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2 posts from December 23, 2013

December 23, 2013

Mike Sherman defends abandoning the run

The Dolphins abandoned the run on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, seeing the nine runs he called in the first half not working all that well, basically abandoned the idea of running the ball in the second half.

The Dolphins called only three run plays in the second half.

And Sherman believes that was the way to go.

“I just did not feel at any point that of those 12 carries our longest run was three yards," Sherman said Monday. "We really haven’t had many explosive runs this year which is not good, we need to continue to build towards that.  A lack of productivity in the run game caused me to veer off into another direction."

And this is where the words sound fine but the logic is simply absent.

The run game wasn't working for the Dolphins so Sherman went in another direction.

Did he go in another direction when the passing game stunk? Or did he keep calling passing plays?

By abandoning the run, Sherman thought he was doing what was best for the Dolphins. Wrong. He was playing right into the hands of the Buffalo Bills.

The Bills wanted the Dolphins to pass the football. They were praying the Dolphins would pass. You know why?

The Bills lead the NFL in sacks. The Dolphins lead the NFL in sacks allowed. The only way the Bills were going to collect more sacks and build on the momentum those plays deliver is by having the Dolphins throw the football. And Sherman obliged.

Another thing: The Bills are not a good run-defense. They were ranked No. 26 in the NFL against the run. So by abandoning the run, Sherman was declining to attack the weakest part of the Bills defense.

And all this happened in a game where the score was 13-0 with over six minutes to play. So it is not as if the Dolphins were totally out of this game and needed to pass out of desperation.

Look, the Dolphins are passing team. I get that. They throw the football more than any other NFL team save one. Despite this, Sherman claims he believes in balance.

“Believe it or not, my history has always been with the run game," he said. "There is a definite place for it, as well as the pass game. You’re talking about post season play, people are going to defend what you do the best.  If you can’t keep them from having numbers to take away your run game by being able to throw it, then you’re going to have a tough time running it.  Because a of weather situations that you may face and the grunt and grind of it all you have to be able to run the football, I think to be successful.

"To be successful in the playoffs I believe this too and people are going to stop what you do best, if you’re a really good running team you can’t throw the football and capitalize on situations where there is an overpopulated box then you’re going to have a tough time too. I think you have to be able to do both and you have to be able to have balance."

To be able to do both you have to commit to both. The suggestion the Dolphins are committed to running the ball is a joke.

Running the ball requires persistence. It doesn't always work. It doesn't always work early. Teams that do it well stay with it.

The Dolphins don't stay with it. And not surprisingly, they don't do it well. 

After trampling by Bills, Dolphins still in hunt

The Dolphins allowed the Buffalo Bills to trample all over their playoff hopes on Sunday. It was the combination of bad offense, bad defense and bad coaching coming together to form one enormous disappointment of an outing.

The bad offense? Six first downs. Only 103 total yards. A shutout.

The bad defense? The Bills rushed for 203 yards.

The bad coaching?

Miami couldn't stop a team from running the ball after that team came into the game without its starting QB, its No. 1 wide receiver, and then lost it's No. 2 wide receiver (ejected) and No. 3 wide receiver (knee injury). The Bills were effectively one dimensional in the second half and was still able to rush for 141 yards in that half.

Also, the Dolphins had to run the ball to beat the Bills. The Bills expected the Dolphins to try and run the football but the second-most pass heavy team in the NFL ignored the run.

I know the Dolphins -- specifically Mike Sherman -- will argue that there is no use running the ball when you've tried it and it has failed early. I say ridiculous. Did Sherman quit throwing when it failed time and again and his QB kept getting sacked?

You have to continue to run the ball to be able to run the ball.

Amazingly, the Dolphins today are the No. 6 seed. They actually are in better shape today than they were last week. But they still need help to make the playoffs.

The Dolphins make the playoffs if they win AND either the Bengals or Chargers win next Sunday. The Bengals host the Ravens. The Chargers host Kansas City.

Amazingly, the two teams that were tied for the final AFC wildcard spot heading into Sunday both lost ... by a combined score of 60-7.