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      by Published on 12-08-2013 11:21 PM     Number of Views: 2019 

      Positives

      * First of all, what a quality win that was. On the road, in the cold, in the snow, in a tough road environment versus playoff competition. It was a gutsy, gutsy win.
      * Props to Daniel Thomas. Many thought DT was done for the year. First, he showed toughness by simply returning to the lineup, but it was his contributions that were huge today. On a day that tough, straight ahead running was needed, Thomas answered the call. He had 105 yards on 16 carries and TD. The biggest run of the day was a 55 yarder that set up the eventual game winning TD in the 4th quarter.
      * The running game churned out a total of 181 yards. Very impressive.
      * Charles Clay. Stud performance. 98 yards on 7 receptions and 2 TD's. His game winner, he busted through tackles to hit pay dirt. There were some other receptions in which he juked defenders to gain extra yards. Clay was a weapon today.
      * Ryan Tannehill has excellent today. He was 20-33 for 200 yards, 3 TD's and 1 interception. He was also effective with his legs. A 48 yard read option helped get the offense going early. 56 rushing yards total Tannehill.
      * The pass protection was great. Considering the opponent and its scheme, the line gave up only two sacks.
      * Mike Pouncey was athletic and got out in front on multiple runs.
      * Brian Hartline's TD catch. A vintage Hartline toe tap.
      * Rush defense. The defense held Pittsburgh and the talented La'Veon Bell to 84 yards.
      * Cameron Wake with a strip, sack. It set up the team's first TD.
      * Olivier Vernon had big tackle on Ben Roethlisberger on 4th down. It was a big tackle. O.V. also garnered another sack to his team leading total.
      * Nolan Carroll was tough in coverage. He had some big passes defensed. None other were bigger than a late PD on a 3rd down in the 4th. The Fins eventually got the ball after a Steelers punt and RT led the offense to a go ahead score.
      * Brent Grimes was up to his usual self today. He had nice coverage during the game.
      * Miami coverage's units were dynamite today. The weather conditions were brutal to cover kicks and yet they were up to the task. Don Jones had a great open field tackle. Marlon Moore had a big stick. Both kicks and punts were covered very well.
      * Jimmy Wilson blocked a punt (technically the punt went one yard so it is a deflection). It was a good aggressive play.
      * Mike Sherman's play calling was good today. He took use of the read option (perhaps could have done more). I like how they took multiple shots deep. He stayed with the run as well. Good day for Sherm.
      * Kevin Coyle used Dion Jordan in some different looks. One that caught my eye is on a passing down, Jordan was inside at DT. Upon the snap, he busted out into coverage.
      * Good challenge by Joe Philbin on the Hartline TD catch.
      * Joe Philbin had his team ready to go and mentally prepared for the cold. It is always tough to play two road games in a row. However, Philbin ultimately had his team up to the task.
      * The team did not quit after the Troy Polamalu's pick six.
      * The offense scored a TD off of a TO created by the defense.
      * 34 points in a win. Miami was the last team in the league to accomplish the 30 point barrier.
      * The team snapped its skid of not scoring a TD in the 4th quarter.

      Negatives

      * The game management by Joe Philbin at the end of the 1st half was awful. First, he let time tick down and did not stop the clock as the Steelers went to punt. Jimmy Wilson then went on to block the punt. For some reason, on 4th and 2, Philbin elected a 53 yard field goal...at a stadium in which nobody kicks long FG's successfully...let alone during a snow event. The kick was run back as Dolphins fans heart's jumped a beat thinking of Alabama/Auburn. The right call, with multiple timeouts, would have been to go for it and see if a closer FG could have been accomplished.
      * The defense let up on the last play. Some players were not set, some looked like they thought the Steelers could not possibly score and looked for someone else to make the play. Fortunately, Brown stepped out of bounds. Both Reshard Jones and Chris Clemons took horrible angles to the ball carrier. This team must literally finish each game.
      * 3rd down offense. The offense was only 5 of 13.
      * 3rd down defense. The Steelers hit on 50% of 3rd downs (8-16). There were also way too many 3rd and long's yielded.
      * 1 to 1 Turnover differential. For the Dolphins to win down the stretch, they have to get this stat on the "plus" side. At the very least today, the Dolphins were even and that was enough to win today.
      * Ryan Tannehill's pick six.
      * The defense gave up a TD after Miami went up ten points. In under three minutes, the Fins were up ten and were down four points.
      * The defense gave up a TD after Hartline's TD.
      * The defense had no answer for Jerricho Cotchery and Antonio Brown.
      * Holding penalties on Mike Pouncey and Lamar Miller on the same drive.
      * Part of the issues on defense is Kevin Coyle's schemes get figured out and there is no "second" adjustment from him.
      * While I liked the read option looks, RT had a few chances to keep the ball for yards. Whether he read it wrong or was told to hand the ball off, more yards could have been earned with the QB keeping the ball. QB's can get injured in this spot, so I totally understand not wanting to expose the QB.

      Overall Assessment

      * Huge win. On the road, in the cold, in the snow, at a tough road venue, against an experienced team still in that is still in the mix...just a big, big win.
      * This win effectively ends the season for the Steelers. The Fins and Ravens are essentially pitted against each other going down the stretch.
      * Ben Roethlisberger is an excellent QB. He is talented and tough.
      * Scoring 34 points on a Dick LeBeau defense is an accomplishment. Props to the players and offensive coaching staff. Regardless of the aging players on the Pittsburgh defense, it still is coached well and has smarts and pride. Nice accomplishment by the offense.
      * Miami overcame adversity today...awesome to see. However, there are other times they cannot handle success. Being up and losing leads is too common this season. It is up to the coaching staff to get this team to improve in understanding the momentum swings of a game.
      * I still think that Mike Tomlin should have been suspended today. The act he pulled on Thanksgiving is disgusting and has no part in the game.
      * The Steelers are dirty. Cameron Heyward threw two Dolphins to the ground. Ryan Clark was head hunting all game. After Big Ben was stopped short of the 1st down, a linemen leveled Koa Misi well after the play.
      * I never want to hear Steelers fans complain about not getting calls. They get calls all the time.
      * What is the exact concussion protocol? How does Ike Taylor get knocked cold and re-enter the game a few plays later? I am confused.
      * How many of us thought of Nick Saban at the end of the 1st half?
      * With the win the Jason Laconfora's and Louis Riddick's of the world can save the "Dolphins made a mistake by signing Mike Wallace" stories or the writing pieces that talk about how the Steelers "don't make personnel mistakes". Maybe they did or maybe they didn't, but at the end of the day they are 5-8 and Mike Wallace's team is 7-6.
      * Here is hoping that Sun Life is packed to the last row and is a loud, inhospitable building for the Patriots.
      * While we will all talk playoff scenarios and that is proper, in my opinion the season was first about making progress. I questioned a few weeks ago if progress had been this year. However, I can say over the last two weeks, progress has been made. That is outstanding to see. There are still three crucial weeks to go to make the final assessment of how much this team has improved this year.
      by Published on 11-25-2013 04:57 PM     Number of Views: 5507 

      Positives

      * The defensive line controlled the Panthers for most of the day. They got good pressure on Cam Newton. They only came away with two sacks, but they pressured Newton into some bad decisions.
      * Credit has to Kevin Coyle for his defense scheme vs. the Panthers. The way he spied Newton and rushed Dion Jordan more was outstanding. The defense missed in some areas, but they did enough to win the game.
      * Nolan Carroll had a great game. Many people were discussing the fact that he and Ted Ginn were squaring off. Carroll got the most of the battle with 4 PD's and an interception.
      * Olivier Vernon was active. He had sack. He just missed another. He also ran down Newton and stopped him just short of a 1st down.
      * Cam Wake was tough today as was Randy Starks with his initial penetration.
      * Props to the defense after the offense turned the ball over on the first series. They forced the offense to a FG attempt that was blocked.
      * Ryan Tannehill was up against a strong defense. He did well considering. 310 yards, 1 TD and 1 Int. The Cover 2 could have gave him issues, but he looked off of receivers and made some plays. He also created with his legs...he was the team's leading rusher.
      * Mike Wallace. While some plays might have been left on the field, Wallace was pretty much the offense. He had 127 yards on 5 catches and a TD. 25.4 yards per catch.
      * Brian Hartline was solid with his route running. 78 yards on 5 catches.
      * Lamar Miller was solid as a pass receiver today. Turned out to be a good outlet.
      * Overall the pass protection was good. It helped that Carolina's best pass rusher was out, but so was Mike Pouncey and Richie Incognito. They gave up three sacks and one coming at the end of the game. Pleasantly surprised.
      * It was good to see Mike Sherman moving the pocket and allowing some action to develop down field.
      * Dion Jordan got credit for a blocked FG attempt in the 1st quarter.
      * Caleb Sturgis returned to his preseason form on his kickoffs. He boomed them routinely out of the back of the end zone.
      * Punter Brandon Fields was able to keep the Panthers off of a short field.
      * Joe Philbin was outstanding with his challenges today. The challenge stating that Newton was shy of a first down forced a punt. A second half challenge kept a drive alive for the offense in attempt to run out the clock.

      Negatives

      * No points in the 2nd half
      * 7 straight games and no TD's in the 4th quarter
      * FG's in the Red Zone. 0-2 in the red area.
      * The defense did a terrible job finishing the 1st half. They allowed the Panthers to get into FG range and steal 3 points.
      * Right out of the half, Carolina drives for a TD, cutting the lead to 3.
      * The 4 minute drill to try to ice the game ended up failing. Incomplete passes, penalties and bad running led to the Fins having to punt the ball with enough time for the Panthers to come back
      * 4th and 10, Carolina goes for it and Newton hits Steve Smith for a first down. The Panthers drove for the game winning TD later on.
      * Poor tackling on the Mike Tolbert run.
      * Reshad Jones personal foul on Newton on the final drive.
      * Turnover differential was 1 to 1. Not good enough against a team with supposed better talent. For the Fins to win, they must win the TO battle.
      * Ryan Tannehill had a tipped interception on the first drive of the game.
      * RT was inaccurate on balls to Wallace (overthrow) and a loft to Charles Clay over the top of the Panthers D.
      * RT took as sack (on a drive near the end of the 3rd/beginning of 4th) that got the team off schedule. It was a 3 step drop. The ball needed to come out.
      * Mike Wallace dropping a desperation heavy on the next to last play of the game that would have won the game for the Fins.
      * Rishard Matthews was bad today. Albeit he got leveled in the end zone, he did not hold on to perfect pass that would have been a TD. He was not alert on a pass that whizzed by his head in the Red Zone. Tough game for Matthews.
      * Negative runs in the run game. They took the team off of schedule.
      * Miami's top two RB's had a grand total of 16 yards.
      * The offense was 4-16 on 3rd down.
      * Ted Ginn long punt return.
      * Brandon Fields sailed his last punt in the end zone setting up the Panthers at the 20.
      * Terrible clock management by Joe Philbin. I sincerely believe that he though the Panthers were going to settle for 3 and wanted time on offense to win it. All it did was give the Panthers more time, organization and reason to score a TD. Miami ended up having no timeouts with just over 40 seconds remaining. Philbin should have kept his timeouts unless they got in close to the end zone. Perhaps they would have been forced to kick a field goal based on the time of the game if he had let the clock run.
      * I disliked the call of attempting a 52 yarder in the 4th quarter. The kick was not close. I would have gone for it and not yielded the field position. It was very questionable decision and brutal miss.
      * The flag pick up on Luke Kuechly's hit on Matthews at the end of the half was awful. It would have set up a goal to go situation and a possible TD. The Panthers probably do not get a chance to tack on 3 points if the Miami drive was extended. Terrible job by the referees.
      * Fox was very late with replays for the viewer that ended up being changed on the field. Shabby broadcast.

      Overall Assessment

      * The Miami Dolphins under Joe Philbin are mentally weak and lack a killer instinct. Whether it was finishing in the Red Zone, finishing the half, trying to end the game on a 4 minute drill or trying to stop the Panthers from converting a 4th and 10, Miami consistently does not come through. Teams reflect their head coach on the field. Joe Philbin is not getting it done as the HC.
      * What goes on at half time to have the Dolphins come out and be bad for the 2nd half? That is squarely on the coaching staff and the HC.
      * No points in the 2nd half and no TD's in the 4th quarter for 7 straight games. Who is responsible for that?
      * With that said, I was impressed that the team did not seem to be affected by the Ted Wells investigation. The team seemed focused and that is a credit to the staff and players.
      * Even though the defense let up 3 right before the half and the eventual game winning TD late, I cannot blame them for the loss. The offense needed to do just a bit more and could not.
      * I feel for Sam Brenner. He was doing okay and looks like he got hurt bad. Tough break.
      * Danny Watkins was inactive today? What is happening with him?
      * Getting Mike Pouncey back is a must for the month of December
      * Marcus Thigpen is really becoming ineffective as a kick and punt returner.
      * The Panthers got a gutsy win after two huge wins versus the 49ers and Patriots. That was an example of being mentally tough, people.
      * Cam Newton did not have his best stuff today, but found a way to win.
      * Kuechly is one lucky MLB. That was a penalty last week on Monday Night and should have been penalized again on the hit on Matthews.
      * With all of this being said...and I am so frustrated, this game does not mean as much as the next two, starting next week in New York. EVERYTHING Miami wants to accomplish is still ahead of them. With gobs of 5-6 teams kicking around, it is about surviving and advancing. It is about garnering tie breakers versus teams around them. Obviously, a win would have helped the overall record today. However, it does not change the fact that Miami is still in the wild card hunt with the other teams. It is time for the Joe Philbin to give proper direction of this team and for the leaders of the team to start making game altering plays. It is STILL in front of the Dolphins...and it starts next week versus the New York Jets.
      by Published on 11-17-2013 11:28 PM     Number of Views: 6163 



      Positives

      * I got to start with the offensive line. Between the Jonathan Martin scandal and Mike Pouncey coming up ill, it looked disastrous coming into today. However, this group played well today considering everything. The line gave up four sacks, but only two were on them at first blush. Eric Weddle got to Ryan Tannehill on a safety blitz and the other one RT ran out of bounds at the end of the game. In the run game, the line got good push. After last week's terrible output, the line helped out by going for 104 yards and over 5 yards a pop.
      * Sam Brenner. I give the coaching staff credit for putting aside draft status and putting in the guy that they thought could do the job. Danny Watkins got in some, but Sam Brenner seemed to do okay. Good for the kid that learned just last night he was starting his first NFL game.
      * Coach Turner got his name slung into the mud today, undoubtedly by Jon Martin's people. Props to him that he might be able to smile tonight after his group's effort.
      * Credit must go to the offensive play calling. Mike Sherman had one of his best games of the season. While there is some criticism within this game, overall Mike Sherman gave the offense a chance to succeed. First, Sherman came out attacking through the air versus a lousy San Diego pass defense. He got the Chargers out of sorts. By passing early, he set up the run. The run game had excellent design. They ran out of the shot gun. They ran out of the pistol. They ran a reverse to Thigpen. They went Read Option. They allowed the line to get rugged and ran the rock right at the Chargers. The first part of the 4 Minute drill was tremendous. Showing confidence in the offense, Sherman attacked. They got first downs and showed they were not about to give the ball back to the Chargers. While the first part of the 4 Minute Drill was good, the last part struggled, which will be discussed in the negatives. Overall, Mike Sherman was excellent today.
      * On that 4 Minute drive, Brian Hartline made a nice catch and got upfield. Alertly, he stayed in bounds. Rishard Matthews also picked up a first down of this drive.
      * Charles Clay was the MVP on offense. 90 yards on 6 catches and a TD. Clay made one of the best plays of the year in the 2nd Half, running through the Chargers secondary for a TD. It was tough-minded play that has seemed to be lacking from this team this year. Great play and great game for the TE out of Tulsa.
      * Ryan Tannehill made some good throws. Considering the changes up front and the trouble getting the ball to Mike Wallace, he played a solid game considering.
      * Daniel Thomas had his best game of the year. He ran hard...very physical. He had 57 yards on 10 carries...5.5 a pop and a TD.
      * Red Zone defense. The defense forced the Chargers to kick 2 FG's in 3 of their Red Zone opportunities. Might have been the difference in the game. One of those stops, Kevin Coyle called a perfect safety blitz with Chris Clemons and it forced a bad Phillip Rivers pass.
      * The pass rush came alive in the 2nd Half. Olivier Vernon had a HUGE sack in the 4th as he beat D.J. Fluker. It pushed the Chargers back far enough that a FG attempt was not possible at the end of the series. Jared Odrick also got in on sack. Finally, Cameron Wake showed up huge on the final drive taking down Rivers and in turn forcing SD to take their last timeout.
      * Brent Grimes. He had a interception in the 1st Quarter. He had strong coverage throughout the day. Alertly, he knocked down the last pass of the game in the corner of the end zone.
      * 3rd down defense...kept the Chargers to 4-11.
      * It was good to see Dion Jordan getting more looks...some were at defending Antonio Gates. He was around the QB some as well when rushing the passer.
      * Penalties. The Fins had only 3 for 15 yards. Considering the changes up front and the distractions all week, that is tremendous stat. The Chargers on the other hand had 10 penalties for 75 yards. The Fins proved to be more disciplined.
      * The team played hard for 60 minutes. That credit goes to Coach Philbin. He had the team to play for the entire game today.

      Negatives
      * 3rd down offense. 2 of 10. Too many patterns are not going beyond the sticks. I understand that sometimes a receiver has to get the ball before sticks, run and make the first down. However, some of these down and distances are not so long that a pattern cannot go beyond the needed distance. Not good enough.
      * While I waxed poetic about the early part of the 4 minute drill, the last part however, was brutal. The situation screamed for the team to run and make the Chargers use their timeouts. The team kept throwing. One incompletion killed the clock. Then, inexplicably on the 3rd down play, RT bootlegged and ran out of bounds, killing the clock again. I understand he did not want to throw a pick, but grab a seat in bounds forcing the Chargers to use their last timeout. While the drive had positives, it was mind numbing how it came to an end.
      * Bogging down in the red area on the opening drive was tough. After a stellar drive, the team could not come up with the necessary plays to punch in an opening TD.
      * Ryan Tannehill's interception. The DB's baited him well, but the turnover was turned into a TD for the Chargers. The pass before that, could have been a pick six the other way.
      * RT under throwing a wide open Mike Wallace.
      * Mike Wallace's body language when his QB misses him deep.
      * John Jerry's two false start penalties. For the guy that has played the most of the group, he cannot be making those penalties.
      * The run defense was awful. They gave up 159 yards for 5.9 per carry. The LB's are most to blame. They take horrendous angles and simply miss tackles.
      * Giving Antonio Gates a free release into the end zone for an easy score. It created an easy pitch and catch for Rivers and Gates.
      * After the great Clay TD run, the defense goes on to the field and yields a drive that leads to a long FG. The defense failed to keep the momentum after the great run by Clay.
      * Nolan Carroll dropped a would-be pick on the goal line. The ball hit him in the hands. The Chargers cashed in 3 points on the next play.
      * The faded lines from the soccer field looked terrible. Not as bad as the infield cut out from the baseball field years ago, but the soccer lines looked shabby.

      Overall Assessment
      * Folks, enjoy the win. I killed the team this week and gave up at times today. I have seen the team wilt in big spots too many times. It is okay to criticize, but some people are poo-pooing the win. That is ridiculous. My goodness guys...enjoy the win. All things considered, that is a solid win.
      * The Fins are back in the Wild Card hunt. I was killed in my assessment last week by some posters by simply stating that the season was not over after the Tampa Bay loss and that actually the season was on the line today versus San Diego. Turns out I was right. The Fins got a ton of help in the standings...again...this week. They are 5-5 with two games left with the Jets. The competition behind the Fins have some tough games as well. 8-8 could get the last seed into the playoffs. While I do not think the Fins will win next week, for it is a bad match up across the board, it is still a non conference game. Regardless of the outcome versus the Panthers, the following week at the New York Jets will be huge. Through all the turmoil, suspect play, questionable coaching and a tough schedule, the Miami Dolphins are in this thing.
      * I was very happy to see the team play hard tonight. We did not see that all that much versus the Bucs. Today, the team played hard and that is a credit to the players, but mostly Coach Philbin. When I rip Philbin for the team being listless, he in turn deserves praise when his team plays hard.
      * I trashed the defense in the GDT quite a bit. Some might be warranted, but other times not. While they frustrate me to no end at times, when it was all said in done, the Chargers got 1 TD and 3 FG's. At the end of the day, it is about points scored and yielded. Today, they kept a pretty good offense under 20 points. Credit to them.
      * More big plays are needed. They need to get more turnovers and have a large turnover differential each game. On offense, they need to have bigger plays. Wallace and Lamar Miller can deliver those, but they have to start to come through when given a chance. Big plays are a way to supplement an offense that battles with consistency.
      * The team needs to have better killer instinct. The great play by Charles Clay yelled for the defense to step up and make a play...to find a way to keep momentum. However, the defense allowed 3 points by the Chargers. The week before, it was reversed. After a Jimmy Wilson interception, the offense had a chance to step on TB's throat with a TD...they did not as they settled for a FG. The team MUST get better here. It is up to the coaches to get the players to see those critical situations. It is up to the players to make the necessary plays to knock an opponent down.
      * While the offensive line did nice work today, the Chargers do have a weak front. That should not take away from the what the guys did today. However, it must be pointed out that next two defensive fronts (Car and NYJ) are loaded and coached very well. The line has to have its best personnel available and find ways to improve.
      * Sam Brenner did a nice job, but what does it say when he starts ahead of a late preseason free agent pick up in Danny Watkins and a 3rd round pick in Dallas Thomas?
      * How bad has the run defense got? They were #3 overall two years ago and are sliding to the bottom half of the league.
      * Reshad Jones has been ordinary to bad since his contract extension. A signing that I supported, has not worked out. More is needed from him. It is time for him to do the little things that made him an impact guy last year.
      * I know he is trying, but Dimitri Patterson's groin injury is frustrating. What is even more frustrating is that Nolan Carroll is the "next man up". Carroll should be the guy based on the roster, but that does not mean he is very capable. Carroll seems to make a play, but gives up a big one thereafter. His dropped pick today is like a turnover...especially that deep in SD territory.
      * Corey Liguet is a dirty player. That was cheap shot on RT that thankfully kept a TD drive alive after a Hartline fumble. I think he got Peyton Manning low last week.
      * While the Fins got the attention about the issues on the Oline, the Chargers had almost as many.
      * Sad turnout of fans at Sun Life. I give credit to Mr. Ross that he keeps the games on TV. With that said, the fans that were there were awesome. They seemed into it. Good for them. I wish the team had more local support.
      * Unfortunately, this week will be the biggest week of distractions. Not only is a loaded Panthers team coming, but so is Ted Wells. The team will be focused on what this Martin mess is going to bring. The media will be back and there will be leaks everywhere.
      * Jonathan Martin is a snake. I will keep saying it. How he brought this team into this fiasco is beyond me. His grin from ear to ear at the Stanford/SC game is galling. BTW, thank you SC for beating his school. I guess he was a loser twice this weekend. The Fins are 2-1 since Martin walked out on his team. There are a lot of people that deserve static for some shortcomings in Miami, but make no mistake about it, Jon Martin is the root for the current ills of this team.