Sometimes to you have accept the inevitable. The opponent is deep in your zone and needs a chip shot to tie the game. Accept that and aim for overtime. Hand them the field goal on the silver platter. Period.
It’s not a terrible scenario.
Joe Philbin’s strategy was to hand them the silver platter, but in a greedy way.
He tried to coax Jim Caldwell into settling for three AND tried to save himself enough time for a comeback after the FG. Both plans failed. Joe Philbin failed.
Do you know how incompetent you must be to get outfoxed by the likes of Jim Caldwell?
We took it a little easy on Joe Philbin yesterday because we didn’t really see any obvious, glaring errors that he made to cost us the Lions game.
However, after re-watching the final 5 or 6 minutes or so, we see the subtle errors, which are just as costly as the typical Philbin errors.
To begin with, you must first analyze the opponent and their coach. Jim Caldwell is among the worst coaches in NFL history. That’s not just my opinion, you can ask Peyton Manning. Caldwell inherited Tony Dungy’s championship Colts and within a few years had them at 2-14. THAT is a bad coach. No enthusiasm, no inspiration, no accomplishments. Just watch him on the sidelines and you see how lost he is.
On Sunday, Joe Philbin was not in a mental war with a Russian chess champion. He was up against an incompetent Jim Caldwell.
A few cases in point before we move on. Detroit was owning the Dolphins at 10-0, eating us left and right and causing a disastrous first quarter. They pinned us back deep every series, and we couldn’t get beyond our own 20 all day. So when Detroit lined up for its second punt, they could have easily pinned us back AGAIN. It was the wise move. The only move. But then Genius Jim called for a fake punt. We stuffed it. We got the ball near midfield and drove. That drive stalled, but this time we pinned back the Lions. The Dolphins now had the momentum. We held and drove again.
This time, we got closer, but Tannehill threw that awful interception. Detroit had stopped whatever momentum we had, and thoughts of making the score 10-7 or even 10-3 were now gone. All Detroit needed to do was keep pounding the ball against the deflated Dolphins.
But no, Genius Jim allowed a long pass attempt on first down. Grimes picked it off. Miami now had everything going their way yet again. It was soon 10-3.
Then 10-6. Then 10-13. Miami had taken advantage of an incompetent coach and were poised for the win. That is how bad Jim Caldwell’s decisions were. You must not forget how awful we all felt in that first quarter. Caldwell let us out of that hole.
So now let’s move ahead to the tie game when we had first and goal with about 5 minutes left. We really needed a touchdown there, and settled for 3. Many of us knew then and there that we’d lose at that point. One of the maddening things about Bill Lazor this year, despite some of his successes, is that he refuses to use our best plays.
On the TD to Wallace, Detroit was lost. Wallace had an easy score. Those short passes were working all day. Throw a screen to Landry, and we end up with at least 5 yards consistently. The lob screens to Damian Williams were picking up 5-10 consistently. When Tannehill rolls out or read-options, he gets 5-10 consistently. So why why why didn’t Lazor use ANY of those plays?
Why does he tamper with success?
I honestly feel that it’s the Philbin influence. Philbin is consumed with down and distance and analyzing formations. What he doesn’t realize is the obvious: Detroit simply could not stop our short screen passes. All day. Not a one. There is NO NEED TO MIX IT up when our basic stuff was successful.
So we settle for 3. We stuff the Lions on three straight passes and get the ball back. It’s Green Bay all over again.
Either go for the throat and try to get 10 lousy yards. Or run it at them and make them burn their timeouts. Those are the only two options. But no, Philbin comes up with option number three: a combination of half-hearted runs, followed by a desperate pass attempt that saved Detroit a timeout. Same exact thing vs Green Bay.
In those two games, we needed a first down to ice each game. Instead, we had 2 different three-and-outs. Six plays total. Five yards total. 4 rushes and 2 incompletes. When the game is most on the line and you have 6 plays, the best you can do is 5 yards combined? And not a single screen to Landry, Wallace, or a RB even attempted?
We punt to Detroit, and here’s where Philbin’s incompetence began to show.
All the pressure was on Caldwell. And as we showed above, he doesn’t do well under pressure and has a series of failures on his resume to prove it.
The main point and the source of pressure on Caldwell was thinking about going for 3 to tie it, or going for a TD to win it. Against Green Bay, we led by 4, so there was no doubt about. The Packers KNEW they needed a TD to win. This was not the case Sunday, because the Lions only needed 3 to tie.
That is a mighty pressure-filled scenario for Jim Caldwell. Not only did he need his team to drive downfield, but he had to worry about the clock. He had to worry about his kicker’s field goal range. He had to worry about taking shots at the endzone (or not). These are all things that plague an inept coach like Jim Caldwell. I guarantee you that Caldwell was only looking to tie it and make it simple for himself. But instead, Joe Philbin is the one who made it simple for him.
Philbin’s flaw was being wishy-washy. Again, it’s typical for him.
It seems like he wanted to preserve time, in case Detroit scored and Miami could get the ball back. It’s not a bad strategy, but only if you do it right. Getting the ball back with 29 seconds left is not helpful.
When Philbin began taking his timeouts on defense, that let Jim Caldwell know that he had more time to play with. If Philbin didn’t call the timeouts, then the clock runs, and Detroit has to play with some urgency. Detroit settling for a field goal becomes more and more probable as the clock clicks away.
Philbin’s huge error was that he only thought about Detroit scoring 3 points and Miami getting the ball back. He did not understand that the more time he gave Detroit, the more endzone shots they would get.
And, sadly, I bet you today that he still doesn’t understand that.