Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman's job the past eight days since the Dolphins last played was partly to correct the Dolphins pass protection. So I asked him today if he thinks that happened during the bye week.
"I don't think you can tell until you get into the game," the Dolphins offensive coordinator said. "You have to understand, when you go against the Saints and their two rushers and I thought their inside guys are two of the better ones and they've caused people some problems, they certainly caused us problems. And this week we have the same thing and we have to be able to hold up. We have been in a situation where we've gone against some pretty dang good rushers and we have to keep our quarterback erect and we didn't do that. And that lies on me as much as anybody else."
So, we'll find out starting Sunday.
I asked Sherman about right tackle Tyson Clabo. Although Sherman likes to focus the pass protection problem on the entire group, I'm interested to see what the Dolphins do to get the right tackle spot right because Clabo has given up five sacks in five games and that is a pace for giving up 16 sacks this year and ...
"I hate it when you guys do that math because it normally doesn't work out," Sherman said, interrupting my question. "I say normally because I don't anticipate that will happen ... It's going to even out."
That's good. But my question was whether the Dolphins have put Clabo on notice that he needs to clean up his performance or lose his job?
Sherman, good guy by the way, joked that he was hoping I would forget my question and it would go away so that's why he interrupted and went a different direction. (Perhaps on most days it might've worked. But as the bye has refreshed me, I was sort of on my question-asking game today, so I remembered my thought.)
And the answer?
"He understands the situation," Sherman said. "It's easy to say, 'Let's put this guy in or that guy in.' There's a reason he's our starting tackle going all the way back to when he got here and the body of work he was doing previous to that, and other have done. We've gone into this thing with him and we're hoping he can iron some things out. And we can iron some things out as an offense as well and help the situation. No one cares more about it than he does. He's working hard. And I know that's not the answer people want to hear but it is the bottom line and because of the way he works, he'll work through this thing. I think he'll work through it and we'll be fine."
Sherman dismissed the idea that perhap the Dolphins should go to a more quick passing game with more three-step drops. He said Miami is primarily a five-step drop team. The Dolphins, Sherman said, run between seven and eight three-step drop pass plays per game and doing more than that would allow opponents to begin jumping those routes.
"People can sit on those pretty quickly," Sherman said.
So what about running a few and them going with a double move?
How about bubble screens? The Dolphins had success with that play against Indianapolis, scoring a touchdown, but didn't run another that I recall until the Baltmore game. Hopefully those become more a staple for Miami.
Sherman offered a statistic bathed in optimism about the amount of punishment quarterback Ryan Tannehill has taken. He said that although the number of sacks Tannehill is taking this year, 24 so far, is up, the number of actual hits on the quarterback are down.
"Hits on quarterbacks are down, it's just that sacks are up," Sherman said. "At the end of the game you ask Ryan how he's doing and he says, 'I feel fine.' The less hits you have on your quarterback that he doesn't see are as damaging in relationship to his health. And it hasn't been an inordinate number, ironically. We don't count sacks as hits because it's a sack and we obviously have to clean it up because sacks change field position and in the last game we were minus-35 yards on offense. We certainly cannot afford to do that."
So, basically the number of hits on Tannehill are down although sacks are up and sacks don't count as hits. I'm sure that makes Tannehill feel better.