I shall not be at another regular season game at Third and Long as I am flying home to London for the holidays. So barring a Christmas miracle of a Miami post season chances are I won’t get to catch up with many of you until the draft. So here’s to hoping.
The list of of injuries keep mounting, maybe we have been luckier than other teams for most of the season but this feel like a really bad time to start getting them.Since the Dolphins beat the Jags last week I have seen a number of articles and posts relating to the fact that the Dolphins are still alive in the playoff race here. Still alive yes, but with a very weak pulse and on life support, about ready to flat line as early as this Sunday. Week 15 produced the perfect scenario to keep us in it, all the teams that we needed to lose did just that and we won. Thing is when the playoff spot that you can theoretically get hangs in the balance of so many external factors, although it is an exciting prospect I grant you, the only thing the Dolphins can do is continue to win and let the chips fall where they will. Because without victories against the Bills this Sunday and the patriots the following Sunday it really doesn’t matter what else happens.
Ryan Tannehill needs to focus on one game at a time. He has been performing well as of late, at least to the extent where he is no making any rash decisions and turning the ball over. But is lack of TD’s seriously is concerning to me, its not really being discussed because for the most part the seasons expectations have been exceeded and he has looked decent. But in this category he is infinitely behind on all his fellow rookies, and we cannot put this purely down to the fact that he doesn’t have that elite receiver because Hartline and Bess have both been fantastic and there has been a supporting cast that can make it work. Weeden has 14 with the Browns, who the hell is he throwing the ball to? Russell Wilson has 21 in Seattle. To some extent its been the play calling. The reality is though that if the team ever wants to be competitive in a post season then we need to score more points. All the teams that will be playing in January will have QB’s who can produce in the red zone.
Its been a tough week for the Dolphins and trying to figure a approach for the Bills game has been difficult. Seems like everyday this week we llearn of another player who was either limited in practice or did not participate at all. Another reason not to get swept up in the thrill of still being alive ofr the playoffs, we could potentially face the Bills with our weakest squad yet of the season.
At the time of writing this Daniel Thomas has just gone on IR. As is Charles Clay.
These two injuries will have huge ramifications for the teams dynamic and game plan. firstly, Miller now figures into getting a greater role in the remaining two games. I am personally thrilled about this. I have really liked what i have seen form him and truly believe that he can be a big contributor to this team. However he is cut from the same cloth as Bush, what Thomas brought to the table was quite different, he represented the more prototypical big bruising back to run in between the tackles. Perhaps Javorskie Lane could figure more in the running game this week as well.
Clays absence and the general pain felt on the receiving corps could open a door for Egnew to at least be activated for this week. Bess is still out for now, and Hartline has been limited in practice. Right now Egnew, a third round pick, has bust written all over him. A third round pick should have contributed more to the season, anything actually and he hasn’t, its very telling. but our hand is being forced here. My biggest problem with Egnew from what i saw of him in hard knocks came down to the fact that he just didn’t seem to get it, when the coaches were chewing him out for this or that he just seemed to look shell shocked. The NFL is perhaps too much some people.We are going to be playing for some pride here as well as playing to stay in the playoff picture. When we last met up the Dolphins turned in one of their worst performances this season. Winning this game to atone for that should be motivation enough and the fact that this is the last home game of the season should only add to the importance of doing. Come on Phins fans of Florida, do not let our boys down, be sure to be there and show your support.
The Bills, despite a roster loaded with talent, have had a disappointing season. But there have been the games where they have been terrific, mainly because of running back CJ Spiller. The rest of their talent lies mostly in their defense.
So if our quality run D turns up and does the job we know they are capable of doing in shutting down Spiller we can force a very average QB in Fitzpatick to try and pass the ball more to his very average receiving corps. Though with our secondary as it is this actually doesn’t give me as much confidence as it ought to. But really once again, with Hartline and Bess likely at less than 100%, the loss of Clay and Thomas, our D will have to keep the offense alive.
But hey, like I said a few weeks ago, with a huge off season for the Dolphins coming up getting a better look at some of the younger guys on the roster can only be a good thing. The circumstances as they are now will force Philbins hand and allow some of these guys a real chance to get out there and showcase what they can do in a real and meaningful game.
As of this point right now, its a win win situation for the Dolphins. The playoffs although still a possibility albeit a very slim one, so these guys are still playing for January. On the other hand with such a big off season coming missing out on the playoffs means a greater chance for Philbin to build his squad through the draft. We have won more games than I thought we would and with the exception of the first Bills game and the Titans game we have played with heart. Provided we build on what we have accomplished this season then the future is genuinely looking pretty bright at this point. Remember a number of those losses (Cardinals, Jets, Colts) were by field goals, they were heartbreaking losses but the point is that this is a team on the cusp of being a contender. If Tannehill can throw so more TD’s we could really close out those sort of games in the third quarter. Its all very well and good pinning those losses on Dan Carpenter but truth be told thanks to our turnover differential and the lack of red zone efficiency we have given those games away as a team.
I will be doing my best to catch this game from London, may have to resort to streaming it online. Oh well. For the rest of you, whether you are back home with family and friends, or amongst friends at Third and long, have a very happy Christmas!
Update:Â Less than 30 seconds after I hit send on this post the word came out that Dan Carpenter has been sent to injured reserve. The Dolphins signed kickerÂ Nate Kaeding to replace him.
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