Better Coaching, Playcalling and Use of Talent could easily correct Dolphins’ woes

One offensive touchdown and one field goal are not enough offensive production to win most games.

While scoring in the NFL is never easy or anything to be taken for granted, still, there are some very basic strategies that the good teams employ.

Very basic strategies such as utilizing your playmakers and making smart calls.  Joe Philbin does neither.

Let’s look at one series from Sunday, for example.   Brent Grimes just made a great interception and changed all the momentum toward the Dolphins.   We started at the Washington 21, already in field goal range.

He needed 36 inches. Twice. Failed. Twice.

On first down, Ryan Tannehill almost kills his tight end with one of the worst passes in NFL history.  Wide open passing lane, no one near T-hill nor near Dion Sims.  Incomplete.

That first down was the only good play call on the drive, and Tannehill botched it.

On second down, the Dolphins gain six on a short pass to tight end Jordan Cameron.   Six yards when we need 10.   How many times have we seen that?

Watch that play.  It is not designed to gain 10.  It is specifically designed to gain about 5 yards, and that brings up a huge Philbin flaw that we’ve seen for three years.

Joe Philbin purposely sets up his offense to be in a third-and-short situation.  He strives for it.  Instead of consistently calling plays designed to get first downs, the Dolphins constantly do this instead.

It’s like Philbin feels that merely getting into a 3rd-and-short situation is the goal, because we will automatically pick it up, right?

I cannot emphasize this enough.  You hear it in every Philbin interview.  Every time.  He constantly says, “We have to get ourselves into a favorable down-and-distance situation.”

You hear it in his own words…his goal is to be in a good down-and-distance situation.  Well in this case, congratulations to Joe Philbin.  You got the Dolphins into a favorable d-a-d.  Third and short.

Your goal is complete.  Now what?

I hope you see my point.  He lacks the killer instinct to obtain the crucial first downs, touchdowns, and sacks.  Instead he is content with being in a situation to get those things.

It’s like Philbin being hungry, so he makes it his goal to drive to the McDonald’s parking lot.   That ain’t gonna fill your belly until you take it to the next step.

On third down, we throw a pass to Damien Williams.   Not Jarvis Landry.  Not Kenny Stills.  Not Jordan Cameron.  Not Davante Parker.   Lazor/Philbin called a play to go to an undrafted guy who has barely made the team two years in a row.  We spent so much money and trades and draft picks to get an electrifying group of talent on our team, and we call a play to go to Damien Williams.  Why?  I can only ask why.

On top of that, why isn’t Williams fighting and struggling for that extra yard for the first down?   He had no fire in him and no awareness to lunge ahead for that extra yard that we desperately needed.

As bad as those three plays were, Philbin saved his worst for last.  Needing a yard…needing 36 lousy inches…needing only 91 tiny centimeters for our British fans…Lazor/Philbin decided to give the ball (again) to the same backup runner who had just failed to gain the requisite yard we needed on the previous play.

If at first Damien Williams fails, let him fail again.

Why was Williams even in the game?  I know “third-down back” is a common cliche in the NFL, but so is “Your starter is your best.”  Miller gets stuffed all the time on short-yardage situations, but he should still be the man until Williams supplants him.  And that sure as heck didn’t happen on third and fourth down.

Why not have Tannehill fall forward for a yard?

Why not call the snap on two or three to draw the terrible Redskin defense offsides?

So many options, but we give the ball to an undrafted bench player.

This is a fantasy, but let’s hope Philbin learns a lesson.



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  1. Joe doesn’t learn lessons. Ever notice how almost every time he wins the coin toss, he elects to kickoff and the other team stays on offense for half the first quarter, giving them the momentum. When the Dolphins finally get the ball, it’s frequently 3 and out for them. Yet he’ll use this same failing strategy whenever he can. You’d think he’d try something different, but he sticks with failed strategies for some reason.

  2. The coin toss argument is invalid. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen the Pats defer to the second half and even when it doesn’t work no one questions it. Our defense is supposed to be dominant so allowing them to dictate the tone of the game is a logical and reasonable thought. It seems like no matter what Philbin does to the readers and admin of this site he is almost always wrong. One of the fair points of the article is to question Philbins killer instinct. He in the past has been very conservative. Going for it on 4th down was a big step for him. I agree the play calls needed to be more aggressive however I disagree that Philbin saying he wants to put himself in favorable 3rd and short situations is a bad philosophy. He is playing the percentages by putting his team in those situations and the statistics back him up. Mix in some well times more aggressive and well-executed play calls with that strategy and the offense will gain momentum and confidence. But thats just my opinion.

    1. Author

      Welcome to the board, Brandon. I’m with you on the kickoffs. When you win the coin toss, you can either start the first half with the ball or start the second half. No harm in starting the second half with it. What I hate about Philbin is when he’s inconsistent with it. Year before last, we won the coin flip a few games in a row. Philbin chose to start the game by kicking off to the Browns. Next week he kicked off to Andrew Luck. Then he kicked off to Matt Ryan. Next week, we kicked off to Drew Brees and the Saints. We were 3-1 at that point.
      Then came the mighty Thad Lewis of the Bills. This time, Philbin chose to receive. Philbin kicked off to the best QBs in the league 3 weeks in a row, but when it was time to kick to Thad Lewis, Philbin chickened out. He feared giving Thad Lewis the ball more than he feared Brees, Ryan and Luck.
      No explanation at all for Philbin’s illogic.

      1. Thanks Admin. That does seem illogical. Wonder if it had more to do with trying to make a statement to his team about going up against a top defense rather than about Thad Lewis. I mean if I remember correctly the Saints, Falcons, and Browns did not have particularly good defenses that year (or any recent year for that matter).

  3. There is nothing wrong with the Dolphins that a franchise QB couldn’t fix.

  4. I think part of the reason Philbin calls 5 yard plays is because Tannehill can barely throw accurately for 10 yards. I hope Landry gets all the punt returns from now on.

  5. They need better. talent at the skill positions on offense. Landry is the only one that looks decent.

  6. For those of us Dolphin fans living in NJ, the game will be televised for our viewing. I usually don’t enjoy watching them on TV bec the games I do see they are awful. But I will be watching… On paper, we should roll all over the Jags, right? we should feel pretty confident about the team we have vs. the team the Jags have, right? So then, why do I and other Dolphin fans not get the excited feeling that this game should go our way? We’re talking Jags here. I can only circle back that mostly there is no confidence in coach, QB, pretty much most of the players. Until Uncle Joe is gone, this is not the Dolphins we all have been craving for.

    Frustrated for years - formerly anonymous
  7. Philbin’s problem is he is a statistician, not an NFL Head Coach.

    He compared the numbers and found that the net gain on passes was greater than runs for a 1st and 10. So he tries to pass almost exclusively in that scenario until he has a late game lead.

    What he fails to consider is that become pass happy increasingly allows the Dline to gamble and not worry about their run gaps, conversely the LBs can drop back into zones earlier. This takes away any long/intermediate routes as pressure on Thill increases over the game and forces him to throw short into tighter windows.

    In summary, Philbin is average at best but thinks he is very modern and tactical in his approach. That overconfidence negates his average mental capacity and makes him a bad coach.

    I hope Steve Ross reads this.

  8. @mikeJ, I doubt Stephen Ross reads this bias website or your comments mocking your own coach

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