What The Dolphins Should Have Learned

This past weekend the Miami Dolphins were not playing any sort of game. Instead, their coaching staff was busy preparing for the Senior Bowl practice that they would be coaching the next morning.

If some of the coaches and players were not watching the two conference championships, they missed something, and should go out and buy the DVD of both games here on DolphinsGab.

There were a couple of strengths that I noticed for both teams, and a couple of notes that I took simply on what a team who is playing to get into the Super Bowl looks like.

The Dolphins, as well as the Jets, should be the teams most interested in both of these two games. Both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, there were factors that got the job done that the Dolphins just do not get done.

Let’s break those down, and compare the Dolphins to the four teams that did manage to get their teams into the Championship Games.

Offense:

What was seen in both games and what I thought was most important, was that passing the ball wins games. Plain and simple. When you see Drew Brees, and Brett Favre going at it and losing the game off of turnovers for the Vikings, that shows how far the game has progressed from just a run the ball down your opponents throat style that was known as the NFL.

The Dolphins need to face the facts. In this modern day age of football, a team NEEDS to be able to pass the ball successfully on a consistent basis.

When I was watching Peyton Manning, Brees, and Favre passing the ball around, I also noticed that the passing game was how they stayed in the game, kept the defense on their toes, and only turned to the run game when need be.

Sure, the Jets may have been able to run the ball effectively against the Colts in the first half of their game, and because of that were able to run the play action pass effectively, but that only got them the lead in the first half.

When the game came down to crunch time, pretty much every team turns to their aerial attack to get on the board, and run out the clock.

Also, all of these teams had physical lines, and solid backs that they could turn to when they needed to run, although this was the Vikings demise, as Favre and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson could not get their timing down all game long.

The bottomline is that teams cannot just get to the SuperBowl by running the ball. Teams have to have an elite receiver for the quarterback to rely on in crunch time.

The Dolphins have half of the equation.

They have the solid run game that they can rely on. They have one of the best backfields in all of football, and one of the best lines in the league as well, but they just do not have the prolific passing game, (even though they finally have the quarterback to get the ball to the receivers) to get the job done, and become a true Super Bowl contender.

The Dolphins have half of the battle solved. They have the complete backfield, they have the line, they have an up and coming quarterback in Chad Henne, and they have a quality tight end and a bunch of slot receivers, along with a guy who can stretch the field given a true #1 receiver lining up alongside of him.

But what the Dolphins do not have is the legitimate threat, or the system to put up the eye bulging numbers that some of the teams that played this weekend could.

Look at what happened to the Jets in the second half of their game. They burnt out because they got down on the scoreboard, and were never able to get back into the game because of the fact that they do not have the offensive system to keep up with the elite passing teams like the Colts, Saints, and Vikings.

Defense:

In another notebook that could have been almost full from taking notes from the four teams that played this weekend was what each of the four teams did to lessen the impact of their opponents strengths.

For some this did not work. For others, it worked to almost perfection.

First let me break down the Colts-Jets game.

The Colts obviously came out on top, and this was not just because of their offense.

The Colts shut the Jets down in the second half.

This was because they started to shut down the run, and as the offense built up a steady lead, the Jets were forced to abandon the run, and become almost one-dimensional. The Jets mostly passed the rest of the way after the mid-way point in the 3rd quarter.

The key to success in the NFL may be offense, but occassionally your defense needs to come up with a stop as well.

This is what the key to the Colts, and Saints gameplan was this weekend.

The Colts played more of a shut down style, while the Saints defense did not necessarily shut the Vikings down, but capitalized off of their opportunities that were given to them in the form of turnovers.

This is exactly the opposite of what the Dolphins defense does on gameday.

The Dolphins style of defense was in no way exotic, in fact, more times than not, the Dolphins would get themselves into shootouts early on because their defense could not find a way to set the tone early on.

The Dolphins also do not capitalize off of turnovers.

To win the game, part of being the better team is taking advantage of your opponents mistakes, and that is one thing that the Dolphins do not do. The Dolphins do create turnovers, it’s just a matter of taking advantage of your opportunity that your defense gave you.

The Dolphins have come a long ways from the 2007 season, but they still have a long ways to go yet.

Above are some things that the Dolphins need to improve on, besides the obvious notes, such as covering tight ends, and running backs and throwing the ball.

Go Phins!


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