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3 posts from September 17, 2013

September 17, 2013

Why is Vernon getting more snaps than Shelby, Jordan?

Sometimes coaches see things through a different prism than the rest of us. They see things through the prism of the truth. They see things through the prism of motivating a player. They see things with an eye on the future. They see things after watching and studying game tape.

Well, we cannot account for the part about motivation and the future agenda.

But we all watch the games. We can look at the All-22 tape available on the Internet. And thanks to ProFootballFocus.com, we have the ability to see grades from a tape study of games from eyes with no agenda.

And that's why I was kind of curious on Tuesday when Dolphins coach Joe Philbin was asked about the play of Olivier Vernon. Vernon, Miami's starting right end, didn't really factor in the Cleveland game because Joe Thomas generally erased him from view. And although he didn't play a renown tackle against Indianapolis, he only collected an assisted tackle and half-a-sack against the Colts.

That's not a lot of production so far. And judging that limited production, Philbin said this:

“I think he’s doing a good job," Philbin said. "I don’t see the same things. He’s playing hard. He’s playing sound. I think he’s improving. I see some good things. Obviously we anticipate there will be more production as the season goes on. We think he’s giving us a good effort and has played well."

Quick Dolphins In Depth quiz: Mando has said many times there is activity and accomplishment. Do they equal each other?

Answer: Activity does not equal accomplishment.

Any NFL player can play hard. I'd say a majority do. But that is merely activity. To win, one must accomplish something. On defense, one must tackle, or sack, or intercept, or fumble cause, or fumble recover, or gobble blockers to create opportunities for teammates.

Playing hard is good but playing hard without accomplishing at least one of those is just activity.

And the reason I bring this up is because witnessing the games and using the tape grades from PFF, it's obvious Vernon isn't doing a whole lot while other Dolphins defensive ends are producing more with fewer opportunities.

To wit:

Vernon is the No. 48 rated defensive end in the NFL, per ProFootballFocus. He's had 84 pass rush snaps in two games and managed five total pressures and that .5 sack. He has that assisted tackle in the two games combined.

Miami also has the No. 3 rated defensive end in the NFL, per ProFootballFocus ... Expected right? Well, not so fast. That No. 3 rated player is not Cameron Wake.

It's Derrick Shelby.

(Wake, with 2.5 sacks and six QB hits, is the No. 17 rated defensive end, according to PFF).

But I digress.

Back to Shelby ... He is a backup for Miami. He has only 20 pass rush snaps in two games. And in that short amount of playing time he has three solo tackles, an assist, two sacks, and two forced fumbles. Those are official statistics from the Dolphins. PFF also credits him with four total QB pressures.

So Shelby has some 60 fewer snaps than Vernon but much, much more producton.

“He’s very technically sound, a very good fundamental football player," Philbin said of Shelby. "He keeps his shoulders square. He has his hands where they are supposed to be. He’s smart and instinctive. He’s done a really nice job. I really like what he’s done."

Well, yeah!

The question is if OV is producing at his current rate and Shelby is producing at his rate, how long before Shelby starts getting more opportunities?

Furthermore, rookie Dion Jordan is also doing more with less. Jordan also has 20 total pass rush snaps and has two tackles, a sack, and three total pressures. He is the No. 13 rated defensive end in ProFootballFocus's ratings.

Now, I understand limiting Jordan the last couple of games. He's still coming back from that shoulder issue, he's catching up after missing much of the preseason, and he's a raw, young player that needs grooming.

But how long will he and Shelby be allowed to bang on the door of the starting job before someone answers? And even if you don't want to upset the order of things with Vernon as the starter, how long can the Dolphins continue to give more plays to a less productive player?

These are important questions this week because the Atlanta Falcons have the ability to throw the football about as well as anyone in the NFL. But they also offer the grand opportunity to give up sacks and strip sacks and possibly scores because both their offensive tackles are, in a word, atrocious in pass blocking so far this season.

In other words, the Dolphins will have opportunities to hit quarterback Matt Ryan on Sunday.

A lot. 

So do they give those opportunities to a player who has produced less so far? Or do they give more opportunities to players who are so far earning more snaps but not getting them?   

Latest from Dolphins camp on Tuesday afternoon.

The Dolphins are back at work this rainy South Florida afternoon and here's the latest:

Defensive tackle Paul Soliai (knee) and safety Chris Clemons (injury not reported) are not practicing today. Soliai, as you know, left the Indianapolis game on Sunday and had an MRI Monday. The results of that MRI are unknown but it is not believed Soliai is going to miss significant time.

The cornerback situation for the Dolphins is improving somewhat in that Jamar Taylor (groin/hernia) returned to practice today at least on a limited basis. Will Davis (toe) and Dimitri Patterson (groin), both of whom missed Sunday's game at Indy, also are practicing at least on a limited basis.

The Falcons, meanwhile, are looking more and more beatable as news of their injury status leaks out drop by drop.

NFL Network reported this morning that running back Steven Jackson is out two to four weeks with a thigh injury. This on the heels of the team placing linebacker Sean Weatherspoon on injured resevere with a designation to return later this season. He can return in Week 11 the earliest per NFL rules.

We already knew that Falcons defensive lineman Kroy Biermann is out for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

With Jackson out, the Falcons may have to search outside for a running back (Michael Turner?) while also giving more work to Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling. Losing Weatherspoon is a big deal for the Falcons as he's both a fine player in pass coverage and has pass rush ability as well.

The Falcons answer for Weatherspoon's void? Likely Joplo Bartu -- a rookie.

From a bookkeeping standpoint, the Dolphins cut quarterback Austin Davis and cornerback Devin Smith from the practice squad and added defensive tackle Isaako Aauitui and defensive tackle Al Lapuaho to the unit.

The signings of Aauitui and Lapuaho suggest the Dolphins are wary of the Soliai injury.

PFF and Salguero look at Colts victory

It's Tuesday morning so it's time to look back at the tape of Sunday's Dolphins game. Miami beat the Colts and the folks at ProFootballFocus.com have sent over some tidbits based on their study of the game.


It was a very good overall day for the Miami offensive line. Only John Jerry (-1.2) graded out negatively for the day.

Salguero: This grade is interesting because I saw Tyson Clabo give up two sacks. Clabo is rated the No. 54 of the 67 offensive tackles according to PFF. Jonathan Martin is rated No. 42. I will say that the Dolphins made the best of a bad situation once Jake Long signed with St. Louis. Long is currently rated No. 11 among tackles by PFF. But you'll remember after that signing, the Dolphins flirted with signing Eric Winston and Bryant McKinnie. McKinnie is rated No. 57 and Winston is rated No. 63 so both are worse than Clabo so far. Interestingly, the Dolphins backed away from trading for Kansas City's Branden Albert. He's currently the No. 8 rated tackle by ProFootballFocus.   

The battle for snaps at No. 2 tight end was slanted heavily to Dion Sims this week. He took in 35 snaps, while Michael Egnew saw 9.

Even though Lamar Miller out-produced Daniel Thomas, Thomas got more snaps than his teammate by a margin of 36-30. Both gave up a sack in pass protection.

On throws 10 yards or more, quarterback Ryan Tannehill went 8-for-9 for 206 yards.

Tannehill feasted on Greg Toler, Jerrell Freeman, Darius Butler and Pat Angerer, completing 16 of 20 against them for 265 yards.

After two weeks, Tannehill has the fourth best  PFF QB rating. This takes into account drops, throw aways, and spikes. Tannehill is behind Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Philip Rivers.


There were highs and lows for the Dolphins on defense. Brent Grimes (+4.9) and Randy Starks (+4.5) had great days, while Olivier Vernon (-6.0) and Cameron Wake (-3.1) did not.

Salguero: The Dolphins had nine players with positive grades from Sunday's game. Linebacker Phillip Wheeler, who had the batted pass on a blitz and then sacked Andrew Luck on a blitz to clinch the game, was the third highest graded Miami defensive player.

Dion Jordan was limited to just seven snaps in Week 2, which is fewer than he had in Week 1. They were all in passing situations, as he dropped into coverage twice and rushed the quarterback 5 times.

Salguero: Things are looking up for the Miami defensive line if the first two weeks of play are an indication because Atlanta left tackle Sam Baker is rated 67th (also known as last) among all the tackles PFF has rated. Right tackle Lamar Holmes is rated 62nd. Folks in Atlanta are going crazy because Matt Ryan has been hit often the first two games.

Brent Grimes gave up four of T.Y. Hilton’s 6 catches for 84 yards, but was stingy against everyone else. He finished the day with the interception and three defended passes.

On tight end Coby Fleener’s 40-yard catch and run, Olivier Vernon was left to defend him in coverage.

Salguero: Whatever the Colts did to get that matchup, the Dolphins should address it because you can bet the Falcons will see it and try to replicate it.