OK, time to worry.
When you physically dominate a team like the Dolphins did to the Colts last Monday night and you don’t come away with a win, something clearly went wrong that should not have gone wrong. And what that something was was coaching. Sparano deserves a lot of praise for the job he’s done since filling the tiny shoes of Nick Saban and Cam Cameron, but blame for the 27-23 loss to the Colts rests squarely on Sparano shoulders. A coach is responsible for a lot of things and Sparano got a lot of things right in Week Two. The game plan was great, the execution was better, and we saw a much more motivated and mistake-free performance than we saw in that Week One atrocity. But the in-game play-calling and clock management…ugh.
The three moments that stood out: (1) Facing third-and-seven at the Indy 32 with 56 seconds left in the first half, the Dolphins run Ricky Williams for five. Then they kick the FG on fourth and a short two. The play-calling here foreshadowed the later events including the devastating sequence that probably cost Miami the game. Going conservative and settling for a long-field goal attempt. I thought Miami should have gone for it on 4th down. And since they left 43 seconds for the Colts to score the tying FG, they probably should have. At the very least Sparano should have learned a lesson here. But he didn’t; (2) Third-and-six at Indy 30. 4:33 left in the game. 20-all. A simple 3-yard Ronnie Brown run and a FG for the sadly all-too-brief lead. Sparano went conservative and played for the field goal even though he knew he’d be leaving Manning almost four minutes only trailing by three. Insane. Bill Parcells is supposed to be this guy’s mentor! After playing so well all game why wouldn’t you try to put the Colts away here with a first down?; (3) The botched two-minute (plus) offense. This was what everyone was talking about after the game. ANd rightly so! I haven’t seen a worse hurry-up offense since Donovan McNabb vomited away Philly’s chances in Super Bowl XXXIX. Running on the first two plays. Wasting a time out. Not getting another play off before the two-minute warning. WTF? Miami had one last shot from the Colts 33. Now imagine if they had one or two more plays. Pulling out a win would have been a realistic scenario. I still can’t fathom how the team blew the end of the game that badly. Pennington’s an experienced QB. He knows what to do in that situation. Sparano and coaching staff didn’t help him.
The Dolphins blew a game they should have won. Now coming off a short week they’ve got a west coast game against a good team. You can’t like those odds even against a banged up San Diego team. I’ll say this. If Miami can take this game Sparano will have gone a long way to removing the taste of that coaching debacle from everyone’s mouth. If Miami loses, they drop to 0-3 and a return to the playoffs is pretty much out of the question. And so will be the chances of Chad Pennington QB’ing this team for 16 games.