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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. 


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Posted by: Sam I Am | December 23, 2013 at 05:49 PM

As OC, it was also Mike Sherman who chose to have a zone blocking and pass protection when only having power blocking personnel. He refuse to run a system that fit his then current personnel, instead choosing to force the personnel to fit his system.

No doubt about it, Sam. We can also beat most any Team any given Sunday. ?????

The point as this article is moot! The Dolphins were not going to be able to run or pass in that game. The offensive line was so terrible and so over matched it didn't matter what play they called it wasn't going to work with the incompetent linemen we had trying to block. So blaming Sherman is pointless, he was not the one missing every blocking assignment! Until the offseason when Miami can completely rebuild the line, they are going to run into teams that dominate them at the point of attack. Hopefully it doesn't happen against the Jets or if they should happen to make the playoffs and then maybe Sherman can call more runs?!

Having one chance to seal the deal, the Dolphins as I thought would lay an egg, and did they not lay a giant egg. Sherman, Philbin should be fired after the season and Ross should find an NFL experienced front office type to hire a real head coach and a GM who knows talent. Philbin hired Sherman and Sherman is Philbins albatross, the stone in his shoe, the thorn in his side,,,etc, etc. A third string QB scalded the Dolphin defense and sack tanne went down for the 10 count,,,,How many still believe the Dolphins are a REAL playoff team,,,come-on "homers" you know who you are.
We Dolfans know a fraud when we see one.

jets are gonna run the ball down our throats, better be ready

I would like to try something new for a change. I'm not in the criticizing school of comments because it doesn't offer anything. Just offering name calling is cheap and easy and does not provide insight.

That being said, I too am not satisfied with this group and feel they are not outstanding or special. I also feel that the main reason for that is we have a bunch of first timers in key positions. Philbin is a first time head coach and Ireland is also working in his first GM job. BTW, Ireland was a highly regarded up and comer when he was in Dallas and would have gotten a job somewhere. Sherman is the only one with real experience in the staff.

What I would like to ask to those that would care to answer is this. If the entire staff is fired , who would you like to see as replacements?

I would love to have John Gruden but I doubt that will ever happen. As far as a GM, I would like someone who's been successful doing it and not a rookie, which brings a risk that we as Finfans have dealt with before.

Alright guys, you're on.

Certainly, at least yesterday, it appears as Foster says.

They need to work on getting the screen pass involved early in the game and pass out of a two tight end formation this would help in pass protection as well.The problem with the Dolphins is they run the same plays and formations all the time even if they are not working, Sherman has to go !!!!! But Honestly is anyone on board with the Dolphins running backs? They don't break tackles or make people miss very much and they go down easy. So I agree if you can't run then pass but at least show a run formation to make them think you might run.

And one last point the Bills dominated the line of scrimmage on nearly every play, when this happens you need to adjust the game plan, let the rushers in and a quick screen behind them this will slow down the rush. But Not Sherman same plays all the time

db @ 6pm

I'm not worried about the Jets running the ball down our throats.

I am concerned about the beating Tanne is going to take from the front 7.

im not worried about beating, jets pass rush is awful. but jets running game is getting going.

The running game was a waste of time; don't blame him for that. Stuck with D.thomas wayyyy to long.

WHY WAS Thomas in the entire 2nd half??? He did absolutely NOTHING, he couldn't even pass protect!!!The problem is that the moron calling the plays won't leave Miller in to establish himself.

3 run plays in the 2nd half? So let me get this straight. 10-0 at the half and you run the ball 3 times? Look, you don't ever quit running the ball unless you're way behind and you're running out of time. 10-0 hardly qualifies. Jeeze, I thought Henning was bad

But hey, that's just one problem on a long list

I totally agree with Armando. In that type of weather you have to run the ball and protect the football. The worst thing that can happen if you run the ball is the game score stays low and you have a chance to win at the end of the game. You do not throw the ball when you have 20 mph winds, rain, and 35 degree weather. This was a game where you run on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd down. They needed to go with two Tight Ends and throw short passes to TEs or RBs. As Scott mentioned the TEs would have helped in pass protection also.

It is clear that we need an every down running back. Looking back now, we should have kept a Reggie Bush. Miller and Thomas both need to go. The fins need a top RB as much as they need OL. OL and RB should be the focus next year. However, yesterday under those conditions the fins had to force the run.

The rush defense seems to be a new concern. It seems like the fins plug a hole and another opens up. I went back to see the game again and you consistently see Soliai swallowing up two blockers. The LBs were roaming free to make tackles but they were just out of position. Wheeler was awful in that game and Ellerbe was not much better. If you look at the game closely you often see Wheeler not being blocked but running in the wrong direction (where the running back was not). Phillip Wheeler ranks up there as one of the worst free agent signings in the Ireland Era. Mark Colombo was the worst signing but Wheeler is right up there.

what is the dolphins salary cap look like next year

orlando reggie bush has been horrible, flat out horrible. long another season ending injury. s smith benched and awful. looks like ireland actually made the right moves on them

Chris Johnson.

brent they are 29 mill under

Abandoning the run is one thing but to nor throw a single screento keep the pass rushers honest or have tannyhill roll out to throw borders on utter incompetence.


I have not seen too many Detroit games but I have got to think that Reggie has been better than Miller and Thomas. Here are Reggie's numbers:

He has rushed for 974 yards, 4.7 avg. and 4 TDs. He also has 473 yards receiving. Now the one glaring number that he has is 5 fumbles.

Lamar Miller's numbers: 636 yards rushing, 4.0 avg., 2 TDs. He has 166 yards receiving. Only 1 fumble.

I still think that Reggie has been better than Miller. Though 5 fumbles is not good.

Wheeler reminded nr a lot of channing crowder. Which Is lousy..

Even when Sherman does run it, it is completely obvious. I don't recall many runs that didn't occur on 1st and 10 or 3rd and short. Why not mix it up?

Where are the direct snaps to the RB, the end arounds to Wallace or even letting Tanehill take off with instead of just faking the keeper?

I say Philbin needs to talk to Gary Kubiak or Kyle Shanahan at seasons end and let Sherman walk!

It's troubling that the posters on here actally have a better game plan and play calling than the OC of the Phins.

Wheeler reminded nr a lot of channing crowder. Which Is lousy..

Posted by: donald shoeman | December 23, 2013 at 06:41 PM

LOL! So true. You always see his dreads flying to catch up to a missed gap or blown coverage to make a tackle. Always playing catch up to the play.

Not sure running the ball more would have made a difference the way the Fins were playing, but we know one thing- NOT running the ball played into the heart of the Bills defense. Couldn't have been a bigger mismatch yesterday, coaching included.

If Ireland let's Soliai walk, then there will be no stopping the run at all next year.

If I'm Ireland, I'm putting the franchise tag on Grimes this offseason. Resign Soliai and let Starks walk.

I would go after Brandon Albert and Alex Mack in FA. If we get both, we could move Pouncey to LG. Release Wheeler and eat the loss.

Then play Brenner at RG and draft a RT in the 1st rd. I would take DT, RB and MLB in the draft. Build back into the 3-4 defense we are most suited to play..

That would drastically improve the weaknesses on this team.

he hasnt orlando. bush has been becnhed twice, lost a ton of fumbles. bell easily the best back in det

The rush defense seems to be a new concern. It seems like the fins plug a hole and another opens up. I went back to see the game again and you consistently see Soliai swallowing up two blockers. The LBs were roaming free to make tackles but they were just out of position.

Posted by: Orlando Dolphan | December 23, 2013 at 06:21 PM

Agreed. Our LB's are nothing special. Luke Kuechly- or the rookie Alonso from Buffalo. Now, they're something special. I was excited about the changes at LB this year, but they haven't panned out as planned. Truthfully, other than Grimes, none of the changes made this offseason were worth of damn.

And some of our homer friends still want Ireland shopping for the groceries? Jeez! Just don't get it do you!

wont say i told u so vegas. wasnt hard to see how bad those signings were. wheeler had never done a thing

If I'm Ireland, I'd beg to get Dansby resigned to a 2yr deal and have him and Ellerbe playing ILB and move back to a 3-4, Wake and Jordan would play OLB.

Kevin Coyle has ruined this defense!

I don't fault Sherman for abandoning the run the bills owned the line of scrimmage and dared our receivers to beat them quickly and we couldn't. We are a finesse team might as well recognize it. Sad part is when we needed it in the past we have been able to quick slant and curl our way down the field. As it turned out the defense was fatigued as it was and if we continued to run we would have had more 3 and outs. right now the bills dline is much better than our oline. Maybe in better conditions it would have been different.

Mike Sherman is a joke. When your qb is getting killed and has no time even in a 3 step drop why are you still putting him under center. You put him in shotgun and spread the players out. And when he actually did it, it was 3rd and long and had the hot route to hartline on a quick slant? THAT should have been the first down play. There is a reason why we are ranked 24th in offense and it all starts with the play calls.

Also, what idiot keeps there star player(mike wallace) on only one side of the field? He has no creativity.

Wouldn't have mattered. This team did not show up! End of story. Coaching was horrible, O line was horrible. Hartline for whatever reason decided to play like a practice squad guy. Coaches did not get this team ready to play. Remember the first game against the Bills was after a bye and they still lost. Bills have Philbin's number and they have figured out Shermans short passing offense. No deep passes until the end of the game. Disgraceful.

Dolfan29 Buffalo was ranked #4 against the rush and #24 against the pass prior to last week.
Posted by: Bill Arnsparger | December 23, 2013 at 04:59 PM
You got that backwards Bill. As of today the Bills defense ranks #23 against the run and #5 against the pass. All the more reason Sherman is an idiot for being pass happy.

No Armando you don't continue beating your head against a brick wall if you aren't even making a dent in it. And we sure weren't making any dents in that Buffalo defense with our running game Sunday. The passing game wasn't working that great either but it was the only way we had any hope at all of putting points on the board.

Mando all you do is criticized after the fact believe me I Am not to happy with Sherman play calling and I think it has cost us at least 3 games but against the Bills I have to agree with Sherman the running plays were not getting us anything also Hartline drop at least 4 passes and again Tannehill missed Wallace deep for a sure TD.
Ellerbe stupid penalty on 3rd down gave Buffalo and additional 10 more minutes of Time of possession and 3 pts now we need to beat the stinky jets and hope the Chargers beat the Chief or the Ravens lose to the Bengals but 1st thing 1st is BEATING THE JETS

Agree with the posters that are saying this one is not really on Sherman. At some point you have to beat the guy in front of you.

We did almost none of that on Sunday. One series after a short pass for 7 yards on first down, we got stuffed on a 2nd down running play which lost 5 yards.

That left us in 3rd and 8 and a sure passing down and of course a sack.

After being stymied the entire first half I was kind of hoping for some razzle dazzle, go for broke, leave it all out there. More bombs to Wallace, flea flicker, halfback pass....something.

Of course that's easy for me to say, as soon as we have a fumble or pick six fans would surely want some ones head.

If these players have any pride at all though, I pity the Jets. If they don't muster a better effort in that game though, time to do some roster clean up.

Losing Dansby is on Philbin not Ireland. Philbin was threatened by Dansby's strong personality. If Philbin had told Ireland I want Dansby on this team, he would still be here.

Dansby has proven that he is a much better player than Ellerbe or Wheeler. Dansby has 116 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, and 2 TDs. Dansby is headed to the pro-bowl. Ellerbe and Wheeler will not even sniff the pro-bowl this year. You have to wonder, Dansby was above average in Miami (not special) but he has been great at Arizona. Why? Ireland made the right move brining him here but the coaches did not put him in a position to blossom like the Cardinals have.


You are right. Coyle has ruined this defense. I actually think that he is worse than Sherman. He has the players on defense. He has Wake, Vernon, Soliai, Starks, and Jordan on the line and Grimes and Jones in secondary and as a team the defense is underperforming (Vernon has blossomed). Reshad Jones went from a promising Safety in the league and now seems lost. Sherman does not have the horses up front on the O-line and he does not have the running backs. Not to excuse Sherman but to me Coyle has been worse.

Ireland cannot go back to Dansby. The relationship between Dansby and Philbin is broken. As I said before, Philbin felt threatened by Dansby and he is not going to want him back. I am afraid that we will be stuck with Wheeler, Ellerby, and Coyle next year.

Why not play Michael Thomas to see if his PATS game was a fluke or not?

What did they have to lose?

The reason our defense did not get near the QB was because of the numerous screen plays called by buffalo. That is what beats a good aggressive pass rush. Also when tannehill ran the read option he always handed it off. He is not reading anything because when I kept rewinding the game he handed the ball offeverytime as opposed to keeping it. It was wide open everytime for tannihill to run..

Did anyone notice that Tannehil missed a wide open Wallace again? He misses him wide open deep every game. But people want to talk about other stuff. The fact is folks you look around the league and when it rains nobody throws the ball or catches very well. Duper and Clayton were worthless in rain games.

Posted by: Orlando Dolphan | December 23, 2013 at 07:48 PM

I agree, we won't see Dansby back. It turned out to be a terrible move. We need to find a way to unload Wheeler though. I'm still shocked that we stick to a 4-3 scheme when we have so many DE's that can play standing up and our run defense being as bad as it's been.

I'd like to see us get veterans for our Oline and draft either a G or T in the 1st rd (BPA) and then spend our picks on DT's. Ireland seems to find those regularly and Kacy Rodgers coaches them up well for a 3-4.


Sherman is correct when he relates that teams will take away what another team does best. The Dolphins are having their short passing game taken away and the scheme used also takes away the run game.

I still believe that there is a reason why Mike Sherman was fired from Texas A&M. He should retire at the end of the season. Please retire Mr. Sherman!

Philbin did not feel threatened by Dansby. Pure and Simple Dansby was a cap move, so was Burnett. Ellerbee/Wheeler were not signed as clear upgrades. They were signed to be at least the equivalent in play of Dansby/Burnett in this system, while going both younger and cheaper.

That's the bottomline. Yeah, and do not look for Dansby to repeat the season he had this year with the Cards next year. He played with a chip on his shoulders to save face and prove the Dolphins wrong.

Clear and simple, Dansby is a chronic "UNDERACHIEVER". Once he proves his point he's back to fat, lazy, mouthy, and coming into camp out of shape. You'll see next year(2014) with the Cards.

This team can not stop the run even when they know it's coming. Why teams don't just plow the ball down our throat's almost every down is beyond me. I was shocked the Patriots went away from it when we couldn't stop them. Carolina did it on their final drive to beat us. Tampa shoved it down our throats with a back who never had a carry in the NFL. Ray Rice did it and he's having a down year. Buffalo had no QB no receivers.... we knew they were going to run and there was nothing we could do!

Jets will pound the ball down our throats and there s nothing we can do about it. Blame the LB's all you want. The D-Line is supposed to be the strength of this team. I don't see it. Other than Wake And Vernon from time to time I see no big plays from our D-Line.

I have said this so many times I am red in the face: Bad miscalculation letting Bush go because we (we meaning Ireland and probably Philbin) thought Miller was just as good for less. Bush would have been hammered many times for losses and no gains behind this O-Line, but I promise you he would have broke the occasional one for 30, 40, 50 yards. Saw him do it last year MANY times! Why? Because he is better than Miller AND IS MORE INSTINCTIVE @ finding the creases and holes. When I read Detroit signed him, I was sitting alone on my tablet and shouted "Fu.k!"

One again he anti Ireland homers are make to look silly.

Jake Long - torn ACl & MCL
On an already ravaged body.


Guys earn their money on the field, not in the rehab room Longs career is officially kaput.

Brickhouse: I have to disagree on it all being on the D-line. Linebackers are our #1 defensive weakness this year. Not so sure about Ellerbe, but Wheeler sucks! Sucks!

The worst move for the fins was letting Karlos Dansby go. Dansby has been awesome with the Cardinals. There were many fans on this blog that wanted Dansby out of here. You have to be careful what you wish for. We all congratulated Dashi as he said before it happened that Dansby and Burnett would be released. Looking back we see that was the wrong move now. As it turns out Phillip Wheeler can not hold Dansby's jock strap.

Brickhouse: Guess what position will have new faces @ the 2014 training camp (FOR SURE)? Linebackers!!!!

Also, it will be completely worthless to resign Soliai if we're continuing to run a 4-3 defense. The run defense has gotten worse both seasons in the 4-3. Soliai is a NOSE TACKLE, not a DT.

If any of you think I'm wrong, then what our explanation for the sudden collapse of our run D over 2 seasons playing 4-3 over 3-4 D? We were top 5 against the run when Soliai played NT.

Also remember, when Jimmy Johnson came here, first thing he did was make sure we had 2 MAMMOTH DT's(Bowens/Gardner) in the middle of his 4-3 D. We now have 1 mammoth(Soliai) and undersized Starks. Starks was more impactful in the run game playing DE, hen we ran the 3-4 D.

That's why I keep clamoring we have the wrong personnel in the wrong positions on both sides of the ball for the systems we're trying to run. In some cases, we have the wrong personnel period.

I read elsewhere that Michael Thomas didn't play at all in the Bills game.

Regardless of having been a practice squad player, how can you not play him after the impact he had in the PATS game?

My fear is Cinci will be winning by two touchdowns late forth quarter. We will be nursing a one point lead. Punt the ball to the Jets with 3-4 minutes left. The Jets put together a long ball control drive pounding the ball down our throats. Coyle knows its coming defense knows its coming the fans in the stands know its coming. Jets kick a field goal to win with seconds on the clock. There simply isn't anything or anyone on this defensive roster to do anything.


We have to get away from Wheeler. I think the D improves simply via addition by subtraction in his case.

He apparently can't cover even back up TE's & misses as many tackles as he makes. He's a decent blitzer though.

Ellerbe should also not be considered an upgrade. He has been pretty much invisible. He is always chasing runners from behind, never in front of a guy to make a play. He is always falling backwards. Even got beat by Hoomahoomananui on the 3rd n 5 at the end of the pats game. He was clearly holding or interfering with him & lucky to get a no call.

Ireland whiffed a LB but, I agreed with him on letting Long & Bush walk. One is always on IR & the other fumbles too much.

RB, OL & LB need to be addressed. Tag Grimes, rebuild the OL again & fire Coyle. This used to be a great run D. We completely stink now & I can't blame the players. Same team, totally different results. This is scheme / coaching.

All you morons who are "with Sherman" on this...are you satisfied with the big stinking rotten goose egg he laid? Mixing in more running and short quick play action pass plays could not have been any worse. We scored ZERO points with his assinine play calling. ZERO! ZERO!!!!!!!!!

Yes, I agree the LB's suck! But consider this When is the last time you say a big play in a key situation by Odrick, Starks, Solai, Jordan ??????? These are big money players and it all starts up front.


I agree that Soliai is more of a NT but Soliai was gobbling up blockers against the Bills and freeing up the LBs, like he is supposed to. Wheeler and Ellerbe were consistently filling the wrong gaps and looked lost. We are seeing the same thing with Ellerbe that we saw with Dansby. Both Ellerbe and Dansby were great before they got here. Ellerbe was seen as the guy that would replace Ray Lewis in Baltimore. Now Ellerbe looks average (reminds me of Dansby when he played here). Dansby left to go to Arizona and now he is headed to the pro bowl. Coyle needs to adjust to the talent of his players. Go to a 3-4 defense and play to the strength of your personnel.

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