Dolphins End Miserable Season With Miserable Loss to the Pats: Season’s Troubles Looked At

After watching yesterdays matchup between the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots, I had to sit down and think about what exactly is wrong with this team.

Seriously, yesterday showed me so many holes on this team, and coaching staff that I could not figure out what the true problem with this team was, until looking back on some of the highlights from the other games of the day.

While some of the players on this team have disappointed as a whole, and certainly share some of the blame, we can only blame this season on Tony Sparano.

I could care less about the playcalling deficiencies of offensive coordinator Dan Henning. I could care less about how poorly and inconsistent Chad Henne played this season. I could care less about defensive collapse that happened in yesterdays game.

What I truly care about is how Tony Sparano, and partly Jeff Ireland wrecked this team, and ultimately sent this team into the ground, instead of propelling them into the playoffs.

While Sparano is definitely a players coach, and the players have time and again claimed they love the guy, actions to me speak louder than words. And in a game that may prove to decide his future with the team, Sparano got the worst all-around performance by a team I have seen in a long time. There was little to no effort yesterday. We got dominated, and ultimately looked unprepared for the Patriots. We play New England twice a year, there is no reason for us to get blown out by them in both games, no matter how good they are.

I also look to the failure of the offensive line as the main reason why the offense stalled so many times this season.

It was because of the offensive line that our red-zone offense could not muster enough touchdowns to win games. It was because of our offensive line that our running game was abandoned game after game. It was also because of our offensive line that Chad Henne had to call for max protection more times than not.

But why exactly was our offensive line so terrible? Wasn’t Sparano supposed to be an offensive line guru. I say “C’mon Tony, coach your guys up!”.

While Ireland deserves some of the blame for this as well, considering he helped completely blow up the interior line, Sparano’s inability to help out his specialty position is questionable to me. We pretty much have two offensive line guru’s on the team, and neither could help the team figure out their blocking woes? Ireland couldn’t try and restructure Jake Grove’s contract to keep him in Miami? Did they really have to lock Justin Smiley out of the training facility at the beginning of the off-season? How could they think Joe Berger was the answer at center? All of those questions come into play when contemplating exactly how much potential they had coming into last years off-season.

Even with all of that taking place, Sparano still did not solve his offensive line problems. It has taken him more than 16 games to figure out exactly what was wrong with his main weakness, and he still has not figured out what could work! Granted, injuries devastated this team, but our line depth was supposed to be a strength going into the season, with Pat McQuistan performaing admirably as a backup, and Berger and Richie Incognito being able to play multiple positions.

All of the offensive woes boil down to the ineffeciency of the offensive line. The running game was abysmal this year. I honestly am surprised that we mustered to rush for more than 1,200 yards this year as a team. That is how bad our interior run blocking was. Even with Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess drawing double teams, and bringing people out of the box, the running game was still ineffective. If both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams do not return to Miami next season, it will be the offensive lines fault for this, because the R&R Express realy had no one blocking for them.

Besides the line woes, I look to a big part of our second half collapses being because of a lack of making adjustments at the half. Over the course of the season, the Dolphins lost many games in the fourth quarter, and in just about every game they abandoned either the passing or rushing game. When one thing was working in the first half, we were unable to capitalize off of another teams weaknesses in the second half. Think back to some of our bad losses towards the end of the season. Did we ever really attack a teams weaknesses, and make the opponents pay for it? How about Detroit’s terrible secondary? Buffalo’s horrid run defense? Chicago’s inability to block the opposing pass-rush? Never once were we able to expose the opposing teams weaknesses, and that was a contributing factor as to why this team has struggled so much over the past two years, the inability to coach up the players at halftime.

Hire Sparano as the teams motivator if you want. If he fires the team up that much, then sign him on as an assistant somewhere on the team. But this team is in desperate need of a coach who can strategize and help his team win by being able to manage the game and the multiple football scenarios that arise on gameday.

While change may not be made this season at the top of the coaching staff, the decision needs to be made to can Sparano and Ireland will most likely be a casualty as well. Bring in someone who can change the direction of this extremely talented team. The last two years we have seen nothing but December collapses, in the most important month of the season. If Sparano is spending so many hours watching film, late into the night, why exactly is this team failing to generate key wins late in the season? Why is the team seemingly unmotivated to go out there and win games? Why do the players not look confident that their gameplan can win them games? What exactly has been our gameplan all season long?

Those were some of the questions that were circling through my head last night after the loss. Sad to say this, but Sparano needs to go. He just doesn’t seem to be the coach we need, no matter how excited and into the game he is. We fell in love with him too quick because of the success of the 2008 season that seemed to be completely because of Chad Pennington and a weak schedule, and not because of Sparano.

Now onto yesterdays game:

  • Henne showed he is not the answer to our ongoing quarterback search. Brandon Marshall and him have no chemistry whatsoever, and his play late in the season the past two years has shown he is not clutch in big moments like this team needs. He is not the quarterback, even with an offense loaded with weapons, that will lead this team to the promised land.
  • Our offensive line capped off a terrible season, with an even worse game. Maybe with a pickup of a left guard that accels at pulling, and moving Incognito to center next year, the questions could be partway solved?
  • The defense just collapsed yesterday. Chris Clemons showed that he really is not the answer at free safety for us.  He was burnt on two touchdown passes yesterday, and his coverage skills and ball-hawking ability really were not even close to being average. Reshad Jones could step into his place, but is he really ready to start for this team?
  • With Anthony Fasano out of yesterdays game, it was Mickey Shuler who got his first career start, and boy were the Dolphins missing Fasano. Shuler may have been somewhat effective in last weeks game, but he was invisible against the Pats. A speedy deep threat to spread out the middle of the field is what this team needs to get back to their 2008 style of offense, to run those effective two-tight end sets, and besides Fasano, there seems to be nobody else who is willing to step up into the second tight end role.
  • Tom Brady showed yesterday why he is right up their on the list of the top quarterbacks of all time. He shredded our defense, without his number one and two receiving options.
  • I found it fishy that the Dolphins chose not to run the ball at all in the second half, when Ronnie Brown was only 16 yards short of achieving 750 yards on the season, and with that, a $500,000 bonus. The team obviously did not want to pay the man that extra money, which makes me think Brown will either be getting a very low offer from our front office this off-season, or no offer at all.
  • This shellacking showed the gap between a very good team, and the Dolphins. The gap is a big one, and until the Fins can find away to coach up their players like Bill Belichick can, and a quarterback that can make the players around him better like Brady can, they won’t even sniff a Super Bowl title.

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One Response to “Dolphins End Miserable Season With Miserable Loss to the Pats: Season’s Troubles Looked At”

  1. john says:

    Well written summary of the season. W/o an offensive line able to open up a decent running game, this team struggled all year.

    One thing that stuck out this year was the following quote:

    Right after the Miami Dolphins broke the huddle and got into their offensive formation Cortland Finnegan would look Brandon Marshall right in the eye and tell him the exact route he was running.
    Finnegan admitted he wasn’t right all the time, but he guessed he was on the mark about 80 percent of the Dolphins’ offensive snaps.
    “You shouldn’t be able to do that, but I’ve watched every single game Miami’s played this year and the formation doesn’t lie. Formations tell a lot,” – as a fan, I’d have to agree. Dolphins very rarely ran formations that they both passed and ran out of effectively.

    Pretty much sums up Sporano/Henning’s coaching in my mind.
    As far as Henne goes, there’s no rush to abandon ship on him just yet, but Henning and Pennington have got to go, or Henne will never progress in stretching the field. After seeing what was possible last year in the Jets game, there is no question that Henne can throw any pass that is needed, if coached correctly. That said, there should definitely be some competition brought in for next year at QB.

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