Well, it's now Tuesday evening and I am still shell shocked.
Last season, we saw games lost in the 4th quarter... games that we could have won - SHOULD have won, but for a 4th quarter defensive meltdown. Those were heartbreaking and disappointing.
And for the defensive losses, Defensive Coordinator Paul Pasqualoni was fired.
Last week, we saw a solid performance against a good football team, with the outcome in question until the last 34 seconds. While the loss was heartbreaking, the game was solid and the team played pretty well. There was one major Special Teams gaff that resulted in a blocked punt.
For missing the block that allowed the defender to get through and block the punt, Linebacker Erik Walden was cut.
Last night, I saw a game that was won in the first half on both the Offensive and Defensive sides of the ball. The Dolphins went into the locker room at the half with a 1 point lead. But largely due to a complete Special Teams collapse that set NFL records in Special Teams incompetence, the Miami Dolphins lost the lead and the game in the second half.
And for THAT, Special Teams coach John Bonamego got sacked today!
Was it deserved? Absolutely. I have seen some opinions stating that it is the players that were at fault for poor execution - and this is true. But ultimately, he was the guy responsible for building a successful Special Teams unit, and judging by last night's performance, he failed.
But the bigger, more relevant questions are:
- Other than sending a message to the fans, what will firing Bonamego actually accomplish?
- How much of the failures on Special Teams can be attributed to the coaching?
Or is there a more fundamental problem?
Special Teams has been anything BUT.
It has been a weak link in some facet of its game for a few years now. Sure, we got lucky against the Jets last season with Ginn's two run backs, but that was the exception, not the norm. However, most of the flaws with our STs units generally revolved around field position - we were not getting good yardage on run backs, and we were giving up too much to the other teams' return men.
Sometimes this can be the result of poor coaching. Other times it is lack of talent. Or both. But the breakdowns that resulted in the blocked kicks? Those were vanilla formations. The should be almost automatic. The proof is in the scarcity of actually SEEING a blocked field goal, or punt. I mean, it hardly ever happens! So can you point to the coach and say, "He isn't getting them prepared well enough"? Really? This has to be STs class 101.
I am starting to believe that it has more to do with the talent level of the players. I know they got rid of Nate Jones, who was the Fins' top STs tackler, and wouldn't he look better out there at the nickle corner spot than Benny Sapp? And newcomer Bobby Carpenter, who was good enough to be cut from the St. Louis Rams, just looks lost.
But the questions of talent evaluation go beyond just STs. The O-line, with Joe Berger and Richie Incognito, do not seem to be getting anywhere near the same push or opening holes as well as Jake Grove and Justin Smiley did last year. Charles Grant, who played so well for New Orleans last year, and the Dolphins in preseason this year, was cut and could have been re-signed up until yesterday, and boy could the Fins use his help right about now!
And I hate to bring it up, but is there really any question now that Jason Taylor would help the pass rush? Of course he would.
Now before anyone goes and starts spouting "CLS, CLS!" (Chicken Little Syndrome), let me state three things:
- First, I am saying that most of the Dolphins' issues are in lack of depth - which tends to have a bigger impact on STs. I like most of the starters.
- Second, we have had some unexpected, and significant injuries that have highlighted the depth problems. Some of those, like Jared Odrick (and hopefully John Jerry and Channing Crowder) will return and shore up those positions.
- And Third, the only thing worse than CLS is HiTSS - Head in The Sand Syndrome! There are some serious challenges facing the Miami Dolphins, and simply firing Bonamego won't fix them.
But hopefully, it's a good start.