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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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"I'm Ok with your plan but what you're professing is a SLOW simple approach and it doesn't strike me that's your personality. If you're following that plan then you're talking to a 3-4 year plan. It also means you need to keep things as is for the next 3-4 years and I don't think you're OK with that.

If you're going to judge a GM on a won/loss record, as you and many others are want to do, then you can't expect him to get rid of assets (see Davis and Marshall) and then hold him responsible for the team's won/loss record. Are we rebuilding or are we trying to get into the playoffs? If it's rebuilding then let's be patient and do it properly. I don't think this fanbase is OK with that."

My problems with Ireland have nothing to do with getting rid of Davis &/or Marshall which were both the right moves to make. However Ireland HAS to be blamed for bringing them to Miami in the first place. I have no idea who made the call on Vontae but based on what I know about Parcells I highly doubt that Parcells wanted to trade for a 'diva WR.'

It's people like you who seem to forget that we gave up draft picks to get Marshall in the first place. Draft picks that could have helped build this team instead of helping Denver build theirs.

BTW--Since this is our first rebuilding year I believe it could possibly be done with two VERY solid FA's & drafts...Maybe three.

LOL or DUH?

Three letters. No originality in their sign in names, both no nothing about football, both complain and bash others but offer nothing of substance.

Could it be? Is it possible? One and the same? On this blog?

LOL, how do you feel about the Ravens and Steelers front offices? Like anyone that works there? Know any names?

Inconsistent is the word to describe Tannehill. Why? He has ALL the Tools both mentally and physically to not be so. Lack of confidence, both in himself and in those around him. A rookie that needs to settle down and have more trustworthy pieces around him.

You ignorant Phins78, for what he is paid, Soliai MUST be as dominant as Wilfork of the Pats. Can you say it is the case? Soliai is a solid player, not a dominant player. He is overpaid!

Go out! It is because of STUPID fans like you that the Dolphins are what they are. Living in MEDIOCRITY!

LOL,

'Dunces'....'ignorant people'. Bashing and offers nothing of substance.

Hmmmm....

Do we ever see them on here together? Anyone know?

I have loved Bush since he's been hear, but he gets tackled behind the line more often than he breaks for large runs. I agree Miller should be playing instead of Thomas, but Miller is just a bigger stronger Bush and Thomas is bruiser and N&S runner. The offensive line needs to block better up the middle. Pouncy can't do it all by himself.
Where is Oliver on D? We need to start giving the youngsters more playing time to see what we really have. letting them play one game at the end of the season wont tell us sh*t.

i been here all day craig M. on the last blog too. Go check it!

And the point is, DUH is right about you.

It is what it is.

Lemme guess, you gonna call me the blow hard guy now too, right?

Face facts. People hate you. That's on you, dillweed.

AquaOrange,

You're dead wrong, man. Soliai is one of our best players....by a Country mile! Doesn't show up in the stats but he's the reason we have one of the best run defences in the league and why we shutdown guys like Marshawn Lynch. Pick on whoever you want on this team but Soliai is not the guy to be directing your wrath to. Not dominant? I think you're watching different football games than me.

LOL,

I'd talk to you if you had something to offer but you don't....you're an IDIOT!

Thanks for trying hard though...

Could be a lot worse. We could be the Jets or the Eagles or Cardinals, all franchises that are going NOWHERE. There will be some coaching changes, some new QBs....lots of change.

At least we've got out fresh start already started and some draft picks coming up. We've got at least a year on those teams. Now time time to make this offseason count.

Craig,

Weren't you the same guy calling for our rookie QB to be benched yesterday??? If you want a FRESH start don't we need to develop our first round pick & the 8th overall pick instead of playing a guy who might not even be on the roster next year???

I'd really love to know how playing Moore yesterday & benching Tannehill helps this team for the future.

The problem is there's no light at the end of the tunnel for this franchise. It will take a GOOD GM 3-5 years AFTER Ireland is fired to fix this mess. More and more holes every year since Parcells left. Sad how far this once proud franchise is falling.

thomas missed a delayed blitz. it happens. he's by far the best RB on passing downs to keep tannehill upright. he's down a great job all season so i think you are overreacting big time!! his average is lower partly because he's the guy who comes in to get the tough 2 yard run for 1st downs.

on the season bush has almost doubled the caries as thomas. 4.4 for bush 3.7 for thomas. not a giant difference considering bush is the supposed dynamic back and thomas is awful (if you listen to this fool armundo)

as far as wake goes. the pats were trying to run out the clock. they put in the big front, it didn't really help but seems like the right move.

i do think miller must be dumb or injured. if he's this awesome playmaker then i think he'd be out there. maybe he can't get his assignments done in practice.

as far as vanilla offense goes, we finally threw the long ball, twice. both were missed by tannehill but at least they finally went for it. the thing i don't get is it seems the offense moves best in no huddle yet they don't run it much.

finally seems martin played better at LT than long has. unless long offers a hometown discount he may need to go. i'd resign hartline. he would be a great #2 WR if we can get wallace or draft an alpha WR. seems the burgh is gonna let wallace walk. i don't think tannehill can overthrow him.

Please surround RT with more intelligent pieces than he has now around him. He'll do better.

WHDPs,

Yeah I thought Tannehill looked terrible yesterday. He looked deer in the headlights and jittery. The Pats were there for the taking yesterday but never really came close to winning the game. You guys tells me a QB learns from a game like that. We'll see. To me he needed to look at things from the sidelines. At SOME point he needs to be accountable for his play. Game 12 and he looks as green as ever and it wasn't even a good QB yesterday.

So time will tell. Guys tell me young QBs need to be thrown to the lions from the beginning and that's how they learn. I'm not seeing it so far. He's regressed. So let's see what he does this week and the week after and see where we are.

WHDP, there is no more future in Tannehill then there was in Henne. If there is any future its with Matt Moore or the QB we draft in April.

Should have said, 'Wasn't even a good defence yesterday'.

And with that I'm out. I'll leave you to the entertainment of LOL/DUH and his band of Merrymen. Have fun bashing fellas.....and try and through a little football talk in there at some point too, since it is a football blog.

I hear ya Jaison. Thomas isn't nearly as bad as he is made out to be. Though the fumbles are concerning now.

You forgot Pat Devlin, Fin 77. Philbin seems to like him a lot.

Move T'Hill to WR he is not a QB.

finally seems martin played better at LT than long has. unless long offers a hometown discount he may need to go. i'd resign hartline. he would be a great #2 WR if we can get wallace or draft an alpha WR. seems the burgh is gonna let wallace walk. i don't think tannehill can overthrow him.

Jaison,

Definitely need to see more from Martin @ LT than one game before we decide that he can be the guy. However if we are going to truly 'rebuild' it just doesn't make sense to overpay for players like Long whose skills & health are rapidly declining.

Would love to see both Hartline & Wallace in Miami next year.

Yeah I thought Tannehill looked terrible yesterday. He looked deer in the headlights and jittery. The Pats were there for the taking yesterday but never really came close to winning the game. You guys tells me a QB learns from a game like that. We'll see. To me he needed to look at things from the sidelines. At SOME point he needs to be accountable for his play. Game 12 and he looks as green as ever and it wasn't even a good QB yesterday.

So time will tell. Guys tell me young QBs need to be thrown to the lions from the beginning and that's how they learn. I'm not seeing it so far. He's regressed. So let's see what he does this week and the week after and see where we are.

Craig,

He played badly yesterday. It happens. I trust that the coaching staff knows what they're doing with this kid.

Purely hypothetical at this point but since more questions seem to be turning toward Philbin ... does Ireland get another pass if Philbin isnt the guy?

New blog up

How in the world did Irescum take Tannehill in the 1st rd? LMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!

Only 1 person on this blog dumb enough to criticize other bloggers for wanting a better alternative to Ireland. This coming from the clown wanting to bench Tannyhill. And he's mocking other bloggers? For goodness sakes! Get over yourself mr. know it all.

I mean, is wanting someone from Pitt or Balt really that bad an idea? The FO track record for both those teams is of solid drafting, developing their own players & not really leaning too heavily on FA. Last I checked, those were Philbin's objectives.

It's not bloggers jobs to find those names, it's up to S. Ross & his advisers. Stop demanding specifics when you have provided none yourself other than to dumbly stay with the same circus clown rebuilding the team he already put together.

This team could do A LOT WORSE than picking a qualified guy from either orginazation. When your alternative is to stick with the same, you are in no position to ask others for specifics. You hide behind Ireland because you are incompetent & have no clue either.

Especially when you are advocating the benching of the rookie QB. This shows an utter contempt for common sense.

Your right on Armando, and not to mention that if Moore was the starter yesterday he probably hits those to long balls and its a different game. I know Tannehill is the future but yesterday's game was for the taking if we had better QB play for sure!!!!

Armando, R.Bush is not an inside the tackle runner, has he had some success yes, but D Thomas is better suited. The reason Miami can't run inside is the O-line. Miami's problem yesterday was 1st down efficiency, it seemed like it was always 2nd and 14 or 2nd and 18 not a good situation for an Offense like ours. Tannyhill is a major problem that can not be overlooked, inaccurate passing, late delivering the ball, and is as dead looking as Henne ever was. Problems in 2012 are the same as 2011 & 2010, o-line can't run block, lack of receiving threats, no viable TE, and poor QB play. We will continue to see poor QB play until the o-line is fixed.

I dont have any confidence in Philpin or his staff.

Armando, you say 'curious', but I am pretty sure you really mean 'stupid', and I could not agree more. This team makes decisions that I do not see any other team in the NFL making in regards to player personnel. I have watched every snap of this Dolphin season, and I have seen Rishard Matthews twice. Two catches, wide open each time. So, does he play more. Nope. Miller has the highest per carry average on the team. More time for him, right? Wrong...street clothes. Based on this history, I am willing to bet that Michael Egnew can probably play lights out, and this staff will not play him at all. How many two yard runs before Miller gets some carries? How many pass routes run TWO YARDS SHORT of the first down marker, before Matthews gets a chance? How much more irrelevant does our TE corp(se) have to become before Egnew suits up for a game? Just suits up!?!? If this is the path forward, we should start making reservations for the 2014 NFL Draft...we WILL have the first overall pick again. @^#%@^#$!

Bottom line Tannehill is not a good enough QB to overcome mistakes. He had a whole second half to do something and he didn't. Tired of hearing about how number 1 receiver would make a difference. Question would you rather have Tannehill with Larry Fitzgerald or Tom Brady with the current group or receivers? Not sure why everyone was so fired up about this guy in college, but having said that he whill get minimum 4 years as a starter. Rookie year gets a pass. Sophmore slump will be the next execuse. Typically the 4rd year is make or break (no excuses), but since he was the 8th pick, he will get one more year after that.

Can we all agree that the Dolphins problems on offense are not the fault of Jeff Ireland?

For years now, Fins have played a pretty basic and unimaginative offense. This year is no different. And though I still see some things I like about Tannehill, the most disappointing is that he has not grown in this offense enough so that it could be expanded to challenge defenses. It is still too predictable. Seeing what Luck did yesterday was a product of both his overall skill and his growth over the course of 2012 season.

You forgot one more thing, what about this kid Thigpen? He looks like he's got some fast, potential big yard plays on those legs. Why not throw him in the mix with Miller? Yet I really can't believe what I think is happening. Is the nightmare repeating once again? The "Henne is our starter and thats that" nightmare? I just don't see anything special about Tannehill. I do see it in Andrew Luck and RGIII. Not Tannehill. Also, the O-line is in shambles yet once again. This thing is repeating itself year after f---ing year. This coach Philbin is living in a fantasy world. There still are no innovative offensive schemes to try and out smart opponents. This coach and rookie Qb will be gone in 2 years, maybe 3 tops. I just hope Ireland leaves by next season!

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.

Posted by: scourt

yeah and where did the Lions get??? How many games did they win with Barry? how many playoff games and super bowls did they win? It might look great to have the best running back , but NFL is team ball now... stick to the script

Ever notice that the coaches names are not in the box score. There is a reason for that.

Dolphins needs to cut ties with Long, he's over priced. Draft a second round or first round OL. Also a receiver and a LB. So our priorities for next years draft is OL, 2 WR's, 1 LB, 2 corners and 2 DL if possible.

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