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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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If nothing else then maybe the head coach needs to take away the play calling duties and take them on himself. He wouldn't be the first HC to do that in this league if that were the case.

They need to dump Ireland, Philbin, and Tannehill.

yesterday was the first day(since the preseason) that miami actually appeared to me as a team that had lost their way, with no direction and only MORE unanswered questions to show for all their hard work, well, after looking at the evidence i came up with this, and somehow it is relieving if this proves to be the case...THE EVEIDENCE: sherman insists on a heavy pass offense, philbin joins miami after being with rodgers and the packers air attack, we ignore the need for a strong and successful run game addressing other needs in the draft, we accumulate a pleathera of solid targets for tannehill in the passing game. all this and more leads me to believe that this was exactly the game plan for the season, --an offense comparable to the years of marino(no running game) but designed more to mimick the likes of greenbay. i believe this was the plan all along and they are going to stick to it. and i am fine with that, and that fact would merit the words we've been hearing all along, such as "we just need to execute better..." having said all that, this team needs to take it to heart, mastering the short passing game with small throws to the runningbacks while tannehill keeps his eyes open for the WIDE open reciever or the scramble that will net a first down, sure we have lost some good talent(keller, gibson) and philbin rightfully so is waiting for the next guys to step up...one thing though, tannehill REALLY needs to take control as if he were marino or rodgers, he needs to feel the same reponsibility that the great QB's welcome and accept, he has to take command and have that competitve fire, tweaking the backs presnap, coaching them up on every play, telling them to stay put to pick up the blitz to the very last second, he needs to have a good idea where he wants to throw that ball before the play is snapped, and a good idea who the outlet is, he needs to be aggressive and begin to attack these defenses, he must take control for this offense to work!

Replacing Sherman is a must but until then Philbin need to over ride Sherman's play calling and so "NO. It wont work" You are supposed to use your best talent on the field and put them in a winning position. Quite clearly our strength is the running game. It takes the pressure off the QB and keeps the INT/Fumbles away. We all watched the games and know what our deficiencies our and right now it is mainly the coaching.

well you wanted a coordinator that wouldn't sit on a lead and play not to lose. you wanted aggressive passing game and not 3 yards and a cloud of dust. So when it doesn't work its wrong but when they lnow you got a lead and are trying to run the ball more the defensive scheme will change and wont be as successful. Which do you want? Henning or Sherman?

The column is spot on except for the criticism of Clabo. It's not Sherman's job to criticize Clabo. He doesn't run personel. Ireland does. There's no value in calling out Clabo publically. Who knows what he was thinking behind closed doors.

If you gave the play calling duties to Philbin it would be the very first time in his entire career that he would have that responsibility. Don't think he's up to it. He also isn't up to it in a good many things that make up the fabric of a HC.

So Mr. Canada, how would run or Armando run the offense.....please educate us....give me details......don't tell me that you would run the ball more.........please baffle us all with your extensive experience as an NFL OC

If it weren't for bad coaching, this team would be 6-1 in my opinion. Sherman has cost us three games.

That's a good question, NH. Is Tannehill allowed to change the play at the line and not just audible a pass if the box is full or a run if not? Good question.

And what solution did you offer Silverback.

budtki....you got it right. Green Bay always had it better when they had a running game. Remember Cobb coming out of the darkness and being a major contributor to a championship?

The solution is to fire Ireland and Philbin. Then hire a new GM and Head Coach. It's risky, but we know we have now and it's not working. Especially the GM.

Jesus Grey dog....you missed my entire point......I'm not an expert, I have no NFL experience at all, so I shut my mouth....... let's allow the experts to fix it and if they can't, then stop watching. All this whining and complaining from people who know nothing is ridiculous. It's like people who watch a UFC fight and talk about how they would have fought.......it's delusional

What solutions Silver back? Do you have Ireland's phone number or Sherman,Philbin's or better yet Ross, to call them? Everyone in this blog has the right to critcize this lame focked up organization every minute of the day, we sit thru every game on Sunday to be miserable for the whole week! and yes I don't have to watch, but you know what? Ive had the fortunate luck to have been able to enjoy Shula's Dolphins, and know that we can have a better administration, way better than what we have had for the last 6 yrs!

Armando is right on the money, but still too soft on Sherman. You guys gotta check out DolphinsTruth.com It's our new favorite site !

Did you guys see Earl Thomas last night? The same Earl Thomas Ireland traded out of the #12 spot(2010 w/Chargers) down to #22 to take Jared Odrick. Then got the Seahawks 2nd rd pick(#8th slot) and took Misi(Gronk was still on the board).

The Seahawks took Earl Thomas #14. I would trade both Misi and Odrick for Earl Thomas right now.

That's the major problem with Ireland, the moves he could have made but doesn't, whether fa or draft always seem to haunt us most. So do the moves he does make.

There is no shortage of talent on this team. If Keller was still playing we would be one of the most talented teams out there. We are young, we get rattled and our Offensive coordinator treats our 2nd year quarterback like he's Aaron Rodgers. Protect him, he is going to make mistakes, hold on to the ball and try to make plays he shouldn't because you keep putting him in those situations. It should have been the Dolphins blitzing Brady every down, but look, his coaches ran the ball because for some reason Brady sucks - but it opened the game. (that and a few bad calls) but our team folded. As far as I'm concerned the line is fixed with McKinnie on one side and Martin on the other. Shermans need to stick Egnew in for Gibson and keep him close to the line and or Simms and use them to block and release. it's that easy - that will give Tannehill the time to find someone or throw it away as well as give him a shot at play action. Maybe, just maybe Wallace can break away for a big play or two.

They have to switch to Matt Moore or this season is completely lost.

How long is Philbin and his coaching staff's contracts? Maybe 4 years? Would Ross eat the final two years, probably not! Ireland's extention? Perhaps three years? Would Ross eat that contract as well? No I seriously doubt it!

I don't see these people getting any smarter in the foreseeable future, so we're screwed!!!

Stay the course another year with these people and the dwindling fan base now is something that Ross could only hope for in the future.

I don't see these people getting any smarter in the foreseeable future, so we're screwed!!!

Stay the course another year with these people and the dwindling fan base now is something that Ross could only hope for in the future.

Posted by: Progolf667 | October 29, 2013 at 02:18 PM

Pray for new ownership.

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.
Posted by: FINFANFROMTROYNY | October 29, 2013 at 01:17 PM

Bingo! He gave up running the ball at critical points in the 3rd QTR and we spun out of control from there.

In 2010 we did not have a 2nd rd pick. Basically, Ireland traded Earl Thomas to the Seahawks for their 2nd rd pick which he used to select Koa Misi.

Koa Misi for Earl Thomas, are you kidding me? He could have at least taken Gronk.

Failure to bring Nicks after signing-off McNutt means FO and coaches don't even want to improve, they are officially tanking the season effective now.

El Dope....... so what, pretending you guys have the answers makes you guys feel better......Oh cool.......so you're a bunch of posers. All these pro NFL coaches and administrative personnel, but you guys on a herald blogging site have all the answers and could easily correct the problem........fine then criticize, make yourselfs feel better, and keep looking like idiots. This is why people clown the hell out of the Dolphin fan base

If the Detroit Lions had just stuck with Matt Millen a few more years, they would be winning Super Bowls now. Anyone see a parallel to the Dolphins situation?

Actually, I read Ryan has been better throwing against the blitz as opposed to when there is no blitz. So what happened yesterday? Another head scratcher to add to that zillion list down here.

Hydrashock this outfit isn't smart enough to know when to tank a season. 2011(Suck for Luck) taught you nothing?

Oh! And Sherman s*cks, he didn't even answer what he was asked. The match was magically a 27-17 right from the start according to his laughable excuses. Refball apart, Philbin should be fired for tolerating such nonsense.

The vendors will outnumber the fans Thursday night in Miami.

Shula73....new ownership is something that just won't happen. We may of wish that Philbin/Sherman become good coaches. Not going to happen.

Your right on when you say we have some talent. But misuse of that talent is totally incompetent! They say that a 'brain is a terrible thing to waste', you can also say that about talent!!

Posted by: Sam I Am | October 29, 2013 at 02:24 PM

You are right sir, they are tanking the tanking itself as usual

IRA...yes I certainly do. I grew up in Michigan and was, what I figured would be a lifelong love affair with the Lions. Not!! You can only have s**t piled on you for so long before you decide to get of the way and move.

Well, Ross is no youngster. This team will stink as long as he owns it.

I know you guys are afraid of retaliation, but the question above by NH and I regarding blitzing and Tannehill should have been the question of order. Coach Sherman, why do you think that if Tannehill has been so effective picking up the blitz and throwing effectively against it up to now he couldn't do it yesterday? That's a valid question and he has no escape from that one, think about it; but he would have gotten mad as hell.

Whoever says that we need a new head coach and GM is spot on! But the new GM has to hire a coach that can put our talent to the best use. We have a couple of years of contracts that we couldn't get rid of if we tried. I'm not down on the talent, just what's behind this talent!

For your stats people screaming for Matt Moore, (career stats):
GP = 37
CMP = 448
ATT = 758
CMP% = 59.1
YDS = 5,268
AVG = 6.95
TD = 33
INT = 26
FUM = 15
QBR = 48.2

Oh he's the answer alright....LMAO

Can someone tell me why we are telegraphing our plays to the defense with "Go" = Pass and "Go, Go" = run with our snap count?

Who is the head coach? Philbin. Who has the headset on hearing every offensive and defensive calls? Philbin. The issue here is .. even if Philbin knows he needs to butt in and change the calls sometimes, he doesn't because he either 1) trusts his asst. coaches too much or 2) fears hurting their feelings ..in either cases, he is not doing the job that a head coach should be doing..that is MANAGE the game! so frustrating...

So since joining the Dolphins ireland has used 19 draft picks on skill position players but does not have one good playmaker to show for it. YIKES!!

Sherman is one of the few Dolphins coaches who are experienced and yet his approach is destroying this team. Thank you Armando for making this plain, maybe someone who can do something about it will read your blog and do something about it.

NFL.com shows resumes of each teams coaches. Miami Dolphins coaches:


And just think, all these guys are LEARNING and being MENTORED by the head coach and primary coordinators who have experience, but are dysfunctional clowns.

If it weren't for terrible quarterbacking, this team would be 6-1 in my opinion. Tannehill has cost us at least three games.

Hydrashock....Philbin should be fired, no argument. It seems that our talent should produce a 10-6 record. Certainly playoff contention if not outright playoffs, after our 3 and 0 start. But the coaches and GM have created a 6-10 team in it's place. It's magic!

Great analysis! I think Sherman puts Tannehill in the shotgun too much, which limits play action fakes. This in turn tells the defense and other coaches what the Offense is going to do to a certain extent. Put the QB under center and design for him some consistent play action and I think the offense would thrive I also think that at this stage of the season they should make the double tight end set the base formation, like New England, and use Egnew and Sims more often, with Miller as the long back. These two are bigger than Clay and can block better. Let these two feel the heat of the game and they may just develop into a great tandem. These coaches and staff do not have the best history at developing players.

Who is ultimately responsible for the coaches we have and the players...Ireland! Dolphins problems begin and end with him. Harbaugh, wouldn't even consider the job...Jeff Fisher would have taken it IF he could have brought his own GM....Everyone can complain (me included) about whoever and whatever they want to but NOTHING changes until Ireland is replaced.....

Who is ultimately responsible for the coaches we have and the players...Ireland! Dolphins problems begin and end with him. Harbaugh, wouldn't even consider the job...Jeff Fisher would have taken it IF he could have brought his own GM....Everyone can complain (me included) abouot whoever and whatever they want to but NOTHING changes until Ireland is replaced.....

tfumble has 14 t/o's in 7 games -this- season.

1st and 10, Down by 3, 3rd Qtr, Running the ball well, best rushing of the season.

Play Call: Hail Mary Pass to Wallace into Double Coverage ...

Can they run a screen pass? Is a RB screen even in the playbook?

Is the team run by crazed, walking, talking monkeys?

What say you Magic 8-Ball?

It is decidedly so!

... in
......... a
................ row

Philbin is a wimp, an administration guy, by the numbers people, like "Gorman from Aliens".

Ireland is ball boy, who wants to dream he can build the 85 Bears for the company, "Burke".

Tannehill is a artifical person, not programmed do to anything other than Go... Go Go for his masters, keeping the Aliens theme he would be "Bishop".

Maybe the opposing defensive ends are the Aliens, muching on our players at will. In Miami No-one Can Hear You Scream".

the screen paxx went 2 detroit.

Anybody who thinks that Tannehill is the real cause of this mess should hold their opinion of him until he gets an OL, better coaches and a new GM.

He may prove to be no better then the proverbial 'game manager' but give him some slack until he playing on an even field.

I'd take 'Gorman' about now to replace the 'Alien'.

Can someone tell me why we are telegraphing our plays to the defense with "Go" = Pass and "Go, Go" = run with our snap count?

Is it not a big deal for the defense to know the type of play before we run it? Seems like a huge advantage for the D.

Our offensive looks to have all its passing plays from 0-15 yards about 80% of the time even when we are facing 3rd and long.

Wallace doesn't really look like he can stretch the field. He must have more drops than Ginn had in his last year here.

Throwing to Miller and Thomas out of the backfield makes more sense. Thomas actually looks good when he gets a head of steam up and runs well after the catch in the open field.

Egnew also looks better blocking. THe few passes thrown his way have been catch and moved up field well.

Wallace and Thill are so far well of the mark. I can't see them getting more time than the rest of this and next season. Same its going to be a painful time for us all again.

I would say the alien theme that fits our GM and coaching staff would be THE CONEHEADS. But their cones are void of matter.

Here's the thing, Silverback: shut your divjking hole, moron.

I can't disagree with any of this Mando ... should've been 50-50 at worst until they fell behind...

DBS, Tannehill isn't studying on the sideline because no one is teaching him anything on the sideline. Or anywhere else. He needs better coaching while he can still learn.

Complaints about the players overlook the entire 1st half.

Sherman lacks testicular fortitude. He gets scared and abandons the run. Compare how the Rams moved the ball last night with a weak QB vs a fierce defense. They kept with the run, rolled out, mixed it up. And if the QB hadn't been overthrowing all night in the end zone, they'd have won it. (End run was the better call IMHO, faking a QB sneak or run up the middle.)

Fire Sherman. Do it now.

But the real questions, this year, are as follows:

1. who gets let go for nothing to other teams? see Bush, Davis, Smith, Bess, Marshall, Dansby, etc ...

2. who gets passed over in this years draft because he doesn't "fit" with the GM's "formula"?

3. will the FO get revamped from its current marketing / business oriented facade into an actual football organization?

4. who will get signed to huge FA contracts and replace their current equivalent currently on the roster?

5. who will the GM miss on in this years draft?

6. how much more marketing will be used to cover up for this FO's ineptitude?

7. what will the attendance be at Joe Robbie Stadium for the remaining games?

8. when does Ross lose his mind?

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