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PFF Tuesday: Relive the Buffalo nightmare

No frills today, folks. It's Tuesday. It's the day this blog turns to the folks at ProFootballFocus.com for their tape review of the last game.

The last game was a nightmarish 19-0 loss to the Bills.

This is the review of the nightmare:


Left guard Sam Brenner played just 20 snaps, but clocked in with a -4.8 grade, doing poor work in the run game (-1.5) and even poorer work in pass blocking (-3.4). He was replaced by Nate Garner and its going to be interesting to see this week which of the two starts against the Jets.

RB Daniel Thomas got more snaps than Lamar Miller for just the third time this season, and second if you don’t count the game Miller suffered a concussion.

TEs Michael Egnew (three snaps) and Dion Sims (11 snaps) combined for just 14 snaps, as the Dolphins were in 11 personnel for most of the game.

Ryan Tannehill dropped back 34 times. He was under pressure on 17 of those dropbacks.

TE Charles Clay caught passes against Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Jim Leonhard, and Jairus Byrd.


It was a rough day for the defensive line. Cam Wake (-2.5) and Jared Odrick (-3.1) had their worst graded games of the season and Olivier Vernon also had a poor game (-3.5).

MLB Dannell Ellerbe has been trending in the wrong direction. He also had his worst graded game of the season (-5.5), and worst in run defense (-3.7) as well.

DE Dion Jordan played just 14 snaps, most coming when Olivier Vernon needed a breather on a long drive. Coach Joe Philbin mentioned last week that Jordan is getting around 40 snaps a game. Not even close.

Despite giving up the biggest gain of the game in tight coverage to Robert Woods, Nolan Carroll allowed just two other catches on six targets for 27 yards.

Bills QB Thad Lewis was able to attack Phillip Wheeler and Ellerbe. They combined to allow five catches on six targets for 58 yards. These guys were supposed to be better in coverage than Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett. Not this day.

By way of reminder, as fans continue to ask about this, the Dolphins must win or tie against the Jets and need help to make the playoffs. These are the scenarios:

Miami clinches a playoff spot with ...

1)    MIA win + BAL loss or tie OR

2)    MIA win + SD win OR

3)    MIA tie + BAL loss + SD loss or tie OR

4)    MIA tie + BAL tie + SD tie


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NeMO, the LBs don't help but definitely the DT play has been poor in the run game. All three have been poor this year. Big Paul has been injured/may be getting long in the tooth too... Starks has been indifferent/feelign the effects of being a ten year vet, and Odrick is playing his first year as a 4-3 DT and is still young. So the combination of all these factors has factored in large in the decline in DT play.

And trust me, I saw things I thought I would never see last Sunday, Solia being pushed clear out of the middle of the defense, Starks being pushed aorund too. It's a total clusterfukk over there. And we need to get one of either Wheeler/Ellerbe off the field. Can't afford to ahve both abck there. I actuall have more faith in Ellerbe because I have seen him perform at a high level in baltimore. I wonder about Misi's cover skills because in the run game and short passing game he is our best LB by miles ... and he isn't even a LB. I'd love to see Jenkins/Jordan/Misi as our LBs but that may be unrealistic but less Wheeler at least...

Mark in Toronto | December 24, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Mark, I agree, very few looked ready to play that game. And the Tannehill sack you point out seems to me to epitomize the day's game for the Dolphins.

While I was disappointed at the lack of preparedness overall, I really can't help but think this is to be laid at the feet of the coaches.

Definitely need to win and definitely need to have the bengals flex their muscle over the Ravens. Cincy has a lot to play for - they can still get the #2 seed, they shoudl come out to play. Hopefully Buffalo can keep it close against NE - give Cincy motivation to play.

That SD/KC game will be a total wash - anythign can happen there with both teams backups playing. If SD is playing to win - it's because Mia/Bal both lost and their season is done... can't count on anything from that game.

I think the Chargers will play harder than the Chiefs even if they are out. Chiefs will rest everyone. Chargers will probably try to at least win their home finale and get to above .500 at 9-7.

The most important thing to worry about is the Jets. Their offense has been better since we destroyed them. I think we can beat them and then with a little luck be in.

This sucks. I'm going to visit family, coming home Sunday. Does anyone know if we are FOR SURE going to be the 1pm game? No chance of being flexed into the 4pm game? My DirectTV guide for Sunday isn't showing any information, and I want to record the game.

Unfortunately, if it's the 1pm, I will definitely not be able to watch it live. Plus I'll have to avoid any mention of football on the drive home so I can watch when I get home (without knowing the results). DAMN IT! Seriously thinking of leaving Saturday so I can enjoy the last week of football. Especially with everything that's involved. I guess I can leave bright and early Sunday, like 8am, and I'd get home by halftime at least probably (depending on traffic).

Mark, one more thing... your comments about the DTs vs LBs are noted. However, I think the DTs have all done a more favorable job than the LBs. So many times this year I have heard the names of Ellerbe, Wheeler and Misi making tackles 6, 8, 10 yards downfield. These guys should be stopping plays at the LOS. They can't seem to fill holes, get off blocks or make sure tackles. (And the DTs are grading out OK).

People, I will shed some sheer logic with everyone. What will the deep threat do for the entire offense? (1) prevent the stack at the line. (2) Open up the running game (3)buy the QB more time because defenses will have to respect the deep threat. So, what should any sensible coach do IMMEDIATELY? Start Matt Moore or Pat Devlin IMMEDIATELY! We will go far in the playoffs. Proof of this fact, is that we have already defeated most of the playoff teams without a QB who can throw the deep pass. Just imagine what we could do with the a QB who can throw the deep pass. That's simple; we will be able to score at will on any team! (SUPERBOWL) Philbin, should thank Tannehill for his hard work and toughness and start Moore or Devlin IMMEDIATELY!

One more thing about this weekend, does everyone realize if we lose, then we'll have the same record as the Jets? And they seem to be on the verge of firing their HC for a terrible Season (and I've heard commentators say they don't have an NFL-caliber QB).

Let that settle in for a minute.

Then ask yourself what does that say about Miami (if we end up 8-8, just like the lowly Jets)? What changes should be made (a la Jets) in the wake of a failed Season?

Allow me to answer myself. I believe the GM should be fired. I believe there should be a shake-up in the coaching staff (not HC, but OC/DC/position coaches should ALL be re-thought). Then the new GM can work with Philbin to improve the personnel.

That's what's riding on this game (IMO). Not JUST Playoffs, not JUST the 1st winning Season in 5 years, but JOBS SHOULD be on the line. 8-8 doesn't cut it. 9-7 does. That's the low bar. Anything less is unacceptable.

NeMo, that's right, the biggest threat this weekend is the Jets run game. I mean, our run defense has to be better this week - I mean it has to right? Can't get worse. I think if we can hold them to under 125 yards, that would be fantastic and give us every opportunity to win. We should be able to win the turnover battle and shut down their passing game though - those are our definite edges on them.


Why don't you take two hours to review the work of every GM over the last five years.

My guess is you would suggest firing at least 25 out of 32 of them.

You just don't build a championship team like you build a bridge. Too many factors involved. You are talking about a position that extremely few can succeed at, and maybe more luck involved then is realized. (Like the gift of a true franchise QB)

bill, I will grant you that. Our DTs have been horrible meanwhile our LBs have been an abortion. When you clamour for fourth fround rookies to play a lot or DEs to play LB, you know you have an issue.

When you can't stop the run consistently all year and have the 25th ranked run D, your DT's haven't had a good year, in fact its very poor.

So many times you see Starks and Soliai get pushed out the way, play after play. Yes its also true to say the LB's have tackled poorly, ok and add the DB's, so apart from that...

I'd keep Paul and let Starks go, where he can be happy and get his money, though Im sure he'll find that harder after this years performance.

These two are amongst the top paid at their respective positions, they gare on $8m to play at least at a top ten level and we aren't getting it.

MIT's Scheme arguement may be more applicable to the LB's and DB's, however DL are right at the point of attack, there is much less to scheme when a guys 12" in front of you, please stop making excuses for this mess and face the truth.

In saying that the DC has been a joke, we all know that the soft zones are coming on 4th and long, Jordan will be on the bench on those downs and Wheeler tanked out will get beat by a 4th strng QB and a 5th string TE.

DC, I believe the game is on at 1 on Sunday and won't be moved. Don't quote me on it thought I would hate to give you the wrong info.

I think if Ireland is fired then Philbin should go as well. He picked the 2 coordinators, so their faults fall on him to an extent. 8-8 would indeed put their jobs in jeopardy. I also would like a clean slate.

Lets cross that bridge if we come to it though. I still think they can pummel the Jets and hit the playoffs having won 4 of their last 5.

bond, Moore stinks, get over it. yeah he can complete a deep apss but he can also turn the ball over twice in 5 pass attempts or whatever that is. He's garbage.

Mark, Matt Moore was trying to do too much, too soon. That is why he made that 1st interception mistake. The second one was a hail mary. It does not count. Moore or Devlin is our only hope to salvage the rest of this season.

I didn't make a scheme arguemnt, I said that the players have been playing poorly. I said at least a few times that I wouldn't break the abnk for either of the free agent DTs, I would pick one - maybe even go by which one is cheapest and move on. They have both made a lot of money in their careers and are nearing the end. Goign on with two highly paid, aging, unproductive DTs is a recipe for disaster on defense - I'm pretty sure we are close already considering we have bookend DEs that have contributed 20 sakcs and still can't stop anybody .. how the frig does that happen??

And oh yeah, Coyle is garbage. been saying that since very early this year.

haha, hail mary doesn;t count. moore is the most turnover prone qb I know of. Never seems to count with him. Even when he was having the "MVP" joke of a season, he averaged a turnover on 6.6% of his pass attempts - that's Christian Ponder/Terrelle Pryor/Geno Smith territory. i have no time for matt Moore.

Elmo, that's not how you should think of the position. This is Jeff Ireland's sixth year as GM of the Miami Dolphins. In 5 previous years, he's built a team with one winning Season. No matter what the other circumstances are surrounding that fact, that IS a fact. I don't think asking for a turnaround in 6 years is asking too much. Not if you believe in winning.

The NFL is a results-oriented league. Jake Long's no longer here, Brandon Marshall's no longer here, Ricky and Ronnie are gone, all the personnel decisions have been made to improve results. Good players get tossed because someone believes they can get better results going a different direction. I understand that, players understand that. It's no different for the front office. The Washington Redskins gave Mike Shanahan a 5 year contract as GM/HC to turn that team around. In Year 4, he's been a disaster (like Ireland, 1 winning Season). You will soon see him terminated. I just stated above Rex Ryan is likely going to be fired after not making the Playoffs again this year.

WHY IS MIAMI ANY DIFFERENT? No, you don't change pieces every year, but you also don't retain losers. And no matter what anyone wants to THINK, the FACT is Jeff Ireland is a loser. That's what you call a GM who puts together teams year after year that don't win more games than they lose. And we've already replaced the HC, so I think it's time to give HIM a chance at success with another GM buying the groceries IF we do not have a winning Season this year.

Again, if we're 9-7, then all is forgiven, and that's marked improvement. This contingency plan is if we falter and fall to 8-8. To me, that's unacceptable. I can no longer accept mediocrity. If you can, then you have to live with that.

Devlin is our only hope to salvage the rest of this season.

Posted by: bond, david bond | December 24, 2013 at 11:08 AM

I agree, A weak armed UDFA who has never played a game. He will take us to the promised land.

Marco, I think our D has been good besides the run D. Bend but don't break has been decent even thought it can be frustrating at times.

I do agree on Coyle leaving a lot to be desired. Against Buffalo once Woods and Goodwin were out they should've made Thad beat them throwing to TJ Graham and Chris Hogan.

Put 8 or 9 in the box and have Grimes and Carroll play bump and run !!!

The coaching staff seems late to adjust all year.

How does a "professional" team with playoff implications come out in a game and lay an egg like that!? Get shutout!? Can't run the ball? Can stop a mediocre team from running? Can't wallop a 2nd string QB? Explain how that happens! Honestly, what do you all think will happen if this dolphin team should squeak into the playoffs? Anyone remember the J'ville embarrassment years ago...stay tuned.

Mark, Matt Moore was trying to do too much, too soon. That is why he made that 1st interception mistake. The second one was a hail mary. It does not count. Moore or Devlin is our only hope to salvage the rest of this season.

Posted by: bond, david bond | December 24, 2013 at 11:08 AM

You shouldn't take bath salts on Xmas eve Bond!


Yes he had 2 turnovers in 5 attempts, but look at the situation he walked into.

3rd 18, 19-0 down,in his own endzone, freezing conditions in Buffalo, having sat his ass on the bench for two hours, zero first team reps, going against the best pass rush in the league, with the o-line playing like high school kids.

Moore threw the best deep ball I've seen from us all year long. Hartline was hit on the money, he also escaped the pressure and didn't go fetal position, give the guy a break !!!

Thill looks injured and we can't have that against the Jets. Moore isn't as bad as you keep saying, I don't know why you are so negative about him ? If Thill was healthy, yeah put him in there, but if he is limping around and has no ability to push of his back foot them why bother. I've ZERO faith in Philbin and Sherman to look out for him and his health either, Thill was thrown back into the game when it was over, Sherman said he felt we could still win. Really 19-0 down with 4mins to go and having under 80 yards at the time. Please !!!

NeMo, I wouldn't mind the clean slate if that's the direction the new GM wants to go. I'd let him make whatever decision he believes is best for the team.

But I agree with you, deep down in the darkest caverns of my subconscious, I really don't believe it will come to that, because I truly believe we beat the Jets handily. I think there's too much talent on our team (and too little on theirs) for us to lose at home in such an important game. I can't even fathom that happening.

So we'll all probably be rejoicing Sunday night. But I just want to lay out for the team to see what lies in the wake of a devastating loss. I'm ready to dispense with that negativity though and keep it all positive until after the game!


Don't be like these other douche bag bloggers and put words in my mouth. Show me where I said anything about settling for mediocrity. You can't.

You also completely avoided my argument.

Who are the best teams and who is their QB? Take away the few elite QB's and you'll find very few if any GM's that can build a playoff team from scratch.

There is no way to be sure which QB will turn out elite, and so few of them do. I'm not even putting it all on the QB. Just saying there are way more factors involved.

There is no way to know if a proven GM will do better or worse here. If you want to change GM's, fine...just don't assume that is the remedy in itself. It ain't.


Apologies you have never blamed the scheme, I'll withdraw that comment mate.

Mike Shanahan is not the Gm of the skins.


Correct, there has been no bump and run all year. Look if Thill had faced our D, he would have had some success. Thats the scary thought, Thill would have had time and gone after Wheeler, Wilson and Carroll to great success.

I see almost no imagination or creativity from either side of the ball. I was just left to marvel at Fields Sonic punts... and that was my treat 10 times.

Game ball Fields... 10 punts 501 yards, and people same Im always so negative !!!

There is no way to know if a proven GM will do better or worse here. If you want to change GM's, fine...just don't assume that is the remedy in itself. It ain't.

Posted by: Elmo | December 24, 2013 at 11:20 AM

I agree Elmo. The proven GMs that are available, have all proven to stink. I'm not sure that there will be anyone out there that can do more for us than what Ireland is doing right now.

Also, if we fire the HC and GM you can count on a total shift in philosophy which may end up being another long term rebuild.

Marco, any qb that can't produce league average TDs or yards per game and turns the ball over at a rate near the bottom of the league is no good. if Tannehill is injured, our season is over ... period.

Matt Moore played like horseshite in pre season against third stringers behind this line .. what would you expect him to do now?

Elmo, mediocrity is what the Dolphins have been since early last decade (minus 2008). So I say anyone who wants to continue forward without making "substantial" changes is settling for more of the same (mediocrity). Of course you want the team to win, I'm just making the point that doing the same thing expecting different results is the definition of insanity (and doesn't work).

As far as elite QB and successful teams, I agree, without a good QB, you're team isn't going far. But I can name a bunch of less-than-elite QB-led teams that are having (or had) success: NY Giants, Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers, just to name a few.

Here's how I answer your question, in Ireland's tenure, has the OL improved or regressed? How about the defense? How about the kicker? And most importantly, what about the record of the team?

I'm not saying the GM is a cure-all and ensures future success. What I'm saying is this particular GM, has had his shot. He's definitely been handcuffed with poor coaching, no QB for many of those years. I give Ireland the utmost credit for FINALLY drafting a 1st-round QB (I just think he was 5 years too late doing that). But regardless, I stand by this being a results-oriented league. You aren't promised a job forever. And Miami should be top of the list of needing to see results. I'm a fan in my 4th-decade of never seeing a SB-winning franchise. That's not a good track record. The stadium sits half-empty most home games because people are tired of the same old team. So the Owner and front office unfortunately don't have decades to bring change, fans won't stand for that. Change needs to happen sooner rather than later. And if you can't show marked improvement in 6 years, to this fan, you're no longer needed. That's all I'm saying, I'll ask YOU not to assume I'm assuming that's a remedy. I'm just stating that's the limitation I would have to give someone a chance.

As I've said here many times turnover ratio is the most important team stat in football. You have an offense that minimizes turnovers and a defense good at creating them will do well. We are ok here, about 13th in the league. That's fine.

But the 2nd most important stat? Run defense. The top ten run defenses in the NFL have a combined .607 win % (91-59) trailing only turnover differential as the most important team stat in the game as it pertains to wins.

Tough to do business with the 25th ranked run defense. We are with the Houstons and Green bays and Dallas and Buffalos in there. No real certified playoff teams in the bunch.

You don't need an elite qb to win, just a top 15 qb. But you better have an excellent team around that 11-15th ranked QB.

Pre-season ?

MIT, thats true of many NFL great's so what's the point ? Moore during his last regular season games has been solid if not spectacular. Im not saying he should replace a health Tannehill, but if Thill is injured, which it seems, then Moore is good enough to beat the Jets.

Pre-season, is rarely an indication of how well a QB will play in regular time. Look at Colt Brennan or Pat White, they put up eye popping stats, only to sot on the bench or get cut come gametime. Moore isn't that bad and his stats support that arguement.

DC, one can argue just as convincingly that overhauling the FO ever 4-6 years has not proven to be a recipe for success, yet you want to do it again.

Philbin has been a positive influence on Ireland. I say they've earned at least one more season. Before you chuckle, think how you felt the day before the last game? The fan base and the league were high on the team. One loss shouldn't change that. Changing the staff when they are on the cusp of making the turn around doesn't seem wise.


I don't want to play stat tennis with you, but Moore was rated 12th best QB in 2011, so he isn't that bad, I still don't get why do rate him so much lower than Thill. Ok Thill is the man, but Moore is an overpaid, yet capable back-up.

I think Moore is what he is at this point. He's a good backup or stop gap. If Tannehill is good to go (which I think he is) he starts. If he is hurt I think Moore at least gives us a better chance to win than most backups.


The pundits, for what they are worth, had Philbin in the coach of the year lottery up until game 15. He is not doing that bad in his second year considering the hand he was dealt.

I'd like to see a new OC, that is about it.

Mark, run D is the only stat the Dolphins seem to be below average in. I had some numbers for the Bills game off the top of my head.

Turnovers- 13th
Points allowed- 9th
Red zone D- 6th
3rd down stops- 16th

They are pretty good in some important measures, but the run D is the glaring weakness.


Our offense is 27th, thats been enough to put us in trouble.

We are in the top 34% of the league. For those of you (all of you?) that don't understand basic arithmetic, that means 66% of the teams are worse then us.

How bad are we if well over half the teams are worse?

Maybe not too bad.

Above I'm speaking of the only stat that counts, Wins.

The worst RB's in the league?

Elmo, we'll take this up again Sunday night (or Monday). Let's see how the Season turns out. If we win and make the Playoffs, then everyone will feel differently. Even if we win and don't make the Playoffs, I will consider this a successful Season.

Me personally, my definition of success is a winning record. So 9-7 shows good progress, and I wouldn't be against keeping everyone on board to see what they can do building on the success they had. We don't HAVE TO make the Playoffs for me to be content, just win 9 games.

Philbin has made the same mistake that Sparano made, leaving Matt Moore on the bench....

Marco, you know what I think of the QB rating analysis in isolation. But remember one true flaw of that stat is that it does not factor in QB fumbles which Moore is famous for.

Anyway, he's not good in my book.

NeMo, theya re not a horrible stat team wise but you need to shore up the run defense to take the next step. I think it's mroe important than finding a RB.

Posted by: Poindexter | December 24, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Just Win Baby

Marco, re the offense rank in 27th, team passing yards take QB sacks into account. We have lost something like 400 pass yards this year in sacks as Mando quoted. RBs have contributed the 26th most yards in the league. Tannehill and the receivers have contributed the 12th most gross pass yards. Easy to determine that we have a capable Qb and receiving corps but our o line and rbs contribute next to nothing.

Aight, I'm out folks. Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, whatever floats your boat. But most importantly...GO MIAMI!!!

Happy Holidays to you DC and everyone else on here. Hopefully we can end 2013 with a win !!!

Those Committees that Ross wanted are composed of pretty good Football People. He should follow their suggestions.

Merry Christmas DC, NeMo, and everyone else I've discussed football here ... even those deranged people that like to spend their time just irritating people on this blog. Everyone deserves to eb happy this time of year. See whoever is here on Friday...

Merry Christmas to you Mando and even though we bump heads, know that a fanatic all the way up in another country loves this team and loves the coverge you bring to the team. I do appreciate it.


Happy Holidays to everyone on here. Hopefully we can end 2013 with an Ireland firing!!!

Mr. Coyle, I'll say this slowly...............

These......are.....not......4-3..... DT's....on.....this......roster.......

That's why your defense struggles with the run.

This bend but don't break zone coverage is a bunch of crap too. Also tell Mr. Sherman, in nearly 2 full seasons his oline hasn't learned to consistently run and pass block using its zone scheme. Could it be square pegs do not fit into round holes?

This team plays up to its opponent and plays down to its opponent. They have shown they have enough talent to hang with the real good teams, but plays down to the weak teams. That is all about coaching, game planning and adjustments. Quite frankly I think this team bought into the hype once the analyst jumped on the bandwagon after the Patriots win. Coaches did a poor job in grounding them. How else can you explain the whole team playing miserably. I have said it before and will say it again. Sherman runs an offense that wasn't successful in college, let alone the pro's. Coyle doesn't know how to instill toughness. Both coaches are cookie cutter and do not know how to utilize the talent they have.

Sam I Am,I'll say this slowly...............

The .....defense....is the.....least of our....problems.

Merry Christmas to every one!

Do they eat Lechon in Canada and DC on the 24th of December also?

This defense stopped the run well last year with the same D line pretty much and now all of a sudden the scheme is a problem for these players? Balls! The players are regressing in that regard. The DB coverage stuff though, has some merit.

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