Facts and Truths on the Dolphins Big Win vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

As we always say at Dolphins Truth, it’s not rocket science.   When something (or someone) is working well, then keep doing it.  Over and over again, until it no longer works.  And by relation, if something is NOT working, then you must abandon it.

That is an unquestionable tenet of the NFL, but one which Adam Gase refused to accept.  Until the Steelers came to town.

Gase FINALLY did a few things right.  Simple things that we’ve been calling on him to do:

  • He realized that putting Ryan Tannehill in a 7-yard-deep straight dropback every other play was a disaster.   So he gave up on it.
  • He saw that Jay Ajayi was finding daylight, and he kept calling his number.
  • He saw that Cameron Wake was being effective out there, and he kept him out there.
  • He saw that our red zone drives were failing and kept settling for 3 points.   He avoided the temptation to be frustrated and risk going for it on 4th and goal.   By showing such patience, those 3 points added up each drive, and before long, we were ahead 9-8.   Steelers were feeling good about stopping us in the red zone 3 or 4 times in a row, but when they looked up at the scoreboard and saw they were still losing, that’s when it started to unravel.  We got a touchdown finally on the next drive.
  • He saw the rollouts and play actions and even bootlegs were working, so he tried it more than once.
  • He saw Byron Maxwell toughen up against the NFL’s premiere receiver, and he left things alone.
  • He saw the Steelers puking from our relentless pounding, and he stuck with it.  Remember this poor fellow?

Yes, pretty much every single Dolphin played their best game of the year, and that helped.

But make no mistake about it:   This victory came from the fact that Adam Gase called a fine game and didn’t overthink anything.  He abandoned his insanely incorrect and stubborn assertion that the line must protect Tannehill 100% of the time when he drops back straight and just sits there forever.

It wouldn’t be Dolphins Truth, however, if we didn’t analyze a few items where improvement is needed.

Let’s enjoy the win, but we’ll have to put up with a little rain on the parade:

As much as I like and compliment Gase for sticking with the calls and the personnel that was working, still he didn’t quite do it enough.   He needs to establish a clear backup to Jay Ajayi and stick with it.   Damien Williams is slowly turning it around.   My readers know I’ve been hard on him, but he’s shut me up this year and played tough yesterday, including his first career rushing touchdown.   So then why was gimpy Arian Foster out there?  There was a play where we needed 4 yards and Foster caught a pass after 3 yards.  One yard to go.   A simple lunge, right?  Instead, Foster tried to juke a guy, who didn’t bite on it and buried Foster.  Meanwhile Williams and Ajayi were carrying Steelers on their back for a few extra yards each time.  I think Foster can be great and I’m not saying to give up on him.   But on a day that belonged to Ajayi and Williams, Foster should have been holding a clipboard.  If Ajayi was stinking up the place, THEN you try Foster.

Ryan Tannehill managed the game adequately and came out on top.  However, he still makes poor decisions, even when good things occur!  With about 8 minutes left, and with a chance to put the game away, Tannehill faced a 3rd and a foot.   24 inches.  Gase (finally!) called a naked bootleg, and it worked to perfection, with no one in front of Tannehill.   Remember, we only needed one foot to keep the drive alive and the clock ticking.

Instead of just running a few yards and sliding, Tannehill dangerously held the ball, stubbornly waiting for a backup tight end to become clear.   He eventually completed the pass and we got the first down.   Still, throwing the ball wasn’t the right play.   Not when we only needed a foot and he had clear sailing to get it.


Here’s the play in question.  Tannehill waited an eternity for Gray to get open and then threw the ball in the middle of FOUR Steelers.  I marked them in red, and you can see the lone Dolphin receiver amid a sea of black.  If Tannehill just kept running, he would have picked it up.  It was a risky pass to get us a few more yards. And certainly not worth the risk.   Not with the number of drops we have all the time.

With about 12 minutes left, Gase opted for a 50-yard field goal instead of a punt to pin the Steelers deep.  Mind you, we had a 15-point lead at the time.  The 3 points would have been great, but it was no gimme.   Not with Andrew Franks and his iffy track record.  Our defense had been stopping Pitt all day, and no harm in sending them back out there with Pitt pinned deep.  OR…. if Gase doesn’t want to punt, then why not go for it?   It was 4th and 1, and for once our offense was picking up yardage.  Play it safe and punt, or else show some heart and go pick up a yard.    Those are the two worthwhile decisions.  Instead, Gase took the third choice, which was a long field goal.   Franks already has two short, gimme field goals blocked this year, so it’s time to call out that overrated Darren Rizzi.

Most important…and sorry to rain on our parade…As good as we played, there was still a ton of luck and blown calls that helped us.   We committed a horse-collar tackle right in plain sight in the middle of the field, but the refs missed it.   That NEVER happens against Pittsburgh, and I can’t emphasize how lucky we were there.  Instead of Pitt getting a first down at mid-field, they had to punt.

We tried a sneaky onside kick in the first quarter, and it was botched.   Terrible execution all the way around, and the Steelers easily grabbed the ball.   But Lady Luck smiled upon us, and one of the refs wasn’t ready so they let us try again.   This time, we did a normal kickoff.

Both of those plays could have spelled disaster.


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  1. The reffs missed several blatant false starts on pitt. And you noticed holding on almost every blitz. Thanks to the reffs for the calls that went our way for sure but pitt got some if not a lot of that love too. I still disagree with you about that throw. He threw a bullet bc he knew where all the defenders were. More risky yes but it looked like a confident play to me.

    1. Author

      It was very confident, no doubt. But the risk vs. reward factor wasn’t worth it, and he has to be intelligent in that situation more than confident. If it were 3rd and 7, then I positively agree with you. But we needed a foot, and he waited a long time to gain an unnecessary 7 yards. Still, it was an exciting play and a third-down conversion…both of which we don’t get too often!!

      1. In any other circumstance admin I wouldnt even try to counter your point which tactically is totally correct. Tannehill might have been feeling “it” that day and for a QB sorrily lacking in the confidence department he needed that throw for his ongoing development and for his standing among his team mates. There’s a gunslinger buried deep in him somewhere and Im hoping he lets it out more and allows that approach to become more apart of his showings each week. We are stuck with him for sometime might as well get the most while we can. If he continues regressing then its just one of many blips on the tannehill radar we all invest our hopes in. Its not unfamiliar territory and to be honest Im not convinced at all until I see 4 back to back ect performances.

        Another thing I have gone on record saying is the leadership and stability Foster brings to this team. Watch Gase’s press conference on the Miami website. He clearly states the same. I dont know why Foster has such influence in the locker room but no doubt he does. Even when hes a non factor in the game. I have been and also been subject to this type of calming influence before and it really exists. Its a psychological effect I wish I could bottle and sell because I would be rich beyond belief. Internal team leaders have a way of calming and galvanizing a team. Our team lacks this and has for a long time. Meaning no matter how hard the coach does his thing, the true message needs to resonate from those along side and on the grass of their counterparts. That message carries the greatest credibility. Im no fan of the kneeling foster but his leadership is to be respected and when he’s in the lineup our team does in fact play much better. Check the stats.

        1. In regards to Foster in Gases own words.

          “Obviously, you could tell that he wanted to have an extra gear there,” Gase said. “I know he was trying to hit it a couple times. I don’t know if he’s really even close to 100 percent, but I know he felt like him being dressed and being out there and trying to contribute was beneficial to us, because his leadership means something to a lot of guys, and he does so many things right for us. He made some good plays in that game, especially in the passing game and the protection. I know even though he’s not 100 percent, he brings a lot to the table, and I know a lot of guys … He’s one of those guys. He has a calming effect on a lot of people.”

          If he stays healthy we play much better. Our 2 best games. Seattle and Pitt. The 2 games he was in the line up.

        2. Author

          Don’t get me wrong, your points are well-founded, and no one can argue with the result of that play. And apparently the 4th-string TE catches a ball better than half the other guys on our team, so kudos to Gray !

  2. Agreed, it looked like the refs had bets on us.

  3. Rashad Jones out for the season? YIKES!

    1. Author

      I saw that Jay. But I bet Reshad toughs it out. That guy loves to play too much

  4. @Admin

    I agree with you on all points except the Tannehill throw. Marino (even if he was as fast as Tannehill) would have thrown that ball. Ben the rapist would have thrown that ball. Drew Bress would have thrown that ball. Tom Brady would have thrown that ball.

    Not that Tannehill is anywhere near those guys but I’m glad that all day his eyes STAYED down the field!!!!!

    I want his eyes vertically down the field all the time.

    Ya he had two perfect passes into the endzone that were dropped on him but but those were starters who dropped them not a 3rd string TE!!!!!!

    Guess who caught the ball?

    If you want another point to talk about lets zero in on that. Parker CAN NOT drop passes on his hands in the end zone!

    No starting receiver for the Dolphins should be allowed to drop a pass that hits them right on the hands!

    The steelers benched markus Wheaton after his two drops and they wernt for a sure TD.

  5. Brian, even the best receivers drop passes…..

  6. @Jay

    Yes they absolutely do but drop passes but dropping TD passes is not as forgivable and not when it has plagued us since day one this year.

    If the Dolphins are going to win games they need to make those and cut down on the dropped TD passes not incress them per game as the season goes on.

    I will say the one the TE dropped was a hard one to catch. It was a beauty though but Tannehill put some juice on it to again get it into double coverage and the TE was falling backwards BUT it was right there and went right through both hands.

    Tannehill threw that ball Sunday 30+ yards on a string into double coverage and it was right there. Our Alpha receiver HAS to make that catch.

    @Jay is right – Receivers drop passes

    The Dolphins cant afford it

    1. @Brian agreed. Its detrimental to a quarterbacks development if he cant be confident making clutch throws. My criticism of Tannehill hasn’t waiverd . Hes terrible at picking up the pass rush and adjusting and gets too easily flustered. But that throw was absolutely correct and terribly out of character for him. He plays mostly too conservative and causes sacks because he wont gamble. This time he did and got it. Could it be a one off? Yes. Or could it be the sign of a signal caller finally mounting some confidence? Yes. Should he have just walked in for the 1st down? Probably as its the safer move and given his past performances and receivers tendency to drop easy catches undoubtedly. But he was having fun and showed a glimpse of what he could be with the right mentality. Tannehill has a lot of ground to make up before I even consider keeping him past this season. But ever the cautious optimist says lets see what he does against the Bills. If he stinks up the place than we know it was a fluke. If not then we wait until we play after the Bye. But thanks for getting my back on that throw. It was the right move.

      1. Of course it was a fluke. So in year 5….and after a “good” game TannePuke is now ranked 22nd in QBR, is 2-4, and has more INT’s than TD’s. Can u say Chad Henne revisited?

      2. Look, Gase can say whatever he wants, but I know he’s reading comments on Dolphins Truth.

        Here’s part of what I wrote on Admin’s – MYSTERY IS SOLVED: LAREMY TUNSIL FELL DOWN IN THE SHOWER. MEANWHILE, GASE PRAISES TANNEHILL AGAIN – column written Oct 10, 2016:

        You’re right Admin. If Gase is disgusted with Tannehill getting his butt spanked every time he calls a straight-dropback play, then Gase himself is not studying game films. If he did, he would cringe every time Tannehill drops back to attempt a forward pass anywhere that’s within a five to ten yard width in front of him.

        Against the Steelers, Gase better call for sideline throws and run plays often and heavy. I wanna see draw and screen plays like us Fin Fans have never seen before. The Fins may lose again, but I can stomach that if they at least lose with some dignity.


        Not saying I know that’s what actually happened, but looking at the game against Pittsburgh, is it a coincidence that Gase did with Tannehill exactly what I wrote?…hmmmm…………….

        DT Admin, check out the highlights on the Dolphins against the Steelers and tell me if I’m delusional or not.

        1. Author

          Yes, it was clear to me and you and many others that Gase was to blame for some of the debacles we played earlier this year. He kept trying the same exact pass plays over and over, and then getting mad AT OTHERS for his own strategy. Time will tell if he learned his lesson permanently, or if the Steeler game was just an anomoly.

          1. Well DT Admin, you can’t argue with success. The Dolphins finished a few games with more rushing attempts than all of their running backs combined. That’s inept play calling at it’s best.

            The Dolphins got thru the Steelers game without any real injuries. That’s a plus for their next game.

            1. I meant to say: The Dolphins finished a few game with more rushing attempts by Tannehill than all of their running backs combined.

  7. WOOOOOOO HOOOOOOO I’m just glad one of our 4 wins this season was against Pitt.

  8. Just imagine what the Dolphins could’ve had with the running tandem of Miller and Ajayi.

  9. Hey Admin, your writing and spelling presentation, much improved. Kudos sir.

    1. Author

      LOL, you go it. Just taking an extra minute to proof stuff instead of rushing!

      1. Yes, and it also makes your site look more professional instead of just some cantankerous half-wit who’s only mission is to get people riled up.

        1. Author

          I only like to get the Jets fans riled. I can’t believe we’re not alone in the cellar anymore.

          1. Yes. I feel sorry for Todd Bowles. But the jets did let Fitzpatrick bamboozle them.

            If I’m Todd Bowles, I would get outta Dodge while the get’n is good!

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