SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Joe Philbin’s refusal to publicly name Ryan Tannehill his starting quarterback, which upset Tannehill and puzzled numerous players, wasn’t the only uncomfortable issue between the coaching staff and Dolphins players last week.
According to multiple sources, an emotional defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle let his players know, loud and clear, that he was upset that The Miami Herald reported Monday, quoting sources, that players were furious about aspects of Coyle’s strategy against Kansas City, including having Cameron Wake or Jason Trusnik cover speedy running back Joe McKnight on two passing plays that both resulted in touchdowns.
Several players thought that approach was ridiculous. But Coyle angrily told his players that he doesn’t want the media to know about any more of their complaints.
Meanwhile, some Dolphins players thought the team should have departed for London earlier than Thursday evening so that players could get acclimated to the five-hour time difference.
What’s more, receiver Brian Hartline believed it was “silly” that Philbin characterized Hartline’s excessive celebration penalty against Kansas City as a poor reflection on Philbin. But Philbin was so peeved about the penalty that he brought it up in a team meeting on Tuesday, saying that can never happen again.
Players appreciate that Philbin told the team that he would have handled the Tannehill fiasco differently if he had to do it over again. But several privately blamed Philbin for making this a “distraction,” as Tannehill phrased it.
And finally, one Dolphins player complained that coaches have told him two completely conflicting things regarding technique, leaving him unsure what to do.
Let’s be clear: There are some very good coaches on this staff. But the past seven days weren’t good for Philbin, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor (who didn’t run the ball enough against Kansas City) or Coyle (who advocated the McKnight coverage debacle). And Philbin’s long-term future will look even more precarious if Miami loses Sunday.
### Though no Dolphin would say it publicly, there is some frustration on the defensive side about the offense’s shortcomings. All the three-and-outs on offense are wearing out the defense, one defensive player said.
### Couldn’t find anybody last week who agreed with Philbin’s refusal to publicly name a starting quarterback.
CBS analyst Rich Gannon, the former NFL quarterback, said off air: “I’ve never heard a coach do that. Never. He better be careful. You start messing with the psyche of a quarterback, especially a young one, it affects his ability to lead and credibility with his teammates. I would not do that.
"The issues Ryan’s having now are the same as before - - accuracy, anticipation, moving through progressions more quickly. But it’s too soon to make a change. He’s really starting over, learning a new system.
“It’s one thing if you have this other young whippersnapper. But do you really think Matt Moore is an upgrade and if not, why make the move? You have to find out one way or the other about Tannehill.”
### Gannon, by the way, asked Philbin if he considered asking new coordinator Bill Lazor, after his hiring, to “adjust his system and verbiage and terminology so the quarterback and receivers wouldn’t have to learn a new system.” That would have made the transition easier, but Philbin said that was given no consideration.
An NFL source told us in March that Lazor agreed to take the job only after Philbin gave him total control of the offense, though Philbin has final say on lineup decisions.
### One Dolphins receiver said last week that the learning curve has been steep for the receivers in this offense because some of Lazor’s routes are “much different” than Mike Sherman’s.
“It’s been a big adjustment,” the receiver said. Gannon said Dolphins coaches told him that receivers “need to be more detailed and precise in their routes.”
### Credit Lamar Miller for studying his 2013 carries on tape this past offseason and realizing that “I was too hesitant sometimes. The biggest area I’ve improved is being more decisive.”
### Here are seven words seldom heard about the Hurricanes the past few years: Impressive defensive effort against a quality opponent.
Duke, which entered averaging 44 points, managed just 10 points and 264 yards overall, which amounted to 3.5 yards per play (on 76 plays). What's more, Duke was just 2 for 16 on third down and 0 for 3 on fourth down. Remember, Duke had won 12 in a row dating back to last season.
A bunch of Canes players deserve plaudits for their work in this 22-10 Miami win. Denzel Perryman had a forced fumble and interception. Three freshmen -- Darrion Owens, Trent Harris and Anthony Moten -- each made dynamic plays. (Owens had more than one, in fact.) Nantambu Fentress had a tackle for loss on a Duke rushing attempt on third and two at the Miami 14 yard line early in the fourth, forcing the Blue Devils to kick a field goal.
Ladarius Gunter had a pick. Linebacker Raphael Kirby played one of his best games at UM. Thurston Armbrister and Kirby led UM with six tackles apiece. Jermaine Grace had a tackle for loss. Ufomba Kamalu had the first two pass breakups of his career. Antonio Crawford was beaten a few times in coverage but had UM's only sack.
Miami had four tackles for loss and 10 pass breakups.
"For four games we played good defense this year and for one unacceptable. Our defense was outstanding," Al Golden said on WQAM, referencing last Saturday's debacle at Nebraska. "Our guys wanted to take a stand. If we learned anything from Lincoln, we had some guys who said, 'We're not taking it anymore.'... I'm proud of that."
### Brad Kaaya opened 11 for 14, and it should have been 13 for 14 if not for drops by Stacy Coley on a deep ball and Duke Johnson on a screen. He closed 20 for 34 for 223 yards and two touchdowns --- a 28-yarder to Herb Waters and a 47-yarder to Joe Yearby.
"They hadn't been covering the running back [in pass coverage]," Kaaya said of the strategy behind the beautiful deep ball to an open Yearby.
### Besides his three catches for 59 yards, Yearby ran 9 times for 61 yards. Duke Johnson had 155 yards on 25 carries. "Everything we ask Duke to do, Joe can do [also]," Golden said. They combined for 285 all-purpose yards.... Among the few blemishes: UM was 2 for 13 on third down.... UM players gave the game ball to Golden's wife Kelly, who was hospitalized this past week from Sunday through Thursday.
### With right tackles Taylor Gadbois and KC McDermott sustaining injuries, UM moved guard Jon Feliciano to right tackle and inserted Nick Linder at left guard. Gadbois and McDermott will have MRIs.
HEAT, MARLINS CHATTER
### Forward Udonis Haslem, who opted out of his contract to give the Heat more flexibility before LeBron James bolted for Cleveland, will end up making at least $500,000 less combined over the next two seasons ($5.6 million) that he would have if he hadn’t opted out.
“I don’t regret it,” said Haslem, who sacrificed $12 million to stay with the Heat in 2010. “I can’t miss it if I never had it. It never hit my bank account. [Taking less] has always worked out for me.”
### Haslem played in just 46 games last season and admitted Friday “it was uncomfortable for both of us [himself and Erik Spoelstra] last year.”
After playing a lot of small ball in 2013-14, “I think we will play a little different style this year, more accustomed to what I bring to the table.” Haslem stopped a no-carbohydrate diet after losing 10 pounds this summer because “I almost shriveled up and passed away.”
### Though Pat Riley identified Mario Chalmers as the Heat’s starting point guard over the summer, Norris Cole declared Friday: “I’m ready to be a starter.”
### Power forward Josh McRoberts was heartened that Bosh and Dwyane Wade immediately reached out to him after he signed here.
“People say you’re not any good because you’ve bounced around,” said McRoberts, now on his sixth team in eight seasons. “But for that many teams to want you, you must be doing something right.”
A skilled passer and three-point shooter, McRoberts is essentially “a guard in big man’s body,” Bosh said.
### With the Marlins’ season ending Sunday, we solicited views from three scouts.
On Nathan Eovaldi’s mystifying regression: “He falls in love with a pitch. He faced [Braves shortstop] Andrelton Simmons and threw six straight breaking balls. You can’t do that. And his velocity has dropped a bit.”… On Jarred Cosart: “Love what he has done since the trade, but he needs better endurance. Third time through the lineup, his stuff isn’t as good. How Houston gave him up is mind-boggling.”… On Steve Cishek: “I would pay him the $6 million or whatever he will get in arbitration. He’s reliable, has good command and good mound presence…”
All three scouts blasted catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “Garbage,” one said. Said another: “Boston gave him up for a reason. He can’t catch. The ball slips by him too much.” Another said his “glove actually takes the ball out of the zone, so he’s taking away strikes from his pitchers.”….
Two said Garrett Jones' disappointing season shouldn't have surprised management. "This is what he is," one of them said, adding an upgrade at first base is essential. (The Marlins seem to agree.)... On center fielder Marcell Ozuna: “Impressed by the power this season, but still too reckless. Has to swing at strikes more. Still throws to the wrong base at times.”
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