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A look at Mike Sherman's failed second half

Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman basically said Monday that the idea he abandoned the run -- indeed, abandoned what was going well -- in the second half of Sunday's game against the New England Patriots was not really accurate.

He said the statistics that show the Dolphins going pass heavy in the second half were skewed by the team being down 10 points with only 7:14 left in the game.

"At that point we were forced to throw it in that situation and I think we threw it during that time," Sherman said of the situation where Miami got the football trailing 27-17. "After the turnover, they ran it 15 and threw it three and they scored a touchdown and they ran out the clock.  In that same situation I think we threw it 15, ran it three almost the reverse.  We were down by 10 and we were in a two minute mode trying to get caught up.  Most of our passes that we threw and generated in that time frame, those 15 passes were almost all in a two minute mode trying to gain 10 points back."

And sure, enough, Sherman is correct. Once the Dolphins got down two scores, they felt the need to throw every down and did exactly that -- passing 15 times and running only once on a desperation Ryan Tannehill scramble that was called as a pass.

But ...

My problem with Sherman -- perhaps everyone's problem with Sherman -- isn't so much that he passed the ball so much when his team was trailing by 10 midway through the fourth quarter.

My problem with Sherman is he was partially responsible for that 10-point deficit because he's so stubborn about throwing the football -- with no apparent regard for what the opponent was doing, no apparent understanding of the results he was getting, and apparently forgetting the results he had just gotten one half before.

The Dolphins, you see, led this game 17-3 at halftime. The Dolphins gained that advantage because they ran the football 22 times in the first half and passed 18 times. They gashed the New England defense, ranked 31st against the run, on the ground to the tune of 103 yards and a 4.7 rush per attempt average in the first half.

It was a fine formula for winning against Tom Brady on the road. It ran clock, which shortened the game. It kept Brady on the sideline, limiting his opportunities. It helped the Dolphins defense.

It. Was. Working.

Right? Agreed?

But then for some reason known only perhaps to Sherman and the Dolphins coaching staff, the Dolphins went away from that which was working in the second half.

In the second half, with the Dolphins ahead by 14 or, worst case, tied at 17-17, the Dolphins ran the football six times. And passed 11 times.

So they built a lead running more than passing in the first half but came out in the second half and passed nearly twice as much as they ran even while they led or were, at worst, tied.

Up 17-3 in the second half, the Dolphins passed four times and ran only twice.

Up 17-10, the Dolphins ran one and attempted to pass once.

With the game tied at 17-17 in the second half, the Dolphins passed six times and ran only three times.

Eleven passes. Six runs.

And a 17-3 lead that was built running more than passing evaporated.

And the trend continued. Down 20-17 after a New England field goal, the Dolphins ran the football twice their next drive. And passed it four times.

So basically with the game in his hands, Sherman flipped his own first half script that was so successful. The criticism of him is not that he passed when the Dolphins were 10 points down. The criticism of him is that he forged a 17-3 lead by running more than passing and then went away from that in the second half, passing nearly twice as often as he ran, even as the team was still ahead, tied, or only a field goal behind.

And remember all this against the 31st-ranked run defense.

It gets worse. One of my other criticisms of Sherman is he views the game in binary fashion. If the defense loads up to stop the run, you pass. If you the defense loads up to stop the pass, you run. It's a simple choice of two things.

The problem is there are more than two possibilities at play in football.

Bill Belichick (and most NFL coaches) can quickly understand they can make the Dolphins do what they want. They can bait you into doing what they want you to do by giving you a certain look, just as a defensive back can bait a quarterback into making a throw the signal-caller thinks is open but really isn't.

Another problem I have is that presented with evidence that stuff is working, Sherman easily goes away from it (See above).

And given evidence stuff isn't working, Sherman sometimes continues to press forward as if that evidence does not exist. The continued confidence in right tackle Tyson Clabo is a clear example of this. Remember when Sherman promised Clabo's issues in pass protection would get resolved and no change was necessary? That was before Clabo gave up key sacks against Baltimore and Buffalo that factored in costing Miami the game.

Well, on Sunday, Sherman must have seen that the desperate Patriots were blitzing on practically every passing down in the second half. It was their halftime adjustment. And he saw how dangerous this might become initially when a sack from a blitzing defensive player resulted in a nine-yard loss. That sack turned what would have been a 37-yard field goal attempt into a 46-yard field goal attempt that Caleb Sturgis missed.

Well, shown that evidence, and still leading 17-3, Sherman passed more than he ran anyway. (Remember, he got this lead running the football more).

And then a blitzing defensive back got a strip sack on Ryan Tannehill.

And later, down 20-17, came an interception.

No negative plays happened when the Dolphins were running more than passing. Bad things started happening when Sherman flipped the script. And he just kept passing even as he was ahead of tied or just a field goal behind.



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I agree. Also what happened to Philbin's philosophy of continuing to call the offensive plays according to what's working until the opposing Defense takes it away? By take it away I assume he meant actually stop the offense and not show a defensive alignment that may stop it.

Yep agreed. That's what I saw too.

Only thing i would say on his defence, BB is very good at making adjustments at half time. We don't know FOR SURE that the run game would have worked in the second half.

Good article. The answer is because Sherman is clueless, as is the head coach.

@CraigM,you don't know any plays or game plan will work unless you call them.By not calling them you, the OC, takes them away and not the defense. IMO, the Dolphins should have continued to run at the edges of the Pats' Defense as it was most vulnerable considering the blocking of Sims.

did anyone seems to believe that the zebras bad call took the breath out of our players?

Posted yesterday someone's head needs to roll after Sunday's loss. Never thought we would see another dinosaur OC as stubborn as Dan Henning. Sherman's even worse.

We are seeing the same thing we saw under the field-goal-fist-pumping idiot we had 2 years ago. The other coaches make adjustments, but we do not have the ability to recognize what the ther teams are doing and adjust to it. The sad thing is that this team has been in aposition to win the last 3 games (Balt, Buff, and NE). I say coaching, or lack there of, was the difference all three weeks!!!

No doubt Kris is the happiest fin fan right now.

Bench Tannehii. Start Moore.

Seems yet another example of the philosophy of the head coach not being followed by the coordinators.
What a team in disarray.


You will not get exclusives going after Philbin's OC this way but I'm elated that you have the guts to write the truth about Sherman. He is not up to speed in the NFL. That said Philbin has a headset on and knows what's coming. Lack of mental flexibility is a sign of getting to old. It happened to Bill Parcells also.

Yes----spot on article. I sense a need to immediately make a change with the OC. He's making the whole team irrelevant. Have cost us three games vs-Baltmore, Buffalo,and now Pats.

Time for Philbin to step in and get us back on track. Nobody said coaching was easy. So start coaching instead of clapping your hands and rendering encouragement. It's all about holding people accountable.

Because he is a moron. He thinks he is fooling he defense but he actually fooling himself.

During the Pats-Ravens playoff game last year, the Ravens could not run the ball. So Harbaugh - being the man in charge - instructed his offensive coordinator to pass on first down. The rest is history.
With the Pats having a horrible run defense, if I saw my OC calling pass plays you'd bet your arse I'd be telling him to run the ball.

Sherman is selling a load of BS and I am not buying. Take a look at the game. Being down by 10 and 7 plus minutes on the clock there was no sense of urgency at all. They was too much time wasted between snaps. We needed to score on two possessions and give NE the ball in between. Not use up the clock. Sherman should be coaching those before our time who wore leather helmets.
A message for Sherman. The game has evolved and become much faster for your mind to comprehend. If you cannot keep up with the pace of the game it's time for you to move on.

Tannehill is an exact replica of Chad Henne except worse! If they could trade him before he is as worthless as Henne DO IT!

On Thursday night, across the Miami Dolphin's sidelines you will a defensive coordinator whom the Dolphins should have hired and revisit this off season= Mike Zimmer.

Agreed. The OC should have done much better.

The play calling and game management is on Sherman and Philbin.

But the lack of talent on the offense is on Ireland. Clabo and Martin are two of the worst OT in football. McKinnie is way past his prime.

"Upgrades" such as Keller and Louis had injury histories that continued.

Dallas Thomas must be woefully underdeveloped not to be able to find playing time on this horrid OL.

By all means, blame Sherman and Philbin. They've made some serious mistakes.

But Ireland should not be exempt. It's sad that a six year rebuild has resulted in a 3-4 teams that is regressing.

You keep teeing off on Sherman but who's the head coach? At what point does the HC step in and say enough? What the hell does it matter anyways this team is irrelevant for what....the past decade?

Dan Hennng all over again, what the h#$%! Why can't we ever hire some normal football coaches?! i hope we tank the rest of the way so we can get rid of these guys.

Didnt Sherman say T-Fumble would be the most improved player? WTF?

Maybe they should hire a young energetic coordinator. Sherman is senile.

Sherman is a good coach but he has no talent to work with.

Sherman still thinks he is running his college offense in College. Other teams make adjustments to win the game, while Sherman/Philbin make adjustments to lose the game. Philbin is the head coach eventually he has to step in and straighten Sherman out, that is unless he is intimidated by Sherman. Lastly relying on Tannehill to pass and close out games is proving a losing strategy. Tannehill is not a clutch QB and cannot carry the load. which basically tells us he is nothing more than an average QB. Which also tells us we have 2 more years of mediocrity (that is how much time Tannehill will get). Look back over the past 20 years and tell me how many average QB's won superbowl's. Not too many.

I felt the blown play call by Sherman was the second and two right before the missed field goal in the third quarter. Fins have the lead, managing the clock, dominant with the run and working the red zone. You should have two attempts at the first down running the ball....keeping the drive alive.

You can argue the pass play to Wallace as the potential dagger to the Pats...but really why move away from the run.

I would have rather seen one of those ill-advised sweeps that Sherman calls when we need an inch or two for a first down.

I've been saying this about Sherman for weeks. There is a definite pattern here; are Sherman & Philbin insane? Same thing four weeks in a row.

Free Ireland... from his contract. Let's take a look at his 2nd round picks:
2008: Philip Merling - bust
Chad Henne - bust
2009: Pat White - horrible bust
Sean Smith - good pick
2010: Koa Misi - solid player
2011: Daniel Thomas - below avg. running back
2012: Jonathan Martin - bust for 2nd rd.
2013: Jamar Taylor - zero impact this year.
Do I need to say more?

Didnt Sherman say T-Fumble would be the most improved player? WTF?
Posted by: Cellar Fins | October 29, 2013 at 01:13 PM
armando,bring this up to sherman will ya? he already hates u anyways.

THere's a reason Sherman got fired from GB and Texas. Now we just need him fired from Miami.

Feel the heat Sherman, feel the heat.

Sad to say but the last good OC we had was Gary Stevens.

Craig M, Belichick is very good at adjusting so your assertion that running might not have worked on the surface seems logical.

The problem in the argument is Belichick had seven games to fix the New England running game before Sunday and could not. He cannot replace Wilfork. He cannot replace Jerod Mayo. So if he can't make those players healthy and cannot fix the issue of the 31st ranked run D week after week, he's likely not going to be able to do it after one halftime.

Dolphins needed to ram it down New England's throat.

Great work, Mando.

Why is Tannehill always standing around on the sidelines as if he's a backup who doesn't expect to play? Cameras on the sidelines typically showed Brady sitting with a coordinator, reviewing photographs taken during the game to show formations and tendencies. Why do that? To make adjustments! To teach. To get better. If Brady is doing it - one of the best - why isn't Tannehill?

Thoughtful analysis by Armando!

Pretty much addressed what we've been saying on the his blog, that Sherman is pulling plays out of his rear with no rhyme or reason. If this were a court case Sherman would have been convicted by the mountain of evidence!

Could it be true? Could Cam Cameron/Mueller's draft in 2007 be as good as or better than any of Ireland's? Here are the players from that draft still in the NFL:
Paul Soliai (he's pretty darn good), Brandon Fields (pro bowl calibre punter), Samson Satele (Colts starting center), and the infamous Tedd Ginn, Jr. (excellent kick returner) picked way too eary at 9.

OUCH!! "JUST KISS IT AND MAKE IT BETTER". This is your best blog ever Armando, This coaching staff is staring to sound like the White House.

When Ireland fired Tony Sporano, both Ross and Ireland claimed the team was packed with talent - enough talent to contend for a championship. It just needed different coaching.

This past Spring, Ireland was declared the winner of the offseason. Too bad they actually play the games.

So, after going through two coaching staffs, six drafts, six FA signing periods, and many trades what has Ireland actually accomplished?

A horrid OL.

An iffy QB.

A $60 million contract on a Wide Dropper.

A subpar defense.

Poor team depth.

A very questionable coaching staff.

Possibly a fifth losing season during six years.

And a contract extension.

Mission Accomplished!

Because he's garbage. Fire him.

Craig, Lamar Miller ran the ball five times for 25 yards in the second half. The Patriots weren't stopping him in the first half, second half, next week.

Mike Sherman stopped him.

T-Fumble is the most improved player, compared to Aaron Hernandez...

It's not just the consistently bad drafts and FA signings. It's the missed opportunities as well. It's true that GM's fail a lot of the time, but most are not given six years to rebuild when they've never built a winner anywhere.

Matt Millen lasted eight years in Detroit. He also had a history of saying things he should not have said.

Sounds a lot like Jeff Ireland.

Garbage. I wpngceStch watch another gamecock he's give

Sherman at least needs to be fired. But, I expect Philbin will not, so, Philbin needs to go as well.

Seeing the total incompetence of Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano just gives me a lot more respect for the master Bill Parcells, who won despite those idiots.

Passing the ball right after NE made it 17-10 was a recipe for disaster, the had not moved the ball all day on us, run the ball, play one conservative series and make them stop you

Same goes for Buffalo game, run the ball, kill the clock and kick the ball if they have too, if our D is so damn good make them make a stop, worst case Buffalo is getting the ball on their 20 yard line

I'm tired of the poor play calling and the blame on Tannehill...they are putting him under too much pressure with obvious play calling

Step up Philbin or your going to be out after this year

I was apparently the last to post on the other blog so I suspect nobody saw it. In a nutshell it was a brief condemnation of the coaching staff starting with the Vontae Davis saga and how they handle ALL of their young players. Also made mention as to who it was that hired this mess of a coaching staff, IRELAND. And to put a cherry on it he was given an extention this summer.

As mentioned in the previous blog, I've seen this movie before, in fact several times before.



Even when the Dolphins go to the air - if the team is blitzing you, you need to max protect. stop the 3 WR sets, use and extra tight end or back and do short or screen passes it will open up the game for a big play. And where the hell is their fast paced offense? Someone said they didn't buy what Sherman was selling because even when they passed there was no sense of urgency. Sherman may have a huge book full of great plays, but he's has no idea which ones to call!

Philbin is as doomed as Sparano when Ireland cant supply ANY talent.

So why don't you the offense Armando.....better yet be the head coach

Every on here does the same thing.........criticize the team, but offer no solutions

And of course you can't offer solutions, because no one here has any kind of coaching experience at all........Armando is a joke and so are all of his lame followers

Everyone here watches too much ESPN, gets a couple of catch phrases, repeats them, then acts like they're some kind of expert

"I run 6 plays, split veer. It's like novocaine. Just give it time, always works." (Mike Sherman's favorite line from Remember the Titans).

Silverback Id love to run the offense as Im sure Armando would too. Very insightful post. One more thing. Not time to panic lol ! Really. We just lost to new england who were missing their pro bowl dt, lb, cb, held tom brady to 100 yards passing and lost. Our qb has fumbled 8 times and thrown I don't even know how many picks. Can one coach stop saying how much they believe in the guys and say something like, No qb is going to stay in the league fumbling the ball 8 times in 7 games. None ! And no coordinator who let it happen should either ! And I agree Zaf where is this no huddle fast paced offence we as fans were sold on. And now, we have lost two of three talents we brought in as free agents for the year on offence.. Plus or right tackle was a bust. Its ok. Its not like division leading Cinci is coming to town Thursday.

I'm sure Ill get criticize, if not insulted for the comment I'm going to make, but I'm wishing to lose every game from Thursday on so at the end of the year we fire the whole administration from GM to Waterboy and start all over again, one more time. At least this way we can hope and dream of something better...again. if that doesn't happen, (fire everyone) I think Ross and Ireland have another type of relationship, its impossible for someone to be so business oriented, to be so blind in seeing the great collapse we are witnessing and not do anything about it. Something is terribly wrong here.

Just check out www.DolphinsTruth.com

Stability is what the Dolphins need. Jeff Ireland's extension was a step in the right direction. If Steven Ross announces, say, a five year extension on Jeff Ireland's contract, that will put the doubters to rest. While watching Dez Bryant in the Cowboys game, I couldn't help but be grateful that Jeff Ireland pursued the line of questioning about his mother. Can you imagine having a bust like Bryant rather than a true game changer such as Koa Misi, Jared Odrick or Michael Egnew?

It sucks that we have talented receivers but loose when they throw the ball more than they run it. Does it make sense? New coaching staff needed asap. New GM needed asap. And to think players feel they don't need a sense of urgency at this point. UGHHHHH!!!

Mando...you speak for every Fins fan on that post, good job.

I thought Tannehill had some latitude to switch the play at the line?
If he's seeing corner blitz at the line and a pass is dialed up...why not change it?
I do not like the current father/son relationship between Sherman/Tannehill...It makes Tannehill weak and emasculated. Too scared to cross the man who single handedly got him the job.
Sherman also has some type of powerhold on Philbin dating back to the early days in CT.

IMO...fire Ireland and Sherman at end of season and unleash Philbin/Tannehill.

Philbin is lost in another world, one tht ended 30 to 40 years ago. Times change and so do the better coaches. Case in point Fisher last night did a masterful job of game planning against Wilson and the Seahawks. He made a game plan that kept pressure on Wilson and KEPT HIM IN THE POCKET. He sure didn't look as to what people have said about him. St. Louis came within a play or two of winning. With a perennial backup at QB. Now that was a hell of a coaching job.

We have the opposite situation here in Miami. I wish I had a dollar for each time Sherman has come out and berated himself. And a dollar for every time Philbin has said a little tweak was all that is needed. Philbin, it seems, has a good sense of humor. But that is seemingly becoming more and more clear as to his only attribute. He's living in the 1960's and can't find his way into today's NFL. Sherman is just plain inept. Ireland we know very well, enough said. And Ross, he's still POed about how he got screwed by the legislature upstate. He obviously knows little r nothing about football and has hired people to do the football work that are just plain incompetent!!!

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