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Did The Fins Offense Find A Successful Identity Against The Titans?

Did The Fins Offense Find A Successful Identity Against The Titans?

Cutler, the Offensive Line, and play calling are all under scrutiny because of this poor offense

Cutler, the Offensive Line, and play calling are all under scrutiny because of this $%@# offense

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 cover to issue #1 of Schumck Coaches Today! On sale at outhouses everywhere.

…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!!!



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  • phinfreak

    Guys, stop with the “…its the interior OL….” its not, its the entire OL. Now add bad play calling, dropped balls, D’s stacking and rolled up $20 bills and you have….

  • Samson

    I’m afraid the 3 WR sets will be back if Parker is healthy. I’m with Lemmus that the line is garbage… But I’m also with you about the play calling… Cutler also doesn’t have or may never get the chemistry with Stills and Landry that Tannehill does… Add it all up and it’s a recipe for disaster

  • Lemmus

    …shakes head, bounces it off wall …ouch …like watching Ajayi making yards after contact, most of them in our own backfield …I know, I know …its all Gase’s fault …drink that kool-aid, Dun …the guy forgot everything he knew and just suddenly started making stupid play calls …sudden like, it was

    …and then, against the worst defense in the NFL entering the game, the offense managed to score …once …oh my god!!!!! …Gase is a genius again!!! …JOY TO THE WORLD!!!! …have some more kool aid, eh

    …note that the Titan defense ranking ascended from the NFL toilet depths before the game all the way up to the bowl rim after the game …oh my, could that have anything to do with the phins offense? …hhhmmm?

    …its not finesse Dun, its not play calls, its not the HC …down and dirty little secret, our OL sucks …the three first rounders are ok, not perfect, but they’d start on a lot more than half the rosters in the NFL …otoh, Steen, Davis, and Bushrod couldn’t start on most SEC rosters …and it shows

    …Steen had a decent game run blocking, absolutely sucked at pass blocking …does that make him a starter on any other OL? …think one or more QBs might have a word about that, eh

    …Bushrod just sucks …Gase wanted consistency, he got it

    …but someone loves him because he started and finished the game …no Davis, no Asiata, no Young …nada

    …but hey, our offense scored against the worst defense in the NFL! …because Gase was a genius in the 2nd half …found that genius switch he did and turned it right on …you could see the halo glow …have another cup of kool aid, eh

    …gotta go find the Aleve, I do …too much shaking going on …butting my head against walls again

    …Atlanta next, Dun …bring a lot of that kool-aid, eh …think you’re going to need an extra kooler, I do

    …but then …we got a new OL coach …another reject? …or a fresh start …could be

    …haven’t seen the fat lady singing the anthem as yet …might take a knee myself if I see such 🙂

    • Lemmus

      …from your other thread post, Dun

      Dunner: “we threw it decently last season with the same personal, why not this season?”

      …because we DON’T have the same personnel this year …here’s your sign 🙂

      LT: Albert is gone, Tunsil replaced him, good pass block, improving run block, but still learning
      LG: Tunsil moved to LT, Steen (4th string G) replaced him, stinks at pass protection
      C : Steen is LG/Urbik waived, Pouncy returned after repeated hip surgery, exposed by Jets
      RG: Bushrod still there, still PFF graded horrid run/pass, 70 of 70 …but someone loves him
      RT: James still there, PFF graded as one of best OTs

      …and with Pouncy missing camp and most practices, there is no evident leadership/cohesion …not yet

      …in a nutshell, that’s why we can’t throw it decently this year …or run
      …Gase didn’t have a lobotomy, the OL had it’s heart ripped out

      …THREE different starters this year, and TWO starters who should not have made the 53 to begin with …imnsho

      • Lemmus

        …one more OL gripe 🙂

        …two years ago we gave up three picks to move up and take Caroo

        …where was Caroo on Sunday when Parker was injured? …on the bench 🙁

        …what if we had used those 3 picks to take Guards?

        …if only

        • Dunner

          Agree with the picks, only if, and I recall being high on Carroo, not looking to smart there. As far as personal, did Pouncey start at some point last season, yea he did! Tunsil was and is a starter, albeit at a different position. Bushrod is Bushrod, James has been there, so excuse me,,, 4/5, my bad. I thought maybe you would get my point, guess not, next time I guess I’ll have to spell it out for you.
          Again, I disagree with you about the reason(s) for the struggles, again don’t get me wrong, this line is not perfect; however; play calling alone can make a bad line look ok, a ok line look above average, etc.
          We shall see in the near future.

  • Steve

    I like your optimism and also believe Gase will fix these issues. When the kneeling and “blow power” fists stop then i might start watching again.

  • Lemmus

    …you asked a ? …the answer is no …we won by 6 points …tell me mj, how many did the defense score?
    …is that the phin offense’s new “successful” identity? …pray for the defense?
    …my only hope now is that the OL Coach replacement isn’t another coke head Bushrod fanboy 🙁

    • Dunner

      Lemmus did you read this article, especially the third and forth bodies? This has been my argument the entire time. Not the struggles or successes of the O-Line. Gase’s failure to adjust/create/improvise.
      So the answer is not “no”, unless Gase reverts back to previous play calling and personal along with it!!!


      I do hope for an effective O-Line coach, and not a fanboy, though I think Bushrod’s fandom is Gase!

      • admin

        Lemmus has end results to support him… it’s not as hard to swallow as what I’m saying , so it’s fair. But, over generalization is as bad rose colored glasses and negative nelly vision. This week should see strong strides, a win is a stretch, but if the offense can progress, then even at 2-3 I think hope still lives. Miami must win or have a nail biting loss to keep the future bright. Bills did a good job but had a bunch of lucky plays to get the W for them.

    • admin

      I get your points, but it was 9pts they were responsible for FYI… not awesome, I agree. But the question is why? Was it, as you, say do to the turnstyle twins Mark II? It’s fair to say that the twins never had or would be ranked 3rd best G in any week. Your thesis is the interior OL isn’t fit for dog meat. But I’ll show you that the 9pts was only 9pts because of the Tackles, wides, and calls. The interior OL had two of them ranked in top 5 performances… or so. They were a major reason of the win. Steen isn’t suited for wide zone. He’s too small and slow. But when they added counters and inside zone his strengths began to shine. This is fact. It’ not my opinion. Now will this translate to later weeks? Depends on Gase and the coaches he is facing. You have watched football longer than me, and I’m sure you played back in the day. The end all be all isn’t just talent. It’s not he with the most talent wins. If all things are equal, then yes. But the cap and a multitude of variables make a complex formula. If you have the time, when I put out this next film study, compare it with the previous ones, you’ll see a huge difference. Football is living chess and coaching, play calling and scheme has the largest factor of all sports. This counter action and inside zone and an extension of the PA will bring major dividends. Removal of Thomas is key and the limiting of 3 wides and draw plays is as well. If they can stop this LOS and behind stuff, Miami will see it’s production skyrocket. Around 4 drops robbed 3 1st downs and 1 TD. Now to be fair, it sounds good till it becomes reality. So I’m in no way dismissing your points, but generally I feel you are dissecting a game of minutia in overview. But proof is in the pudding…