Did The Fins Offense Find A Successful Identity Against The Titans?
The Offense has been terrible, but were strides made against the Titans?
The Miami Dolphins squeaked out a 16-10 victory, albeit over the Mariota-less Titans. So there is reason for celebration… well, sort of.
Hey, as someone once said, ‘a win’s a win in the NFL’. Right?
Reality is, this could have easily ended up as a loss. So while a “W” is a positive thing, the context is it was against a wounded team.
However, there were strides made offensively Sunday. Changes made throughout the game by Gase to both the offensive scheme and personnel had a clear and positive impact on production.
As the game progressed, the Dolphins Offense started to show some rhythm.
Unfortunately, mistakes and poor play calls, interspersed between the good plays, created a very uneven performance and produced only 9 pts, making their identity a Jeckle and Hyde persona–mostly Hyde in the first half.
Yet, strides were made.
But, let’s be sober abut this. The Fins are up against the Atlanta Falcons this week, who rank 8th in rushing, 7th in passing, 4th in yards, and 8th in points. And they’re no slouch on defense. Unless these poor play calls and mistakes are reduced substantially AND the defense plays lights out, the blow out pay per head sites are predicting will become a reality.
Offense was expected to a strength in 2017
The aqua nag in the room is the offense.
There’s a lot fingers pointing at this dismal offense. The main targets are Jay Cutler, the Offensive Line, Coach Adam Gase, and an ever popular fav’–all of the above.
The Dolphins are very, very lucky to be 2-2 with an actual shot to make the playoffs. No sane person can believe the Dolphins will make–or deserve to make–the playoffs with this level of offensive production? They must make serious strides ASAP to even get a sniff of the post season.
Can they? Will they?
To add to their issues, they must do this in less than a week and after losing their Offensive Line coach to this…
…the question now is, can they continue to build a successful identity with the season on the line?
Now, you may say, M.J. are you snorting coke too? I haven’t the foggiest notion what you’re talking about. This offense is garbage. There weren’t any improvements whatsoever–OMG!
Well, for those who are interested, I broke down every play of the game for your viewing pleasure. You can check it out in the next two articles. I forewarn you, they are thorough and long… German over-engineering at its finest. The second half of the game is where you really start to see Miami finding a successful identity.
But if you aren’t a football nut and want the crib notes, I will offer a concise overview of this “winning identity” here.
Dolphins offense has been line after line of failure this season
This past Sunday, Miami began a scheme shift in their running game philosophy, as well adjustment to their personnel. The Dolphins have been predominately running a Wide Zone or Zone Stretch run game, which means they run wide, stretch the defense, and then hit the hole or find a cut back lanes. Gase originally ran Inside Zone last year, but Jay Ajayi told Gase he prefers Outside Zone instead, so Gase adjusted.
In Week 3, the Jets demonstrated the template on how to stop the Dolphins Wide Zone run game: crowd the line nearly every play with 8, 9, and 10 in the box, run blitz, and make sure the edges are cut off. Due to the fact that Miami throws short 95% of the time and runs just about every 1st down, this crowding-the-box defense works well at stopping the run game, bringing pass rushing, and at the same time stopping the short passing game. For the most part, one defensive philosophy has soundly handled Miami’s entire playbook–adjustments and all.
As the Titans game progressed, Miami began to run Inside Zone combined with Play Action, and more importantly, counter action.
The Inside Zone allows for less negative plays, as it’s an up the field design, and feeds the Play Action, which in turn feeds the run as it creates hesitation in the defense. Add in the counter plays against the defense’s all out attacking of the “play side”, and the running game ‘magically’ opened up. Miami almost had some serious gains, but the missed blocks by receivers robbed them of those chunk plays.
BTW, receivers were the biggest let down of the offense on Sunday. Missed blocks and drops were legion.
All of these concepts showed themselves as often as a white whale in the first three games. Miami run game was a one-trick pony. This past week, the Titans were unprepared for this expanded play book and it gave the Dolphins an edge. More importantly, the success generated some level of consistency and confidence.
Julius Thomas’ role was reduced and the offense found more success… go figure
Also, as the game progressed, Julius Thomas became less and less a central figure, and Anthony Fasano and MarQueis Gray began to receiver more snaps. Part of it was in replacement of Thomas, but some of their contributions also came because Gase ran a lot of 2 & 3 TE’s sets. Finally, the Dolphins run game had an equal number of blockers and saw less free rushers than in previous games. Running less from 3 wides was a refreshing choice as well.
Miami also began to open up the passing game, but several dropped passes, failure by Dolphins Tackles, as well as some bad 1st down calls put them behind the 8 ball–a lot of pun intended.
Overall, the Dolphins added several dimensions to their running game, made better personnel decisions by ending the platooning of Jesse Davis and Anthony Steen, reducing Thomas’ role, and got Damien Williams more involved.
Now, I’m not suggesting the Dolphins have found a cure-all for every issue they have on offense. But have a foundation to build an offense on and also have begun to limit bad choices in personnel and play calling. Of course, we have to hope with all the hope we can mister that Miami decides to stick with this direction, that the players will severely limit their overabundance of mental miscues, and Gase can stop throwing downs away with terrible play calls. The answer to this critical question is just around the corner. Go Fins!!!