I took a few days to let the loss settle before sharing my thoughts. It was definitely a frustrating game and has pretty much set the bar for Miami where it should have been 8-8 or 9-7 this season. The good news is we are still pretty young at most core positions and seem to be moving the right direction as far as talent. Still have big holes to fill (OL, DB and RB), but we have seen some good movement in talent. And think we are very close to being 5-1.
All that being said, what is so frustrating about Miami is the coaching staff's arrogance. I understand mistakes are made (IE: throwing against an inept Buffalo team that had no chance to score if pinned inside own 20 with 2 minutes to go), but it is whole concepts that seem to be wrong with our team. And it is on both sides of the ball. I am just a high school football coach, but can call out several rough spots in our coaching.
1) Defensively not using best players in best areas: We have one of the best corners in the league in Grimes and another solid corner in Patterson. Yet in a few key situations Sunday I saw Jimmy Wilson manned up with Stevie Johnson (Buffalo's only real threat) on 3rd downs. I understand Wilson is probably our 6th DB and should be on the field, but why are we allowing Buffalo to dictate the matchups. This is a huge problem with our defense as we were seriously exposed by the Saints and I would venture to guess at some point we will see New England move guys around to get great match-ups since we refuse to adjust. Sometimes football is as simple as getting our best guys on their best guys.
Still in this point, we refuse to play Dion Jordan more than about 20 snaps a game although he is clearly superior to Vernon or Shelby. And we also seem to hate playing Jordan and Wake together (which would create nightmare matchups for the opposing OL). I love when we blitz Jones and have creative blitzes, but with Jordan and Wake with Odrick/Starks/Solai in middle we don't even have to blitz that often.
2) Offensively we have mismatches all over the field, yet seem to refuse to use them. Gibson and Clay have proven they are great mismatches against the oppositions 3-4 cover guys. This will continue throughout the year as these guys will always draw the 3rd and 4th best cover guy on the opposing team. Please use them more often.
Wallace, in my opinion, is a steady #1 WR in this league, but he is not Calvin Johnson. He must be moved around by positioning and motion to allow him to get free releases and use his speed. They have done this at times, but not nearly enough. Hartline is steady and seems to be used correctly.
3) Offensive line: This was shown in the pre-season to be an issue. Glad we waited until WEEK 7 to make a move. I think these guys could actually be successful if used the right way. At some point, I'd think I would stratch off the play call sheet stretch left after it has failed miserably every time. We run well with power running. These guys are power run blockers. They are pretty good at it too. So instead we decide to take 2 below average backs and have them run sideways before picking a hole (zone blocking). Miller has had several big runs, but all seem to have come on power blocking and him hitting a designed hole. The pass blocking is awful, but honestly how fair is it for Clabo to be singled up on Mario Williams at any point in the game???
4) Play calling: I don't think it is all bad, just mostly. He had a few great drives. Reverse to Wallace, most of the Indy game and a few spots against Baltimore. We just have no real identity right now. With the game on the line what would we call? Good teams know what they are going to run in critical spots. Do we go with Wallace, Hartline, Clay, Gibson (my suggestion) or run the ball? Instead we don't really know and that is the main issue with our team right now.
5) Philbin/Sherman: Think these guys are solid coaches and I like some thinga about them. Seems like Phibin is very classy guy and very steady. They can right this ship (9-7 would be good for me this year and fill some holes for next year), but they will have to look at using personel to the fullest. We have to be the ones that dictate matchups, not the other way around. I hate to my core the Patriots, but love the way they gameplan for each game. Take away the opponents strength and make someone else beat you. Get the matchup you want on offense and take a shot with it. I honestly think Miami has the most talent on the roster of any AFC east team, but right now we are getting out coached by NE and NYJ (and I hate that coach too, but he has done a great job with very minimal talent).
I actually would give Ireland a pass (I never thought I'd say that), because I think this team has talent (and it is young) if he can resign 1/2 of the DT's and Grimes and have a semi-decent draft next year we could continue to improve.