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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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Most teams keep a back or 2 to help block against the blitz and the counter by sending the back out on a delayed route or screen. I guess this is too complicated for Sherman. It's the same thing every game. The offense has its moments, but we stay in the same formation running the same protections and opponents figure it out.

Sherman has been questioned about his play calling since last yr. The guys been fired 4 times from different colleges and NFL teams. He's not even a good teacher. So I guess the very large question isn't about his play calling in the NE 2nd half but why did Philbin hire him in the first place, (b) When is Philbin going to fire him. Philbin Im sure is loyal, but will Philbin go down with Sherman's ship, and I hope whoever fires this dynamic duo will consider the non talent scout,,,Ireland.
The Dolphins possess one of the most dynamic defensive players drafted in some time but refuse to let him play but 10-15 snaps a game. The #3 pk in the first rd should be playing every down. Yes he was hampered by an injury from college,,,,thats over with unless theres something the Dolphins are not saying. At any rate, look at the NFL teams where 90% all #1 draft pk are playing and playing every down. BUT, not the Dolphins. And would someone explain to me why the Dolphin uniforms are so damned ugly? That blue and white with "dream cycle" orange is now the norm. They are fugly.

The last thing the Dolphins are their fans needed was long shot gamble at either head coach or quarterback...and their plan of action was to take long shot gambles on both critical positions. It should surprise no one that neither are working out. What were the chances of even one working out. You have a quarterback who was a reach as a first round pick and a head coach who was never a head coach at any level or a coordinator as far as I know. Most Dolphins fans would be happy with a string of 9-7, 10-6 seasons. That's all Dan Marino ever really did. The tonic was in a veteran head coach and a veteran quarterback, just to turn the tide and change the losing culture. Not a couple of unknowns, likely to fail because their resume's indicate unprecedented levels of inexperience. Belichick is laughing up in N.E.. This dimwit Philbin will never win a chess match with him. Philbin will never beat Belichick. Is that a bold prediction ? Phins lost on Sunday party because they expect to lose against better teams. There's a losing culture here...and once it sets in it is very hard to get rid of. It won't be done with Tannehill and Philbin. Neither one is qualified for the task. Ross should have known this two years ago.

The proper course of action was :

Bowles, Daboll, Moore, Marshall, Bush in 2012.

Andy Reid, Alex Smith, Marshall, Bush in 2013.

homers, ne's d is ranked 31 out 32.every1 moves the ball on them

HA HA HA- "The screen pass went to Detroit" good one.

what is cincy's d ranked?

And Fred proves my point again........great, insightful comment. This is why we get clowned, this is why other fans come on our blogs to talk crap........because all we can do is say "shut up" and "fire everyone"............wow what forethought.......amazing analysis

Sherman is not able to change or make any kind of adjustments at half-time. The only thing he seems to do second half is throw 80% of the 2nd half regardless of the score, defensinve formation, or form of the OL to block the pass rush.

Thill compounds the problem by walking into at least half of the sacks. His field awareness is the worst I've ever scene from a Dolphins QB.

He consistently takes away field position, when we are in realistic range for Surgis.

Thill done after this season. Bench for him in 2014.

I have no idea what the identity of this team is.
And worse, the perceived philosophies, don't match up with the talent.
It's a joke...and for once I don't even feel like going into any lengthy rants against the FO.
It's all been said, EVERYONE sees it, apparently except the one person who actually needs to.

So with that, I'm out.
I will continue to watch/listen to the games, but I'm not spending another dime on anything to do with this team until Jeff Ireland is fired. I'm done reading articles and posting on sites, b/c there's no point, because nothing changes until Ireland is gone.

Now it's possible you can wind up with someone as bad or even worse than Ireland, but it will take a few years to know for sure, and in the mean time I can at least have hope.

There were times in my life where this team was arguably the #1 passion and love in my life...it's sad to see where things are, and how nothing is done. I'm just so pissed this idiot was allowed to oversee a post-season with so many high picks and cap room. It's just time to take a step back, until they make that change, and hopefully the next GM will rebuild that excitement, hope and pride in this franchise.
I just pray that process begins in 2014.

Philbin and Sherman are joined at the hip. Can't get rid of one without getting rid of the other. And the person most responsible for this travesty of a coaching staff, Ireland!!

We can continue to rant and rave about this mess but it's going to be Ross who makes the final decision. Unless, of course, he allows Ireland to make the call. His call is keep hem for another year because this creates a very uncomfortable situation for him.

Let's just hope that Ross finds his senses and his balls!!

Nope, last great OC we had ... well two. nNorv Turner for all his faults as a head coach is a mighty fine OC and Scott Linehan was probably the best we had period. Made Gus Frerotte look great. But then Minny hired him as a head coach and sent Saban back packing to Alabama.

I generally with the article but there was the Brandon Gibson injury that played a role as well. Gibson was a factor at the beginning of the game scoring a TD and helping keep the balance to the attack. Once he went down, the Pats changed their defense focusing on stopping the run and pressuring RT. This swayed the game and the Phins could not answer.

What was wrong with RT in the first half, people? He does very well when the coaches aren't trying to beat him. Sure he threw a pick with his first throw last week, but so did Brady this week.

I just really hate this kid appears to be getting NO teaching at an NFL level, other than what happens on the field.

boogey woogie man......outstanding post. You summed it up very well. You also used the word ineptitude. Great word for the situation. 'When will Ross lose his mind' (firstly he apparently already has)but the real answer is when people again leave the stadium empty on Sundays (Thursdays).

Ross will fly to visit another coach this off season, only be told to FECK OFF, al la Harbaugh in 2011.

A losing season should see both Philbin and Sherman go. If they do it in style with 5-11 or less. A revolt amost the players looks no the cards as well. Philbin loves those cue cards, he can read his resignation speech on them. Real clueless bunch we have here.

I have been thinking about these losses for most of the last couple of days. All but one should have been wins. Ryan Tannehill will never become Dan Marino, but he can become Bob Griese. Griese was nothing but an extension of Shula. He managed the game like a head coach would do so. Shula knew what he had...a very intelligent quarterback with an above average arm...but not a rocket. We need to take about 1/3 of Tannehill's passes away from him and turn to the running game. This would also give the offensive line a chance to do what they do well...or in this case better, and that is run block. We have our version of Csonka and Morris; albeit, Thomas is no Csonka and Miller, while fast is not as fast as Mercury was on his slowest day; but they will do. The OL will begin to feel good because they will begin to look good. Tanni will begin to feel good because he quite physically, will begin to heal! We do not need to go out and get anymore weapons...Ireland did a good job of that...he did. The pressure is strictly on the coaches now.

Ross, please sell the team. Thanks.

IMPOTENT. May also be used to describe Philbin, Sherman and Thill.

They are not my kind of Miami Dolphins. Its disgusting to see them in team colors.

Thill is a turnover factory. More runs and fewer 5 step drops, should cut down our turnovers.

Rollouts, read-run options, screens and Manning style quick hits should keep Thill out of more damger.

All of this nursing Thill is a band aid over his complete lack of pocket presence and ball control. He isn't the answer long term.

rym...good post. You said it all. Time to play out the season and, once again, wait for the real interesting season, after game 16.

Spent to much time on here this day. And yes on firing everybody!! 'Silver' if you disagree then who should be retained and for what reason!

Cheatin' refs did their part to take us down, but Tannehill did hold onto the ball too long on several downs and hasn't shown the poise he was showing earlier this year under basically the same amount of pressure. This team hasn't shown any heart since the comeback 4th quarter drive in game 3 was it? What a distant memory now.

We have two WR's who have 1000 Yd seasons under their belts, A RB that could very easily have a 100 Yd game if given the ball 20 plus times and can catch out of the back field, Clay who is developing quite well and I guess that is considered "No offensive weapons". I read that Sherman was an OL coach with GB when Holmgren was HC and they won a SB. Why can't he and the OL coach get together and do something positive. It's called a weak coaching staff spreading the blame.


Was Miami playing more than the New England players yesterday? I have seen less blatant take downs in the WWF...

CONTINUED... the more i think about the design of this offense, the more i believe in my assertion, if you take all of my points and add the fact that the o-line seems to have been more built towards a west coast scheme the more it makes sense, i think the plan was to OVERLOAD the field with quality targets for tannehill, hit the short passes with regularity, throw a deep one when the oppourtunity presented itself, and a keep the game honest with a few successful big runs with our small but fast runningback, certainly the pass(if effective) would have set up the run. anyone can see that this offense was meant to depend on the pass to move the chains, and NOT designed to rely on the running game, so in our coaches eye, in the grand scheme of things, to change the game plan now would be disasterous as this team is even less built for that style of play, so i say...go ahead, but go ALL in, what have we got to loose, load it up, 5 wide, have a bunch of targets underneath and let wallace go deep, get that BIG and quick productive(in college)tightend target(egnew) going, establish him as the NEW inside threat that(in combination) with wallace will open it up for clay, hartline, miller...play after play, plenty of short passes, a scramble here a scramble there...go for it, don't try to be something were not(a power running team), if this is going to eventually be a team similar to what philbin has had success at doing(packers)..let the balls fly...tannehill will finally have to grow ALL the way up...LETS GO FINS!

Negative plays on early downs could explain Sherman's play selection being tilted towards pass.

Great points Armando. Hey, where's the 'this guy equals that guy' poster with , Sherman>Henning?

Great points but here's MY problem. Why did one of the media guys ask a cream puff question instead of asking (in a shorter version) the same questions that were asked in this story? Why do it behind closed doors? They seem to have great points, and questions that need to be answered. But instead they wait until they are in their office and write it in stories. How is that going to answer any questions or put the coach on the hot seat? I hate to say it but some of these guys are like jellyfish, no spine.

Look at the answer Sherman gave, from the first sentence you can figure out what the question was. "Why did you guy go away from the run at the end of the game". Any freaking child could have answered that question, down by 10 with little time left what are we supposed to do? But that shouldn't have been the question.

We want our coaches and players to be smarter and play better. We should also want the reporters covering the Dolphins to be smarter and write better. (This has nothing to do with Armando as I suspect the reporter who asked the question was from another outlet. So don't come at me Mando, you know as well as I do you work with a bunch of idiots, don't we all?)

@ budtki :Great post

Note to Rossie: Fire little Jeffie now and avoid the Christmas rush! While your pink slips are out---fire Shermie as well and put Philbin on notice.

I've heard Ross, and many posters here, mention that continuity is important for the long term succsss of the team. But the most important people to keep for the sake of continuity are GOOD PLAYERS. Look at the list of good players this joke of a GM has let go, and one can easily see he does not even follow his own philosophies, unless it's to protect his own job.

28th in offense, 21st in defense, based on yards per game. Somebody needs to get fired. Especially on the defense where the team has spent numerous resources since Ireland took over. Pitiful.

78 stick 2 1 liners yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn

ProGolf........finally someone with brains......look I'm no expert, not by a long shot......but if we fire everyone, then who is out there to hire? Who's the replacement......the NFL is filled with promising coaches who aren't working out - Tampa Bay is a perfect example and the Raiders are another. Also, I'm tired of the constant regime changes, every time we do this another coach comes in and has to turnover the roster all over again. Look at Sporano, he built a team that was big and slow and wanted to run the ball and play D. That's an outdated model in the NFL and now Philbin has to make it over. If Philbin leaves then it will be another make-over. All I'm saying, is all of the options have to be weighed and thought about.

Barring end of the world, NFL collapse, or franchise move, within 100yrs the Miami Dolphins will win another Super Bowl.

Too bad only our great grands 4-5 generations into the future will be around to see it. Still, better late than never.

I'm just tired of all of the knee jerk reactions and constant emotional outcry. Truth be told, the Phins problems date back to the Saban and Cam Cameron drafts

The Miami Dolphins have become the CHICAGO CUBS of the NFL.

Quit complaining guys. There won't be any of us around to see the Miami Dolphins win another Super Bowl anyhow.

Your time's better served knocking out the "honey-do-list".

Pesi, have you read the stats lately??
11, 10, 82, 42 all same stats and on pace for 1000 yards.

More surprising FACTS.........

Tannehill is
#8 in Red Zone Offense 102.7 QB rating
#20 Overall 79.5 QB rating
1st half QB rating of 87.2
2nd half QB rating of 72.6
#28 4th quarter QB rating of 60.9
#32 in sack per game
#5 in passing plays with 63.35%
#28 rushing plays with 36.65%

So when you break down the stats above you can see wherein the problem lies....Tannehill gets no protection, we pass the ball way too much we are predictable, in 4th we are always playing catch up hence the number of sacks and INT's.
I have said I until I am blue in the face. Give Tannehill Scheme/coaching, OL, TE, WR corp and Run game and we would be SB contenders. Give him only 2 of the 5 and we would contend for the division. Unfortunatley Tannehill has 0 of 5 in help.

Personnel wise, our problems date back to the departure of GM Bobby Beathard.

Coaching wise, our problems date back to the departure of HC Don Shula.

Here's the problem, Philbin will not change OC's, he owes the guy, sherman gave him a job in the past. Not only that they worked together many times. It's not going to change, most people are loyal to their friends to a fault and that's what the problem is.

funny, the 1's who wanted henne want tfumble.

Bill Arnsparger will you just stop it! The only stat that matters is 3-4, with 4 consecutive losses.

Its all about, "What have you done for me lately" and nothing else. We'll be in the AFC East cellar after Thursday night. Put that in your stat pipe and smoke it!

Sam your a Dolphin hater, most likely a sad Jets fan, so please don't address me anymore. I post FACTS for Dolphin fans...not TROLLS!

There isn't a player on the Dolphins I would not trade for the right price if I were GM. This includes Cam Wake.

Just that Ireland would trade them away for even worse players and acorns.

ALL Dolphins fans KNOW that based on FACTS that this Dolphins team with Tannehill should be 5-2 right now. The Bills and Ravens games were give aways in the last seconds by our coaching staff.

Bill Who? It's fans like you who are the real haters. You're content with overall mediocre talent.

Then you call fans like us that want far better haters. Fans like you are far worse than Jeff Ireland.

And they gave him receivers he just hangs them out to dry with missed placed balls and they get their knees destroyed hes a loser

In what decade do we get a real QB?

ALL Dolphins fans KNOW that based on FACTS that this Dolphins team with Tannehill should be 5-2 right now. The Bills and Ravens games were give aways in the last seconds by our coaching staff.

Posted by: Bill Arnsparger | October 29, 2013 at 04:25 PM

Man are you delusional. YOU ARE WHAT YOUR RECORD SAYS YOU ARE!

Tannnehill is responsible for 3 of our 4 losses.

When we finish 3-13, the delusional Bill Arnsparger will be posting that with Tannehill we should have been 14-2.

Is there any end to this guy's delusions and Tannehill fantasy?

Sam, Brian, Zonk, 2 Watt, Fire Ireland, and every other name you post under are all Daytona and will be ignored by me. We all know that you have no life and are a poor, lost Jets fan who has NEVER been a dominant team. You don't understand success....you have won the division 3 times since 1968.....sad sorry LOSERS!!

Didnt we just know that Irescum would bring us another Chad Henne for a QB?

Armando, if your still reading this, don't you think Philbin's loyalty to Sherman trumps Sherman being fired? Maybe they should have the quarterback coach call the plays, that would at least change something.

Bill Arnsparger's ears should be dusted for Tannehill prints. That or check his medical records for massive bruises behind both ears.

I just re-watched the Dolphins Vs Pats game and I'm telling you guys Tannehill is responsible for about 3 sacks just on his own. Just take a look at the drive before last and the last drive!

Tannehill had plenty of time to either scramble for some yards or throw the ball away on at least 3 or 4 of the 7 sacks they gave up to the Pats.. The OL isn't great but Tannehill isn't helping himself freezing in the pocket.

The guy literally doesn't know what to do when the pocket is collapsing I don't want him bailing out the pocket all the time but a lot of times the scenario screams for Tanne to scrambles instead he crumbles and takes the sack

I don't know if it experience or you're born with pocket presence but if Tannehill continues to stand in a collapsing pocket like a statue he will end up ,Ike David Carr.

Just as much as the OL needs to improve so does Tannehill by the end of the year well know if he's the guy do far I don't see it. What about you?

So the plan is to get Tannehill the offensive tools he needs around him....get him a decent OL, a TE, A running game and WR's that actually catch the ball. Draft a QB in one of the first 3 rounds in 2014 and if Tannehill takes a step backwards be done with him by game 8 next year.
We cannot spend only $37 million (out of $109million) and expect a 2nd year QB to carry this team. Just not happening in todays NFL.

i've never seen a worse pro QB than Tannehill. So many turnovers.

Bill Dumbsparger, even the Jets maybe a better team than the Dolphins right now. Despite the fact they lost by 40pts Sunday.

Jets are 2nd place, Dolphins are 3rd place Dumbsparger. If I were a Jet fan I would be boasting about that. I guess everyone dolfan not living in your delusional Dumbsparger fantasy is a jetfan.

Tanny couldnt hit the broadside of a barn at 10 yds away. His accuracy is non-existent.

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