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Some curious coaching decisions on Sunday

I do not blame the Dolphins defense for Sunday's loss. I do not blame the coaching. I don't blame the special teams even though they cost the Dolphins points. I put the blame for Sunday's loss to the New England Patriots squarely on the collective shoulders of the Dolphins offense and its paltry touchdown production.

Ryan Tannehill cannot blow two easy TD throws as he did when Brian Hartline twice got behind the New England defense. Can't happen. I'll have more on that later.

But having said all that, I do see some curious work being done by the coaching staff.

My first issue is the manner in which the Dolphins use their running backs:

I do not understand the love affair with Daniel Thomas. I do not understand the underuse of Reggie Bush. I do not understand or like the shelving of Lamar Miller.

Firstly, let us establish that Bush is Miami's most productive running back. He averages 4.4 yards per carry and he gets the most carries practically every game. But why only a dozen carries or so?

Through 12 games Bush is averaging 13.75 carries a game. That's one carry less per game than last year on average so that doesn't seem to matter, but the thing that bothers me is there seems to be no room made for feeding the hot back and keeping the cold guy on the bench.

Yesterday, Bush was running well. He was averaging a healthy 4.3 yards per carry. Thomas was averaging 2.0 yards per carry. Yet, on several occasions, Bush came out and Thomas got to tote the football.

By the time the game was over, Thomas had five carries for 10 yards. Oh yeah, he also blocked the wrong guy on a blitz inside the red zone and it nearly got Ryan Tannehill broken in two. Nonetheless, the Dolphins insist Thomas is the next guy up and they continue to feed him when his stats suggest he is not on par with Bush while playing behind the same offensive line, in the same condidtions, in the same games, against the same opponents.

This year Thomas has gained 3.6 yards per carry. That's almost a yard less per carry than Bush.

Look, I'm not saying shelve Thomas. He has a place in the offense. But when things aren't working for him, or when the game situation dictates Bush is doing better, give Bush the carries Thomas would ordinarily get. Trust me, Bush isn't tired. He's in better shape than practically every guy on the team and he's healthy.

Then, of course, we have the continued non-use of Miller. I would understand not giving Bush enough carries if you're spreading them out to a guy who has proven in college that he can be dynamic. That is Miller. He was a 50-yard TD run waiting to happen at the University of Miami.

Yet, he is usually inactive and even when he is active -- like yesterday -- he often does not get any carries.

What makes Thomas better than Miller? Oh yeah, nothing. If he's missing blitzers, if he's averaging 2-yards a carry, what is the point?

And, with the season in its final month, why not trot out Miller more? Give him work. Let's see what he's got.

My point? Either ride Reggie Bush more or split the carries between Bush and Miller. Thomas? To me, he's running third in a three-horse race. To Miami coaches, he's a close second. I don't get it.

I also don't get the coaching decision on Cameron Wake in the final quarter.

With 8:28 to play and the Patriots protecting a tenuous 20-13 lead, New England got the ball at their own 20 yard line. Cameron Wake was on the Miami sideline -- not injured, not tired, standing by coaches with his helmet on waiting to be let in the game.

Then the Patriots ran off eight plays and churned three first downs with Wake on the sideline. Then Miami called a time out. And Wake remained on the sideline. Then New England ran two more plays, putting them at the Miami 18 yard line. And Wake was still on the sideline.

Finally, Miami called another time out and Wake was sent back in the game.

So at a pivotal juncture the Dolphins had their most productive defensive player on the sideline as the Patriots marched 62 yards and took over four minutes off the clock.

“They were running the ball," Philbin said, explaining the reason Wake wasn't playing. "We have a play count that we want to keep guys to [in order] to keep guys fresh."

Three things:

So a hard-and-fast play count determined in an air conditioned room during the week supercedes in-game situational needs that is before your eyes on the field on Sunday? 

Also, keep them fresh for what? The fifth quarter? Next week? Next year? It's the last chance the Dolphins had to stop New England. Try to do it with your best players on the field.

Also, the Patriots passed the ball during the drive. Brady completed passes of 8, 6 and 10 yards before Wake got back in the game. Think maybe Wake, among the league leaders in sacks, might have provided a bit more pressure on those plays?

[UPDATE: Philbin was questioned about having Wake on the sideline again during his noon Monday press conference. He repeated that the team has a plan about keeping players fresh and having a snap count for each player and that was the reason Wake was out. Asked if he sticks by that decision, Philbin said yes.]

Look, I think the Miami coaching staff generally is doing a good job with a flawed roster. They get it absolutely right about 85 percent of the time.

But turning Cameron Wake into a spectator in the fourth quarter when the game's on the line? Not using Reggie Bush or Lamar Miller more? Using Daniel Thomas like he's really good?

That's part of the 15 percent.

 

Comments

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Mando

Bush gets too many negative yards on first down. I understand he averages above 4 yards per carry but he did have a couple over 10 yards that make the average look that way. Why dont you break every carry down and analyze it. Miami has way to many 2 and 12s or 2 and 13s where they become too predictable on 2nd down.

haha, the special teams cost this team 14 points, we lose by seven but yet do not shoulder any blame. Come on man!!

I actually think the play calling in general was un creative and bad. Bush had no where to run on first down. In second half we get the ball. run-run-pass-punt on 2 straight possessions. That's on sherman.

Armando,

Seems this coaching staff maybe brighter than last season's coaching staff. Maybe they are secretly trying to lose games to get better talent to work with next year.

Why finish 7-9 to 9-7 with knowingly flawed roster?

If they are now secretly not playing the best players in certain situations, and intentionally lose remaining games to have better opportunity to coach better talent next year. Then I also secretly applaud them.

I think 5 wins guarrantees Philbin comes back next year.

Totally agree on Wake. I could understand if he was terrible against the run, but his grades are very high against the run.

Stupid decision.

Thank you, SLAm. I thought I was the only who noticed the hole the run game but this offense in the 3rd qtr. -4 yards in the 3rd qtr Mando!!! When the game was on the line. The Dolphins offense played right into the Patriot defense' strength but yet we should've used Bush and his negative runs more - more than what killed the entire 3rd qtr???

I think it was LOL who told me that Cam Wake is the number one guy at his position against the run. Any reason he'd be on the sidelines then when the team knew NE was going to run the ball? Care to explain?

I question a number of the decisions this coaching staff has made. Kris, you want to give Philbin a pass this year but I say BS on that. Egnew has yet to see the field, Miller's been inactive for a lot of games or never used and the coaching staff continued to play Naanee and Gaffney, while not using Moore and Matthews. If this season is about the future and developing guys, then why aren't the kids playing?

I'm also not a fan of this, 'fumble the ball once and you see the bench'. WOuld Philbin do this if he had Foster or Pedersson on this team. Some really questionable decisions that kind of make me wonder if Philbin is the guy.

Right on, Boulder. I agree 100%

I also want to mention that Reshad Jones is becomming a great player. The guy competes hard out there and is the only playmaker on the back end. The guys play speed is jumping off the screen. On the other hand I dont understand how Anthony Fasano is still starting. Brandon Spikes is the SLOWEST LB in the NFL and we can never take advantage of that.

I don't think the coaching staff gets it right 85 percent of the time. More like 60 percent of the time.

They haven't been able to get Egnew involved.
They haven't been able to make Clay consistent.
They haven't been able to get Tannehill to improve since the start of the season.
Like you said Mando Fasano is a ghost.
Bush is less productive than a year ago.
The offensive play-calling stinks most games.
The special teams has taken a step backward in recent weeks.
Koa Misi is playing out of position.
And of course Lamar Miller is being ignored for whatever reason.

That doesn't sound like they're getting it right 85 percent of the time.

Barry Sanders had a lot of negative plays throughout his career. But runners like that have to be fed, because eventually they will pop a 50-yarder.

That's why you have to feed Bush more an Thomas less.

I am sick and tired of Daniel Thomas. Use him as the third-down back if you must. Throw him the ball. Use him as the checkdown. He has soft hands and is productive there. But why give him carries?

It's also not the first time this year we've called out the play-calling as being unimaginative and predictable. I saw it for myself in Buffalo. You could tell when Miami was going to run the ball sitting in the stands and it's part of the reason Buffalo was in the Miami backfield all game. So I have to think that falls on Sherman. Just how good is this guy really?

If we're playing for next year and for draft position, lets see more of the kids. There's not reason in the world that Egnew shouldn't be in there for the last 4 games. It's not like Fasano's doing anything. Let's see what we've got with this kid and see if we have to add TE to that list that keeps getting longer by the day.

I also find it "odd and co-incidental" that when teh pats play, certain things get called or not called. The pass interference on Dansby - the ball was thrown 5 yards out of bounds. I guess catchable ball is not part of the equation anymore. Also interesting that Tannehill on a run gets up with his helmet twisted right around his head and no facemask. Ref wasn't looking at the qb I guess. No reason to look at the guy carrying the ball right in front of you. This happens with the pats way too often. They get an extra possession minimum every time they play.

scourt,

bush is no barry sanders. Not even close not even in the same discussion. that was a dumb comparison. i dont even know what else to say

Slam,

Good points above. Lost in our anger and frustration is the play of Jones. I think Mark said it a few weeks ago, this guy is in fact playing at a Pro Bowl level right now. He's one of our best players right now.

Also dead right about Fasano. Is this guy hurt or something because he's contributing NOTHING and is invisible. I have to think his time in Miami is just about up.

Amen Mando agree 110% with this article. Real head scratchers with Thomas and the benching of Wake....

REggie Bush is done after this year. You even broke that story Mando. So why push for Bush now?

Give Lamar Miller the ball. He's the future. He's better than Thomas as you said. I saw him at UM too and he's a baller.

We have a guy on the roster than can break runs, doesn't fumble and is faster than the other guys ahead of him. But we don't play him ... why?

No excuse for that now.

This coaching staff sucks just as bad as fat boy parcells era did and the qb is just as bad!

Mark @ 11:22,

Great points. No way that was PI on Dansby. There's no way the WR could have come close to catching that ball inbounds. And right about the facemask on Tannehill. This is how it always goes for the Pats and the Steelers. There's a bias in the league, no question.

The only thing I'd say about Miller guys, is that running backs breakdown vry quickly from wear and tear in the NFL. I think the average career of a RB is something like 4 years. I think the Dolphins see Miller as the future and don't want to use him up too early. That's the only reasonable explanation I can have for how they use him and if that's the case, I'm Ok with that.

I did not say Reggie Bush is Barry Sanders. Please read again. I said he is like Sanders in that he can lose yards on several plays during the game but if you give him the ball enough, he'll break off a 15-20 yard run.

There are many running backs like that. In fact, most running back like carrying the ball MORE because it gives them more a feel and timing for the defense and the game.

Try to understand that.

Is Philbin some sort of fukkin idiot??? WTH would you bench your best player in Wake when you need a play for some rookies. Ive seen enough of Coker 2.0 Fire HIM!

Also lost in the wash, and I know he isn't the most popular guy here but what about the game Sean Smith had? Exactly how many catches did Brandon Lloyd get?

Played a very strong game as he has most of the year. Far from the problem in the secondary and a guy we should keep - he could be part of the solution.

yea and tannehill is like dan marino. he throws interceptions but keep letting him throw it and he will throw a touchdown.

Craig, your theory about saving RBs is flawed in that when one guy is "used up" you do what every team in the NFL does: You get someone else through the draft of perhaps UFA.

Nobody "saves" a rookie so as to not use him up. That's ridiculous.

Philbin should be fired for sticking with an incompetent Tannehill and leaving our MVP on the bench.

Kris,

I'm just saying, I think this is a conversation we should be having next week at this time. I fully expect he'll get the sh*t beaten out of him this week against a tough SF defence. They're going to be angry after yesterday. It's a home game for them. Tannehill looks a bit lost right now and I'm fully expecting that the line will struggle against Aldon Smith and guys like Justin Smith. It could get ugly and there's nothing to be learned when it comes to situations like that. A break at some point might do him good.

I read you want a vet QB to compete with him next year. Like who? Me, I'd bring Moore back. There may be a team or two who is interested in him to start (like NYJ or Ari) but if Moore moves on I'd have our current thirs stringer back him up. I don't think we create a QB controversy here in Miami. The kid needs to feel the confidence. If he struggles next year, then you bring a vet in to compete in '14, IMO.

Scourt, you laid out quite an argument against the Miami coaches right now. Very comprehensive.

Can you imagine if Hennehill DIDNT know the playbook? LOL

Great Points Mando.

YG @11:12. That Is All Dashi is Saying. Philbin is Evaluating The Roster. Picking What They Need To See! They Are Basically Taking This Season Like 16 Scrimmages! Since The PreSeason! If We Lose! Oh, Well! Another Loss Closer To TE'O!!! Right Now It's Looking Like a TOP 5 Pick To Get Him!

THIS OFFSEASON IS THE MOST IMPORTANT OFFSEASON OF IRELAND'S CAREER! And The Dolphins!

BUT IRELAND SCREWS THIS UP!! AND HE IS GONE MID-SEASON!

Please enough about SS, Lloyde isnt a top 10 WR. Now is SS was a corner worth re-signing we could stick him on Welker all game long and limit Weler, the guy had almost 100 yards in the first half.

Mark,

Further to your argument @11:33am,

And we saw a lot of the usual crap form Chris Cleemons yesterday too. Beat on the pass down the sidelines and then makes it worse but grabbing the facemask. He was also lucky that Welker dropped the pass to him in the end zone, when Clemmons gave him too much room. Can't wait to get another safety back there.

Shouldn't have tried to reason with you slammed. Never mind buddy. You're a genius. You have it all figured out.

Thanks, Giants stink. Apppreciate that. I could actually add to that list but won't because the Dolphins are my team and these coaches are not going anywhere. So why pile on?

Chad Henne, Pat White, Ryan Tannehill. Can Irescum pick QBs or what?? LMAO!!

I thought part of sherman coming back to the nfl was to audition as a head coaching gig? Maybe he forgot. I dont get the thomas love. Sherman must think the kid is gonna wake up and turn into ahmad green.Or the banged up but productive version of fred taylor.I thought the kid had some moves but thats about it. Still a tanne supportor but maybe he should lay off its just another team talk.

Giants stink,

That's EXACTLY my point. Why do we have to draft another RB at this point when we have a first round pick on the roster in Miller, who isn't getting 'used up. Why would we be using him in meaningless games and shortening his career?

I have no problem with the team going to Thomas. It's evident at times that it's not happening for Bush. His runs up the middle are for the most part a waste of time. To me the coaching staff still doesn't use him properly. Another black mark for this coaching staff. I saw Forte being used wide yesterday and last week the Seahawks did it with Lynch. This coaching staff doesn't do enough of that kind of stuff with Bush. Again it's lack of imagination from Sherman, who if he's not careful will become Dan Henning Part Deux.

The Wake thing is a head scratcher. But the Bush thing is obvious and the writing is on the wall. Bush is gone this offseason, they are trying to see if Thomas is worth keeping around, can't do that on the bench.

The coaches are looking past this season. They already started the rebuild and are trying to figure out who will fit in moving forward. That seems pretty obvious. Miller isn't going anywhere. Thomas and Bush could be gone.

Here's something else people don't seem to be grasping. The Dolphins are running a west coast style offense. A lot of their running plays are zone blocking schemed. If you have two guards who run like they are wearing cement shoes its hard for the back to get going. He constantly has to wait for his escort instead of just following and bursting around him at the second level. They are getting caught up at the first level which then allows for more tacklers on the defensive side of the ball.

Philbin didnt draw up the offense to suit the players he has. He drew the offense up the way he wants to run it moving forward. Hes evaluating the current players based on their usefulness in his system. They cant tell fans but this is an evaluation year. Coughlin did the same thing in NY . The difference is he has a GM that can find playmakers.

The way I saw it was everyone on was on edge, specially on offense. How else you explain the blunder of mental mistakes that were made in the game particularly at the beginning of the game? Pats are hyped to be the team of the AFC, they are the best team Miami has gone against all year and they knew they had to play a flawless game. They psyched themselves out. In this game Philben needed to take a page out of Rex Ryan's book and get his team (particularly his QB) believing they could go toe to toe with this team, which is what they did despite all the mistakes.

GREG, MR. 11 AND 5,HOW ARE DOLPINS GNNA WIN 11 GAMES THIS YEAR OR NEXT WIHT

THE GARAGE MACHANIC
FASANO
DANSBY
SNITH
BESS
STILL ON TEAM?

Great points Phins78, you get it. This offense was built for physical ground and pound football and west coast is more finese atheletic linemen. Im not an Ireland fan but he is doing alright. THigpen was a great find this offseason.

I think it was LOL who told me that Cam Wake is the number one guy at his position against the run.

Posted by: Craig M | December 03, 2012 at 11:16 AM

No, it wasn't.

Craig the kids are playing. Our starters are the second youngest in the league. The reason the rookies arent playing is known by the guys coaching them every day. I sincerely hope you are not one of these fans that wants to fire every new head coach in their first season. And it irks me that you seem to give Ireland a pass while putting blame on Philbin for talentless players he did not pick.

On L.Miller.

If Anyone Remembers He had a Injured Shoulder before The Draft. Reason He Wasn't a First Round Pick and Droped to the 4th!

I Look at it as a REDSHIRT SEASON! Miller is Only 21! Thigpen, Bush, and D.Thomas Should Be Able To Handle The LOAD!

BUSH DANCES TO MUCH! HIS AVERAGE IS SKEW! BECAUSE EVERY 10 Carries He Breaks ONE 15-20 Yard Gain. That Hides The Other Ten 2 Yard Carries!

D.Thomas! CONSISTENTLY FALLS FORWARD! HE BEATS U WITH 7-10 Yard Punches!

R.BUSH IS A 3RD DOWN BACK! He Dances To Much! To Be a True #1!

L.Miller is a Better RB! And Is About as Fast as Reggie! Again The Fins Are Building for the Future. WHY WASTE UR STUD HB! That Is Still Recovering From Injury. AND RAISE THE VALUE OF D.THOMAS! AND GIVING REGGIE HIS RESPECT! AND LET HIM FINISH OUT THE SEASON AS THE STARTER!

We All Know Philbin would Rather Have Thomas Start. But He Respects Bush! Same Thing With Moore!

Dashi said Since PreSeason The 2 Best QB's On The Roster Were Devlin and T-Hill! Garrard is Better Than Moore! But The Injury and Then The Respect NOT TO CUT MOORE BEFORE WEEK 1! They Cut Garrard.

U Guys Can Criticize Philbin All U Want! But He Respects His Players! And They Respect Him!

The Fins Only Have 1 INSUBORDINATE!

THE GUY WHO CALLS THE DEFENSE ON THE FIELD! AND DOESN'T AUDIBLE FROM A ALL OUT BLITZ! ON THE GOAL LINE!

Z.Thomas Use to MindF*@k Brady!

Brady must be In Heaven Going Against Dansby!

Oscar your Aloco character is old and washed up, you should stick with gigi for a while.

Did anyone notice Thomas fumbled again yesterday? LOL

This guy is useless. Giving him carries when that experience should be going to the only RB with a future on this team (Miller), is pointless.

Bush is gone. Thomas is always dinged or fumbling. In other words, NOT reliable.

Why keep wasting carries on these 2? Miller should be starter rest of the year as well as Matthews at WR for Bess.

Time to see what you have to addres the LONG NEED list Ireland has compiled for himself.

With any luck, Ross will finally wake up & get rid of the real problem, IRELAND.

Slam said it best. Bush is too inconsistent and unpredicatable. He loses too many yards at crucial times and is a drive killer. Daniel Thomas rarely gets caught in the back field and puts us in 3rd and 15 situations. I say Bush should be gone next year. This offence needs a plant your foot in the ground and grind out 3 or 4 yards a carry to get us to 3rd and manageable, and eat up the clock and keep the defence fresh. Too many 3 and outs with Bush in the backfield. Sometimes he looks timid and dances around too much! Next year should be a split between Thomas and Miller. Use the money saved on Bush's salary to sign a WR or tackle?! Get rid of Long now as well. He is not worth his salary with all his injuries and lack of performance!

he sux

3 + outs = blowz.
lol

I say let Jake Long go and pick up the 3rd round compensatory pick from the league for him. I like martin at left tackle and you can draft another guard and move jerry out to right tackle.

A couple of people posted the reason Thomas gets touches over Bush, and I agree 2nd and 12 about sums it up. Bush is basically a home run or a negative play lately. Also is he going to be out the door.

Thanks for Ryan FATCELLS.
LMAO!

Slam is that how it works? What are the rules on the compensatory pick?

Phins78,

Not suggesting Philbin be fired at all but he IS responsible for the personnel he's given. I read your comments above and I agree with you that we have the wrong type of players for the system Philbin wants to run. Should Ireland be blamed for that too? We've gone from a big, slow plodding offence to a quick, athletic WCO. That's going to take time. What Philbin is responsible for is the use of the personnel he has now and there's been some head-scratchers, as you mentioned.

We play the 49ers next here comes 5 and 8. At least Dansby will get a first hand look at what a real MLB looks like in Patrick Willis.

The Dolphins are a marketing department disguised as a football team. So the only way they will get back to their winning ways is if the FO and Ross will simply shut their mouths about the football side of the organization. As long as the FO of Ross, Ireland and Dee are calling the shots the Dolphins will be DOOMED on the field to mediocrity.

I am not 100% sure of all the rules but i know the better the players that leave your team during free agency the higher and more compensatory picks you get. Jake long is guarenteed to get us a 3rd rounder. If starks and long and push leave we will probably get a 3rd 4th and 5th round comp pick.

Phins78,

Sorry that SHOULD have said, 'he IS responsible for deciding how to use the personnel he's given'. Not sure I worded that properly above.

My plan is to give Ireland another year, working WITH Philbin to get the personnel he wants. You don't fire a GM after trading away players to help down the road and base his job security on how a rookie Q does.

Love your idea with moving Jerry to RT, he played well there when filling in. We need a pulling guard badly but I hope we can find one via free agency. Im sick of spending picks on olinemen, need to use them on playmakers who touch the ball for a change.

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