Joe Philbin is Lost When it comes to strategy, especially late in games

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.

“Wait, what? We lost again?”

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.






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  1. I agree dang it that he just can’t seem to work the clock right to his advantage in close games especially trying to protect a lead late in the fourth quarter.

  2. You mean the same Jim Caldwell who took a team to the Super Bowl his first year and was the OC for the Ravens when they won their last Super Bowl? That guy is the worst coach of all time? The same guy that, to a man, the 7-2 Lions say they’d walk through fire for?

    I’ve noticed that all of your opinions seem to be based on what you hear on espn. Never heard of Theo Riddick, so he must be a scrub. Caldwell isn’t a flashy self-promoter, so he must be horrible. Except he is now 7-2 with a historically dysfunctional team in his first year, and all Theo Riddick does is help his team win.

    1. Author

      No, I mean the Jim Caldwell who LOST in his only Super Bowl appearance and then allowed that team to become 2-14.

      Every player on every team says they’d walk through fire for their coach.

      1. Bad coaches never make it to the super bowl in the first place. Yup, Caldwell is a bad coach just like Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate are average receivers, and Theo Riddick is a third string scrub. Your “analysis” is pathetic.

        Sure doesn’t look like the Dolphins would cross the street for, let alone walk through fire for their coach. Funniest thing is, this time last week you thought the Dolphins were a good team headed for the playoffs. Then reality set in, huh?

        1. Author

          Me? Thinking we were headed for the playoffs?
          In week TWO, I knew we weren’t a playoff-caliber team. I write for this Dolphins fan site, but even I had to admit then when we lost to Buffalo, we were dead. It’s nice to get on small winning streaks, but I’m a realist and I know that we won’t catch New England.
          The Lions will finish second behind Green Bay. You might make the playoffs, but the Dolphins will not. We said it two months ago.

          1. Realist? why have you lost faith in the Miami Dolphins making the playoffs there is still a lot of football games left and the Miami Dolphins will catch New England in Foxboro for a first place show down.

            1. Author

              I don’t think the Dolphin have shown enough to be a playoff qualifier. They lost to Buffalo, which is a terrible, one-dimensional team despite the hype. They lost heartbreakers to Detroit and Green Bay, to playoff teams. We can’t beat the good teams and we squeak past the bad teams (or lose to them). The culture doesn’t change until the head coach changes.

              1. Well the Miami Dolphins surprised me right off the start in beating Tom Brady and the New England Patriots which is about good of a team that can be beat in the NFL which Tom Brady lights up the score board playing the Dolphins and every other team but yeah Dolphins showed they are a contender for the AFC East Division which New England has owned forever seems like but these divisional games coming up will tell the tale of the Miami Dolphins 2014 Season in weather they will make a playoff appearance or not starting Thursday Night against Buffalo.

          2. You never know how things will turn out, but we have a one game lead over Green Bay and are 1-0 against them, so I like our chances. The Packers beat up on bad teams, but have trouble with good ones. Plus their defense is suspect.

            Last time I’m posting on this page, so let me end by saying that your post yesterday was quite disrespectful of a team that just beat you- Calvin Johnson is average and he got shut down yesterday? REALLY??? If you ever want to be taken seriously, you need to stop writing from the perspective of a Dolphins’ groupie.

            1. @Nate agreed the title of the article was troll bait. And guess what that makes you? BTW get your vision checked and good luck to your Detroit Lions. I will be rooting for them to beat the crap outta the Pats.

              1. Author

                Bait or not, have you ever so many blatant facemasking penalties (called and uncalled) committed by the same team in one game? I’m surprised Tannehill’s neck isn’t broken. Add those facemasks to the dirty way that Suh plays, and you have yourself quite a team there.

      2. you do realize that Jim Caldwell’s starting QB in that 2-14 year was Curtis Painter, right? Or the fact that Marvin Harrison, Joseph Addai, and half the defense were gone. It wasn’t anywhere near his 14-2 team. you’re a pathetic excuse for a journalist. Your team is bad and you should feel bad. Go Lions.

        1. Author

          In Caldwell’s 2-14 year, he had a substitute QB and lost 14 games. When Don Shula got stuck with a substitute QB, he lost 0 games. Zero. A perfect record with an old, journeyman second-stringer QB.

  3. When you take time outs to save time in case the other team scores, what message does that send to your defense?

    Hey Joe- it screams, “I don’t think you are good enough to hold them, so let me hedge my bets.”

    Believe in your defense and live with the consequences of that belief. Don’t be a half-stepper…..

    1. He did that same silly stuff last year calling time outs for the other team trying to hold on to a three point lead late in the fourth quarter and time running out for the other team worst scenario is a tie game that goes into over time but no he gives the other team chances to win by calling those uncalled for time outs extra shots in the end zone touch down! you lose ! now if that ain’t good sportsmanship I don’t know what else is. If your going to lose the game lose it in over time and not of silliness.

    2. @Big J

      Thanks for posting exactly what I was thinking. It was a hedge serving either outcome. While I wont disagree with you about what that says about your defense because it could be seen as confident they will keep them out of the endzone and force a FG. To me the ambiguity (Hey Nate I used a big word and spelled right 🙂 ) makes those decisions defined as a coaching style or theory. And to me it can only be defined as ….. wait for it….. conservative. And while conservatism has its time and place I will agree with this article in one way mentioned. The feel of the game , a sense for how things are playing out. That innate sense is what I feel Philbin may be lacking. And by extension we have seen this indecisiveness evident at times from our entire team. This will sadly cement us as half steppers until the culture of this team changes in that regard. Does the firing of Philbin mean the change of that suspect culture? Possibly. I prefer to invest in the hope of change for folks pursuing greatness. Very flawed he is indeed but he’s also shown at least publicly to have some humility. And lets not forget he’s been tending to a very sad time in his life and simply could have been mentally drained. Lets see how we bounce back this Sunday. I got a good feeling.

  4. Author

    Don’t be a half-stepper
    Yep. Philbin is king of the half steps

  5. Totally ridiculous post. We are a good team with a very tough schedule. We lost to a improved Detroit team which has found a way to win at home this year sans three missed second half field goals versus Buffalo. Looking at that game and looking at what Detroit has done to other teams this year there is no way you can blame Philbin for that loss. Did Philbin drop a td in the endzone on third and goal? No Charles Clay did that. Did Philbin dance around in the hole on 2nd and 5 on our next to last drive when we were trying to kill the clock instead of following his blocks and running straight ahead for what could have been a drive-extending/clock-killing first down? No Damian Williams did that. Did Philbin get caught looking in the backfield while the player he was supposed to be covering was streaking past him to endzone for what turned out to be the winning score? No Reshad Jones did that. Stop blaming him for this loss because it’s not his fault. Good NFL teams win at home and this year Detroit is a good team. We got outplayed simple and plain. Give the Lions credit. In a close game the plays made in the clutch will determine the winner. They made more simple and plain. It’s not like we didn’t show up and we sure as hell didn’t get outcoached. We got outplayed in the fourth quarter simple and plain. This loss hurts but it isn’t a bad loss at all.

    1. Oh it was a great exciting football game which I do give credit to the Detroit Lions great number one defense but even still of all the Miami Dolphins blunders it still came down to Dolphins trying to protect a late fourth quarter lead and then you have the silly coaching at the finish to hand Detroit the win so believe what you want to DOLPHGANG I call it as I see it hopefully the coaching will get better in close games like that to know how to pull the win out instead of always the lost.

    2. Author

      Right before Detroit’s final drive, Philbin needs to look Kevin Coyle in the eye and simply say, “Get this done,” with a stern, hardened look on his face. Just make his point and back off and let his stellar defense shine. THAT is a winning attitude. Instead, Philbin is always shown looking up with a dumb look o his face. Look at the photo we posted. Would YOU have confidence in this man? He couldn’t get out of his own way., He had no clue how to manage the clock on that final drive. He planned as it went along instead of already knowing the plan. We do not blame him for the loss, be we is not an asset by any means.

  6. You overstate the importance of having an emotional coach. Is Belicheck emotional? Was Brian Billick screaming at Ray Lewis and company on the sidelines during their Super bowl run? Winning teams win by establishing a winning culture and creating a winning environment. That starts from the owner hiring competent people from top to bottom. From the GM to the headcoach to the guy who manages the equipment. If you have competent people in place you’ll have a chance to win. Philbin isn’t handicapping this team. Years of bad draft choices, questionable moves in free agency, and generally stupid front office decisions have plagued this team. Stephen Ross was clueless as an owner at first but lately it seems his learning curve is starting to kick in. But like I posted before it will take time for Hickey to upgrade this roster completely. As bad a Philbin may be at clock management his gameplans are actually quite good. But in order to fully execute a gameplan the players have to execute on the field. Well as bad as the o-line was in the first half the defense put us in a position to win. We have a physical defensive line. Once we complete the offensive line revamp then this team will be there because as you see we have all the other components to be a contender. I often compare Philbin to Tom Coughlin. Another headcoach often viewed as completely clueless And before anyone laughs remember how before NY won the Superbowl in 2008 they were about to run Coughlin and Eli out of town. And even after they won the second one people still scratch their head at how this guy won two Superbowls. Let alone beat Belicheck. And the answer is that he had some damn good teams. We have a good team that is on it’s way to be a damn good to maybe even great team. We’re probably a draft/free agency of a right guard, big receiver, and nickel corner away from being a very good to great team. Will be in games due to our defensive line. We’ll lose games like the one versus Detroit due to our offensive line. But the blame needs to be assigned to where it properly belongs when it belongs. I was ready to help clean out Philbin’s office after the Green Bay game but this loss wasn’t on him. Matt Stafford just did what he was supposed to do at home. Lead a 4th quarter drive to win and he succeeded. The timeouts were taken to leave us some time on the clock once Green Bay scored. I’m actually convinced that Philbin was confident our defense would hold them to a field goal and the timeouts were taken to make sure that we had just enough time to drive for a field goal to win at the end. The td they scored blew that strategy but that’s just a gamble a coach has to take. Keep blaming Philbin for this if you want and that’s cool. But it’s great to have an actual understanding of what’s happened. Ignorance is bliss though I’ve been told.

    1. my my you just can’t seem to understand having the time to take extra shots in the end zone for a TD to win the game vs the field goal to tie chances are your going to win that battle especially when your just outside the ten yard line with a first down and a good quarter back firing at ya and thanks to the other team stopping the clock to keep giving you the opportunity is about Ignorant as you can get fellow.

    2. @Dolphgang
      Agreed the timeouts and the strategy behind them are ambiguious. Yes they give more time but if your confident your d will force a fg on downs then you save some time to come back and kick your own. Its a matter of style different than the gb game where they had no other option than a td. In that case you let the clock burn. I dont think the timeouts cost us the game this time. by dtroit and bad luck cost us this one.

      1. Y’all got me real good this is The Phil Hendrie Show or something similar to it lol.

        1. Wait? What? Phil Hendire is here?

          1. Yeah and my address is one,two,three, Fun Street.

            1. Western Estates, baby. The only gated community worth living in.

              1. Yeah and the address of Western Estates, 123,Fun Street,baby.

    3. Belichick is not emotional at all, but he is stern. Like Shula was stern. Players need to fear and respect their coach. Remember in the Chiefs game when Hartline took a stupid taunting/golfing penalty that helped cost us the game? And when he came back to the sideline, Philbin said something to him. Hartline got right in Philbin’s face and started mouthing off. Philbin allowed this with no discipline whatsoever. THAT is the type of coach Philbin is. If someone mouthed off to Belichick, they’d be traded to Oakland within the hour. Hell, Wes Welker made a comment about Rex Ryan and Belichick suspended him for it. Welker became an all pro after that incident. Coincidence?

    4. Author

      Interesting you brought up Billick. Brian Billick is the coach who Dolphin Truth wanted to hire before we got Philbin foisted upon us. No one else anywhere was calling for Billick except us. Most other fans were singing the tired old song about “We want Fisher or Gruden or Cowher.” Zzzzzzz.
      I won’t get into all the details again, because I doubt Stephen Ross will ever read this when it’s time for him to fire Philbin. But Brian Billick is a Super Bowl champion coach who openly states his desire to coach again. He was fired from Baltimore, so he has something to prove. Coaches like Gruden and Cowher left coaching on their own. They make over $10 million a year to talk for a few hours a week. Do you think they will put their heart into 100-hours a week coaching jobs when they make $10 million to sit down and make a few comments?
      They have no desire, no drive, no ambition to coach again, and nothing to prove.
      Billick has that fire and passion. His commentary on the NFL Network is incredible; the guy knows football inside and out. And did I mention his Super Bowl championship? Did I mention that he won a Super Bowl with one of the worst offenses in the NFL. Billick made Trent Dilfer into a Super Bowl champion…imagine what he could do with Tannehill.

      1. You make a good point about Gruden and Cowher and Fisher is not doing to good where he is at but Brian Billick got fired when the 0-13 Miami Dolphins beat him so what is there to prove to coach the team that got him fired in the first place.

        1. Give me the coaching job of the Miami Dolphins I do believe I can get it done and I know what to do in the draft I’ve been playing football since I was a kid and followed it and watched the best in coaching of the only undefeated coach in the NFL.

  7. I agree Thursday Night Football in the NFL seems weird as any other day other than Sunday Night Football or maybe Saturday Night Football would be more appropriate and then the regular Sunday games and yeah the Miami Dolphins are a beat up team and I don’t think the game with the Buffalo Bills is a toss up considering the Bills has the Dolphins number right now in beating them three straight and can’t beat the Jets so yeah the Dolphins are a lame duck or fin and yeah I remember the 1980 games with no TV announcer calling the game which I was a kid then visiting in the state of Florida and just so happened to be watching the Dolphins getting beat by the New York Jets the game sucked as not having some kind of play by play announcer and guess I was so use to listening to Larry Munson the voice of the Georgia Bulldogs that made every game exciting to listen to so I turned the TV channel and watched Johnny Weissmuller in Tarzan The Ape Man.

  8. Billick won a Super Bowl because he had a top five defense of all-time. A great runningback in Jamal Lewis and great special teams play with the leagues leading kick returner that year. So the great defense and special teams consistently led to great field position which means Dilfer, who is the textbook definition of a game-manager, usually was put in favorable situations as was the entire offense. And if Billick is such a great qb guru please explain the lack of development of Kyle Boller. Remember him? The qb under Billick that might have single-handily derailed a potential dynasty in Baltimore. Not saying Billick isn’t a forimidable coach. Just saying that he may be somewhat overrated due to winning a Lombardi. Personally I think he’s another Shanahan. Brilliant offensive mind but an average overall coach.

    1. Author

      Yes, but the Dolphins have a Top defense every year, and we never come close. Billick had something a little extra. He draws a demerit for the Kyle Boller thing too, your’e right.
      And also, let’s not forget that Billick gave us our only win in the Scam Cameron 1-15 season!

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