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Andy Cohen: Opening The Mailbag
By on November 13, 2013 at 5:55 am

131113_AC_AMAndy Cohen In The Morning appears every Monday through Friday until the end of the season. The column is posted each day at 6 a.m.

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins. Andy will answer questions every other Wednesday throughout the season.

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Q. Andy, give us a light at the end of the tunnel. Tell us what Dol-Fans have to look forward to these days. @markmfins23

AC: OK, I’ll put on my good news cap and tell you that with a 4-5 record they remain in the playoff conversation, although currently on the outside looking in. More good news: If they can win some games down the stretch they do own tiebreaker advantages over both Cincy and Indy, two quality teams they have beaten. But they need to get it right in a hurry and they can’t start games the way they started against Tampa Bay.

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Q. Rishard Matthews? Where did this guy come from? @Robinfreen233

AC: Matthews was a seventh-round pick out of Nevada in 2012. Caught a lot of passes in college from 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. This is a story like many others you often hear about. A player waiting for his chance and seizing that opportunity. In this case his chance was a season-ending injury to Brandon Gibson. Matthews clearly has a huge upside. His 11 catches on Monday night equaled what he did all of last season.

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Q. Andy, tell us why this team didn’t come out with a sense of urgency against Tampa Bay? Instead, they seemed to be sleep-walking out there. @toughguy665

AC: I wish I knew. I expected much more early on. I expected to see a team on a mission in that first half. I was befuddled by the lack of enthusiasm and by an almost workmanlike approach to a game that has to be played with emotion. The coaches need to do a thorough evaluation as to why this happened. It’s hard to read minds; in this case I wish I could.

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Q. Until the Dolphins were in a two-minute drill, the offensive line seemed to be pass blocking reasonably well. Is that what you saw? @CynthiaMoore23

AC: Yes, I thought the pass blocking was decent for much of the game, although Ryan Tannehill was clearly getting rid of the ball in a hurry. Where the offensive line struggled was on run blocking. There were no holes. No creases. The blocking, or lack there of, on the play that resulted in a Tampa Bay safety was especially troubling.

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Q. Andy, what do you read into Stephen Ross failing to endorse Jeff Ireland in his pre-game press conference? @marlboro322

AC: I’m truthfully not sure what to read into it. He didn’t speak negatively of Ireland; he simply spoke in glowing terms about Coach Joe Philbin. I believe Ross will let this investigation play out before making any important decisions. Right now, there are more questions than answers and it’s important not to pass judgment until we have those answers.

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Q. What have they got against the players drafted in the first two rounds? @DaveOrv41

AC: You must be asking why we are not seeing more of No. 1 pick Dion Jordan and No. 2 pick Jamar Taylor? The question is a valid one, although in Jordan’s case he is trying to crack the deepest area of the team. Having said that, I expect to see more of him in the final seven games. As for Taylor, he was slowed by injuries early on. The bottom line here is that the Dolphins have Nolan Carroll rated ahead of Taylor and when Dimitri Patterson is healthy, that’s another player Taylor must pass on the depth chart. I never judge drafted players until their second season so unfortunately we’ll have to wait longer to form conclusions.

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Q. Do you know why Ryan Tannehill can’t throw a good deep ball in bounds to Mike Wallace all season? @DOLHINSGM2012

AC: Very troubling. I can count seven times this season when Wallace was open deep and the result wasn’t a touchdown. A few of those seven passes were completed, but Wallace had to slow down to catch them. Others, like the one in Tampa Bay Monday night, were just poor throws. Tannehill has taken ownership of this. “I have to get better at that,” he said Monday night. Certainly, though, it has to be a source of frustration for Wallace.

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Q. Do we still have a chance for the playoffs? What has to be done to get there? @JohnnnieJH

AC: Yes, the math says the Dolphins are clearly in the playoff hunt. I figure with a 4-5 record, the Dolphins have to get hot in a hurry. They probably need to win six of their remaining seven games. I don’t think a 9-7 record would get them in.

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Q. Isn’t the offensive line the only issue that is costing us games? @wsllwm

AC: It is a significant issue, probably the greatest issue, but not the only issue. The running backs need to play better, even if the holes aren’t there, and the defense needs to do a better job stopping the run and stepping up in the fourth quarter.

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Q. It is clear to me that the strength of this team is the hurry-up offense using Ryan Tannehill to fire off one pass after another. Why don’t we stick with this offense for an entire game? @Valsimpkins444

AC: Well, they almost played it for an entire game against Tampa Bay. While I agree with you that the passing game is clearly the best thing this offense does, you can’t survive in this league with a one-dimensional attack. There has to be some threat of a running game. Look back at the games the Dolphins have won this season: The running game showed up in those games and didn’t show up in the losses. That’s not a coincidence.

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Q. Why is Cameron Wake on the sideline at the most critical time of the game in the fourth quarter? @Ztemde

AC: On the surface it makes little sense. But there are things that go on that we don’t always know about. Maybe Wake was winded. Maybe he tweaked something. Maybe the Dolphins remain adamant on rotating fresh bodies since the DL is the strength of the team. I’m not making excuses; just offering possibilities. But yes, from our vantage point, it leaves you wondering.

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Q. Why have the Dolphins not moved Mike Wallace around more to get him additional opportunities? @phinfan2003

AC: They have moved him around some, but the bottom line is that the consistent production just isn’t there and that’s concerning. Monday night Wallace was shadowed by Darrelle Revis, which usually means a long night. There were a few designed plays for Wallace – quick screens etc. – but the Bucs were ready. The lack of big plays from Wallace has to be one of the most frustrating parts of this season.

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Q. I love your columns Andy, but with these Dolphins there is just no way to describe them. @willieapreston1

AC: Somehow, though, I manage to come up with the words to do it. At times, it is a challenge.

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Q. Andy, you interview Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin all the time. What are they like with the media? @Suzannereis999

AC: Incognito was one of the best quotes on the team. Always willing to lend an opinion on anything. Came off as cocky at times. Martin was soft-spoken and usually gave short (though well thought out) answers. You get the impression he didn’t enjoy talking to the media, but simply accepted it as part of his job.

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Q. I’m clueless what to think of this team. Any thoughts? @mattclayton78

AC: The strength is the passing game; the weakness is the running game. The defense runs hot and cold. That about sums up this team. Clearly, some major upgrades are needed.

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Q. Do you know why we always take sacks in the fourth quarter? @DonnieRad

AC: Because in games when they are down late, that’s when the Dolphins have to throw the ball on every down, which makes things a lot easier for the defense and puts added pressure on the offensive line.

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Q. Is Brandon Fields the best punter in the league? @MarjorieL345

AC: I certainly can’t come up with a better one.

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Q. Andy, other than Rishard Matthews, tell us what impressed you most about the Dolphins on Monday night.

AC: Uh, I really liked the all-white uniforms.

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On Thursday, AC in the AM reflects on the 20th anniversary of Don Shula’s 325th coaching victory.

Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns


Please Note:
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.
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