Edwin Pope was among the few Dolphins writers who, most of the time, told it like it is. The current beat writers still walk on eggshells when it’s time to critique Adam Gase and Clueless Joey Philbin. Pope was a little more outspoken, and a lot more brave. He even questioned the great Don Shula, a man 10 times more powerful than Gase and Philbin put together.
Here’s a link to Pope’s coverage of the last Dolphins’ Super Bowl, a blowout loss to the 49ers. I admire him for bringing up the hard questions. http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/nfl/super-bowl/article129557229.html
You’ll note that his writing style was honest. The questions he brought up were legitimate.
Why did we abandon the offensive playcalling that netted us 10 points so fast? Does that question sound familiar? It should, because I ask the same question almost every week after watching Adam Gase’s playcalling.
Why did we have no answers when Bill Walsh threw 8 DBs on the field each play, daring us to run the ball? Seriously, this is unheard of nowadays, but the 49ers spent the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarters playing with 3 down linemen, Zero linebackers, and 8 defensive backs spread across the field.
That should have been a recipe for 49er disaster, but it worked to perfection because Shula/Mario stubbornly refused to run the ball. Does that sound familiar too? What an insane alignment, you would think, if we just ran up the middle all day long. But no. It was baffling that we kept trying to pass. The Dolphins handed off only 8 times that game. Eight running plays when the opponent only had 3 guys on the line against your 5 offensive linemen, including a Hall of Famer in Dwight Stephenson.
Why did we have no answers for the 5-yard screen passes to Roger Craig? Joe Montana made a career out of tossing dump passes to his running backs in an era when RBs weren’t expected to catch the ball. I can understand that those plays fooled defenses…AT FIRST. But a few years later when you know it’s coming and still do nothing to stop it? The 49ers feasted all day on short passes to the RBs and TEs, and we had no answers.
Why not give more playing time to your best defenders, such as A.J. Duhe? Does that sound familiar too?
Same type of stuff I say each week. Same Dolphin problems for 30+ years now. We stop running effective plays. We do not change ineffective plays. Edwin Pope challenged the mighty Don Shula on that 30 years ago, when everyone else was saying, “No worries. Marino will get them next year.”
Obviously, Edwin Pope was a writer I admired because he wrote the truth, and he asked the tough but meaningful questions.
By the way, I remember that game, and I’ve always maintained a few excuses that contributed to the big loss. Even the great Edwin Pope wouldn’t allow these excuses, but I think these are still pertinent:
Here are a few lesser-known tidbits from that day.
Freddie Solomon clearly fumbled the ball in the red zone, and we recovered. But the refs rarely sided against Joe Montana, so the 49ers kept the ball. All in the days before instant replay.
The Super Bowl was a home game for the 49ers. The first and only time a Super Bowl was played right in the back yard of one of the teams.
Reggie Roby choked. He punted 6 times and got it past 40 yards only ONCE. His net average was 30 yards. 30 yards. When you punt from your own 40 and the opponent takes over at its own 40, you cannot blame the refs or Dan Marino or anyone.
Kim Bokamper had Montana dead to rights for a sack early in the game when we led, but Kim fell down and the 49ers went on to score. In Bokamper’s previous Super Bowl, he allowed Joe Theismann to swat the ball away from him because Kim didn’t go up and grab the ball. Two Super Bowls in a row where Kimmy let us down.