Posted: 11:09 pm Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Coaches Film: Breaking down the key plays and trends of Miami Dolphins’ 23-16 loss to New England Patriots 

By Post Staff

After reviewing the coaches tape, a breakdown of key plays and trends from the Dolphins’ 23-16 loss to the Patriots:

1. Ryan Tannehill: A game of missed opportunities.

Not to be too harsh on Tannehill, who has had many positive moments this season, but it couldn’t have been fun for him to watch the film, because he missed several opportunities to make big plays and possibly lead his team to victory. He finished 13-for-29 (44.8 percent) for 186 yards.

“It’s tough when you miss throws you make 99 times out of 100 in practice and even in games,” he said Wednesday. “I was definitely frustrated that night and when I watched the film, but I’m over it now and just ready to make the throws the next time it comes up.”

Let’s start with the most memorable miss: The bomb to Brian Hartline in the first quarter. Hartline is the receiver up top:

The Dolphins run a playaction pass with the two receivers running vertical routes. See where the safety is located pre-snap:

And look at the safety bite hard on the playaction fake, as well as the cornerback:

Hartline’s got them beat, and it’s not even close:

But the throw is JUST out of his reach:

As for other examples of missed opportunities, there was this slant pass behind Reggie Bush, that could have been a big gain on third down:

This time, Charles Clay is wide open for a big gain on this seam pattern in the third quarter:

But the ball is thrown way behind Clay. He makes the catch for 20 yards, but it could have been so much more:

In the fourth quarter, he threw incomplete to Hartline in the back of the end zone, but look at Anthony Fasano creeping out into the flat wide open:

And one last deep ball to Hartline, who knows he’s wide open right away:

But the ball is badly underthrown this time:

And it’s another missed opportunity for the Dolphins:

2. The Patriots missed some big plays, too.

This is not meant to pile on Tannehill, because Tom Brady and the Patriots missed a few big plays of their own, as well.

Like this overthrown pass to Julian Edelman, who had three steps on Jimmy Wilson and Chris Clemons:

And how did Wes Welker not catch this touchdown in the fourth quarter?

3. Tannehill made a few good throws, too.

He should do this more often, like hit Hartline for 22 yards in between four defenders:

And this perfect fade to Rishard Matthews for 28 yards in the fourth quarter (nice catch, too):

4. Officials should be held accountable, too.

We’re all professionals here, so everyone should be held equally accountable, including the officials. And let’s just say that Sunday’s game wasn’t referee Ron Winter’s finest performance.

Of course, there was the facemask on Tannehill that even Dan Dierdorf couldn’t believe wasn’t called:

Courtesy Allen Eyestone, Post staff

Winter also badly botched the penalty announcement on Reshad Jones’ interception run-back — so much so that the official game book credited Reggie Bush with one of the low block penalties (which is impossible, because, you know, Bush doesn’t play on defense). In reality, the Pats’ No. 22, Stevan Ridley, committed a low block penalty, as did Dolphins rookie Olivier Vernon.

Furthermore, Winter and his crew botched the penalty mark-off, as well. The one thing Winter did get right in his explanation was the spot of the ball — the Dolphins would get the ball “at the spot where the team in possession’s foul occurred,” as stated by rule 14.3.3.

As we see here, Vernon committed his low block at the 26 or 27. The recipient of Ridley’s low block is on the ground around the 32:

Where does Winter’s crew spot the ball? At the spot of Ridley’s penalty, of course, eight yards behind the spot of Vernon’s penalty:

That’s eight yards that the Dolphins lost on the spot. Of course, it doesn’t appear that anyone on the coaching staff noticed it in time. But we’d be crying bloody hell if the replacement refs did this.

And finally, I never like to complain about penalties, but this non-call of intentional grounding on Brady seems absurd. Here he is pre-snap, lined up directly on the hash, and the left tackle is easily two yards off the hash:

He throws the ball about a yard off the hash, and inside the left tackle:

And there’s no Patriots receiver within 20 yards of the throw:

That play likely wouldn’t have changed the outcome, but that’s an easy call to make.

5. Reshad Jones’ INT: How’d he do it?

Speaking of that interception, let’s break it down, because it was a tremendous individual effort by Jones, who had one of his best games as a pro with 10 tackles, a sack and this interception.

Hitting the R2 button on our Playstation controller, we see that the Patriots will send TE Daniel Fells up the seam and Aaron Hernandez out of the backfield on a wheel route. The Patriots’ goal is that Sean Smith, playing on the outside, and Jones, lined up next to him, will follow Fells up the seam, leaving Hernandez wide open on the wheel route:

Except Jones does a good job of diagnosing the play and picks up Hernandez quickly:

Jones is running step-for-step with Hernandez when the ball is thrown:

And Jones corrals the pass with a ridiculous one-handed reach:

His dive into the end zone, which ultimately didn’t count, was also impressive:

Allen Eyestone

Of course, credit the Pats for sticking with that wheel route concept. Here they are, first play of the fourth quarter in a 17-10 game. Notice Clemons playing up on the line:

Clemons bites on the playaction as Hernandez runs the wheel route:

By the time Clemons realizes what’s happening, it’s too late:

And it’s a foot race to the goal line. Hernandez gets a 31-yard gain down to the 2:

6. From the “We Don’t Trust You” file:

Joe Philbin knows that the Patriots, if any team, will have something special up their sleeve on offense or special teams. The Dolphins didn’t know what the Patriots might pull, but notice how they put an extra man up near the line of scrimmage on kickoffs, just in case:

7. Tannehill and the pass rush: A case of “happy feet.”

The blitz was Tannehill’s best friend early in the season, when he torched the Cardinals for 431 yards (308 vs. the blitz) and again hit several big passes against the blitz in a win the next week against the Bengals. But Tannehill’s pocket awareness and decision-making under pressure wasn’t top notch against the Patriots.

First, let’s look at his lost fumble in the second quarter, which led to a Patriots field goal and a 17-3 deficit. Notice that he’s staring down his receivers on the left, while Bush has a big beat on his defender down the right hash, and the safety conveniently isn’t paying attention:

If he looks at Bush, he’s got a touchdown:

And it’s not like Tannehill was under immediate duress. He had time to make the read and the throw:

But he holds on too long for his primary receiver to get open, and Trevor Scott gets the sack-strip:

Another troubling trend emerged on Sunday: Tannehill escaped the pocket a bit too early on several occasions, and almost exclusively rolled to his right. Sometimes, that’s the smart play, but many times he could have bought himself even more time by stepping up or spinning back to his left, as Russell Wilson does so well.

For example, on this play late in the third quarter, Tannehill starts to feel the heat, and his initial instinct is to run all the way back and around the defensive end to his right. But if he just takes a step or two up in the pocket, he’d have space to throw, and he’d notice Fasano once again creeping out into the flat:

Fasano is WIDE open:

But Tannehill never sees him, he’s chased all the way to the sideline and he uncorks a low throw on the run to Davone Bess that falls incomplete:

Tannehill only played 19 games in college, so it’s natural that his instincts are still a bit raw when it comes to facing the blitz. But that’s the difference between Tannehill and Wilson, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, who all started for three or more seasons in college.

8. Get up-field, Davone Bess!

We’ll go back to the old cliche that in the NFL, every inch matters. And while Bess has been by far the team’s most consistent receiver this year, he cost his team a big first down by trying to make a bigger play than necessary, as he has done on a few occasions this season.

The Dolphins trailed 17-10 midway through the third quarter, and faced third-and-14 from their 38. Bess catches the pass, and if he just falls forward, he’s got a crucial first down in Patriots territory.

Instead, he tries to run back to find a better angle, slips, and ends up 1 yard shy of the first down:

Another wasted opportunity.

9. Ryan Tannehill’s touchdown: How’d it work?

Ah, the old read-option play, the staple of any good college playbook, and, increasingly, any NFL playbook.

The key defender in the play is Rob Ninkovich on the end. Tannehill has the option to keep it himself or hand off to Daniel Thomas based on what Ninkovich does after the snap:

Ninkovich bites hard, and Tannehill keeps it:

By the time Ninkovich realizes who has the ball, Tannehill is well past him:

Tannehill has one last defender to beat, and he chooses the vertical route:

Allen Eyestone

10. Wes Welker’s touchdown: How’d it work?

The Patriots’ offense seems so simple when you watch it on film, yet their execution is so crisp that defenses are helpless to stop it. Welker’s touchdown in the second quarter was one of those times.

Here’s the play pre-snap. Welker is up top, the Dolphins are showing man coverage and a big blitz:

Brady brings Welker in motion to stack him behind the slot receiver and get Welker a free release off the line of scrimmage:

The quick screen is the perfect way to neutralize the blitz:

The receiver clears out the cornerback, and Welker’s got two big elephants to block the one defender in front of him:

And Welker can walk backwards into the end zone if he wants:

And the Patriots sure do like stacking Welker behind another receiver to get him a free release off the line. Here they did it again to perfection for an 8-yard catch on second-and-7:

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Coaches Film: Breaking down the key plays and trends of Miami Dolphins' 23-16 …Palm Beach Post (blog)Not to be too harsh on Tannehill, who has had many positive moments this season, but it couldn't have been fun for him to watch the film, because he missed several opportunities to make big plays and possibly lead his team to victory. He finished 13 …and more » [...]

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