I'll never fault the Dolphins for losing to a division rival in a close game, because if there is one thing that we should all know by now, it's that AFC East games are tough. No matter what the record, or what the situation, the Bills, Dolphins, New York Jets, and New England Patriots all play each other tough. The games are always closer than people think they will be, and there are several cases of the "worst" team in the division beating the "best."
However, yesterday was not the case of the Bills winning a game over the Dolphins. Yesterday was clearly a day of the Dolphins giving away a win.
There are a lot of people beating up on Tyson Clabo right now, and for most of the season, I agree with that. Yesterday, however, I can't fault him. He faced Mario Williams, who is third in the NFL in sacks with eight coming into this week. Through three-and-a-half quarters, Clabo shut down Williams. Unfortunately, he gave up two sacks, late in the game, with one leading to the fumble that cost the Dolphins the game. But, that does not change that for the vast majority of the game, Williams was a non-factor.
Where the fault lies is with the play calling. Why are the Dolphins, who were up by one point in the fourth quarter, passing the ball on 2nd and eight? Both sacks came on 2nd and eight plays, with the first coming after a two yard Brandon Gibson catch and the second, with the fumble, coming after a two yard Lama Miller run. In both cases, Miami should have been running the ball on second down to try to keep the clock running and burn some time. Instead, they took inexcusable sacks.
Throughout the week, I am sure we will look at the execution on both of those plays, and especially on Clabo, to try to lay blame at the offensive line's feet. But, in a game where the Dolphins averaged 4.8 yards per carry, with Daniel Thomas at 5.0 yards per carry and Lamar Miller at 4.8 yards per carry, the execution does not really matter. What matters is why the coaches were putting the team in that situation?
You know your offensive line has struggled to pass block all year. Through three quarters, that offensive line had not allowed a sack and were closing in on a really good day against a team that had 21 sacks prior to the contest. So, what do you do? You ask them to suddenly pass block some more, at a time where running the ball and killing the clock are the necessity.
After the game, head coach Joe Philbin explained, "There's always more than one option when it comes to doing things. We ran the ball on first down, we got two yards, making it second and eight, we believed we had a good play call, so we called the play. You can always - every time you pass the ball, you can run it, and when you run it, you can pass it."
Coach Philbin is correct. You can always second guess a play call, saying they should have run when they passed, or passed when they should have run. It's a great point for in the middle of the game. When it's late in the game, you have a one point lead, are averaging nearly five yards a carry, and it's second and eight, you run the ball. RUN THE BALL.
Say what you want about Clabo, or the whole offensive line, or Tannehill, or any of the Dolphins players. But, this was not them losing the game. This game was lost when the coaches decided that passing late in the game was the way to go after spending the entire game establishing the run. The coaches put the Dolphins in a position to fail - and they did.
Run the ball.
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