Fins @ Browns Rewind

It was time to head home for Week 3 in Cleveland. A weekend of family, friends, Tribe, and Dolphins. Well 3 out of 4 is pretty good right? Let’s get to it…

The Dolphins came into Cleveland 0-2 with their offense playing decent and defense playing like a DII college. Even tho secondary has been awful this year having Davis out didn’t help. Hillis was also ruled out last-minute. Which is a blow to the Browns,  even tho Fins held Hillis to 57yds last year, the defense is not the same at all. The only thing thats the same is they can’t cover a TE and many more problems. I knew it would be a close game coming in as neither team has the type of explosive offense to put up more than 30 pts a game on a regular basis.

Offense

QB-Every week I start by saying how impressed I am with Chad Henne and how he is progressing. The fact is this is the progress he needed to make 3 years ago. He atleast is now allowed to make adjustments. So again did a nice job moving the chains between the 20s. But again couldn’t get on the same page or just have the moxy to get the ball in the endzone. Also 4/13 on 3rd down conversions is an awful percentage. And when the Dolphins had the gift of getting the ball on the 50 with 36 secs left, all that was needed was a ten yd gain to give us a shot. A winning QB will get on the same page with his receivers in that situation to get 10 yds, when you have 4 chances and a timeout left. I suppose another positive is he did take care of the ball(besides last play of game INT). The fact is Henne isn’t leading his team to victory.

Grade C-

RB-The good or bad first? Reggie Bush you kill me. Bush had 24yds on 11 carries and only one reception. Its time the OC figures out a way to get Bush the ball in space. Thomas is proving to be a good Rb and there is no need for Bush to get carries between the tackles. Also 2 fumbles? One was in the redzone as Miami was getting ready to score a TD  attempt a FG. That obviously killed the drive and you have to protect the ball especially inside the 20. Thomas on the other hand another solid game. He hit the hole well again and came up just shy of 100yd rushing. Still needs to improve the pass blocking. He totally missed a pass rusher at one point and almost got Henne killed. Lex Hilliard seems to be the new “FB” or atleast 3rd and short/ 4th and short guy. Did a good job getting the first down when given chance. We just need some type of system/play calling to keep giving Thomas majority of carries and get Bush touches in open space.

Grade C-

WR-Over/Under till Marshall blows up/demands a trade? Marshall looked frustrated and got flagged for a dead ball foul. That made a 24yd FG into a 41yd FG which is never good giving our kicking game this year. Marshall had 7 targets and 4 catches. Haden did a good job of frustrating Marshall. One play that Marshall has to make is the target he got in the endzone. He was crossing over the middle when Henne forced the ball to him. Haden had good coverage but thats the kind of play Megatron, Fitz, and A. Johnson all make. And if Marshall wants to be an elite receiver he needs to start making those plays. A player that did make those plays was Hartline.  Another week and another great sideline catch by Hartline. He also caught every ball throw his way. With attention mostly on Marshall he took advantage of 1 on 1 coverage. My only complaint is on the 38 yd catch around the 10 yd line. I would have loved to see him get in the endzone(mainly because I knew we would have to settle for a fg ATTEMPT). He didn’t have a great chance of getting in endzone since ball could have been thrown a little further in front of him but just something that may have changed game. Bess had a game like you expect 5 for 52. Now when he gets 9 targets you want more to be caught. But alot of those were plays made my the defender on Bess. Early in the game Bess did have a chance to get a 3rd and long first down but he ran backwards instead of heading north south. Thats a play Bess usually makes but no room for any mistakes when you lose by 1.

Grade C

TE-Fasano had 1 catch for 26 yds not much to say about that. The TE blocking? Was awful! If we are going to leave TEs in to help with RT Colombo, we better give Henne time. Fasano also had a holding penalty on an  8 yd run by Bush. The other TE didn’t do much better blocking and also racked up a penalty towards the Fins 10 total. Mastrud got called for an illegal formation on an 8 yd pass completion to Fasano. These guys can’t shoot each other in the foot and if they are going to be kept in to block they better get better at that as well.

Grade D

O-line- 5 sacks and 8 QB hits rough. The Browns came in leading NFL and the O-line didn’t do anything to change that. Not that a think Vernon Carey is some kind of All-Pro but when he went down the Browns exposed the weakness and attacked. Obviously the line didnt protect Henne that well given 8 QB hits, but it was weird. At times they picked up the blitz well and gave Henne time to make good decisions. But when they collapsed they did it in EPIC fashion! Tack on a few more of those ten penalties on to the O-line. Run blocking seemed to be effective. Definitely had some great pushes on the left side of the line. Also the TD by Thomas had some great blocking in front of him on a well designed screen play. End of the day…Run block ok Pass block horrible

Grade D

Offense Conclusion

Same story same result. Stats look nice but have to put the ball in the endzone. Until this offense can score and the play calling becomes rhythmic the unit will be at most average. Run well on occasion and pass well on occasion it just never seems to flow well. Even tho the plays are pretty balanced, it always seems as if they don’t know when the appropriate time is to run/pass. For example when your back is averaging 4.1 yds a carry and its 1st and goal on two seperate occasions? Ran it 33% of the time on goal to go plays. Maybe if the passing was effective in the redzone but it’s not. The offense has to score more in todays league.

Grade D

Defense

D-line-The run d was rough. Hardesty ended up with 4.8 yds per carry. Be thankful Hillis wasnt playing considering the way the line played. They did well stopping some runs by Cleveland but every time I say that boom 8 yds 10 yds 19 yds, with gaping holes in the d line. Have to fill those gaps and allow the LBs to step up and make tackles(which they didn’t). Pass rush was alright. Several times McCoy was scrambling and did get 7 QB hits on him but never were able to bring him down for a sack. Especially the last drive they needed to dig deep and show how bad they wanted the win. Atleast they finally got a few passes knocked down at the line.

Grade D

LBs-Dansby and Burnet combined for a total of 4 tackles!? Browns LB Jackson 11 tackles. Crazy. After three weeks these two seem to be out matched every week. Not only are they not making plays in the run game, they are getting torched in the passing game. They are always trying to run down a TE crossing the field or desperately flailing their hands to try to knock down a pass they can’t even get their heads around for. Complete disappointment. Wake and Taylor on the pass rush needed to step up and get a clutch sack on the game winning drive. Thats your specialty and if we plan on getting any Ws this year you have to make plays in the final minutes.

Grade F

Secondary-With Vontae Davis out I was scared for Nolan Carrol’s career. Sadly AGAIN the top 5 tacklers were the secondary. Yes 5. Even the nickel corner got more tackles than any one in the front 7. Sean Smith a 6ft 3in corner. Go back a few years ago, excitement about having a big corner with some playmaking potential. Now he gets beat on jump ball by Josh Cribbs. Great catch by Cribbs but come on Smith is 6ft 3in and he didn’t even jump! He looked clueless as always. Smith couldn’t even cover the TE. Will Allen had a few nice tackles similar to the way Davis would have played but his pass defense was suspect in the last drive(as all of the secondary was). Carrol again was beat several times. Reshard Jones and him couldn’t get on the same page again. Jimmy Wilson had a gift INT from McCoy and he didn’t play to bad for a rookie compared to the rest of the Dolphin’s secondary. The entire unit was lucky McCoy missed several open receivers during the first 3 quarters or else it could have been alot worse. Let’s talk about the game winning TD for a second. First off the 6ft 3in DB I mentioned before. The coaching staff didn’t even trust that they put a rookie DB on the Browns tallest receiver. Wilson had too much space between him and Massaquoi to try to make a play. And Bell? Why didn’t he try to hit Massaquoi as he got his feet in bounds? Bell was right there to attempt to push him out. Still think he would have got his feet in but why not try at all? That play didn’t cost them the game. Heck they went straight down the field to get that 14 yd TD. But it definitely summed up the play of the D.

Grade D-

Defense Conclusion

Ugh. Last year the strength of a 7-9 team. Now looks to be an obvious weakness. Only would have been more evident if McCoy hit just a few more OPEN receivers in the first half(Especially that Cribbs potential 80yd TD). I havent seen the creative blitz packages we saw from Mike Nolan last year. Not sure what anymore but a spark has to come from someone or its going to continue to be a long year.

Special Teams

Kicking-Yes Carpenter only missed one FG this game and it was a 51 yd ATTEMPT. But he has shown some serious inconsistency concerns thru the first 3 games. Would have loved to see if he could have redeemed himself on a 50+ yd ATTEMPT but we will never know since we couldn’t get 10 yds on 4 plays. Brandon Fields again a bright spot in this REWIND. Averaged over 50 yards a kick with 2 of his 3 punts being inside the 20. One being an amazing punt that pinned the Browns at the one. Even tho it looked like a forearm was on goal line when the ball hit his leg. Still a great punt.

Returners-Since Thomas looks to be taking over as the star RB in Miami, it was good to see Bush back on a punt return. Would love to see that continue for the rest of the year. Need to score anyway we can. Gates had another good game returning. All you have to do is break one return to have a great game. He gave the offense a chance to make a last second score of their own(also thanks to a horse collar tackle).

Coverage-Only two returns by the Browns returners. One for 6 yds and one for 23 yds. So not much to comment on here.

Grade C-

Final Thoughts

Missed chances again in the redzone cost this team their first victory of the year. Someway somehow they need to get to the endzone. Even if the Dolphins would have found a way to win, it be hard to be impressed. McCoy’s play thru most of the game allowed the Fins to stay in the game and even a lead for a while. Difference being he was able to get back up and lead his team to a touchdown. When we have the ball for nearly 40 mins and that many redzone chances, we have to put the other team away and atleast get up by two scores. But we didn’t and the Browns showed they wanted to win more than the Dolphins.

Looking Forward

It’s tough to look forward I almost want to do it with one eye closed. As if to say Im not really sure I want to see whats left. Lets say the Dolphins turn it around and win a few games(Even tho next two opponents are Chargers and Jets). The Dolphins aren’t ready to take a step to become a top team in the league. The way the league is now you have to put 30pts up a game(Pats, Saints, Packers). Teams that cant score at will like some of the top teams in the NFL aren’t going anywhere unless they have the 2001 Ravens D. As for as Sparano, the guy isn’t going to make it to next season. Will he make it thru this year? the first half? the bye week? Not sure there is any reason to get rid of him just to name one of his asst coaches HC. Then have a new coach come in and clean house. But at this point? Whatever. I’ll be surprised if Stephen Ross sits on his hands much longer. The Dolphins need a culture of change to happen in south beach. Been waiting for it since Shula left. But hopefully next week something anything will happen to allow for a few highlights this year.

On to the west coast…FINS UP!

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