A day after one of the biggest defensive debacles in franchise history, the Dolphins jettisoned one of the many culprits and called for the players to do their jobs better after allowing an unfathomable 622 yards Monday against New England.
Cornerback Benny Sapp, beaten at least six times in the game – including on Wes Welker’s 99-yard catch and run – won’t be around for another chance. The Dolphins released him Tuesday evening, even though they must pay his entire $1.6 million salary. Sapp agreed last week to take a $300,000 pay cut, believing it would help solidify his job.
Sapp’s release, announced by his agent, leaves Nolan Carroll and Jimmy Wilson as the team’s only backup cornerbacks. There’s speculation the Dolphins might re-sign veteran Will Allen, who was cut a week ago. Allen's camp and the Dolphins had discussions Tuesday.
As much as coach Tony Sparano wants to shift the focus to Sunday’s game against Houston, he won’t just yet, not after watching his team allow 517 passing yards from Tom Brady, the fifth-highest total in NFL history.
“I mean we can’t just dismiss giving up that many yards,” Sparano said Tuesday. “We have to see the corrections, make no mistake about it. There’s enough things on film to get better that we can’t just get on to Houston.”
Sparano said he “feels comfortable” his defense “will not let that happen again. But we’ve got to see the problems,… not look to figure out who else I can blame.”
Sparano also held coaches partly responsible for some of the confusion resulting from late substitutions.
“We’ve got to do a better job from a coaching standpoint of getting them on and off the field,” he said. “A couple times we had guys leave the field that should have been on the field. Those things have to be handled better by the players, No. 1, and then by us.”
Sparano said some of the defensive problems happened while playing zone, especially against tight ends. But he quickly added that new starting free safety Reshad Jones “did some good things.”
Sparano called one big play to Rob Gronkowski a “simple zone coverage route we’ve seen a hundred times. Nobody in the back end played tremendously well. We really didn’t tackle well. They had 296 yards either after the catch or after contact, 99 on one play.”
Patriots tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Gronkowski combined for 13 catches for 189 yards.
“Obviously, we’ve got to do a better job against the tight end,” Sparano said. “But it wasn’t about them beating us in a lot of man-to-man matchups, though they won on a few.”
Sparano said the Patriots’ no-huddle offense made it difficult to substitute and adjust. “We practiced that pace. We practiced all week,” he said. “But in the game when it got chaotic, they caught us a couple times.”
Sparano addressed other issues:
### He said he wasn’t concerned about the cramping that forced Vontae Davis to leave the game temporarily in the third quarter and also affected Sean Smith.
But Brian Hartline told WQAM: “There definitely has to be some prep…. Something needs to be done. We’ll definitely take note of that and the players who were or were not cramping will definitely stay on top of that. That can’t be a problem next week.”
### Reggie Bush had 20 touches “and I’d like the number to be around that,” Sparano said. But Bush played 75 snaps and “we probably should have got Reggie out of the game a little more to take some of the wear and tear off him.”
### Sparano said Daniel Thomas (hamstring) wasn’t especially close to playing. “I definitely will be back this week,” Thomas told WQAM. “I couldn’t go as hard as I needed to play.”
### With Chad Henne given more leeway to change plays this season, Sparano said, “Chad handled all the situations really well. We didn’t get into anything at the line of scrimmage that was a blunder by Chad…. We had 10 plays over 20 yards and we had five runs over 10 yards. That’s 15 big plays.”
Hartline expects the aggressive offensive mentality to continue. “I’m kind of getting sick of basing our offense off what people are giving us,” he said of past years. “We’re going to start forcing guys to worry about us. This is who we are.”
### Sparano said Jared Odrick and Mike Pouncey did some “really good things” but “there are enough things on film [from] an inconsistency standpoint that need to get better.”
### The offensive line “did a pretty good job protecting the pass until those last couple of series. Chad got hit a few more times than I’d like.”
### Sparano said his players cannot mope after the 38-24 loss: “There’s no room for long faces. Long faces will get you 0-2. I tell them all the time – there are two places you go in this league every week. You go to heaven or you go to hell. Last night we went to hell. But we’re going to go to heaven.”