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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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Dusty...I was referring to coaches that have experience, but have never won anything for anyone, lots of those out there, not the type I want coaching my team. There are plenty of young assistants out there that deserve to be promoted that come from great pedigrees ala Mike Shula...they are out there.

I can't understand why all the South Florida sports franchises, minus the Heat, are so unsuccessful. Either they are cheap (Panthers, Marlins) or they are dysfunctional at the core (Dolphins).

Dusty say what you want about Cox but he has been successful at every stop in his career...he cant be that dumb?


Fresh Faced Cam Cameron did not work out.
How about Josh McDaniels...he was a HOT item when he went to Denver, then got relegated back to OC duties in NE
Ken Whisenhunt was also in huge demand...flamed out in AZ and is now back at OC duties
Rob Chudzinski was on everyone's list and he's stinking up the joint in Cleveland
Chip Kelly is struggling in Philly
Greg Schiano - one and done

I'd rather have someone with HC experience than not...can we clone Andy Reid?

I say bring in Rob Ryan for HC. I like his fire and he would at least get this defense playing to their potential. Then bring in a young, innovative OC.

Please don't just sit back and berate one or two of my names......place your own choices in the blog. I don't pretend to know everything....Im not Craig after all??
Place names in the hat for discussion.

Go and Go Go is the same being used by EVERY other QB in the NFL. They may use Hut then Hut hut or other terminology. But this is standard.

Posted by: Bill Arnsparger | October 29, 2013 at 05:20 PM
I thought I cleared this up a couple of blogs ago. Myabe some missed it.
'Short version is QBs use 'hard counts'....48blue, 48blue, HUT, hut. The HUT is louder (louder than usual) 'Long count'...is on 3 or 4 when after going on 1 or 2. The hard count is more of a cadence/rhythm thing. Point being, the D gets used to one thing and you do another.

The 48 go & 48 go-go doesn't leave room to do either.

I think Ross needs to pony up and even tryto get Cowher out of retirement.

really on cox? making him a gm is comical, worst idea ever. and he has coached with mangini in ny and clev, not successful at all. was a coach here for one season,awful. now hes a coach on the worst team in nfl, tampa

Im not sure about Rob Ryan as HC....but as DC I would definitely look at him....that's what we need a firey coach. We come onto the field like a bunch of accountants, vanilla, bored, no fire to me this equals losing.


Didn't just want to come out and say it because certain people will BLAST the suggestion but I like Marty Morninweg to finally get his 2nd try at H.C. His only shot was with the expansion Browns in 99 with his future tied to SUPER SONIC BUST Tim Couch. Hyped coming out of H.S. into College by S.I. as the next Elway. I remember it because I had the magazine and he was an efficient College guy at Kentucky. Since being FIRED morninweg has Coached in Philly (resurrecting Vick) and in N.Y. (doing wonders with Geno, who'd have believed any 1st Yr. guy was going to turn the Jets O around)

ryan as def, yes head coach no way. get rid of entire staff, coyle sucks balls also

Dusty not as GM as a DC?? He was successful at very stop. Tampa's D is better than ours!!

morninweg never coached browns. he lasted 2 years in detroit going 5-27

Tampa D gives up 23.4 points per game
Dolphins 23.9

I am truly curious. f4l, why do you think if Tannehill had been so good against the blitz, he failed so miserably yesterday? Anyone?

Lets face it guys, we can spew out names till the cows come home for replacement coaches, but as long as Ireland is the GM this will only be a hypothetical conversation. We need to rid ourselves of the stink that is sitting atop of our organization before we can stop and smell the roses.

Dusty a fiery, cocky in your face DC to coach a very talented group of players instead of a vanilla boring DC that we cant even recall the name of he is so plain!!
Not necessarily Cox but a guy like that.

Mike Sula??? Really???? No thanks has been a bust of a Coach with some good QB's to work with over his time and Bloodlines might give you insight to how player might work out from a physical standpoint it means squat in Coaching ask his Bro Dave who blew chunks in Cincinnati.

tampas d blows bvalls. give me an aggressive type guy. sutton or cunningham

WPF you are correct sir......the head of the snake must be cut off. He has had 6 yrs to fix this and we are still a 7-9 team!!

Calm down fellas name are for discussion of why the Dolphins are one of the few organizations that take care of there own??
I am not advocating that any of them be the next coach or GM. I made it very clear I want somebody like Holmgren as our next GM.

Perhaps our only hope is what Dog Water suggested the other day. Sometimes, in a dysfunctional System, you remove a part of it and the whole system starts functioning as it was intended. In this case I would remove Sherman and see what happens.


Shula is credited with getting Cam to be a top 10 ranked QB this year....so far??

Face facts, Fins Fans, these Coaches are just not smart. The way to slow down a rush is to throw Screen Passes. How many screens do they throw? The threw one to Mike Wallace on 3rd and 23, he ran for 25 yards, got a 1st Down. Last time they threw a Screen to Wallace was Week 2 versus Indy, he took it 18 yards for a TD. A logical, intelligent person might ask why they don't try this more than once every 6 weeks.

Last week versus Buffalo they started Daniel Thomas. He ran for 4 yards, he ran for 6 yards, he ran for 5 yards. They put in Lamar Miller, he ran for 35 yards. So they put Daniel Thomas back in.

Last Season they would run Reggie Bush off tackle. Then they would take Bush out of the game, put in Daniel Thomas, and throw Daniel Thomas a Screen Pass. How is this smart?

Do these guys ever WATCH Football?

Did you see Philbin on the TV Sunday, clapping politely on the sideline while the Fins were choking? This was like watching him picking litter off the practice field on Hard Knocks while Legedu Naanae and Chad Oh-So-Sinkhole were running patterns in the background. The narrator was talking how it showed his attention to detail, but obviously he's not a Big Picture kinda guy.

Fins play calling sucks. Bad enough we got Ryan Turnover at QB, but these Coaches got no apparent Football IQ and as long as they are in charge the Dolphins can never be more than mediocre.

Shula had Garrard top 3 with a 102 Qb rating??

So he has had 2 QB's ad they were both top 10!!

I remember when Dan Henning was shown the door and Brian Daboll was brought in our O play calling improved and we managed to win a few Games before Sparano was fired.

In response to earlier posts:

Philbin and Sherman versus Bill Belly-ache is like Forest Gump and Rain Man versus Albert Einstein.

i did like daboll

It is a fantasy to think that Ross will fire Ireland and Philbin at the end of the Season based on this year's performance. Perhaps, if we keep under-performing for the next 2 years Ross might do something about it. Or perhaps move the whole Team to another State.

very true oscar, sadly id agree with him if he moves them. nobody goes to the games. looks awful on tv.

frank caliendo @ 1:36 pm, you are dead on!!
these guys "out think" themselves. they get away from what's working......they stop themselves. those are the adjustments these guys make at halftime. they don't force the other team to stop them. the other team doesn't need to do anything. they just automatically think the other team is going to "take away" what's working.

Yeah as a matter of a fact what did happen to Daboll? I lost track of him during the shuffle. He did seem to have this team clicking in all cylinders. Hmmm, something to ponder?

I still believe the apple doesn't fall to far from the tree. Shula seems to have what it takes to be a winner, maybe not the head coaching job, but as a quarterback coach I would think he would be a major improvement over...um. uh, who the hell is the the quarterback coach anyway???

Armando is now calling it like a veteran journalist, finally! - KUDOS!!!

Good article. It's unbelievable that an NFL coach (Sherman) makes the same mistakes 2 weeks in a row, as if it was the same film. I wish he accepts criticism. There's still a lot of football left to play this season.

Sherman is done, Philbin is lost, and who ever the QB coach is should be run out of town on a rail. It all starts at the top fellas and runs down hill. If it stinks at the top then God forbid what ends up at the bottom has got to be putrid.

Plenty of room in the Can Sherm bandwagon, I built in lots of extra seats because I knew we'd need them.

Yeah almost forgot..good article today Mando...finally you are asking the hard questions. I wonder how long they intend on letting you put them in difficult situations before you get tossed out of the meetings or worse yet, tossed out of your job. Seems these guys don't like being backed into corners, just take a gander at the Philbin presser. When he was continually questioned about the subpoena, about the third time he was asked he just about blew his top.

tannehill is not the problem, the O philosophy, and play calling is......


I do really like Steve Daboll for our OC

Darkoak I'll take one of those seats please and I have a few others who are willing to jump on board as well.

just checked...Brian Daboll is now an assistant coach at New England .... HA!


Excuse me I was having dinner, I believe M.Shula a GUTSY Guy, after all you forget I live in Miami and like Mike attended Christopher Columbus H.S. (although I transferred to Killian) He put up good numbers at Alabama as well for not very physically gifted. He got the job as H.C. in Bama sometime in the last decade before his 3 out of 4 losing Seasons got him canned. He was replaced by Saban and then almost hired to be the new H.C. at Miami by Huzienga before the Tuna came through the door (don't you guys know this stuff?)

If you follow UM Football at all you know that Gerarrd and little Tiny East Carolina upset Miami at the house in 99 (costing us top-10 bid) I wasn't surprised when he was drafted in the 4th I think and knew the Jags had a good insurance policy for Leftwich. That UM D he beat up was NO CREAM PIE with guys like Dan Morgan, Ed Reed, Phillip Buchanan, Damien Lewis ect.... Cam is one of the beast athlete's in the game so #'s he will put up as well. You make it sound as if Shula was the OC/QB Coach which he isn't so he breaks down tape and works the QB's through drills while the OC gets his plan together.

The bottom line Sherman guaranteed Tanny would be the most improved QB of his class..that just is not true..2 plays before the missed FG.. Tanny threw a ball that spun Wallace around..11 should of pulled the pass in but slipped thru his hands..if that is a truly elite qb the throw is completed and most likely 6pts ..next play sack and the rest is history. This young qb is not getting better under Sherman. Most wins or losses comes down to 1 or 2 plays..Dolphins for years now just can not make them like they did during the Shula era..

Just checked...Brian Daboll is now an assistant coach at New England .... HA!

Posted by: NHFINSFAN | October 29, 2013 at 07:02 PM

Well there you go.....another waisted opportunity. Damn it all, why do we have to have such a dunce for a GM ????

just checked...Brian Daboll is now an assistant coach at New England .... HA!

Posted by: NHFINSFAN | October 29, 2013 at 07:02 PM


That is the thing I hate the most, from the last 8 years or so, the dolphins season is over very early. Always wait till the next off season.

Re: throwing out names we would like to see coach here,

How many previous choices turned down the job before they hired Phailbin and his loser posse?

Does any good legitimate coach even want to come here and get sabotaged by Ireland and his playground front office?

DR DOOM keeps striking again!

NHFINSFAN has it right. The Dolphins need a veteran coach to turn this around.

Could have had John Fox.

Here we go again the sign of insanity. This organization no matter who is running the team is insane. We just cannot get anything right and the Miami Dolphins are snake bit. We go and sign Mike Wallace, he can not catch a ball. Ireland instead of fixing the line in the draft goes defense, no player who was drafted is really playing the majority of the plays. This team picks Ryan Tannehill a former WR in college and should be pretty fast is now Dan Marino (not numbers or relaese but a statue in the pocket. We have a small fast RB (Miller) who is being used between the tackles. Until we fire everyone this team will just plainly suck. One last thing Philbin was the OC in GB who did not call the plays, we hire a fired HC from Texas AM who has not gotten anything righ tw ith this offense. The perfect example is the play in New Orleans when it was 3rd and very short tries a sweep! UH? Last year the Ravens fired their OC and went to the SB. We can do the same right now.
We not have to worry if the Phins will be able to win a SB in the cold.

R Tannehill is being coached by a QBs coach (Zac Taylor) and QBs assistant coach who have NO pro playing experience and NO coaching experience.

The wide receivers are being coached by a WRs coach (Ken O'Keefe) who has NO pro playing experience and NO coaching experience.

The entire offense is being coordinated by a loser with NO common sense.

Not one veteran coach will even consider the job as long as we have Ireland running the show. It has been proven time and time again. No one wants to throw away a promising career in South Beach. This is a place where coaches come to die, not to revive their careers. Just ask JJ, Shula, Wanny, and so on and so forth.

..."There is a reason why Mike Sherman was fired in disgrace after leading Green Bay to a wonderful 4-12 record. (how on earth can a coach have Brett Favre AND Aaron Rodgers on the same team and only win 4 times?
There's a reason Texas A&M fired him too, after watching him lose every Bowl game he ever coached in. Now, Dolphin fans can learn those reasons too."

Nuff said, I'd rather read the truth than to listen to excuses every Monday morning.

All these are wild proposals of mine, but I see no hope of having a good Team if something is not done in the next 2-3 years. Perhaps a new Stadium closer to downtown Miami. Many rich Dolphins Fans living downtown and along Brickell. Now with MLS coming here, there are filthy rich Venezuelans and Brazilians living in the Center of Miami also. ???

If anyone would bother to watch the second half again, you would see that we ran on first down the first 4 series. NE knew we would because we were ahead, and ran run blitzes to stop the run. When they stopped us for little or no gain, they switch to pass blitz. It worked for them. All that is OK on a level playing field.

The problem came when the refs decided to castrate our defense. Without that,it would have been a tough game that we could have won.

Our coaches know what went wrong, they just can't say anything because the league would fine them.

We, as fans are their only way to get at the league to help our coaches. Instead of doing that, we dump on them.

I know some of the people on here are not really fans, and I understand their posts. I cannot understand people like Mark and Fin4life, when they dump on the coaches instead of assigning blame where it belongs.

I am truly bummed.

Sherman must go. We are predictable and stupid. Stuff that works doesn't find it's way back into the script. Why on 2nd and 2 and then 3rd and 2 with a lead and midfield would we not better leverage what works? Why do we not roll out our qb who is very good on the move? We have found the enemy and it is us!

take a look around, very few teams have a decent offensive line. it isn't irelands fault, it's lack of talent out there.

"...Give me reason, but don't give me choice
Cause I'll just make the same mistake again." Same Mistake, James Blunt

Mike Sherman's theme song...lol

"Texas A&M had to part ways with Sherman to give themselves a chance to be successful."

Sound familiar to anyone here?

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