Ask the Phinsider


I stopped by the site and saw that nobody had set up a FanPost to question your friendly neighborhood Dolphins fans, so here it is!

Some of you guys already began answering our questions over at The Phinsider, so I'm just going to give you a brief overview of the team.

Offense (West Coast Offense with Zone Blocking Scheme)

Good: Brian Hartline is a solid wide receiver, as Arizona Cardinals fans (12 catches, 253 yards in that game) learned. He's on pace for 85 catches for 1,264 yards at an average of 14.9 yards per catch, so he's Miami's best deep threat and leads the team in 20+ yard catches.

Davone Bess is a very good slot receiver and regularly finishes in the top-8 in the NFL in third down receptions. He's on pace for 77 catches for 938 yards at 12.2 yards per catch.

Reggie Bush is very dangerous in space and has broken long runs to the outside and (when the blocking has been good) even in between the tackles.

Bad: The offensive line appears to have gotten worse as the season has gone on, despite no starters missing any time. The unit has been very poor at run blocking and only average at pass blocking despite some names you might have heard of - LT Jake Long (#1 overall pick in 2008 and ProBowler), C Mike Pouncey (#15 overall pick in 2011 and ProBowl alternate as a rookie), LG Ritchie Incognito (formerly of the St. Louis Rams), RT Jonathan Martin (second round pick in 2012), and RG John Jerry (third round pick in 2009, who was profiled in Hard Knocks as talented but out of shape). Miami switched from a man blocking scheme to a zone blocking scheme this season, and there are concerns that our personnel (aside from Martin and Pouncey) don't fit the new scheme.

Ugly: Miami has no #3 WR, a role that has been filled by Legedu Naanee (cut a few weeks ago), Jabbar Gaffney (cut this week), and now Rishard Matthews (rookie 7th round pick, whom I like but is unproven as he had his first career catch just last week). Our #1 TE is Anthony Fasano, and his best skill is blocking. While Fasano is a terrific blocker with reliable hands, he's not one of those athletic freaks like Vernon Davis that linebackers struggle to cover, as evidenced by the fact that he has just 1 catch in each of the past 3 games. Miami's backup tight ends are rarely targeted more than once per game. So to sum up, Miami's threats in the passing game are basically just 4 names - Hartline, Bess, Fasano, and Bush - and that lack of talent combined with our poor blocking up front has led to the recent struggles for QB Ryan Tannehill as opposing defenses scheme to take away those targets in the passing game.

Defense (Primarily 4-3 with occasional 3-4 fronts)

Good: Run defense is elite, anchored by former Pro Bowl DTs Randy Starks and Paul Soliai on the inside, as well as former All-Pro Cameron Wake and former first round pick Jared Odrick (who is really a 4-3 DT) at DE. We also feature Karlos Dansby (formerly of the Arizona Cardinals), Kevin Burnett (formerly of the San Diego Chargers), and Koa Misi (former 2nd round pick) as our linebackers.

Bad: Pass rush by the front-4 consists of 1 man, Cameron Wake, who leads all 4-3 DEs in sacks (9.5) and pass pressures (as recorded by ProFootball Focus). DT Randy Starks is our second best pass-rusher, but he's better against the run than rushing the passer. DE Jared Odrick moves inside to his true position of 4-3 DT on passing downs where his pass rushing results have been mixed. When Odrick moves inside to tackle, Paul Soliai (former nose tackle in our 3-4 defense last year) comes off the field, and that allows rookie third round pick Olivier Vernon to come on the field as a DE. Vernon had a great game against the Rams, but he has had a limited impact pass rushing since with just 2.5 sacks on the season. To compensate, Miami blitzes frequently, and our defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle (a former defensive backs coach) is fond of DB blitzes, which leaves us vulnerable to big plays.

Ugly: The secondary has been horribly inconsistent. Miami's group is young since the most experienced veterans from last year (CB Will Allen and SS Yeremiah Bell) were released, and veteran CB Richard Marshall who was signed as free agent this offseason from the Arizona Cardinals is on IR already due to back surgery to remove a blood clot. Reshad Jones is having a ProBowl-caliber season at Strong Safety by being terrific in run support, leading the NFL in run-stops according to ProFootball Focus, but in pass coverage, he is solid but unspectacular. #1 CB Sean Smith has done well matched up against elite WRs like Larry Fitzgerald (2 INTs, no TDs allowed) and then struggled while up against rookies like T.Y. Hilton of the Colts - in other words, inconsistent. The other members of our secondary are former late round draft picks who play well at times but have been known to make huge mistakes (penalties, missed assignments).

Special teams

Good: Punter Brandon Fields leads the AFC in Pro Bowl voting and has changed games with his punting. Former Pro Bowl Kicker Dan Carpenter is a perfect 12 for 12 on field goals under 45 yards. Kick/Punt returner Marcus Thigpen is top 5 in the AFC in average yards per kick return and yards per punt return, and he has returned both a punt and a kickoff for a TD this season. Rookie DE Olivier Vernon has blocked 2 field goals. Miami has recovered a surprise onside kick, blocked a punt, and converted a 4th down using a fake punt this season.

Bad: Kicker Dan Carpenter has gone 1 for 6 on field goals greater than 45 yards.

Ugly: Nothing else, really. Special teams is probably our best unit, and our special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi has been creative and aggressive.

So ask away - I'll be checking in while watching some of the NFL and college games with family and friends this weekend, as I'm sure some fellow Phinsiders will as well (looking at you, Strange).

Happy Thanksgiving!

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