I like to freeze-frame certain plays that end up being important. Here are a few things you don’t notice at full speed….

This is the final drive. 2nd and 20 after the grounding flag. On this play, Zach Sieler got a huge sack to make it 3rd and 30. Look in the middle of the picture…#71 is holding Sieler by his pants and trying to drag him down. Refs missed that hold, but it didn’t matter because Sieler got the sack anyway!

This is 4th down. Chargers have 3 WRs lined up on top. It appears Miami has 3 DBs to cover them. Chubb is in a bent stance at the line, with Bethel right behind him. It looks like Chubb is going to charge straight in and Bethel will be guarding the WR closest to the tackle. Excellent disguise! Herbert fell for it. Bethel is looking right at the WR and doesn’t even peek at Herbert.

But instead of going out with the WR, Bethel blitzes. The WR is open right behind him, and it looks like he is the responsibility of Holland, who’s stepping up behind him. It becomes a moot point. Bethel is too fast. Herbert sees Bethel and tries to shift right, but surprise! Jalen Phillips is there waiting. Game over!

In the photo above, it’s almost certain that if Herbert throws it right away, that WR between Bethel and Holland is open. But he hesitated.

And now below, you see the same play. Look at the top right. As the play developed, Herbert actually had THREE guys wide open. You also see Phillips getting hooked in the face (no call). But again, Bethel’s speed gave Herbert no chance to throw to any of the three open guys. You can tell Herbert is looking to his right, so the 3 guys on top must not be his initial target. By the time he realized that target #1 was covered, it was a doomed play.

And my favorite picture is below. This is first down, when Herbert threw the intentional grounding. Look at the top right, 35-yardline. That dude was open for a huge gain. Huge! Herbert was too slow going through his progressions and decided to throw the ball away rather than find that easy completion on top. We got very very lucky!


  1. Like I wrote before, it really makes you wonder if Fangio would have called those blitzes, if they were 3 points ahead, and not 2. When I saw the game again, I definitely did notice the brilliant disguise that Bethel used on his blitz. Would still like to see at least a Few more (different styled) blitzes, mixed into Fangio’s game plan, and hopefully he is planning that also, like how about this week vs. the Pats.
    What has to improve the most for our D – is the awful runs against us, that were there all day for them. You know Bellicheat will be exploiting that weakness to the Max. They beat the bills on the road last year, totally sticking to the run, due to the awful weather, and it worked for them.

    1. Author

      Agreed. Sanders’ missed PAT made Fangio (and our D players) bear down.

  2. I know he makes the big bucks, but if I was the coach I’d have Xavien Howard on a short leash. If he makes more than 1 penalty per game he should be benched for the rest of it. His laziness has been costing us a lot lately. I don’t see him ever returning to being a player who gets 3+ interceptions per season. We’re lucky to get 1 from him nowadays.

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      Our reader Sean has been saying this as well. X has certainly regressed. I’m not giving up on him yet. He has to adjust to Fangio’s zone defense, and I’m trying to remain optimisitic.

  3. Author

    Also, I’ve said this a thousand times in the NFL…when the game is on the line, the quarterback MUST know the entire situation. 4th and long with the game on the line. Justin Herbert has to know that it’s his final shot. He cannot take a sack no matter what. Yet he did, which is good for the Dolphins.
    In that situation, he should have just heaved the ball up for grabs. You’re about to get sacked anyway, and you have nothing to lose.
    Or, fumble it on purpose. Maybe by some miracle, a teammate picks it up and scampers ahead. It gives you a slim chance at least.
    It’s sort of like a last-second desperation play when guys are just lateraling the ball backwards. The one thing you absolutely cannot do is get tackled. Just flip it backward or fumble on purpose. At least that keeps the game alive. Justin Herbert did us a huge favor by not even trying.

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