Yahoo Sports ran an article right after the game ended, pointing out the disaster that ensued right after our fake field goal successfully converted into a first down.
I’ll save you some time and summarize it: the writer points out how the Dolphins blew that golden opportunity. That’s stating the obvious. And it offers zero insight and analysis.
So allow me to tell you what really went wrong. And it starts well before the interception.
The Dolphins were driving. We got the ball at halftime and marched all the way down to the Bills’ 13 yardline. Mind you, a lot of that drive was Mark Walton. He was on fire, and the O-line’s run blocking was exceptional all day.
We had taken OVER NINE MINUTES and counting off the play clock. Almost all of this due to Mark Walton leading our most impressive drive all season.
Okay, so first and 10 from the 13 yardline. Flores and/or his unqualified friend (offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea) benched Mark Walton. They called a play for Kenyan Drake instead. Predictably, Drake got stuffed for no gain. At least he held onto the ball this time.
Okay, now it’s second and 10 from the 13. Fitzy hit Drake for a short pass and Drake plowed ahead for 9.
A nice pickup, right? I have to say no.
I pointed this out in our live chat at least 5 separate times: The Dolphins backs and WRs CONSISTENTLY come up short when we need first downs. It’s like they’re taught 9 yards is fine, instead of being taught to lunge forward for an extra yard. I counted FIVE SEPARATE third-and-ones off the top of my head. That is a recipe for disaster.
It seems like the Dolphin backs are taught that 9 and a half yards is fine,m even though we need 10. “Oh, we’re only a yard short. No problem.” Except it is a problem. And it’s consistent. There’s no fight for that elusive final yard. I’m not talking about fighting TOO much, where you start getting sloppy with the ball. I’m talking about just a final lunge forward.
Anyway, now we’re at third and half a yard. A handoff to Mark Walton, who lunges ahead for the first down. Except…
Before we go further, look at my screen shot above. Walton is circled and the ball is in his left arm. It’s about 2 feet PAST the line to gain. His knee is down around the 3, but the ball is much closer to the 2. A first down. A clear and obvious call. But like I said, “Except…”
The refs lost sight of Walton in the pile up and incorrectly ruled him down early. And here is where Brian Flores shows why he was an office-desk worker in the Patriots organization. Why he wasn’t a coach. Here is where he blew the game.
We saw Flores asking for a measurement, and we saw the refs ignore him. For some reason, he could not get their attention. But asking for a measurement was not the right thing to do to begin with.
No, Flores needed to challenge that spot. Look at my shot above. Talk about clear and obvious evidence of where the ball ended up! The review process would have taken 5 seconds and then first down Miami. Flores wasn’t thinking straight. Even if he got his precious measurement, that measurement would have determined that we didn’t get the first down. Because the spot was all wrong.
Flores ended up calling a time out. But he should have challenged. Worst case scenario is you lose the challenge (we wouldn’t have lost, but just for the sake of argument), and lose the time out (which he took anyway!).
Okay, so we’re up 5 points here. A field goal puts us up by 8. That’s essentially 2 touchdowns, since Buffalo would need a conventional touchdown and then another for the 2-pt conversion. I’d take my chances with an 8-point lead, since our D was playing well.
But no, Flores played Xbox Madden again and ran another fake field goal. (Matt Haack is a better rusher than Kenyan Drake, by the way).
So we have a first down. You might think, what’s the big deal about Flores not challenging Walton’s first down when we picked it up later anyway. The big deal is that the Bills defense got fired up. They made that big stop (that wasn’t really) on third down, and got off the field. Special teams blew it, and the D was right back out there, still fired up.
Following the long history of Dolphins Playcalling 101, Miami decided to ignore Mark Walton again. Remember him, the guy who took 10 minutes off the clock on this one drive but running over Bills left and right? Why use him when we can try a pass in which no one blocked Jordan Phillips. And then, let’s double down and ignoring Walton by trying to pass to 6th-string Isiah Ford instead. The pass looked bad, but my guess is that Ford made his cut too late.
The game was soon over. All because Flores was struck with a case of massive indecision that head coaches simply cannot have. His lack of qualification was on display today at its worst, and his pal Chad O’Shea calling pass plays didn’t help.
I’ll give credit to DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki for some nice catches. My knock on Gesicki is that he doesn’t get open! All those passes he caught today were outstanding catches because he wasn’t open and Fitzy had to thread the needle. Imagine when Gesicki runs his routes a little better. Watch out then !