First Take: Miami Dolphins 24 Indianapolis Colts 20

Luck

We ran the ball well – 22 rushes for 95 yards by our running backs.  Luck passed for 321 yards.  Our defense recorded 5 sacks.  We also recovered a fumble.  Yet, we are all sitting here scratching our heads after a 24-20 loss as, for the second week in a row, the bad seemed to outweigh the good.  This time, it led to a loss.  I’ve been hard on the coaches and I again saw flaws that must be corrected.  I’m still not sure this group of coaches have what it takes to collectively coach an NFL football team.  I guess I’ll just start there and get it out on the table.

We did a nice job moving the ball down the field on the opening drive.  But then, when it was 3rd down and 1 and we failed to convert, Pagano goes for a 52 yard field goal instead of going for it.  Adam Vinatieri is very good but from 50+, there is no sure thing.  I would rather go for it and potentially have the Dolphins take over at the 35 than give them an extra 7 yards on the miss.  Pagano chose the conservative route which is part of my issue with his coaching.  Throughout the game, the Colts did a decent job of mixing up the run and pass, but in the 2nd half, they definitely focused more on the pass as 21 of their 30 second half plays were pass attempts (or pass attempts that turned into Luck runs or sacks).  If you read my columns, you know know my focus on run first, pass second.  Some will argue that we have to put the ball into the hands of our best playmaker and that is Andrew Luck.  I disagree.  You give Luck better opportunities by keeping the defense honest via the run.  We were having success too!  Bradshaw ran hard – rushing for 65 yards on 15 carries.  Even Donald Brown collected 30 yards on 7 carries.  I’m just perplexed on some of the play calling.  Mrs. ColtsGab made the observation that even Luck looks a bit confused out there.  Something just isn’t clicking.  Maybe it’s Pep Hamilton’s new offense.  I don’t exactly know, but something isn’t working as it should.

I’ll know go to the defensive side of the football which is even more confusing to me.  We invest tens of millions of dollars in our defense and they look completely lost out there.  They show flashes of good play, but it’s very inconsistent.  Even our secondary which I incorrectly said could be the best in the NFL has been less than stellar.  Ryan Tannehill tore them up early and often.  He ended up completing 23 of 34 for 317 yards.  We also allowed a running game that meagerly gathered 20 yards rushing on 23 carries last week, to gain 100 yards on 23 carries today.  For about 2 drives, we were able to get very good pressure on Tannehill.  We ended up sacking him 5 times.  That said, it seemed to all come at once.  We adjusted, but the Dolphins called our bluff and made changes and we weren’t able to react.  Greg Manusky was a questionable choice for defensive coordinator last year and I would have him on a very short leash if I was Ryan Grigson.  The problem is that Chuck Pagano is supposed to be a defensive minded coach.  Can’t he make the necessary changes?

Then there are the mental errors.  An illegal shift caused the Colts a touchdown.  An illegal touch (of the football mind you), cost the Colts 19 yards on a punt.  Coby Fleener fails to turn quickly enough on a pass that could have resulted in a touchdown, almost resulted in an interception and ultimately resulted in an incomplete pass.  Look, I don’t want to beat up Coby too much as he had a decent game.  Still, he should know better and the coaches should coach him better. The difference between teams  and their talent in the NFL is so small – it’s about coaching down to the nth degree that separates a playoff team from a non-playoff team.

Okay – I’ve said all I’m going to say (for now) on coaching.  I’m being very critical…..rightfully so.

Injuries really hurt us today.  It started with Vick Ballard’s injury early in the week, continued with the announcement that Dwayne Allen would not be playing and then ended with the loss of Donald Thomas for the year (with a quad tear) and Darrius Heyward-Bey leaving due to a shoulder injury (MRI tonight).  Ahmad Bradshaw did very well in the starting role although he clearly looked winded at the end of the game (which is maybe why he wasn’t out there on the last few offensive plays of the game????  I hope it was this and not a coaching decision as Brown is not a blocking back – period).  Injuries happen to everyone so it’s no excuse.  It is, however, unfortunate.  The Donald Thomas injury is a big one.  The only silver lining is that we will get to see Hugh Thornton play on the line.

And let’s talk a little more about that line……it played well early, wilted towards the middle of the game and then blew up late in the game.  This is a continuing problem that won’t get any better with the Thomas injury.  Some of the pressure was induced by the Dolphins secondary who covered the Colt receivers very well.  Some of the pressure may have been due to a lack of quick decision making by Luck.  But a good bit of the pressure was due to poor blocking by the offensive line.  This group must gel sooner than later.

Okay….I’ll mention a few bright spots before I stop this post and begin thinking even more about the game which will lead to additional thoughts later.  T.Y. Hilton is a really, really good receiver and overall player.  His 47 yard reception, leaping over the receiver and reaching out to catch the ball, was simply amazing.  He continues to be an exciting player.  Too bad that was the last ball he caught on the day.  Coby Fleener also looked much better, catching a few long passes, picking up a few blocks and catching what should have been 2 touchdowns (1 was called back due to the illegal shift).  Robert Mathis was a beast.  His play on 4th and 1 where he jumped the line to get the first hit on Tannehill was amazing.  He also stripped a ball and had 2 sacks.  I thought our middle linebackers, Pat Angerer and Jerrell Freeman also played well.   They combined for 9 tackles, 10 assists and 2.5 sacks.

Okay….enough of me.  What are your thoughts.  Can’t wait to hear.


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