Dolphins defense bends AND breaks versus Colts in 23-20 loss

What I didn’t like

Dolphins Secondary – Coming into this game, we knew that the Dolphins secondary was a concern.  Andrew Luck’s performance turned that concern into emergency management mode.  The Dolphins secondary was torched for 433 yards yesterday, 279 yards of those in the 1st half.  Sean Smith had at least 2 balls that should have been intercepted.  Smith has been solid this season, but his performance yesterday was one he’d like to quickly forget.  Late in the 4th quarter, on a 3rd down pass, Smith had a ball in his arms and inexplicably let the ball fall out.  If he caught the ball, the Dolphins would have already been in position to kick the tying field goal.

The Dolphins secondary was without Richard Marshall again and Nolan Carroll wasn’t up to the task.  Jimmy Wilson was picked on early and often by the Colts and his coverage was loose if anything at all.  Luck picked apart the secondary and routinely found open receivers roaming around down field.  I mentioned on Twitter that I felt like I was watching the Dolphins defense from Dan Marino’s prime.  You know, the defense that let the opposing team run up and down the field?  This MUST be corrected by scheme because the Dolphins cannot bring in any new players at this point in the season.

Dolphins Pass Rush – The Dolphins secondary was bad, but the pass rush didn’t give them much help.  The Dolphins only sacked Andrew Luck once and that was, of course, Cameron Wake.  The Dolphins couldn’t get in Andrew Luck’s face and even when they did, they couldn’t prevent him from getting the ball off and completing passes.  Forget about the fact that Cameron Wake was held on just about every single passing play.  The refs simply didn’t call it yesterday.  The Dolphins must find someone to be a force opposite Wake, to get to the opposing quarterback.

Dolphins Offensive Line – Ryan Tannehill was only sacked twice yesterday, but he was hit a lot more than that.  Jake Long might have had his worst day as a pro and he admits he needs to fix his mistakes.  Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were extremely disruptive and in the Dolphins backfield all day long.  I would’ve liked to have seen a few draws or more screens thrown into the gameplan to slow the pass rushers down.  The offensive line is going to get Tannehill killed.  The kid was playing on a bad leg and took shot after shot from the Colts defenders.  To his credit, he kept getting up, but he’s going to get seriously injured if the poor line play continues.

Coaching – The Dolphins out-coached the Jets last week, but this week the Colts coaching staff got the better of them.  As I said earlier, I dislike the offensive balance (40 passess vs. 18 runs).  The game was not a blowout, so there was no need to abandon the running game.  I also disagree with the coaches in their use of Lamar Miller.  He was in the game and took a handoff for 7 yards, which could have been more if he didn’t trip.  This guy needs to be on the field more.  If pass protection is a problem, put him in the game with Daniel Thomas, but Miller needs to be on the field.

The Dolphins coaching staff did a poor job of making adjustments at halftime.  The Dolphins managed just 3 points in the second half after scoring 17 in the 1st half.  That shows me that the Colts made better adjustments to their defense.  The Dolphins defense, allowed fewer yards to Andrew Luck in the 2nd half, but still allowed him to walk up and down the field on them.  Better scheme adjustments must be made at the half to fix mismatches.

Overall, this loss hurt the Dolphins in a number of ways.  First, they fell a game behind the Patriots in the AFC East.  Second, they let another close game get away. Third, they fell a game behind the Steelers and Colts in the AFC Wild Card race.  The Dolphins come home this weekend to host the Titans.  After the Tennessee game, the Dolphins head to Buffalo for a Thursday night matchup, then have 10 days off to prepare for the Seahawks at home.  If the Dolphins want to talk playoffs, they need to win these next 3 games.  If not, we’ll just have to watch them play out this season, hoping to see Tannehill continue to improve.  For now though, we’re left to wonder ‘what if’, a place we’ve been before.

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