This was by far one of the best games Miami’s played all season. It was exciting, thrilling and ended with my heart almost stopping as the Steelers almost stole the game at the end. It was not to be as Miami was able to walk away with a much needed win and basically put an end to the Steelers playoff chances and also do something they had yet to accomplish all season long score 30 or more points.
The game started in a blizzard as it was snowing heavily at the beginning of the game and I was a bit concerned that turnovers would be an issue throughout the game due to the conditions. I did not think Miami would be able to move the ball very well and I also felt the Steelers RB’s were better suited to have a good day as I was not sure Thomas would start and Miller is not the kind of back you would expect big plays from on snowy fields.
There were quite a few great things that the Dolphins did throughout the game. One of my favorite plays and there were quite a few was when Ryan Tannehill ran for 48 yards, it was a designed run play and it worked perfectly. If you are a regular reader that was one of my biggest complaints that Tannehill did not run enough and that has been an issue for the past two years. This guy has the skills and speed to extend plays every week and finally they are implementing and incorporating it in the games. That makes Miami’s offense even more dangerous and opens up so many opportunities for this offense.
This team is clicking at the right time and the win Sunday at Pittsburg was huge as the Dolphins sent a message that they are for real. Players are making plays and at critical times in the game. Our young QB is maturing before our eyes, Wallace even with pedestrian numbers had a huge effect on the game, Hartline with the catch of the week if you ask me, and Daniel Thomas rushing for over 100 yards even though not 100%. But not enough credit can be given to a player who has stepped up ever since he was called upon and delivered and is in my mind the offensive player of the year for Miami Charles Clay, he has made plays all season long and is proving to be a very special TE along with his multifaceted abilities to play other positions well.
This Dolphin team is not a mirage, this is not some dream, they actually are a very good young upstart team and they are the foundation of the future where Miami will once again be one of the better teams in the NFL. I have preached continuity and patience and it seems the Owner at least gets it! Good news is being reported that our much beleaguered and unfairly accused GM has been given a vote of confidence by the owner and RIGHTFULLY so because if anybody would look at this roster they will see more success than failure by this GM and even amidst the height of controversy our GM brought in replacements that have come in and actually help solidify the line as they are playing better now than all season.
Offensive Player of the game: Charles Clay
Defensive Player of the game: Chris Clemons
I decided to take a look at the 2013 Miami Dolphins Rookie class and refute an argument many are trying to make to prove that the GM Jeff Ireland should be fired because the rookies are not making an impact. First let’s look at the picks again.
|(3) Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon|
|(54) Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State|
|(77) Dallas Thomas, Tackle/Guard, Tennessee|
|(93) Will Davis, CB, Utah State|
|(104) Jelani Jenkins, LB, Florida|
|(106) Dion Sims, TE, Michigan State|
|(164) Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida|
|(166) Caleb Sturgis, K, Florida|
|(250) Don Jones, S, Arkansas State|
Miami drafted 9 players to the team this offseason all of whom are still on the roster these players unlike in times past are more luxury picks that can be allowed to develop slowly as the Dolphins did a good job of stocking the roster with veteran players some from previous drafts and others free agent pickups that have proven to be very good pickups.
Miami traded up in the draft to select Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon at number 3. That was a bold move that many were surprised to see and one that even to this day would be questioned. But I loved the move and was just as shocked and excited when it was made. Keep in mind we all felt that Cameron Wake needed help on the other side of the ball and even though the surprise training camp a player drafted last year (Olivier Vernon) has done a great job of progressing from his rookie season at the time of the draft it made perfect sense to go after Dion Jordan. Dion has proven to be a very solid player who is being developed slowly, he also got behind in camp due to rules that prevented him from coming to camp and also he had surgery to repair a torn labrum. The potential is there for him to be a very solid player at the DE position for years to come as he grows into his body and his new position. The surprise improvement of Olivier Vernon in his 2nd season is just an added bonus as we can never have enough pass rushers on the team.
The next player drafted was Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State most likely looking to fill the void with the departure of Vontae Davis and Shawn Smith two young CB’s drafted who failed to make it in Miami V. Davis being traded and S. Smith allowed to walk as the Dolphins did not have a high value on Sean Smith this offseason. The Dolphins did however sign two veteran players between last season and the free agent period to step in and play and that too allowed Miami to let Taylor develop slowly as Brent Grimes discarded by the Falcons have come off his injury and proven to be the solid veteran player he has been and has played at a pro bowl level here in Miami. That is a very good thing too because just like Dion Jordan, Jamar Taylor also had offseason hernia surgery that caused him to miss some camp and miss some time as he healed from surgery. The good thing is he is surrounded by two very good CB’s in Grimes and Patterson who will be invaluable to the development of Taylor so I expect as he matures and grow into his role on the team he will be a very solid player for years to come in Miami.
The next player drafted was Dallas Thomas, Tackle/Guard, Tennessee. Dallas was being called upon prematurely when the Dolphins had issues with the offensive line Dallas was not ready to step in and play at a high level this year and traditionally it takes a few years to develop linemen. He has been inactive just about all season and I am sure he will develop this offseason and come back to camp to compete as the Dolphins will need to address the offensive line and specifically the guard positions as the door is wide open as we approach the offseason because for now only one player on the team has a contract beyond this season (Mike Pouncey ) A-Wall player J. Martin also is signed beyond this season but his future on this team is in doubt. So Dallas Thomas has a great opportunity to land a spot on the line as a starter if he can take advantage of offseason development.
The next player drafted was Will Davis, CB, Utah State he was the 2nd replacement player for the departure of Smith and Davis and like his fellow rookie CB drafted two round earlier his services were not immediately needed as our veteran players have played very well so he gets the luxury to learn behind Grimes and Patterson and develop slowly and hopefully they both will take advantage of this opportunity to learn from two quality veterans.
Jelani Jenkins, LB, Florida was drafted next after Will Davis and he has been mostly playing on special teams along with a few other rookie players who have found a spot on the team as they hopefully will develop into starters at their respective positions. (Same for Don Jones, S, Arkansas State who was our last pick in the draft)
Miami next drafted Dion Sims, TE, Michigan State who I thought would have a much more major role after the injury of Keller but another player drafted a few seasons earlier has stepped in and played exceptionally well for the Dolphins this season Charles Clay. This also allows for Sims to develop slowly and once again he will hopefully take advantage of offseason training and development to come in and compete for playing time next season.
Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida was drafted next and this was to fill the void at RB when the Dolphins let Reggie Bush walk this offseason. Gillislee’s services were not needed until a recent injury to Daniel Thomas that required another RB to spell Lamar Miller who was the true replacement RB for the departed Reggie Bush.
Miami next spent a draft pick on Caleb Sturgis, K, Florida to replace veteran kicker Damn Carpenter who cost Miami some games last year that most likely cost him his job. Sturgis has the stronger leg but his accuracy has been questionable and he has missed some easy field goals in some games that make you wonder if he was worth getting rid of Carpenter. Hopefully he will also find a way to improve in the offseason because if he does not improve in his accuracy he will soon find how easy it is to replace a kicker.
As for our last pick Don Jones he has made some noise on special teams some good and some bad but he too has proven to be a good pick that also will find a way to earn playing time on the team.
Many critics of GM Jeff Ireland point to our rookie class and try to make an argument that their lack of playing time and production is an indictment on the GM, I am arguing that the opposite is actually the case because the Dolphins are deep and have solid players with very few holes as the free agents and past draft picks have stepped into position and played very well. That is to the credit of the Gm and his staff as well as the coaches who are actually developing players the right way.
This team is slowly turning into a very good team and it is because of the great job done by the GM and coaches and as these young players properly get judged 3-5 years from now they just might be the stars of the NFL who have been allowed top properly develop as the Dolphins have very few holes left on the team and just now need time for the current players to mature as they are doing right before our eyes.
The Dolphins for all intents and purposes are in the playoffs as their last 4 games are all MUST wins and they would still need a little help even if they do win out because the Ravens last year’s Super bowl winner can beat Miami out if they run the table too, because they beat the Dolphins in Miami Oct 26th by the score 26-23.
The Dolphins have done an excellent job considering all that surrounded this team this season. For them to be in the hunt in December is more than enough proof needed to assure another season for this management team and players to get another opportunity to improve on what is truly a young and developing team.
Joe Philbin has done a good job of keeping this team focused despite all the distractions and Jeff Ireland to his credit has done a very good job of stocking this team with veteran players and replacement players to afford this team the opportunity to be in contention this December. Despite his detractors (AKA HATERS) Jeff has done an excellent job of providing the Dolphins with players that makeup the very team we are all enjoying. Yes, they have some maturation issues as they are still in the developmental stage where most of the players are just in year two and some just their first year in this system.
Like him or not Ryan Tannehill is our QB now and in the future as he is showing signs that he is a very solid QB with the potential to be very good to great. I still contend a better QB’s coach/OC would do wonders for his growth (Gary Kubiak anybody?)
The Dolphins Defense and its players are starting to develop as some players are actually learning a new position and are now in a 4-3 scheme as oppose to the 3-4 scheme they are use to. In fact many feel Miami would be better suited with the players we have for a 3-4 Defense.
The point is Miami is now starting to hit their stride and a win Sunday would produce the first back to back win since the last game of their 4 game winning streak back in September against the Falcons. The old Dolphins would always disappoint in games like the one we have coming up Sunday against Pittsburg but this is not the Old Dolphins these Dolphins are truly starting to come together and even in a loss or if they fail to make the playoffs I am convinced that we have the right folks in place to turn this team into contenders not only in the division but in the NFL.
They are not perfect, they are not a top-tier team YET but I see them headed in the right direction and I hope the owner will stick with his management team and not make the mistake the previous owner made when he turned this team into a recycling (pun intended) company as we went through coaches just about every other year.
I have preached continuity for the past two seasons and I feel we have the management in place and the coaching staff (with a few tweaks) in place to turn this Dolphins team into a contender as long as we don’t start playing with the reset button.
A win Sunday would go a long way in preventing the calls from irrational fans to fire everybody as they do every time the Dolphins lose. I too have been guilty of that at times myself but as I calm down from a loss I look at this team and I actually like what I see.
It was not to long ago we were talking about how it’s been 13-14 since Miami had a QB, now we have one. It was not too long ago we were having issues with incompetency at the coaching position and even though we all can second guess some of the things done with this staff it just feels like we are in competent hands with Philbin at the helm and I am not regretting that we did not land Jeff Fisher of even Jim Harbaugh about now. We have solved two key positions that have plagued this team for years QB and coaching.
This team also is full of young talent and even with haters harping on every negative they can find and even make up about our GM I for one do not see any issue and feel it is because of our GM that this team is even in contention. Jeff made quick and decisive moves to get McKinney to man the LT spot and even with a rough start and short benching Clabo has settled in well on the right side of the line and when you don’t hear too much about the offensive line that is a sign that they are playing very well.
They are blocking well and in fact the line is playing better than any time this year. I have taken sides already on the Martin gate and if it were up to me Martin would be fined for walking away from the team and I would reinstate Incognito ASAP. But despite all the drama the team was able to still focus and not allow it to derail their season and that in itself tells you how blessed we are to have the people in place that we do as for the second season we enter December with hopes of making the playoffs and that too is another thing we need to start getting use to because to many season have passed where I would be talking NFL draft about now and I have not even looked at the prospects this season because the Dolphins are still relevant in December.
And for that I say Thank you Miami!
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
When: Sunday, December 8, 1:00 PM (ET) on CBS
Point Spread: Pittsburgh Steelers -3.5
The Dolphins go on the road to face another team that has a slim chance to still make the playoffs, it’s just not a very good chance as the Steelers have 7 losses already and you know my feelings about 7 losses it time to look forward to the NFL draft. Miami has (despite distractions) maintained the edge in the playoff hunt with the Ravens slightly ahead of them for the last spot as a wildcard team. Miami’s remaining schedule Steelers, Patriots, Bills and Jets though challenging is not as difficult as the Steelers remaining schedule Miami, Cincinnati, Green Bay and Cleveland when you look at win percentage but the one thing in the Steelers favor is they have 3 out of 4 games at home.
So it will be an interesting last 4 games for both teams and maybe even another team or two who can move into contention too should Miami and the Steelers stumble down the stretch. I am hoping Miami can make the playoffs so we do not have to go through any changes because to me it will be more detrimental than allowing everybody to come back next year for season 3. If any of you do not recognize that this team and it’s management are doing good and to fire the GM and or the head coach is asking for them to hit the reset button, you need to think it over.
Keep in mind Miami basically has been in every game minus one. That is a sign that they are close but just needs more maturation sort of like this commercial:
The Dolphins just need more time and some fans need to practice more self-restraint and patience.
The matchup: on Offense
Miami enters the game in second place in the AFC East 6-6, averaging 21 points per game which ranks them 24th with 252 total points so far this year 24th, they are ranked 17th in passing with 2,799 yards passing averaging 233.2 PYPG, they are 25th in rushing with 1,064 total yards rushing, averaging 88.7 RYPG 4.0 yards per carry as a team.
The Steelers enters the game in third place in the AFC North 5-7 averaging 21.9 points per game which ranks them 22nd with 263 total points so far this year 22nd they are ranked 8th in passing with 3,141 yards passing averaging 261.8 PYPG, they are 31st in rushing with 922 total yards rushing, averaging 76.8 RYPG 3.3 yards per carry as a team.
The matchup: on Defense
Miami enters the game 9th in points given up per game with an average of 20.3 PPG, they rank 9th against the pass giving up on average 221.7. YPPG, they rank 25th in the league against the run giving up on average 121.8 YRPG and they are ranked 14th in total yards given up per game with an average of 343.4 TYPG.
The Steelers enters the game 14th in points given up per game with an average of 23.2 PPG, they rank 11th against the pass giving up on average 225.4 YPPG,they rank 18th in the league against the run giving up on average 115.1 YRPG and they are ranked 13th in total yards given up per game with an average of 340.5 TYPG.
Miami needs Ryan Tannehill to step up and deliver, he needs to do a better job of throwing the ball and in particular the deep ball when he has a shot. His receivers have played well from Hartline, Wallace, Clay and Matthews they have caught the majority of his passes even ones that are not perfectly placed. It would be a really nice sign to see Tannehill find a way to put 30+ points on a team this year as he has missed plenty of opportunities to do so this season but it is never to late and hopefully this Sunday against the Steelers he will pickup from his 300 yard game last week and hit on some of the plays he has let slip away. He is developing into a good QB and now we need him to take that next step. If he does these last 4 weeks can be the catalyst that gets this team into the playoffs and possibly past the first round. This team is good enough to beat any team but also inconsistent enough to lose to any team.
Miami needs to continue running the ball after the success they had with Lamar Miller last week when he carried the ball 22 times, it has always been my contention that Miller needs at least 20 touches per game because of his game breaking speed and with Thomas being injured it will allow Miller and Gillislee a chance to shine and prove their worth. The weather is forecasting rain/snow mix so our run game is really important as it will be needed should passing prove to be an issue. The numbers suggest that Miami should be able to run against the Steelers. I feel not enough credit is being given to the offensive line as they have played very well these past few weeks.
The offense is starting to mature and our defense is starting to play better. this will not be an easy game and in fact no game remaining on our schedule is easy because our dolphins are still trying to get their identity as this season has proven to be a roller-coaster of emotions and play for this team and it’s fans.
We all know what this game means, a win for Miami will keep them in the playoff race a loss will put them very far behind the curve that it will most likely end our hopes for this season to make the playoffs. The month of December is a very important month and should Miami somehow find a way to get hot and sustain their play these last 4 games Miami will make the playoffs. It is in their hands and now is the time to step up and take what can be theirs.
As always GO MIAMI!!!
Fantasy Football Matchup:
|QB||Ryan Tannehill||17.1||QB||Ben Roethlisberger||19.06|
|RB||Lamar Miller||7.3||RB||Le’Veon Bell||10.4|
|WR||Mike Wallace||15||WR||Antonio Brown||17.3|
|WR||Rishard Matthews||9.6||WR||Jerricho Cotchery||11.5|
|TE||Charles Clay||4.2||TE||Heath Miller||3.8|
|K||Caleb Sturgis||8||K||Shaun Suisham||8|
|DEF||Miami Dolphins||4||DEF||Pittsburgh Steelers||5|