not a guy that’s played the game and the best one’s in this game that haven’t had a game where you got beat and you made mistakes. We just seemed to have too many guys at one time do it and we’re going to get it fixed. We’re going to do everything we can to get it fixed.”

November 05, 2012

It was a long day for Jake and what that mean

It used to be that the overarching conversation surrounding Jake Long was about whether he indeed was the right pick as the No. 1 overall selection in 2008 over Matt Ryan. And the argument could be made that even if Ryan turned out to be a franchise quarterback, picking a Hall of Fame left tackle was still a wise choice.

Well, Long has not been playing like a Hall of Fame left tackle this year.

And on Sunday he didn't play like a Pro Bowl left tackle. Or even a good left tackle.

Matched against Dwight Freeney, who had been struggling with injuries and production prior to this game, Long was beaten soundly in the matchup. Freeney got a sack that stripped the ball from Ryan Tannehill and, ironically, Long plucked the pigskin out of the air and ran for a couple of yards.

It was a good save. But it wasn't a good look for Long.

He also yielded two other QB hits and at least one more pressure that forced Tannehill to get rid of the ball early. He also had a false start and had a holding call that was declined.

"Yeah, it appeared there were a couple of times, it looked like he got beat a couple of times," coach Joe Philbin said. "We'll have to take a look at the tapes to see if it's a technique thing. It might have been minor little things and some adjustments he'll have to make. But, yeah, we expect better protection."

Long echoed his coach after the game, giving credit to Freeney and his well-chronicled spin move. Long also promised an attempt at improvement.

"He got me on the one," Long said. "He gets off the ball quick and it's a hell of a move. He did well on that one and I just have to correct it and get better."

The truth is Long has not been Miami's best offensive lineman this year as he was in years past. That mantle has been passed to Mike Pouncey.

But the problem is where do the Dolphins and Long go from here? Long, you see, is a free agent after this season. And general manager Jeff Ireland is on record as saying he will not let Long get away from the Dolphins.

I get that because letting Long walk only creates another hole that has to be filled and the Dolphins have plenty of those as is. In fact, my column in today's Miami Herald makes the point that because quarterback Ryan Tannehill is good (but not great) the Dolphins have to surround him with more weapons and a better team to compete with teams that indeed do get great quarterback play.

And, by the way, Andrew Luck delivered great quarterback play against Miami on Sunday and has convinced me he's going to be great. Indeed, Luck has thrown for 2,404 yards this season. Peyton Manning? He's thrown for 2,404 yards this season.

The point is the Dolphins need to add talent, not lose some they already have.

Which brings me back to Long. It's going to be a hard negotiation if Long's agent, Tom Condon, is going to insist on having Long paid as the best left tackle in football -- which is exactly what Long was coming out of college as the No. 1 pick. Long was the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL.

But after gutting through a couple of injury plagued seasons in 2010 and 2011 and still not playing at his highest level this year, I don't see how the Dolphins can justify paying Long like the best tackle in football. He's probably in the top 10 some games. But not every game.

Certainly not on Sunday.

"They're a hell of a defese. Their front line got a few on us. We just have to watch the film and get better and we will."

November 04, 2012

Colts beat Dolphins 23-20

INDIANAPOLIS -- It was entertaining, but ultimately, the Dolphins apparently aren't quite ready to win this type of game.

Colts 23. Dolphins 20.

In the end, the defense couldn't come up with the game-changing turnover -- as Sean Smith dropped what might have been a huge interception inside of four minutes to play inside the Colts 30 yard line.

The offense, meanwhile, didn't have a come-from-behind drive in them. They had three minutes to try and turned the ball over on downs.

The secondary, by the way, was shredded today. Andrew Luck completed 30 of 48 passes for 433 yards with two TDs. The 433 yards breaks the NFL rookie record for most passing yards in a game. The old record was previously held by Cam Newton.

Ryan Tannehill, by the way, completed 22 of 38 for 290 yards and a TD. But just not enough.

By anyone.

Colts lead Dolphins 20-17 going to fourth quarter

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Dolphins offense slowed down in the third quarter.

The Colts did not.

The Colts got a touchdown on a 36-yard pass from Andrew Luck to T.Y. Hilton in the quarter to give them a 20-17 lead. The Dolphins, meanwhile, punted twice.

This game will be down to the wire. As they all have been.

The live blog continues in the comments section below.

Dolphins lead Colts 17-13 going to third quarter

INDIANAPOLIS -- I love this game!

It reminds me of Dan Marino versus Peyton Manning although we all know it's Ryan Tannehill versus Andrew Luck. Both are killing it so far.

Tannehill has thrown for 158 yards while completing 10 of 14 passes with one TD. He has a 132.4 QB rating.

Luck has thrown for 273 yards while completing 19 of 28 passes with one TD. He has a 111.2 QB rating. And we are aware T.Y. Hilton has dropped two TD passes.


Anyway, the Dolphins have the better of the matchup so far. They lead 17-13. But this game is long from over.

The live blog continues in the comments section. See you there.

Indianapolis leads Dolphins 7-3 to start second quarter

INDIANAPOLIS --This one is looking like a quarterback battle.

Andrew Luck is looking quite sharp and already directed a TD drive in his second possession. Ryan Tannehill directed a FG drive when he got the ball and is doing work early in the second quarter.

The Colts lead 7-3 but that is not going to stand because both QBs are playing well.

The live blog continues in the comments seciont. Join me there.

Live blog here: McDaniel most important inactive

INDIANAPOLIS -- Tony McDaniel is inactive for today's game.

That's it. That is all the damage the Dolphins have to report.

RyanTannehill is starting. Brian Hartline is starting. Everything is fine, folks. The Miami inactives are Pat Devlin, Richard Marshall, Josh Kaddu, Will Yeatman, Michael Egnew, and Anderson Russell

McDaniel, as you know, is nursing a knee injury.

Rishard Matthews is active for the first time this season.

For the Colts, running back Donald Brown is active but Vick Ballard will start. Brown had his surgically repaired left knee swell on Friday and could not play today.

 As every game, we will celebrate a live blog today during the game. It starts at kickoff in the comments section. See you there.

Dolphins and Colts medical staffs busy pregame

INDIANAPOLIS -- Both the Dolphins and the Colts will be monitoring key players from their offensive backfields before today's game to make the final decision on their game status.

As you know, the Dolphins are expecting to start quarterback Ryan Tannehill but the final decision will be made after a pregame workout on the field hours before game time. That has been the track for the Dolphins for a week since Tannehill injured his left knee last week in New York.

[Update: Tannehill did not come out fo rthe workout which tells me the Dolphins are comfortable with his status and he is a definite starter today.]

[Update 2: WR Brian Hartline, who was questionable with a hamstring and groin injury, worked out prior to the game. He looks fine. Expect him to play.]

If Tannehill is not ready, the game will belong to backup Matt Moore. My column on Moore today makes the point he is among the Dolphins best backup quarterbacks -- ever. It also points to the reasons why Moore is so good in that spot.

The Colts, meanwhile, downgraded running back Donald Brown from probable to questionable on Saturday after he experienced swelling in his left knee. Brown played last week but missed the previous two games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery.

Brown will also be a game time decision.