Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dolphins-Bills: Game Analysis

Sometimes things just don't go your way, and Miami's latest loss, nay the entire season, is proof of that axiom.

This game against the Bills was the closest that Miami has come all season to winning a game. One look at the stats will tell you that they should have won they game. They generally outplayed Buffalo for three quarters...but we all know that a complete game lasts four. And if there's anything that this team routinely fails at, it's finishing out a complete game.

Just for fun (and pain), let's look at some stat comparisons between the Bills and Phins to get a better idea of why this loss is so frustrating:
  • 3rd down efficiency: Buffalo - 2/10, Miami - 9/19
  • Yards per rush: Buffalo - 2.5, Miami - 3.8
  • Turnovers: Buffalo - 1, Miami - 0
  • Time of possession: Buffalo - 23:01, Miami - 36:59
So, judging by those stats alone, one would make the assumption (correctly, I might add) that Buffalo was absolutely inept on offense, particularly running the ball, and could not sustain long drives. One would also note that Miami actually won the turnover battle and avoided turning the ball over at all.

And yet...the team lost.

A lot of people are quick to crucify Cleo Lemon for the outcome, and while he certainly played a significant part in the losing effort, this was not all his fault. Hell, he didn't throw an interception or fumble the ball away. Under those circumstances, with the defense playing stoutly, this team should have been able to win. Yes, he should have known to throw the ball away in the endzone instead of taking a sack and he missed a deep throw to Ginn, but this loss is not entirely Lemon's fault. However, angry fans will make it seem that way so that they can continue to complain about not seeing John Beck. (Disclaimer: I don't think Lemon is the answer either, but I realize that it's not going to make much difference whether Beck starts 5 games or 7 games this season. It is absolutely critical that impatience be avoided when dealing with Beck's development.)

The real culprit in this loss is once again a late game collapse, this time courtesy of both the offense and defense (plus some normal special teams ineptitude).

Here's a quick list of what was good and bad:

The Bad
The WRs - I don't know if it was the playcalling, but the receivers played a horrible game, especially Marty Booker - the most consistent guy of the bunch. He had three critical drops, which is one more than the number of catches he made. Other than a very few occasions, no one was getting open deep. Of the 16 receptions by Miami players, only 5 were by wide receivers.

Cleo Lemon - He really needed to throw that ball away and avoid a safety. He also missed Ginn open downfield, and he resorted to his check-downs more than I would like to see. Still, that very well could be a fault of the playcalling, and at the very least, he didn't turn the ball over.

Penalties - How many more kicks does Ted Ginn Jr. have to return for a TD only to have them called back. He made an impact play, taking it back to the house directly after a Buffalo score, and got the momentum back on Miami's side in a big way, only to have it nullified because of a boneheaded penalty. Miami's coverage and return units are atrocious.

The Good
Jesse Chatman - This guy is a warrior. He puked on the field and went on to put up 124 yards rushing. 'Nuff said.

Will Allen - Did my eyes deceive me, or did Will Allen actually catch a football? It's amazing, I didn't think those two stone blocks could accomplish such a feat. Joking aside, that was a clutch play in the endzone, single-handedly taking points off the board for the Bills.

Joey Porter - JPeezy in the house! Finally, a good game out of the $20 million man. Porter was able to pressure Losman all game and provide solid run support. He recorded 6 tackles and a sack. If he can keep up that kind of play for the rest of the season, the case could be made that he was hampered by that knee injury for the entire first half. If so, he won't be a complete bust. Still, this is only one game out of nine. Let's see if it continues.


Play of the Game - Marshawn Lynch rumblin', bumblin', and stumblin' his way to a TD by churning his way through first, second, and third contact.

Player of the Game - I would say Chatman, except he was on the losing team. I guess by default it goes to Lynch.

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