Miami Dolphins Face a Dilemma: Improve Now and Stay Ordinary, or Lose and get Luck(y)

The Miami Dolphins franchise is on the verge of ground-breaking changes. From the 2008 hire of Parcells and Sparano the Miami Dolphins appear to be in much the same place as before these two gentleman began their task of resurrecting a once proud franchise. The Bill Parcells, Tony Sparano, and Jeff Ireland experiment has proven to be a failure of epic proportions.

After only 3 games in 2011 the Dolphins are once again winless. The mere record of the 0-3 Miami Dolphins does not tell the entire story however. The basic fundamental principles of sound football are absent from this team.

During the first game of the season it amazed me to see a professional team gassed and on the verge of collapse. The New England Patriots ran a no-huddle offense and dismantled the Dolphins. The Dolphins appeared unprepared mentally and physically. I realize that the no-huddle offense is fast-paced; however, over my 20+ years of watching football I have not seen a team more out of shape. The Dolphins often couldn’t line up in between plays and sometimes appeared extremely confused as to who had whom!

Please give the Patriots credit because they identified that the Dolphins still have problems covering slot receivers and tight ends. So what do the Patriots do? They go empty backfield gun and make the dolphins use their nickle and dime corners, inside linebackers, and safeties to cover the Patriots 5 wides. They also banked on the fact that Mike Nolan would dial up blitzes that Brady would be able to dissect and pick apart. When the Patriots weren’t in the gun they still went to their tight ends more times than I was able to count. The Patriots called formations that would matchup tightends and slot receivers on the Dolphins’ weakest players. Miami should have backed off from their blitzes, went into strong coverages, and tried to apply pressure with only 3 downlineman while jamming all receivers at the line.

This past offseason, the Dolphins identified free safety and inside linebacker as positions that needed immediate upgrade. The Dolphins upgrade at inside linebacker was to release Channing Crowder and sign Kevin Burnett. They were unable to adequately upgrade at free safety this offseason. Burnett has played horribly so far in pass coverage as Ben Watson again ran drag routes beating Burnett numerous times. The reason why Miami needed to upgrade these positions is because in the past a tight end, slot receiver, or running back would be covered by a nickel corner, free safety or inside linebacker. Last year the Jets Dustin Keller almost single handily ran seam-routes to beat the Dolphins.

I am sure we have all heard the football phrase ‘low man wins,’ referring to offensive and defensive lineman who maintain a low center of gravity and use their leverage against an opponent. After watching three games, I am convinced that the Miami Dolphins have regressed in this aspect of the game. Particularly concerning is our defensive line which is clearly being blown off the ball by the opposition. This has allowed mediocre running backs such as Danny Woodhead, Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Ben Tate, and Montario Hardesty to average 4 yards per carry against the Dolphins defense.

The 2011 Miami Dolphins pass rush has also been lacking. Let me reiterate ‘low man wins.’ Cameron Wake still has one hell of a motor, but while watching him this year he is standing straight up and getting manhandled. Against the Cleveland Browns the Dolphins had 0 sacks, while having an average 3 sacks against the Texans, and a mere 1 sack against the Patriots. In the opener against the Patriots I can recall Brady standing in a well formed pocket in a statue-like posse picking the Dolphins secondary apart.

Mike Nolan has been over-hyped and has under-produced thus far in 19 games. Nolan called a number of ‘casino’ blitzes against the Texans. These are blitzes in which every defender in the box is sent. This leaves the corners on an island since they have no help over the top. My question is: how come the Dolphins are allowing a receiver a free release in this situation? Shouldn’t they be coached to press and bump the receiver to allow the blitz to get to the quaterback or at least throw off the timing between quaterback and receiver? Not only do Nolan’s blitzes seem ineffective, but most of the time the opposing team has run off a big play on the Dolphins.

Brian Daboll has improved the passing game ever so slightly. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of Daboll. I have liked a number of calls so far; however, not much has actually changed. The Dolphins haven’t thrown a deep ball since the Patriots game. I thought the Dolphins would stretch the field by going deep (35+ yard pass) at least 4 times a game. Perhaps Daboll has called the deep ball only to have Henne decide not to throw it. All I know is the Dolphins are still far to predictable and vanilla. Why doesn’t MIAMI go no-huddle like the Patriots? Why not go empty gun like the Patriots? Why not use their big target downfield like the Texans with Andre Johnson? Can we see more bubble screens, middle screens, and swing passes? Can we enjoy a flea-flicker or a reverse perhaps using Reggie Bush and Clyde Gates? As coaches that get paid millions of dollars, they must be more creative and utilize their players’ strengths correctly.

I have never before wished for the Dolphins to lose. For the rest of the season I will select different teams every week. These teams will be the Dolphins 2011 opponents. I will root for the Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts, and Minnesota Vikings to always be one win ahead of the Dolphins. It has been 12 years since Marino retired and we are still reeling to find a quaterback that is a worthy replacement. Funnily enough this year might produce the best quaterback prospect since Peyton Manning. Andrew Luck is destined to be a superstar pocket passer for years to come. He is a mature, unselfish leader who has put his education first and will graduate with 2 degrees in Architectural design and Engineering in only 3 years. Andrew Luck is a godsend!

If I were the owner of the Dolphins I would do the following:

  1. Fire Tony Sparano after he loses this week to the San Diego Chargers.
  2. Name Mike Nolan the interim head coach as he already has head coaching experience.
  3. Trade Brandon Marshall for a first round pick before the week 6 trade deadline. Marshall has proven to be a diva who is over-hyped and is under-producing.
  4. Hope the Dolphins can lose more games than any other team to land Andrew Luck.
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