Highs and Lows of the Dolphins’ Defense’s Loss to the Denver Broncos

The Highs:

It’s always hard to pick out some high notes after a loss, but there are a few.   First, we’ll give props to our offensive line.  Down two left tackles, Jason Fox stepped in and stepped up.   Tannehill had a good game in part because of Fox and friends.   Not too many teams could survive the loss of both their tackles, but we have so far.   The backup linemen have excelled.

Ryan Tannehill is for real.   The inteception at the end hurt, but it wasn’t a horrendous pass, just a little too much zip for Landry to handle.  T-hill got in the endzone five times against a decent defense in the cold.   We got us a keeper at QB.

Jarvis Landry and Mike Wallace.  Their touchdowns weren’t enough to get it done, but that is hardly their fault.  Both guys seem to find the endzone each week.

John Denney.  His hustle is amazing.  How does he always end up with fumbles?

Now the LOW.   Low, as in singular, not plural.

The defense cost us this game.   You can’t ever allow any opponent 39 points and have something good to say.   The line had hardly any pressure on Manning.  As we pointed out all week, and as the Rams proved last week, the way to beat Manning is to beat him up.   Sitting in coverage will fail.  Hurrying him will fail.  Forcing him to handoff will fail. The ONLY way to beat him is to pound him, yet the Dolphins had no answers.  They didn’t touch him.

For example, Miami did a decent job taking away the WR screen passes. Manning either missed the pass or else completed it for short gain.  But that is meaningless.   Unless you hit Manning into next week, you will lose.   It’s embarrassing that the lowly Rams pounded Manning all day long, while we were content to drop three defenders inside to stop a screen pass.

A third-string undrafted and unknown running back lit it up against us.  This happens far too often when we lose.  Detroit and KC used third-stringers against us too and beat us.   There must be something in Kevin Coyle’s schemes that don’t account for all players.  Unexplainable.

Jimmy Wilson took an awful penalty by head butting some Bronco to keep a drive alive.

Number 3 overall pick Dion Jordan continued to do nothing.

The linebackers filled no holes in the running game.  Denver had a good plan to stop Odrick, Mitchell, and Starks up the middle.  That means the linebackers had to fill the gaps, but they were busy getting knocked on their  butts.

As for a final analysis, this is a disappointing loss but not a heartbreaker. We get zero victories just for keeping it close.  But the fact that it wasn’t a blowout is positive.  We have a strong team.   We are better than Buffalo and they beat us.  We are better than Detroit and they beat us too.

A tough loss to end November might be the wakeup call we need to have a strong December.  And guess what?  Our next win is December 1 at the Jets.


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  1. If you had told me before the game that we would score 36 points on the road against Denver, have an 11-point lead going into the 4th quarter, and that Tannehill would have a 3 to 1 td to int. ratio and still lose I would have called you crazy. Now Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning. What he did today in front of his home fans is no surprise. He’s an elite qb that does what he is supposed to do at home. And I also have no doubt that if this game was in Miami we would have smoked them. But how in the hell do we give up 200 yards rushing to anyone. Especially an offensive line as beleaguered as the Broncos? Apparently they took all the criticism to heart and came up with a fervent performance. Our defense has won us many more than they’ve lost but I expected a better effort. In games versus opponents like this our margin for error is microscopic and that jumped route by Jamar Taylor on 3rd and 20 might be what swung the game. Taylor actually played a decent game before getting hurt but that play was huge. And as usual the injury bug did us no favor as he is projected as being out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. We can’t catch a break. If we still somehow manage a wild card we should make it to the Super Bowl. That’s the only way karma can balance itself out to me with the lack of breaks we have gotten in close games and the rigid schedule we were given.

  2. Nice analysis- I think you are spot on.

    Here are some random thoughts:

    Denver- 50% pass, 50% run (35, 35)
    Miami- 65% pass, 35% run (36, 21)
    We need to run 30+ times to win consistently.

    Phillip Wheeler- 1 tackle. A LB with one tackle, especially with how often DEN rushed is absolutely pathetic. Thanks Jeff!

    Jimmy Wilson is a special teams player and has no business playing on downs 1-3 (which leaves 4th down, kickoffs, punts, and extra points). He’s a coverage liability. Next time he’s in coverage, watch his feet- they are planted and motionless until the receiver is already on him, or has made his break. QB’s get a chubby when they see him in coverage.

    Why do we go 3 deep at RB during a game?? RB’s get in a rhythm and how do we ever expect Lamar Miller to have a big game when he can’t get more than 11 carries??!?!

    Brandon Gibson is as good as gone next year. 2 fumbles??
    Gibson: $3m/year. Jarvis: $500K per year. Tough choice….

    Speaking of Jarvis- absolute stud! The only reason he ran a 4.79 at the combine was because he was coming off a hamstring pull. His agent told him not to run. While he’s not a 4.3, he sure as hell ain’t no 4.79!

    When Cam Wake can’t get pressure, he widens out his pass rush. Manning saw this, audibled to an off tackle run and made us pay late in the game. He’s got to set the edge whether he’s getting to the QB or not.

    Why do the Dolphins hate screen passes so much??

    Denver’s 2 point conversion (and much of their other offense) was a blatant pick. DEN and NE get away with way too much of this sh*t. I would love someone to do the math on how much of their 5,000 yards each season Brady and Manning get from uncalled picks. This needs to be the NFL’s next “point of emphasis”.

    Note to DEN’s remaining opponents- when in the red zone, Manning likes to throw to D. Thomas (#88). Apparently Kevin Coyle couldn’t catch on to this (no pun intended)….

    Koa Misi is obviously a great athlete, but a MLB he is not. MLB is all about instincts. That’s why non physical freaks like Zach Thomas and Mike Singletary were so good at it. At best, Misi can be a decent SLB like Matt Roth was (who also made the move from DE to SLB and shut out Antonio Gates at home a few years back when we played SD).

    Someone please tell Rashad Jones there is no point playing standing 4 yards in the endzone when the other team is outside the 10 yard line. Passes caught 1 yard, or 9 yards in the end zone still count for the same number of points.

    Mike Wallace might not get a lot of catches (and still is a body catcher) but he sure does open things up for whoever plays tight end. Sims had a very good day and was open a lot. I can only imagine what Clay would have done if he was out there.

    -BIG J

    1. Author

      Big J…. I haven’t paid too much attention specificially to Misi, but you may be onto something, and you got us thinking. When I re-watched some of this game, I see what you mean. The instincts might be there, but they are slower than other MLBs

  3. Denver made the adjustments on offense and defense at halftime, we didn’t on defense, end of story, ball game….oh by the way the offense played their hearts out. Receivers stepped up and made some tough catches when we needed them. Tanny made some nice throws and seemed to be on target all night. I see improvement every weekend on offense, but for some reason the defense is regressing? Coyle better get this thing figured out by next weekend or this season is a goner.

  4. As has been (basically) said, this loss was tough because of the breakdown of the defense. It wasn’t as if we were firing on all cylinders and they just happened to beat us.

    Up until now, I thought we were a “2nd half team”. The defense just seemed to lose momentum for what reason I can’t figure out.

    That 4th quarter was painful, but as with our other difficult losses hopefully they’ll learn whatever lessons they need to learn and move on & be strong.

    1. Author

      Yes, agreed that a lesson can be learned. And we also have to learn that Denver’s offense is incredible and record setting, and giving up 39 to an awesome offense isn’t the end of the world. Now we have some shabby offenses coming up in December, so there is still time for a miracle playoff berth.

  5. one thing. How can you go into a game vs manning and run a base defense the whole game? mind boggling to me. it makes me sick. you have to give your playmakers and opportunity to make plays. this one is on kevin coyle. absolutely pathetic. he should be fired immediately. you think belicheck runs a base defense against peyton manning? what a joke

    1. Author

      Excellent post, Greg. What happened is that Kevin Coyle bought into the Manning hype. The wisdom is that “if you blitz Manning, he is too good and he will see it coming.” So instead, Coyle decided to “trick” Manning and not blitz too much and stay in the base D. But the joke was on Coyle, and he never adjusted.
      Sometimes you CAN let Manning see it coming, just like the Rams did last week to him. Let him know it’s coming and let him see it coming. Hit him every play. Knock him on his ass every other play. If Jimmy Wilson is stupid enough to hit someone late, let it be Manning. THAT is how you win.
      How could Coyle watch the Rams destroy Manning and instead of copying it, he ignored it?

  6. Stick a fork in it guys this season is over. It was a great run, but just not enough on defense to weather the storm against top offenses. This is beginning to remind me of the Marino era, lots of offense, but zero defense when it counts. No balance = a trip home for the playoffs again. The best we can do now is 9-7 and that is not nearly enough to get us a wildcard spot.

    1. Author

      Sadly, I think Fairly Odd is Fairly Correct. It is possible, though not probable, that we finish at 11-5. That record might get us to the playoffs, but no guarantees. More than likely we finish at 9-7 or even 10-6. I don’t see either of those getting us to the playoffs.
      The defense picked a bad week to miss the team plane to Denver.

  7. Thanks admin. What’s sad is that I think we have a lot of talent on our team this year and our coaches are the ones that are costing us games. It is very disappointing

  8. Out of all this worthy and accurate discussion, nobody is even mentioning that Denver was unable to stop our offense for the entire game. Its the Denver Broncos not Buffalo, expect them to score a lot. We did too and would have retaken the lead if not for the Dback from Denver pulling on Landry’s shoulder making the ball slip through his hands causing an interception. Watch the replay, most likely P/I which wasn’t called. They needed to cheat to beat us and all the penalties on their Defense proved that because they couldn’t stop us all game. They were scared into making outrageous penalties just to prevent plays and scores. Geez guys they only won by 3 pts not 30! Wanna be upset about something. Watch the replay for the tipped ball and tell me that’s not pass interference! That cost us the game . They simply got lucky.

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