I can only imagine how frustrating it must feel for the players, coaches and fans of the Miami Dolphins on the day after’s this season. This one hurt a little bit more because it was against an AFC East rival in the New York Jets! The Dolphins played the first quarter and a half like a team that was going to shed the mistakes that has been plaguing both sides of the football. In the end, it was the team in the aqua and orange that beat themselves and couldn’t make the plays necessary to get victory number one! Here’s my thoughts on what held this team back against the Jets.
1) Missed Opportunities – Anytime your defense can hold an opponent without a first down for the first 24 minutes of a football game, you would think you’re controlling the pace of the game and leading on the scoreboard. The Jets had a total of 24 yards through four offensive series in the first half, and had the lead! Miami was down 7-6 with 5:45 left before halftime and the 11-play touchdown drive that ensued drove the score to 14-6 Jets at intermission. I know, you’re asking yourself how can that happen? Well, let me try and explain it as simple as I can. When your offense starts two drives at the Jets 47 and 18 yard line and the result is your team is down by four points, that’s a lack of execution! The Dolphins failed to convert on a third and inches, missing a wide open Lex Hilliard in the flat, and then throwing a 100-yard interception to All-Pro cornerback Darelle Revis. Couple that with a possible touchdown when Matt Moore connected with Brandon Marshall for 46 yards, only to see Marshall lose his balance and run himself out of bounds! Lack of efficiency and execution prevented the Dolphins from starting fast and taking a commanding lead that I’m not sure the Jets would have been able to come back from!
2) Can’t Lose The Turnover Battle – All coaches at every level of football always preach that the team that loses the turnover battle ultimately will lose the game! The Dolphins fumbled the football five times, losing only one, but also throwing two interceptions on the evening. Both interceptions were by Revis, and the momentum of game swung when he stepped in front of Moore’s pass at the goal line, and scampered 100 yards for a touchdown. Miami did get one turnover on special teams when reserve linebacker Austin Spitler recovered a fumble on the kickoff coverage team, but it ultimately resulted in points for the Jets on the Revis pick for six!
3) Field Goals Instead Of Touchdowns – Teams that have a lot of momentum find the end zone and score points it seems with regularity. Miami has struggled getting into the end zone and it shows with the lack of points they’ve scored through five games. Placekicker Dan Carpenter was solid again against the Jets, but the lack of punch inside the 20- yard line has prevented this team from winning football games. It’s just not one area that you can single out and say that’s the problem! Dropped passes, penalties, and scheme have resulted in settling for field goals when other teams are converting these situations into touchdowns! I believe that Marshall might be more dominate in between the twenties, but doesn’t use his 6’4 frame to his advantage inside the red zone! The running of Daniel Thomas and possibly the use of a multiple tight end sets just might be something that the Dolphins try next to get six points instead of settling for three!
4) Big Plays – When the Dolphins started out on offense with a run by Reggie Bush for 36 yards on the first play from scrimmage, I just smiled and thought this game would be different from the rest. Even in the second series when Moore found Thomas for 11 yards and Marshall for 20, you had the feeling the Dolphins could dominate the Jets. New York was abysmal on offense early and that was due to the lack of running room and the great coverage down field by the secondary. The Dolphin defense only gave up one drive in the first half, but it changed the game completely! Chunk plays from quarterback Mark Sanchez to to Dustin Keller for 27 yards and to Santonio Holmes for 12 gave New York the spark they were looking for and desperately needed. Back to back 24 yard completions in the third quarter by the Jets kept a drive alive that directly resulted in points that pushed the lead to 17-6 Jets. New York had 295 total yards in the football game, but seven plays accounted for 166 yards in there offense! In the fourth quarter, Sanchez to Holmes ended any Dolphin hopes with a harmless under route resulted in a 38 yard touchdown.
5) Third Down Troubles – The lack of consistency and getting chunk plays offensively has lead to this offense not producing on third down! Through five games, it’s been different issues that has held back this offense from converting on third down. Missing a key block, dropping the football or not finding the open receiver makes it a long day for punter Brandon Fields! This problem started early in the season, and haven’t improved much through five games! The Dolphins were two of thirteen (15%) against the Jets, and five of these chances were in third and manageable situations. Third and one or third and three are conversions that need to correct itself against the Denver Broncos this Sunday!
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.