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Offensive struggles doom Miami Dolphins in loss to Bills

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Inside a lifeless Sun Life Stadium on Sunday, the Miami Dolphins put on a rather lifeless performance - and with it, took their playoff hopes off of life support. The Buffalo Bills' three point win yesterday officially flat-lined Miami's playoff chances.

For the eighth time in nine years, the Miami Dolphins will be at home preparing for next season when the playoffs begin.

The obvious question, of course, is who will be in Miami preparing for 2011. Who in the front office, on the coaching staff, and on the field will be returning for 2011? Amidst reports that former Super Bowl winning head coach Bill Cowher is ready to return to coaching and has Miami at the very top of his wish list, the future of many within this organization are suddenly in serious jeopardy.

But that's a talk for another time - or another article (perhaps tomorrow). For now, though, let's talk about Sunday's loss.

Everybody on the offensive side of the ball is to blame

Alright - maybe that statement isn't 100% true. Jake Long? He's a warrior who has had a great year despite playing with one arm the past month. Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess, and Brian Hartline? All three are not on the hook here. They have made the most with what they've had to work with.

Everybody else, though, shares the blame. From Dan Henning and Chad Henne down to the backs and offensive line. They've all had a hand in the struggles of Miami's offense - an offense that has found the endzone just 21 times in 14 games. Only the Panthers and Cardinals have scored fewer offensive touchdowns.

That in itself is pathetic.

Henne continues to struggle - best exemplified by missing an open Kevin Curtis for what would have been a long completion down the seam and then throwing an ill-advised pass on 3rd & 16 to a covered Patrick Cobbs, resulting in an interception and a giving Buffalo the football at Miami's 35 yard line - setting up their first touchdown drive of the game. The worst part of that throw is probably the decision to even take that chance. It would have gained about five yards when they needed 16.

But it was that kind of day for Henne and the offense - who actually looked good in the fourth quarter. Before that terribly timed Wildcat play late in the 4th, Henne found a rhythm and was 12 of 14 for 121 yards and a touchdown in the final quarter.

This is perhaps what is so difficult about the Henne situation. He will look very good at times - and then very bad other times. And as the season has gone on, he's had more "very bad" moments than "very good" moments. Why is Henne regressing?

Henne's not the only problem, of course. Offensive coordinator Dan Henning obviously needs to go. If there was any doubt that he cannot return after the season, Sunday's offensive play-calling and performance seals the deal. I already mentioned that inexplicable decision to run the Wildcat on 2nd down & 10 with two and a half minutes and down by three points. Like I said, Henne was very hot at that time. But Henning unquestionably was playing for the tie - playing for a field goal - instead of playing for the win. Why else would Henning call for the Wildcat on 2nd down in that situation from Buffalo's 31?

Dan Henning's offensive philosophy is a joke and his system is too predictable. How predictable? How terrible? Consider these words from Bills CB Drayton Florence after the game when asked if Buffalo's defense was surprised to see the Wildcat in that situation:

"Why would anyone be surprised? They were playing for a field goal. That's what they do."

Florence didn't stop there. He explained how to defend Miami's seriously awful offense:

"We knew two things. One, Henne wouldn't be holding the ball long on most plays. And, two, if they were going to throw medium or long, they'd have maximum protection and only send two guys out."

"It's not complicated. Henne had one shot of anyone open deep all day when Curtis got behind us. But he missed him."

No, Miami's offense is not complicated at all. I know grammar school kids who could draw up these offensive game plans.

To be fair, though, it's hard to draw up any offensive strategy when you cannot run the football. And the Dolphins cannot run the football. Period. Blame the offensive line. Blame Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Blame Lousaka Polite for whiffing on lead blocks far too often this year.

The bottom line is that the Dolphins ran for 65 yards, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry, against the worst rush defense in the league.

Changes need to be made on offense - from coordinator to quarterback. From linemen to running backs. A total offensive overhaul is now needed.

A few more thoughts on the game:

  • I know I didn't even mention that final one-minute drill. Why? Because it was painful to watch and even reliving it in my head makes me sick to my stomach. Was it Dan Henning calling some terrible plays? Or was it Chad Henne making terrible decisions when he needed to go down the field? Either way, I'm tired of both of these guys.
  • Poor Dan Carpenter. He picked one hell of a time to go 0 for 4. While none of the four kicks were easy, he really needs to connect on at least one of them. For some reason, though, I'm not worried about DC$. He'll bounce back.
  • Why can't Miami's defensive backs play the football. They were routinely in the right spot. They had coverage on a number of these big plays by Buffalo. But they just can't make a play on the ball. Being in position is only half the battle, guys. You also got to break up the pass.
  • With that said, the defense played well enough to win. Buffalo scored ten points on this defense when they had a short field to work with. Their first TD came after Henne's interception, driving 35 yards for the score. Their field goal came on their next possession, set up at Miami's 42 by a C.J. Spiller punt return.
  • The Dolphins again completely shut down the opposing team's rushing attack. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller picked up 52 yards on 24 carries.
  • Koa Misi showed today that he's progressing nicely. He did a nice job setting the edge and he even got another "hustle sack" - defined as a sack that was picked up despite having no pass-rushing move.
  • I'll say it again. Paul Soliai and Tony McDaniel both need to be re-signed.
  • At least Brandon Marshall cares. He had the kind of game he should have every single week. And then he apologized for the offense's terrible 2010 performance. Of course, he has nothing to apologize for. It's not his fault at all.

That's really all I got, folks. I'm just sick and tired of not making the playoffs. This team has a number of holes once again. And right now we have no idea who will even be in charge of filling those holes.