Failures on Film: Breaking Down the 7 Worst Plays from Dolphins VS. Bills
There are moments during a football game when all you can do is shake your head wondering if what you are seeing could actually be happening. Unfortunately for Dolphins fans there were plenty of those instances during Sunday’s game against the Bills. Instead of vaguely demanding change because of issues in the coaching staff, this article will dissect five specific moments from the game that show you just how far off Joe Philbin and his staff are.
7) Sammy Watkins Burns Brice McCain for a Huge Gain.
Deja-vu. For two straight games we have watched opposing offenses attack the Miami Dolphins’ secondary in the same way. This week, Tyrod Taylor took advantage of a look he saw in the Dolphins’ matchup with the Jaguars when Allen Robinson beat Brice McCain for a huge play up the left sideline. Well, this week Sammy Watkins did the honors.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing twice. For two consecutive weeks, Kevin Coyle has refused to let Brent Grimes shadow the opposition’s number one receiver, resulting in huge issues for McCain. He seems to even be against letting Jamar Taylor, a much better outside corner, play his true position. Coyle sticks to his guns, and it continues to hurt Miami.
In my eyes, this is a play that Grimes would have prevented. We have seen Grimes defend this pass many times, reaching up using his athleticism to deflect the ball before it falls into the receiver’s pocket. Well, Brice McCain cannot make that play, and Kevin Coyle seems highly opposed to giving opportunities to players who can. Plenty of the Miami Dolphins’ problems in the secondary could be solved by letting Jamar Taylor play outside corner over McCain, and shadowing the opposition’s number one receiver with Brent Grimes.
6) Kyle Williams Beats Dallas Thomas, Forcing Tannehill Into a Throw-Away on 3rd Down
This play just looked like a comedy of errors. At first glance, Dallas Thomas just gets manhandled. You see him blocking Williams, then suddenly Williams is in the quarterback’s face. But if you look closer you will actually see TWO Dolphins offensive lineman fail miserably.
Jason Fox actually blocks the defensive end straight into Dallas Thomas, freeing Kyle Williams to run in for the pressure on Tannehill. It’s honestly as if this team has never seen a defensive lineman rush the outside. Jason Fox is completely unaware of the situation, and his lack of awareness costs the Dolphins dearly in this case. The team was down by two scores and just starting a drive. This is the type of mistake that can seriously cost you football games based on ridiculously poor play. Rex Ryan’s blitz does its job, and a bit extra by making the Dolphins’ offense just look silly.
5) Walt Aikens Misses Read Entirely, Gives Up Touchdown to 7/11
This play is clearly a miscommunication. Walt Aikens is supposed to shift over the top to help out Jamar Taylor, who assumes rightfully that the other guy he is relying on will do his job. Wrong. Aikens doesn’t shift correctly, and gives up the huge play to another ex-Dolphin. In the still below you can clearly see the point at which Aikens is supposed to move to the boundary to play coverage over the top, but he fails to do so and gets caught behind the receiver, giving Tyrod Taylor an easy touchdown throw.
This play is alarming simply because Kevin Coyle is a secondaries coach. He spent years at that position in Cincinnati, and now seems unable to manage his own group. Yes, he has to manage the entire defense. But we have seen Coyle spend plenty of time with the defensive backs, and it is alarming that he cannot get them playing at a suitable level. This one snap is a showing of how a single discrepancy in coaching or awareness can kill in the midst of a game.
4) Jarvis Landry Gets the Ball on a 3rd Down Sweep Play
WHY? WHY? HOW? WHAT?
Where is the power set? Where is the extra man to block? Where is powerback Jonas Gray, just called up from the practice squad? This just shows the ridiculousness of the offensive play-calling for this team. Does Bill Lazor think he is going to catch defensive mastermind Rex Ryan off guard? The end-around is a cool play on 1st and 10. Second down I am also not overly opposed. On third and short, it is just not even fair to call that play.
I believe this is partially due to Lazor’s tendency to outsmart himself. He thinks that he has to show his offensive prowess and call a surprise play. Unfortunately it is just as simple as signing a fullback, and letting him lead a running back up the middle for a short gain. Play calls like this are why Miami struggles on third down and at the goal line: lack of commitment to a power running attack.
3) Kelvin Sheppard Gets Smacked
Richie Incognito wanted his revenge on Miami? He got it. On one play.
The Bills handed the ball to Karlos Williams up the middle, and Incognito is called on as the pulling guard. He comes across, gets past the line, and absolutely slams into Kelvin Sheppard. I am not operating under the assumption that Sheppard would have otherwise made the tackle, but this play is clearly made even easier for Buffalo by Incognito’s ability to render Kelvin Sheppard completely useless. Jamar Taylor and Reshad Jones don’t do much to help, but this play really began with Kelvin Sheppard taking a poor angle, then being unable to stand his ground against Richie Incognito, who blindsides him to knock him off balance and spring Williams free.
It is clear that the Miami Dolphins need to fix the inside linebacker position. Suh is occupying so many blocks that the team’s inside force should be able to clean up shop with some degree of ease. Kelvin Sheppard is unable to do so, and it is not fair to ask undrafted rookie Zach Vigil to come in and start immediately. The Dolphins will head into the 2016 offseason with upgrading the linebacker position at the top of their to-do list.
2) Miami Converts a 2nd & 10 Into a Manageable 3rd & Short, But Gets Called for a Hold.
Dallas Thomas has been the ultimate drive killer for Miami. He (and the rest of the offensive line to be fair) are constantly being called for holding. The team continuously gets themselves into good position, only to have the ball yanked back 10-yards by a penalty. It shows a complete lack of discipline, and an inability of the Dolphins’ coaching staff to make the necessary adjustments.
Joe Phiblin has not usually led a penalty ridden team. Unfortunately, the Dolphins are now getting caught up in trouble with referees. This shows that Coach Philbin might be losing control of his team. Well, we really know that Philbin is losing control of his team, but when you are driving down the field down by seven in the first quarter, it would be nice to not receive a drive-killing holding call. If the Dolphins want to make any kind of turnaround this season, they will have to clean up the mindless penalties, starting with holds.
1) Everything That Could Go Wrong, Did Go Wrong
Charles Clay. We knew it would happen. Big Play Clay kills the Miami Dolphins for the Bills’ opening touchdown here, and it was not pretty. This play exemplified all of the issues facing the Miami Dolphins’ defense, in abount 8-seconds of pure brutality.
First, the pass rush allows Tyrod Taylor six-years to throw the ball (hm, I wonder if it’s thanks to the play-action passes we can’t call). Seriously, he could’ve been checking twitter back there. Then, Koa Misi is unable to hold coverage. Well, we knew that would happen going into the season given his struggles in that area of his game. Then, tackling comes back to bite us in the ass. Yeah, everyone who could miss Clay misses him, letting him make us look stupid as he walks into the end zone.
This play was just embarrassing. We knew we had lost at this point. To open the game with that score is infinitely demeaning, and it would be hard for a team not to quit after that. The coaches showed that they have made no effort to improve in any area of the team’s play here, allowing all of their main pitfalls from last week to come back and haunt them on one play. This touchdown will hurt for a while Dolphins’ fans, and until Joe Philbin and his staff improve the team’s play, this could exemplify their struggles. Anything that could go wrong, did go wrong. And it was really just sad.
This loss hurt even more after breaking down each of these plays. The mistakes made were so simple, and the oversights were so basic that it seems impossible for a team to lose this way. The Miami Dolphins came in with very little energy, and actually seemed unprepared for this game. They allowed Buffalo to exploit then just like Jacksonville did, and they made the same mistakes en-route to another embarrassing loss. This one stings now, but hopefully the team can learn from their errors in the last two weeks. Of course there is very little chance of that happening given that they haven’t even learned anything at this point, but it seems that the errors made by the team are coachable. It is just a matter of how much more time Joe Philbin has to work out these issues before Mr. Ross decides that his time with this team is over.