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Dolphins must counter Pats erasing Charles Clay

As I'm working off something of a theme based on my last post -- you know, Bill Belichick doing Bill Belichick things -- I figured I'd remind you something else the New England head coach always does against practically every opponent:

He singles out one area, facet or player on the opposing team's offense and decides that area, facet or player is absolutely not going to beat him. Belichick, in other words, tries to shut out something the other team does very well to beat that team.

The idea is the opponent then has to find some other way to beat the Patriots.

When the Patriots played Denver, Belichick tried to shut down Wes Welker. When they played the Saints, he locked Aqib Talib on Jimmy Graham and shut him down for the most part.

Against the Dolphins in the second meeting last year, Belichick decided the one thing he needed to shut down was tight end Charles Clay.

The Patriots bracketed and sometimes double-covered Clay in that second meeting. Clay had caught seven passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns against the Steelers the week before the New England game. He caught one pass for six yards against the Patriots.

So I asked offensive coordinator Bill Lazor about this on Monday. I asked if he was aware of the issue and what he planned to do about it:

“Well, if they put 11 guys on him, we’ll have a hard time, that’s for sure," Lazor joked.

I doubt that will be their approach ...

"There are very few pass plays that are designed to only go to one person," Lazor said. "There are a couple. There are times when you have to work hard to get the ball to someone that people are looking to take it away from them.

"I have great confidence in [Clay's] ability to get open, probably shown specifically by certain people trying to take him away because they know what he can do and they know that if you have an average player on him, he’s probably going to get open. I’ve seen the film from last year. We know what plans have come against us. We know what’s worked against certain people."

That's good. Knowing what the Patriots tried previously before a columnist says it is always a good start so I am encouraged the offensive staff is on its game.

"Hopefully, all of the time we’re spending in the meeting room, we’re doing the right things as far as how we plan against it," Lazor continued. "There’s no doubt about it, when certain guys are taken out by double coverage or for whatever reason, others have to step up and they understand that."

So it is clear Lazor expects Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson to step up if the Patriots decided to erase Clay.

Lazor addressed a number of other issues on Monday, as he'll do every Monday. This is all he said:

(On the pace of the offense and if there will be more high speed starting on Sunday) “There is no I think about it. I think we have certain decisions that we have to make on the strategy of how we’d like to approach each game and we’ll probably keep those to ourselves."

(On if there is a reason that the offensive pace during the preseason was not as fast) “Yes.”

(On what he’s seen from QB Ryan Tannehill through the preseason and what his next step will be) “I think we’ve spoken from the beginning about how he approaches the game and how he approaches practice and I’ll just echo that again. You’re talking about a guy that has the desire to be great and the desire to work at it, which is really important. We ask him every single day to be the most prepared player when he walks out on the practice field. So the first thing it’s going to be for the quarterback is work, off the field and in the classroom. I think he’s done a great job with that. We need Ryan to just continue to show mastery of what we’re doing, decisions that he makes, making them fast, being accurate with the football, getting the ball spread around. It just takes repetitions, it takes time. We try to put him in really hard positions in practice to get him ready to do it in a game."

(On if the players on offense are reacting more now versus when camp started) “I think we’re getting faster. I think you see it on the practice field. Yesterday, when we went out and practiced, I thought our pass skelly was faster. I think guys are moving. We want guys that can play in space. We want guys who when they get the ball in their hands, (they) know what to do with it. We want guys that can separate and that’s really what we’re pushing toward. I think every single day we’re seeing it get better."

(On how dangerous WR Mike Wallace and RB Lamar Miller can be in space with their speed) – “Time will tell, but that’s part of what we’ve talked about from the beginning about being exciting here. I think there are guys who can run and we’ve just got to get them in those positions. That’s our job as coaches."

(On where his comfort level is with the offense and how they’ve adapted to his system and how he feels going into the Patriots game)  – “I think they’re all going to be important. I don’t think it’s any different. Certainly, being a division team has a little extra maybe that it counts, but I don’t think the guys will approach any game any differently. I think you have 16 regular season games, you’ve got to make them all count. I don’t think of it as adjusting any more. I think we’re here, we’ve been working at it a long time. We’ve put a lot of time and effort in, players and coaches. So this is who we are and it’s our turn now to step out and prove it."

(On what he wants the personality of the offense to be) – “I think Coach (Joe) Philbin talked earlier today about scoring points, and in the end that’s what it’s about. We’ve got to do a good job getting points on the board. That’s how we can contribute to winning. There are a lot of ways to do it. There are some weeks where we’re going to do it running the ball more. Some weeks we’re going to do it throwing it more. But every single guy that gets the ball in his hands has got to run with a certain kind of attitude and every guy that’s blocking has got to block with a certain kind of attitude. Starting this weekend, I think the players will have the ability to show that on the field."

(On if there is a specific area in which he’s seen the most growth from QB Ryan Tannehill) – “I think in the first year of running a new system, it’s in learning what to do, learning how to call it, being comfortable with what you do. I think as far as his personal individual ability, I think we’ve seen him work to be decisive and to be on time, to get the ball out of his hand. I think in the games, he’s proven that he can do that, he knows what to do, he’s getting the ball off on time. So that will be a continual process. It’s not just him, it’s everybody. We’ve been pretty pleased with how he’s done that in the games."

(On the run game and how it important it is to have a balanced offense) – “We expect to be productive when we run the ball. We think we have good backs. I think we have a good offensive line. I thought the third preseason game, when we played everybody, was the best that we’d run it and we had gone into that game with that being one of the goals of the game for us as an offensive staff was we thought we needed to run it better after the first two. We thought that was the best that we’d done to that point. I think it’s on track. I think we’re going to face some real challenges as far as the people that we’re playing (against) up front. I think it’s going to be quite a challenge for us."

(On if he will be calling the game from upstairs or the sidelines) – “I’ll be downstairs. I’ll be on the field.”

(On why he decided to coach downstairs) – “I think it’s a comfort level, both for me and for some of the other coaches, for the players. I just felt like we tried both and that worked the best. We always reserve the right to change our mind. Had to put that in just so we were all together later."

(On what he likes about the offensive line and what he thinks they do well) – “I like how quickly that they’ve learned to communicate together. I like the fact that, when you walk in the room, when you talk to them, if we make an error, if you come out of a game, off a practice field and you talk about something that needs to be fixed, you very quickly get the sense that they’re all together, that they agree with you, that they understand what you’re talking about and that they quickly get it resolved that,  ‘Yeah, we’re going to get this thing fixed.’ I feel like it’s a unit. I feel like John Benton and Jack Bicknell (Jr.) have done a great job in coaching that unit because we also have new coaches at the spot. When you’re with them every day and you’re watching them on the practice field, you’re talking to them in meetings, you feel like they understand our goals, they understand how we plan on getting there and they have great resolve to get it done. To me, it’s the unity, it’s the attitude and now it’s time to put it on the field."

(On what he needs to see from RB Knowshon Moreno to emerge as the number one back) – “I don’t think of it probably in terms of that, I just think about I want to see the guy be productive. You can’t argue with the fact that in the amount of time that he’s been on the field for us he has been. So I’m looking for him to continue that."

(On if RB Knowshon Moreno looks fully healthy) – “He looks good to me. It’s for me to probably answer that. This is the first time I’ve been around him, but yeah, I feel great about where is. I felt great about how he played against Dallas and looking forward to seeing more."

(On if he has a feel for at the moment if he thinks the offense can be above average or if it’s unclear)  – “Well, it’s hard to qualify it. I guess I wouldn’t get into the job of predicting things. I would tell you I feel very good about the talent level that we have. I think, when you start new, which I am and some of our coaches are, there’s always that little bit of the first couple of games to see certain people. We have some new people that we need to see operate in a real game, live bullets. I think the preseason’s given us a good glimpse of it, so we have a pretty fair idea where we’re headed. I think there’s a lot that still needs to be developed. Some of it’s going to get done out here on the practice field. Some of it’s probably going to have to develop as the season goes on, but it’s time to go right now. I think the guys have proven to us on the practice field or the preseason game field that they can get it done. That’s who we’ve got to go with. It’s time to put up some points."

(On if WR Jarvis Landry is ready to play a major role in this offense)  – “I have no concerns about Jarvis being ready to play. I think, from the day he walked onto the practice field, he’s shown that he’s prepared. I think in every preseason game, he’s played at a high level. I think Jarvis is ready to play."

(On the challenge of going up against CB Darrelle Revis)  – “I think the guy is a fantastic player. I think they’ve got a lot of fantastic players. I think, defensively, in coverage, what they’ve shown is the willingness to play man coverage and challenge you. Sometimes, they have guys that are huge big name players. Sometimes, they’ve had guys who maybe aren’t considered at that level, but it hasn’t stopped them from contesting the throws, playing man coverage. There no doubts about the challenges ahead of us in the passing game as far as getting open."

(On what he’s seen from RB Lamar Miller in the preseason and where he would like to see him improve)  – “I think we’re expecting to have more production. That’s the biggest improvement in just the numbers that you’re talking about. I’ve seen lots on the practice field that tells me where we’re headed with Lamar and I feel very good about it, and his ability to be productive. But if you talk about the preseason games, our production needs to improve."

(On what specific areas of RB Lamar Miller’s game does he need to improve)  – “I think what Lamar is improving at right now and I expect him to continue to go is to be decisive from the backfield. I have no doubts about how explosive and productive he can be in space. There might be some schemes that are a little bit different for him and, the more reps he gets at them, the more decisive he is from the backfield. I’ve seen that happen during the preseason. I’m excited where we’re headed.”


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Speed and execution will screw up any crazy plans Bellicheck might have to stop Miami's offense. They are certainly crapping in their boots. Carrying 6 safeties? C'mon the only reason the signed Jones was to get info.

If what Lazor is saying is true the Phins win big.

And first. :)

I'll believe it when I see it Dolphins !! It's been 30 years since this franchise been to a Super Bowl and 41 years since their last championship !! I want 9-7 with offensive improvements or FIRE EVERYBODY ROSS A**-CLOWN EVERYONE GOES PERIOD !!

Are you outta your mind bro ? Why you think Bellicheck practice against the Eagles dude ? Preparing his defense vs Miami Bellicheck is the MAN PERIOD !!

What the Patriots will do is take away what the Dolphins do exceptionally well. Pass short. So if T-hill thinks he can continue his short pass game only he will be intercepted. The Dolphins will give up the deep ball. The only real burner is Wallace which is why he's so valuable to the Dolphins. That said what I expect Belechick to do is be in a coverage the forces T-hill to throw deep over the top to Wallace. LOL! Moreno becomes really important for the Dolphins in this game of chess with personnel and strategy; what the Dolphins do well and what they are weak at....

No secret,keep Brady on his back and we win. That's how the Giants took two Superbowls from the Pat's.

We can never release players again! The Patriots can't have our info! We have to keep all 90 players to avoid that!

It doesn't matter the patriots have cameras watching us anyway

They knew go go before everyone else!

Promichael that was the worst game break down I have ever read. Seriously, did you just copy that from cnn sports or something? Patriots don't take away short passes they take away 1 player with 1 player. It always changes! Geeez

The patriots are so good they let mark Sanchez beat them in the playoffs. Twice! BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

I just saw mike and mike predict Dolphins will win 5-11 and 6-10 that crazy and there Dolphins haters period.

Let's remember Belicheat got caught once...but that does not mean he stopped cheating.
He grabbed Jones off the waiver wire with one goal...steal as much intel as possible before the kick him to the curb. I hope Jones is smart enough to see this and either with holds info, or give him false intel.

Obviously Belicheat lost that battle last year since when it REALLY counted on that 4Q game winning drive, Clay made that six-yard catch. As for his scheme of "taking one player out of the game", it may be a little tougher than last year in Sherman's ho-hum offense since now players will be moving around pre-snap and they can't just focus on a single player.

Belicheat may take Clay out with a long field, but inside the red zone things are compressed. I actually hope he does double team Clay in the red zone, it will free up someone else for the easy score.

When you seize the momentum given, you push it forward, obliterating everything in your path, until you reach the desired objective. That way, you defend your offense.

Posted by: Yesterday's Gone 4Ever! | September 02, 2014 at 07:52 AM

Thanks that's a compliment coming from you. I have read some of your delusional analysis. Bottom line genius T-hill has trouble getting the ball to Wallace deep so what do you think Belechick is going to do with that......Oh perhaps you think Wallace and T-hill have it going good now.

Posted by: Yesterday's Gone 4Ever! | September 02, 2014 at 07:53 AM

Hey Rip Van Winkle; the Jets going to the AFC Championship game was a long time ago....Wake up!

Mando, beli went nuts blanketing clay in this game. Now please tell everyone how the phins passing game did that day. Tannehill over 300 yards 3tds zero turnovers. So yeah blanketing clay really hampered the phins. .. smh.

And of course sheep like promichael jump all over your shallow analysis mando. Promichael, how successful were the Patriots when taking clay away. Yeah they lost. ..

Posted by: Yesterday's Gone 4Ever! | September 02, 2014 at 07:52 AM

The Patriots take away what they have to in order to win genius. I'm curious when will ESPN or CBS have you in for your comments on the upcoming games. You and Belechick must be real close. Yeah he flushed you down this morning.

And of course sheep like promichael jump all over your shallow analysis mando. Promichael, how successful were the Patriots when taking clay away. Yeah they lost. ..

Posted by: Mark in Toronto | September 02, 2014
It's a little early to tell but your analysis of RT James and WR Landry makes you one of the most neurotic losers on the site.

Are you outta your mind bro ? Why you think Bellicheck practice against the Eagles dude ? Preparing his defense vs Miami Bellicheck is the MAN PERIOD !!
Posted by: mace taggert | September 02, 2014 at 06:56 AM

Pot Stirrer! Please enlighten everyone on why Belichick, spelled B-e-l-i-c-h-i-c-k, also had his team practice with the Eagles last year. In addition, tell us your theory on why Belichick held joint practices with the Redskins this year.

The fact of the matter is its one coach attempting to better his team by taking away the monotony of practicing against each other for an entire month. Nothing more, move on!

And this thing about taking away Charles Clay, so what! Don't all coaches try and take away a weapon from the other team? Am I missing something here with Mando's article? The bigger picture is the fact that the Dolphins know teams will try and remove Clay from game plans. This is why they are deep at the WR position. It truly will be about the O-line, running game, and Tannehill. Improvement in those three factors will allow the offense to put point on the board, 7 at a time.

MIT, Coaching, analysis is one season and one game at a time but you would not realize that...Different personnel and OC etc.....try to be honest instead of seeking revenge against me. Basically a team will always give the weakness and take away what the other team does well. Watch a tennis match some time and you may learn something about pro sports in general.

Leave MIT alone Site GM he's very happy being the Site GM for most of the season.

Extreme hot temperature is the only thing that will give the Fins a chance.

Was anyone able to watch the last game against the Patriots? Belichick put Aquib Talib on Clay and they limited Clay to one reception.

But Tannehill completed 6 passes to Wallace for 105 yds. Wallace had his best game of the season catching 1 TD and one critical reception over 20 yds on third down. There were no real long passes but Ryan Tannehill ended up with a QB rating of 120.

Let them put Revis on Clay. I will take those results again.

So if T-hill thinks he can continue his short pass game only he will be intercepted.

Posted by: Promichael | September 02, 2014 at 07:29 AM

promichelle, Peyton has destroyed NE with the short passing game. You still don't know what your talking about.

When are you going to girl-up and admit you were wrong about Bates? LOL

Posted by: Mark in Toronto | September 02, 2014 at 08:47 AM

Revis can handle Wallace, and the Pats can mix up the coverages to confuse Tannehill. Our running game needs to be working this game, if it is not...

Belicheat vs the hungry Bill Lazor
I love it!!!

Belicheat got away with doubling Clay because Gibson was hurt.
If he's stupid enough to try that again.
He will lose.

Lazor is the master of mis matches.
I'm looking for Wallace and Gibson to have big games.




Winston is light years ahead of Kaaya.

Now I'm hearing we've had the #1 recruiting class in the ACC for the last 5 years
which means Al Golden can't coach.

I can't wait for reality instead of Mark in Toronto posting delusional comments. Yes I mentioned Bates when I meant the interim Coach Bowles. I mentioned that it was an interim coach before Philbin. An oversight regarding the name. LOL at a moron who makes an issue at something like that. Which has nothing to do with strategy and what a team will or will not do.

All TannePuke can do is dink and dunk.

I can't wait for reality instead of Mark in Toronto posting delusional comments.

Posted by: Promichael | September 02, 2014 at 09:17 AM

You should know that Canadians are football ignorant. Just laugh at his stupid comments like we do.

Posted by: oscar canosa | September 02, 2014 at 09:23 AM

I Think that's good advice.....

Promichael (hiding behind the puss name). Landry is our 4th 5th wr like I said he would be and hes a lot like our wrs like he is. And james, yeah I dont don't like taking right tackles in round one. But one thing I never do is resort to using a different name to hide my mistakes or stupid comments. .. Like you Michele!

Posted by: oscar canosa | September 02, 2014 at 09:23 AM

Oscar now you are just being generally ignorant.

You should know that Cubans are football ignorant. Just laugh at his stupid comments like we do.

Says the geriatric Cuban.

Revis will take away Wallace, Hartline, or Clay. Now that we have eliminated Revis from a defensive perspective. We are left with 2 of our 3 main receivers left (with Gibson/Landry also available). If the Patriots decide to double-cover one of those receivers (let's just say Clay, for example) then we will have multiple receivers open as well as our RB most likely open in space.

This is not the year for Bellicheck to double-team anyone. If he is using safety help over the top for Wallace, and using Revis to eliminate one of our receivers (or Clay) then we still have multiple options that will be one-on-one or will be able to find a soft spot in zone coverage. I'm not worried about Revis or the Patriots defense. I'm more concerned about Moreno and if our OL can create lanes for him to run through rather than our passing game.

About time someone else sees that we have more weapons than they have defenders. If they can't beat up or line they won't stop our offense. Nice insight md20.

Wallace had a really good game in that 2nd Pats/Phins game. I don't care who's back for the Pats, their defense still lacks speed and Wallace, Miller, and Co. can take advantage of it.
My concern is whether or not the revamped Oline can handle the physicality of the Pats DL. I think that is the key, along with special teams as there are still huge question marks with Stugis kicking FGs.

The Pats safeties don't impress me either. Even with Revis, their secondary is vunerable. It's all a matter of if Tannehill has time to throw.
I also expect the Pats to try to run the ball down the Phins throats. Without Mankins anymore, that won't be so easy.

Reevis may not have one ball thrown his way.

And if he tries to go deep with Wallace he will be on the sideline the next play.
Drinking Gatorade trying to catch his breath.

Now your D is really exposed.

Mike Wallace being locked up by the Pats D is laughable.

Posted by: MiamiD20 | September 02, 2014 at 09:32 AM

I doubt they need safety help over the top for Wallace. Revis should handle Wallace solo. The Pats interior line will mostly take away inside runs. Receivers will be jammed at the line and Clay will be chipped at the line.

The Dolphins will need to establish the run to soften the coverage on Clay if he is doubled. The jamming can be countered with screens and that also exploits the inside pressure the Pats can bring.

Gibson will be key to this matchup if he can get open IMO.

When I see a canadien post I just skip over it. They never have anything intelligent to add.

I also want to see how many bogus illegal contact/interference calls are made against the Phins, and how much the refs will let the Pats D manhandle the Phins receivers. We've seen this disparity way too many times in the past.

If Wallace decides to either:

A) use his body
B) get aggressive

(A & B tie together and go hand-in-hand) then he can certainly beat Revis to any jump ball or draw the PI flag which would mean Revis doesn't automatically eliminate one of our receivers. Wallace needs to stop avoiding contact. He got his pay day but now his ego is bruised. He used to be known as a top 10 receiver before coming to Miami and he knows he is known more as a busted FA signing than a top receiver. Let's hope he decides to change that and he isn't happy and settled with his contract. Let's hope Reshad Jones follows that same line of thinking too.

Posted by: Just Saying | September 02, 2014 at 09:42 AM

You are the reason no matter how much good Americans do in the world, they are universally hated.

You are a disgrace.

Another Patriot vulnerability is defending running backs in the passing game as their LBs (except for Collins) are slow as molasses. Remember Miller burning them for the game winning TD last year?

MassD is correct. The bias towards Brady and the Pats by the Refs is so blatant it's bordering on criminal.

I don't think Wallace is a bust. I've just seen too many defenses roll coverage his way, which opens up other things, and get open deep way too many times to think he does not have a positive effect on this offense. He's pretty much doing exactly what was expected of him when he was signed. His weaknesses (drops passes, non physical) were well documented when he was signed. Is he being over payed? Yup, but that is what happens in free agency. It's really on Tannehill to hit him when he is open.

Canadians trying to talk MIAMI FOOTBALL?? FRIGGIN HILARIOUS!!!!

Darkoak, it depends which way the Patriots wish to cover Wallace. If they put Revis on Wallace then they probably won't use safety help, but they will certainly be peaking that way in case Wallace gets behind him. In the TB game last season Wallace was getting behind Revis but they had safety help behind him. Then again, without watching tape or anything, Revis may have been baiting Tannehill down low knowing he had safety help over the top.

If Wallace is eliminated with Revis you then have man-to-man coverage on every other receiver along with the safety to look out for. If Revis takes out Wallace, and Clay (or Hartline) is double teamed then you have mismatches across the line. That eliminates 2 of our receivers but gives us 3 other options (assuming we have a 3 WR set). With our new offense's MO being quick passes and timed routes, I have no doubts that Gibson/Landry, Clay/Hartline (whoever isn't double covered), and Moreno/Miller will be able to do some damage.

Lets blame it on the refs!

Posted by: Just Saying | September 02, 2014 at 09:54 AM

I for one, respect MIT's postings. I sometimes don't agree with him, but he really is one of the best posters here, and does some real research.

Defenses will play us differently this year as in the past. No more 8 in the box. Nobody is blind, especially Belichick, and they can see improvement with Bill Lazors Offense with x good receivers spread out and x motions from there. But YG is right. They will clog the middle of the field and leave Wallace one on one with some defender and gamble that the Tannehill-Wallace connection is not there, at least yet.

Posted by: Mark in Toronto | September 02, 2014 at 09:36 AM

They don't have to line up with us they just have to throw off the timing on the routes our offense runs. The will play all our receivers physical at the line to achieve this.

Everyone is looking at how our Offense will perform against their revamped Defense...with good reason.

But, as we all know, or D is pretty damn good and suspect Brady will be flat on his back 4+ times on Sunday.
Rattle Brady, get him uncomfortable and he becomes a very average QB.

If you're the Patriots defense and the Dolphins line up in a 3 WR set, how are you going to allocate your coverage?

Revis on Wallace
Browner on Hartline
Arrington on Gibson/Landry

That leaves Clay and Moreno/Miller matched up against LBs or Safeties, which is a mismatch, and it still gives us one-on-one with our WRs and their CBs. If any of those receivers get safety help or double-covered then that's even more space for our receivers to work with.

IF this OL can create running lanes and the Patriots SS and LBs have to watch the run, we are going to be in a good position to feast as an offense.

And if so, then, that will be our opportunity. You run the ball on them. You seize the advantage until we score, take time off the clock and keep Brady off the Field. Yes.


Browner's suspended. Won't be playing Sunday.

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