5 Thoughts on the Dolphins This Week (Nov 1)

How Good Is This Defense?

phinfever, miami dolphins, birdYou will be a bit impressed to see that the Dolphins pass defense ranks 3rd in the NFL is yards per game. The run defense ranks 15th in yards per game, but that can be attributed to injuries to our group of linebackers. Overall, the Dolphins rank 7th in the NFL in total yards per game.

Of course, statistics can be a little misleading as the Dolphins defense actually ranks 2nd in the NFL is yards per attempt. What would attibute to that? An inconsistent offense learning a new offensive system would be one big reason as the defense is overworked. Last week the offense kept the defense on the field for most of the first half. Even though they were overworked they were having a heck of a lot of fun out on the field as they were hawking the ball to three turnover recoveries, and took two of them into the end zone on exciting “pick 6″ opportunities. When was the last time you saw the Dolphins defense make young quarterbacks pay for their lack of experience? It’s been a very looonnng time.

Talk about it here.

Miami’s Linebackers are the Weakest Area on Team

The Dolphins have had injuries this year at the linebacker positions, but those injuries have allowed us to get a good look at Jason Trusnik, Jelani Jenkins, Jonathan Freeny, rookie Jordan Tripp, and rookie free agent Chris McCain. I just cannot say enough about the play of Jelani Jenkins as he has become our best linebacker that we have drafted since Zach Thomas. Now, do not put words in my mouth as I did not say that Jenkins is the next Zach. Players like Zach come along very rarely, but Jenkins was drafted in the 4th round while Zach was drafted in the 5th round making them draft steals. Pro Football Focus has Jelani Jenkins ranked as the 4th best outside linebacker in the NFL.

We have not seen a lot of Chris McCain (2 snaps) or Jordan Tripp (4 snaps), but a lot of that probably falls on DC Kevin Coyle as he likes experienced players on the field. If they want to get on the field during games they will have to start to impress him during practice.

I am going to say something that will disappoint you, but OLB Phillip Wheeler isn’t having a bad year overall. It is just when he messes up he gives up touchdowns. That is why Defensive Coordinator Kevin Coyle needs to quit trusting him around the end zone … especially in passing situations. Wheeler is an excellent blitzing linebacker and does a decent job against the run. He is very aggressive and plays all out.

While I have criticized Coyle for his defensive decisions by putting square pegs into round holes, and expecting them to play like they are round pegs, I think we have to understand that this is his first job as a defensive coordinator. Many people around the NFL considered him to be an up-and-coming defensive mind. We are starting to see him turn the corner in his adjustments.

So, sit back and enjoy the youth movement at the linebacker position.

Talk about it here.

I Miss the 3-4 Defense.

While our defense is finally playing well and consistent in the 4-3 scheme, I do miss the 3-4 defense. Maybe it’s because I am old school and think that bigger is better. Also, I would think that Dion Jordan would thrive as an OLB rather than having to put his hand in the dirt in the 4-3 as a defensive end. If things do not change about him I would find myself in favor of trading him to a team with a 3-4 scheme as I feel we are wasting his potential. Give Coyle an attaboy as he had him in on 43% of all defensive snaps last week. Jordan has worked very hard to put on weight and muscle mass, and Coyle thinks he can hold up better against the run. It is important to be a certain size at defensive end or you will be pushed out of the play.

So, thinking about the 4-3 scheme, I need to remind myself is that bigger is not always better. The speed and athleticism of the smaller defensive players can be exciting as well. It also takes time to change the size of your linebackers to the 4-3. Former GM Jeff Ireland started the move last year by bringing in Wheeler and Ellerbe as they were young and “up-coming”, but that proved to be disastrous as Ireland did not fully evaluate either of them. Their weakness and experience helped to kick Ireland out the door as you just don’t waste millions of dollars even if it isn’t your money. Owner Steven Ross has always been willing to pay any amount to put a good team on the field, but decisions like this could make him change his philosophy, and we do not want that.

So, the move to the 4-3 was Coach Philben’s decision even though it was a strong defense prior to his arrival here, so, we just have to get used to it. Since the defense is performing at a high level, it is hard to complain about it.

I Love Seeing Dan The Man With The Team.

I am very happy to see that Danny is a part of this team, and that Coach Philben has welcomed his presence and input. Dan felt the power struggle with former GM Spielman the last time he took a position with the Dolphins front office, so, everyone is hoping that the Dolphins do have a real plan for him rather than just a media face.

He’s working with Ryan Tannehill while watching game tapes with him, and that could possibly put the “thrill” in Tanne-thrill if RT catches on. A lot of Tannehill’s problems can be attritubed to his decision-making. Marino can definitely help him with reading defenses and having better pocket awareness … which can be learned. No one expects Tannehill to fill Hall of Famer quarterback Dan Marino’s shoes, but if he plays well we can possibly call him “Tan the Man”.

I do hope Dan doesn’t teach Tannehill to force the ball to the outside. Danny had a heck of a lot of Pick-6’s at the end of his career when the noodle started to wear out, and his Jimmah Johnson’s receivers could not gain separation from a wet paper bag.

I humorously pointed out this week that Jaguars quarterback Bortles threw more touchdown passes last week … to Dolphins:

  • Bortles: 2 TDs to Delmas and Grimes
  • Tannehill: 1 TD to Rishard Matthews

Talk about it here.

Please Bench WR Brian Hartline

I’ve always been a big Hartline supporter over the years, so, I was never on board with all the criticism that he would get from some fans. He has a skillset and he did it well (just like Wallace’s skillset is mostly the deep pass). This year, however, he has not played well and he is actually hurting the offense. He is not fitting in well with this new offensive scheme and he is dropping passes that he normally catches. Just take a look at PFF’s evaluation of him this year vs last year. It is a major drop in performance.

Talk about it here.

Go Fins!
Dave “Big Dave” Blake

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Chargers 16, Dolphins 20 – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Chargers 16, Dolphins 20 – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

by Rich Rodriguez

The Good

Ryan Tannehill had a solid game, completing 63% of his passes for 268 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. The INT was a very good defensive call by the Chargers that confused Tannehill. There was one Mike Wallace underthrow, but later on a Mike Wallace overthrow. I guess that is progress. Overall, Tannehill played well, chipping in 21 rushing yards. He looked better in the pocket and ran out of the pocket more often. He just has to complete those deep balls to Wallace.

Daniel Thomas turned his 10 carries into 57 yards and 1 TD. He ran decisively and with power.

Charles Clay had an excellent game. He had a 39 yard touchdown that was a thing of beauty, catching a short passes and running through and around the Chargers defense on the way to the score. This offense needs more of those explosive plays.

Brent Grimes had a nice game, with 1 interception and 2 passes defensed, including a late pass in which he had to outjump a receiver that was 7 inches taller than him.

Considering that the offensive line was missing Mike Pouncey on top of Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin, and was made up of back-ups and one practice squad player, they played relatively well, opening running lanes for Daniel Thomas and at times offering decent protection for Tannehill. They did allow 4 sacks, although one was Tannehill running out of bounds on a rollout.

The Bad

It is concerning that a defense that used to be known for stopping the run can no longer do so. The Dolphins allowed 154 rushing yards on 26 carries (5.9 ypc), including a 51 yard run by Ryan Mathews. This run defense has been shaky since the Dolphins switched to a 4-3 defense last season (they allowed 132 ypg on the ground in the last 8 games of the season). Unfortunately, coaches are more prone to forcing players to fit a system rather than making the system work for the players. If the Dolphins were running a 3-4, you could have Odrick, Starks and Soliai all on the field at the same time and use Jordan at OLB, where he is a better fit, opposite Wake. You could then shift Misi inside with Ellerbe. But, we have what we have and it isn’t going to get fixed anytime soon.

The Ugly

It’s sad to think that if the Dolphins would have won games they should have won (Buffalo, Tampa Bay), they would be 7-3 rather than 5-5 right now and in control of the final wild card spot. Thrown in games in which they had leads late against New England and Baltimore and they’d be 9-1. Instead, they are on the outside looking in right now and need to get hot to finish the season in order to make the playoffs

Overall

Still a lot of concerns on this team from offensive line to the defense’s ability to stop the run. With the talent on this team, they should be performing better, especially on defense, but they are not. The coaching staff is still a puzzle. They seem so dettached from what is going on. I know the Dolphins won today, but when looking at the big picture, there are big concerns with this team that need to be addressed. Next week, a tough game against an explosive Carolina Panthers team with a terrific defense.

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