To say that the last four weeks have been frustrating is a gross understatement! The Miami Dolphins have been in position to win football games multiple times, but haven’t made the game-changing play to overcome the dropped pass, the blown coverage or the missed assignment! Sitting at 0-4 in the AFC East looking up at the New England Patriots (3-1), Buffalo Bills (3-1) and New York Jets (2-2) is not where this team envisioned itself going into the bye week. Now it is time to evaluate what needs to change schematically on both offense and defense, and make the necessary adjustments in personnel if needed. This team needs to figure it out fast because the hole that they find themselves in for the most part is self inflicted and there’s still time to correct it on Oct 17th verses the Jets! Here’s my stance on what needs to be addressed from the San Diego game moving forward.
1) Take Advantage Of Scoring Opportunities – This is a topic that has stunted the growth of this offense and has kept the Dolphins offense from potentially winning games. It looked like this habit was going to go away for good when back-up quarterback Matt Moore, filling in for a injured Chad Henne, moved the team flawlessly in his first drive. Moore hit rookie Charles Clay down the middle for a 31-yard gain into the red-zone, and converted the drive into a one-yard touchdown run by Lex Hilliard. That all came crashing down when in the second half, the Dolphins offense step up shop on the San Diego 25-yard line! A loss of five on first down and a sack of minus six on second down had this unit moving in the wrong direction! Moore to Brandon Marshall for 13 yards on third down gave placekicker Dan Carpenter, (he has made six field goals in a row) the opportunity to convert from 41 yards out, but that only tied the score at 10-10! This team needed to move the ball 25 yards to take the lead going into halftime, and receiving the opening kickoff to start the third quarter!
2) Too Many Blown Assignments – The points and the big plays came far too easy for the San Diego’s play makers on Sunday afternoon. Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson’s 55 yard touchdown reception from quarterback Phillip Rivers was a perfect example of giving away points! Both safety Yeremiah Bell and cornerback Sean Smith bit on the inside move allowing Jackson to slip past the bracket coverage behind the coverage for a easy touchdown. Rivers to Jackson accounted for 3 receptions for 108 yards all in the first half. The 55-yard touchdown was set up by wide receiver Malcom Floyd’s 15 yard reception and running back Ryan Mathews 24 yard catch and run. All three plays were all examples San Diego taking advantage of either missed tackles or players not executing the defensive scheme.
3) It’s A Third Down Problem! – We knew going into this game that the Chargers offense led the entire NFL in third down conversions at 62 percent. They didn’t reach that mark on Sunday, but converting at 50 percent (7 of 14) kept the Dolphins defense on the field and gave the Chargers multiple opportunities for the big play. Miami’s inability to get off the field led to the Chargers controlling the clock and limiting the offensive chances for the Dolphins. Conversely, Miami’s offense was only three of ten on third down (30 percent) and never seemed to gain any momentum after the first quarter scoring drive that ended in a touchdown.
4) Big Plays – This is an area that the Dolphins have had there share of success and failure throughout the season. Sunday was one of those days where the offense didn’t produce enough “chunk” plays and the defense allowed San Diego to take advantage of opportunities down the field. Quarterback Matt Moore’s first play from scrimmage was a bullet down the middle to Charles Clay for 31 yards, but that was the last big play of the day for the offense. There were other chances to move the football down the field for the Dolphins, but missed opportunities and dropped balls halted the momentum. San Diego’s offense connected on five plays of at least 20 yards, and four of them were passes that went for at least 40 yards!
5) Stop Hurting Ourselves – The bye week comes at a time where this football team needs to stop and take a look at what continues to plague this entire group! This roster has enough talent to overcome adversity and play to a higher standard, but it’s easier said than done! Head Coach Tony Sparano said that his job now is to go back and evaluate scheme and personal, trying to find the right balance to turn this team towards a victory. The first victory of the season against the New York Jets on Monday Night Football has a nice sound to it, but there’s plenty of repair work needed to get this group of men to execute and believe in what there trying to accomplish.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.