With the Chicago Bears awaiting, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin and his coordinators assuredly wanted to move on Monday. But Philbin, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle patiently answered lingering questions that begged answers in the wake of Sunday’s 27-24 loss to Green Bay.
▪ Philbin indicated that he told his coordinators he wanted to try to get a first down if the Dolphins were nursing a lead late. So after an incomplete pass on second down, why did they run on a third and 9 – Lamar Miller gained one yard on the play – with 3:01 left?
Philbin said he told Lazor to run the ball on that third-down play.
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Why? Philbin said “we had some pressure and we had some free runners at the quarterback” on the previous incomplete pass.
He said: “I got a little antsy. I didn’t want to see us fumble or do something potentially devastating i.e. Buffalo 2013 when we fumbled the ball.”
Philbin was referring to the game last October when Ryan Tannehill fumbled on a sack at the Miami 44 with the Dolphins preserving a lead and 2:48 left. The Bills recovered and kicked a field goal to win the game.
“I told Bill to run the ball on third and nine,” Philbin said. “I got a little queasy” about Green Bay’s pass rush.
How often does Philbin tell Lazor what play to run? “Not a ton,” Philbin said.
▪ Why did Coyle have linebacker Philip Wheeler alone on coverage on tight end Andrew Quarless on Aaron Rodgers’ game winning four-yard touchdown pass with three second left?
“Their two main targets in the red zone are [Jordy] Nelson and [Randall] Cobb almost exclusively this year,” Coyle said. “They had been in that formation only twice, and both times they tried to throw the ball to inside receivers earlier in the season. It was a difficult spot for Philip to be in. Great player [Rodgers] made a great play. We had been in that defense a couple times in the game. One time we got a sack, one time we got great pressure. We all can question it.”
▪ But why not instead use Jelani Jenkins or Koa Misi to cover Quarless on that play?
Philbin said Misi “wasn’t ready to go at that particular point.” Coyle said if Misi had been available, “it might have been Jelani as opposed to Philip.”
But why use Wheeler instead of Jenkins on Quarless, regardless of Misi’s availability?
“That was the call,” Philbin said. “It was a coverage we know, coverage we practice, something we believe in.”
▪ Wheeler said he didn’t practice that game-winning touchdown play all week. Is that true?
“He didn’t practice it because they hadn’t run it,” Coyle said. “You don’t start creating plays you don’t anticipate happening.
“Has he been in that situation in some other point in time in camp or one-on-one drills? Yeah, but that doesn’t mean he was working on that play during the course of the week. You only have so many snaps in a week to practice. You don’t start inventing things.”
▪ Wheeler blamed the touchdown 50 percent on his coverage and 50 percent on the defensive call. What did Coyle think about that?
Coyle didn’t directly answer, instead saying: “I wish we were successful on the call. After a game like that, there are a number of calls that you might say ‘I wish we did this or… that.”
▪ Should Wheeler instead have lined up in the face of Quarless on that play?
“There was space,” Coyle said. “When you line up real tight, they’re going to throw the ball over the top of you and that’s not a position that linebackers are as accustomed to being up there in tight press. His alignment was OK. You’ve just got to be careful of a cardinal rule… is never get pushed into the end zone.”
▪ Why call a timeout before Green Bay’s winning touchdown?
“It certainly didn’t turn out to be the right decision,” Philbin said. “But it’s something I’ve done in the past and obviously I’ll continue to think about doing in the future….I’m not sitting here saying it’s a great decision by Joe Philbin.”
Coyle said the two Miami timeouts on that Packers drive “were good decisions – gave us a chance to anticipate formations, gave our rush guys a chance to catch a little bit of a blow.”
▪ Were the Dolphins prepared for Rodgers’ fake spike that resulted in a 12-yard completion to Davante Adams with six seconds left?
“We cover that in training camp and practice,” Philbin said.
Coyle said “it wasn’t so much the fake spike cost us the game…. We’ve got to tackle the guy, get him on the ground and the game is over.”
▪ But was Cortland Finnegan supposed to be that far off Adams on that fake-spike play? “He could have been a little closer,” Philbin said, adding that Dolphins’ defensive backs were sometimes “a little too deep.”
▪ Lazor’s biggest regrets? After Miami blocked a punt at the 16, the Dolphins didn’t score on a first and goal from the Packers four. “We had better plays than the one I called,” Lazor said.
Overall, Philbin said: “I have to do a better job. I’m the head coach.”
▪ The Dolphins reinstated defensive end Derrick Shelby, who was suspended for the past week after being charged with resisting arrest without violence and trespassing.