CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Punter Brandon Fields #2 holds for place kicker Dan Carpenter #5 of the Miami Dolphins as he kicks a 38 yard field goal during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the Dolphins 17-16. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
They say it's a game of inches.
But it is also a game of moments.
The Miami Dolphins had every chance to win this game. And in a few particular moments, they lost it.
- Dan Carpenter NOT missing the first 51 yard Field Goal attempt - Would have won the game.
- The Dolphins Offense red zone failure (once again) - Down to the Cleveland 5 yard line and coming away with 3 points. A touchdown would have won the game.
- Reggie Bush NOT fumbling on the Cleveland 19 on what would have been a 3rd and 5, and certainly a 3 point FG (even with Dan Carpenter's limited range) would have won the game.
- Davone Bess NOT running backwards on 3rd and long, when he HAD THE FIRST DOWN! - would have kept that drive alive.
- Jason Taylor NOT jumping offsides on 3rd and 10 at the Miami 27, on what would have been an incomplete pass bringing up 4th and 10. This certainly helped to LOSE the game.
- Connecting on ANY of those last drive passes, getting the Dolphins within Carpenter's limited Field Goal range, might have won the game
There were some good individual performances in this game, but the overall appearance of a team that is just not fighting for the win is overshadowing even the few bright spots....
I am not going to rehash the things that have been beat to death all week in every local Miami newspaper's sports section, or Miami sports blog. We all know the topics - The team has no fight; the leadership is lacking; the coaching is terrible; Fire Sparano, etc. etc.
I happen to agree that this problem with the team performance has been illuminated to be an overall coaching problem - but to be honest, even though Tony Sparano is ultimately responsible, I am not sure how much of the Defensive problem is strictly due to Mike Nolan - or how much of the Red Zone woes are due to Brian Daboll's play calling.
The Miami Defense did not play horribly today - but when put in proper perspective, they damn sure didn't play well. You might look at the final score and say that they did well to hold the Cleveland Browns to 17 points. But the Browns have Colt McCoy as Quarterback, and were without their star running back in Peyton Hillis. To be honest, I would have expected a GOOD Defense to have shut them out.
The Miami Offense played well overall, but continues to struggle in the Red Zone.
Here are a few key notes on the game:
Daniel Thomas looks good! The kid looks like the real deal! He runs hard, keeps his pads low, hits the hole hard, and drags first tacklers. He can also catch, and seems to pick up blitzers well. The more I see of this kid, the more I like. One note of concern - rookies typically hit a rookie wall after 10 games or so because of the longer NFL season. Rookie Running Backs are notably susceptible to getting worn down. And if the Fins lean on him to hard early in the season, he might run out of steam. HOWEVER... If the Fins don't start winning - I won't matter anyhow!
Reggie Bush - Why? He struggles after first contact, which makes him a wasted play when run up the middle. Why call it? If you are going to use him, but him in the backfield with Thomas or Hilliard, or line him up in the slot where he can catch the ball in space.
Chad Henne looked good - mostly. I think Henne is actually getting better! There are those that will want to pin this loss on Henne throwing that last interception, but I say that it was more on Henne's teammates. Even on that last drive, there was a catch that Devone Bess could have made but didn't. But the game should not have been lost on that last throw. Henne had a respectable game, and I say that with better play calling and coaching in Red Zone situations, this game would have been won in the first half. No quarterback makes EVERY throw, but Henne made some very accurate, very excellent throws in this game, that showed a confidence I have not seen much of in previous games. I have hope for Henne.
Brandon Marshall didn't look fired up. I don't know if it was just his hamstring bothering him or if it was just Joe Haden bothering him, but other than that personal foul that he finally drew out of frustration, he was pretty much un-involved for the entire game.
Jimmy Wilson looks good - He plays the ball! Even though he got beat on that last TD, he was still going after the ball, and he was a pubic hair away from tipping it! He came away with a heads up Interception, by grabbing a ball that came into his area, even though you could see he wasn't expecting it. This kid's got skills!
Sean Smith never seems to play the ball! I am getting tired of seeing this guy waiting for the receiver to catch the ball before he reacts! I-I-I say there son! You're built too low; the fast ones go right over your head! Turn Your Head Around Son!!!!!
Brian Hartline - Hot! If he keep playing like that, the opposing Defenses will have to pick their poison. Downside? Marshall seems to withdraw when he is not the focal point of the passing game.
Carpenter - cold. Goes back two game - What more can I say?
You ARE what your record says you are, but since I am going to see them next Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium, all I can say is:
YOU BETTER NOT PLAY LIKE A DAMN 0-3 TEAM WHEN I PAID GOOD MONEY TO COME DOWN THERE TO SEE YOU!!!!
Pray for change! Whatever that change might be, it can't be any worse.
Cheers Fin Fans!