Miami’s Offense: Base Your Opinion Off The Tape
With tape, context is key, one off play studies can be misleading
The Miami Dolphins have had one of the worst back-to-back Offensive performances in franchise history. Why? How? Questions about the offense dominates the Fins news cycle.
I have my take, the Dolphins brass another, and the pro sportswriters theirs.
Since the comments of Phinsnews readers have been just as diverse, I decided to break down every play from last week, so the tape can speak for itself.
With as little preamble as possible, here’s every offensive play in the 1st Quarter. The 2nd and 3rd Quarters will come in two follow up articles. I’m trying to say clear of a football version of War and Peace.
1st play of 1st drive: The Saints defensive alignment initially shows itself as protecting against the pass with 4 beyond the box.
But this is a ruse as the Safety is creeping up pre-snap, and on the snap of the ball the defense attacks the run.
The draw play is meant to take advantage of a “D” playing the pass. With this call the Saints are saying we don’t believe you can or will throw. This play dies not because of the Offensive Line, but because the numbers aren’t there and the Saints call Gase’s bluff. Maybe you could say Anthony Steen could have done a better job, but the blitzing Safety and free Linebacker was more than enough to shut this play down even if he did.
My Two Cents: Saints know Gase’s tendencies or just got lucky.
2nd play of 1st drive: The Saints play run again–like the Jets, this will be a theme. The Mike Backer hesitates for a split second wary of a draw.
Excellent play call, design, and segue. The MLB hesitation runs him into a pick and opens a window for DeVante Parker to make the grab and pick up the first. The only failing is Laremy Tunsil who gets beat inside and allows Cutler to get a thud. Otherwise, the line provides excellent protection. Gase has the initiative and takes advantage.
Summary: Nice set up with previous play. This is the Gase we have come to expect.
My Two Cents: Saints fall victim to a good call and fear of the run game.
3rd play of 1st drive: With seven are in the box, an 8th as a Peeping Tom, and the corner on the LOS, the defense is fixated on the short.
So far it’s been 3 plays and the defense have given up the mid and deep and committed to the short and run in each. Gase runs one of his signature plays, the WR screen. Stills bobbles the ball and the split second is enough for the LB to make the play.
Summary: Saints attack short, and unlike the previous play, Gase attacks the defenses strength and not its weakness, dramatically lowering the play’s chance of success.
My Two Cents: Kenny Stills bobbles the ball, and the defensive alignment severely limit the play’s potnetial.
4th play of 1st drive: Despite 5 on the LOS, the Saints defense overall backs off, but leaves the middle of the field open.
Excellent protection, a good throw into a tight window by Cutler shows that the Offense can make the defense pay for not respecting the pass.
Summary: Saints presented a weak spot in the middle of the field against 3 talented wides, this high percentage football.
My Two Cents: Gase attacks weakness and not strength, which brings rhythm and success.
5th play of 1st Drive: Nine in the box, Saints go all in at stopping the run.
Gase has been having good results against the defenses weakness. Despite the lucky results, the same isn’t often said when 8 blockers go against 9 in the box, and one of those blockers can’t block. One of the most blatant holds you’ll ever see gets missed, which makes the Jermon Bushrod hold coming up even more frustrating. Julius Thomas misses a chip, and only by luck does the play net positive yards. This is a very, very low percentage play, even with a top 10 OL.
Summary: I’ve said it before, there was a meme on this play that was very funny, but incredibly inaccurate given the realities. Gase begins to bang his head into a wall here. This theme will continue.
My Two Cents: Why not audible into a pass or run a play action? How can the staff not see the Saints are going all in against the run play after play? Didn’t they watch the tape on the Jets game?
6th play of 1st Drive: Despite a 3 wide set, the Saints put 8 in the box and immediately run blitz.
Summary: 3 wides against 8 in the box and the Saints AGAIN attack the run says it all.
My Two Cents: You ask your weakest O-Linemen to help the Center, then peal off and beat the LB to the spot, and then despite the LB’s leverage, you want him to make the block? Might as well stick a bottle rocket in my rear end and expect me to land on the moon. The fact the Gase calls this play and Cutler doesn’t, or can’t, audible out is the foundation of this offenses failure. This is a very low percentage play… for a team other than the 90′ Dallas teams.
P.S. The holding penalty sucks, but that’s what big uglies often do when they get put into poor situations.
7th play of 1st Drive: Child, please….
Summary: I actually felt physical pain on this call.
My Two Cents: Please send me whatever Gase was smoking on this one… “Hey they been stacking the box all day, let’s run the Wild Cat. Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket!”
P.S. Mr. Gase every play counts.
8th play of 1st Drive: Saints have a severe edge with Offense behind on 1st and 20.
Despite unfavorable conditions the pass blocking is excellent and this should have been the 1st down call.
Summary: Wild Cat was panic and reaching. This is smart football.
My Two Cents: Gase far to often throws downs away. Hig percentage football is high precentage for a reason.
9th play of 1st Drive: Despite 5 on the LOS, 3rd and long is played smart by the Saints with an over, zone scheme.
You should watch the line play a couple of times. Tunsil misses the seal, which begins a trend in the second Qtr. While James lets inside pressure, it plays to the strength of the play and aids the play.
Summary: This should have been 3 and out. The wasted 1st down play leaves this reception short of the first, but a penalty gives Miami a huge break.
My Two Cents: Gase threw away 1st down, and this new set of downs wasn’t earned. I’ll take it, but poor choices that put Miami in this situation will continue.
10th play of 1st Drive: 8 blockers v.s 9 in the box.
Two Tight End set with only one of them who can block is meant to win with 8 blockers v.s. 9 defenders, who have been gunning for the run nearly every play… what could go wrong?
Summary: Guess who misses their block?
My Two Cents: How many games will it take Gase to realize basic football? Confucius says: He who has fewer blockers, with one who among them who can’t block, doesn’t have a winning fortune cookie.
11th play of 1st Drive: 7 in the box that attack at the snap.
Hello, the crazy pills have worn off for a play and the right play is called to take advantage of the Saints call and alignment.
Summary: This should be every play till the Saints back off and respect the throw.
My Two Cents: Hey, maybe instead of one of those classic suicide runs into a loaded box, why not use a throw-away a play away to throw a 20+ yard pass? Food for thought.
12th play of 1st Drive: Saints start to show respect with a semi balanced looked.
Given the next 3 of 4 calls, this was designed to force feed Thomas. If not, Culter misses a wide open Anthony Fasano. On a side note, James get hit with lumber and beaten bad with a power move. Otherwise, the OL hold up nice.
Summary: Gase is predictable as 95% of the time his plays work 5 yards or less.
My Two Cents: Either Cutler or Gase messed this up.
13th play of 1st Drive: Saints have 7 in the box against 6 Dolphins blockers.
Question of the day: If I put my two tackles on one side does that give a hint to where I’m going with the ball?
Answer: of course you schmuck.
Summary: Defenders set up outside the edge blockers, too cut off the outside lanes and have placed a LB backside to stop the cutback… because we run Outside Zone. If you add this alignment to the offense having one less blocker than defenders in the box, as well as the fact that you are telling the D you are running with a loaded setup, only the senseless would think this is a winner.
My Two Cents: Why?
14th play of 1st Drive: Thomas gets open on a broken coverage due to overly aggressive defense.
Saints had the second worst Pass Defense for a reason. Given that this was a one off, it’s was a lucky break.
15th play of 1st Drive: 5’8” corner beats 6’5” Tight End on a jump ball and even the best pay per head services are shocked.
Summary and Two Cents: See above… ‘Nuff said.
I’m not going to give a long diatribe on who, what, where, why, and how. I’ll simply say this is the standard M.O. of this offense. It’s not a winner. Go Fins!!!
P.S. picking up a six pack of Red Bull to finish Qtrs 2 & 3.