After Thursday night’s game against the Chicago Bears on national television, ESPN analyst and former Pro-Bowl guard Mark Schlereth had some choice criticism for the Dolphins coaches. Not only are the fans getting more and more impatient with the Dolphins offensive play-calls, but it seems that more and more people are starting to pay attention to Miami’s flaws now.
“I just think it’s inexcusable. That is an awful job by that coaching staff.”
That’s an an awful job by that coaching staff regardless. Their best 11 guys are when they get into their Wildcat formation, no disrespect to Tyler Thigpen. They got into the Wildcat exactly zero times [on Thursday night], they did not run the ball at all [on Thursday night]. … I’ve heard excuses coming out of Miami, I’ve heard people talking about, ‘You know, We have a beat-up offensive line.’ All the more reason that you run the football. Let me tell you something, pass protection in this league is 10 times harder than run blocking: assignment-wise, picking up blitz, all those different things.
“With young guys and guys who don’t have a lot of experience, much harder than it is to run the football. So don’t give me this baloney about Oh, we had guys injured, so we’re gonna drop back and throw it. That’s garbage. Absolute garbage. The coaching staff for the Miami Dolphins ought to be embarrassed. As a former offensive lineman, when I watch that, what they put on the field, it makes me angry, because I know how hard it is to go out there and pass protect when you’ve got guys like the Chicago Bears defense breathing down your neck.
“Your job as a defense is to make that offense one-dimensional. Miami walked out of the locker room one-dimensional, they did that for the Bears. Now, the Bears, on the flip side, made them zero-dimensional, because once [the Dolphins] became one dimensional, they were just rushing the passer. And then I would see things like ‘We’re running play-action.’ Hey, yeah, that will getcha. Right? That will get the Bears. Run some play-action. You ran it four times in the first half. Run a couple play-actions, that’ll fool them.”
Finally someone else has decided to take notice to the awful play-calling that Dan Henning likes to call a gameplan. This kind of stuff has been going on all season, and I believe of which was the chief reason why young quarterback Chad Henne had such an average performance all throughout the season, because of Henning’s gameplan.
Schlereth’s comments focus on the downfall of the Dolphins high-octane rushing attack, which only had seven carries on Thursday night, but it is so much more than that, and more coaches than just Henning are responsible for the mediocre play of the offense. Quarterbacks coach David Lee. Head coach Tony Sparano. Henning. General manager Jeff Ireland. Those are just some of the people that should be splitting the blame for the offenses play this year.
With Lee being the one who oversees all that goes on with the production of the quarterbacks, it is his responsibility alone to develop Chad Henne into the quarterback that we all know he can be. So in turn it is Lee alone who is at fault for Henne’s lack of performance this year. We have all unfortunately witnessed the clutch performances (and sometimes very lucky performances) by New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, and most of that production and development can not only be attributed to their offensive coordinator, but to their quarterbacks coach as well. While Henne can still become a solid, if not elite quarterback for the Dolphins, if he does not, with all of the physical skills that he possesses, it will be partial fault of Lee’s if Henne if Miami has to go in a different direction in the next two seasons.
We all know the problems with the Dolphins offense. Whether it is the lack of a ground game, only a year after finishing fourth in the league in rushing, or the questionable offensive calls on third down, we all know Henning should be gone after this season. The team has also witnessed the steady decline in the Wildcat formation, which features the Dolphins best 11 men on the field all at once. But now because of the lack of an offensive line, the team has all but abandoned that formation. So Henning has chose to put the game in the hands of his quarterback, with letting him pass the ball between 30-40 times per game, while only calling dink and dunk plays most of the time. Sure, there is the occasional deep ball, but the fact of the matter is that the Dolphins offense is built to be the kind that can make big plays, but with all of the poor offensive play-calling, the offense is instead focusing on running slants and screens that get stuffed almost everytime. While Lee could be one of the main reason for the lack of production from Henne, it is Henning that is the main reason for the lack of production from the whole offense.
While I love Sparano’s motivational tactics, and his emotion and love for the game, he just is not a good X’s and O’s type of guy. He has shown that over the years he does not know how to manage the clock, and some of the roster moves do not make sense at all either. This is a guy that is a guru for the offensive line. That was is MO. He came in as an offensive line specialist, and over the three years of his tenure in Miami, the offensive line is no longer a strength of the Dolphins. While Miami is particularly strong in the pass blocking area, the Dolphins offensive line is very poor when it comes to run blocking, and this is the chief reason why the Dolphins only ran the ball 7 times on Thursday. Now that Miami’s line is pretty much devastated with injuries, the blocking has gotten worse and worse, as can be expected. But with a guy like Sparano, you would think that he would know what he is doing when he blows up the whole interior of your line like he did with Miami’s this past off-season. Gone are Justin Smiley, Donald Thomas, and Jake Grove, and in are Richie Incognito, John Jerry, and Joe Berger. This year’s line has nothing on last years offensive line. Plain and simple. The running game has deteriorated because of this factor, and causally the Dolphins offense has declined as well. While it may not be Sparano’s fault completely, he has a say in who comes onto the roster and who stays, and in the offensive line’s terms, the responsibility lies in his hands.
While Sparano is not completely responsible for who goes on and off the roster, Ireland is. Ireland is the guy who brought in all of the off-season acquisitions, and Ireland is the one responsible for helping destroy the offensive line, and repeatedly destroying the bottom end of the Dolphins roster. The failures of the Dolphins special teams comes from the lack of chemistry of the special teams unit, which was mostly composed of the bottom end of the 53 man roster, can be attributed to this. The continued high round draft failures such as Pat White, Patrick Turner, Chad Henne possibly, the whiffs in free agency of Jake Grove, the failure to lure in players such as Ryan Clark, Calvin Pace and Antrel Rolle really makes me wonder about this regime, and coaching staff. Ireland has a direct role in every roster move that is made, so one has to wonder now that since he is in his third year running the team, why it is still such a disappointment? The team came into the season with such high aspirations, only to crap the bed with mediocre play by multiple units of their roster, all guys that Ireland brought in. So if the team fails to make the playoffs this year and next year, would Ireland ’s tenure be labeled as a failure or not?
The bottomline is that the Dolphins have plenty more problems to worry about right now besides all of the injuries that are taking place. Until the Dolphins get some change in their coaching staff, I won’t expect anything out of this team. After all, how can you expect your team to be one of the best when your coaches aren’t some of the best?