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  Linehan Blew It
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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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We couldn’t expect anything else. Nick Saban is the face of the Miami Dolphins and his is the only voice. So if you want to blame someone for the bad playcalling against the Falcons, Saban said, blame him.


Sorry Nick, no sale.



Truth be told, Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan ought to be the one standing up and taking the lumps.


After all, he is the one who really cost the Dolphins a win.


Perhaps Linehan forgot the old football axiom that counsels one to put the ball in the hands of your best players in critical situations.


Perhaps Linehan has too much faith in quarterback Gus Frerotte and his receivers.


Or, maybe, LInehan just had a brain cramp. We hope he wasn’t just flat outcoached.


There were various plays throughout the game that bear scrutiny, such as the poorly executed flanker reverses that every NFL team now knows how to defend.


Did Offensive Quality Control coach Judd Garrett forget to send that memo over to Linehan when he was preparing his ill-conceived game plan?


In the end, the real bonehead move was the last offensive play the Dolphins ran.


Let’s reset the situation: 3:28 left to play in the game, Dolphins down 10-17. It is 1st and 10 on the Falcon 16. Ronnie Brown had just converted a critical 4th and 1 situation via a strong 5 yard run. Overall, the running game was clicking with Brown and Ricky Williams each netting 5+ yards a crack. Earlier in the game, Williams had run through the Falcon defense for a 23 yard touchdown.


On first down, Linehan called a pass play which Frerotte and Sammy Morris converted into a two yard gain. On 2nd and 8 from the 14, Linehan called another pass play, which Wes Welker caught for six more yards before getting pushed out of bounds.


Now the fatal error: 3rd and 2, ball on the Atlanta 8 yard line with 2:47 to play. The clock is more of a concern now in that the Dolphins need a touchdown and a PAT to tie but do not want to leave Michael Vick much time left to drive his team into field goal range.


A simple dive play ought to get the Dolphins into a first and goal situation. Worst case, it’s fourth down and they run it again. And why not? The Falcons hadn’t stopped R&R all day, regardless of the defensive front used.


Instead, Linehan ignores his two best players (Ricky and Ronnie) and opts for another pass play involving two average players.


Now when a team throws the football three things can happen and two of them are bad (incomplete and stop the clock, or interception). In this case, Frerotte’s pass for Chris Chambers was picked off by strong safety Keion Carpenter.


Game over and, perhaps, Dolphin playoff hopes as well.


It is time that Linehan accepts that Gus Frerotte won’t win ballgames. He isn’t good enough. No amount of coaching prowess will change that.


Fact is, Frerotte’s role on this team is quite simple: prevent the negative, gamekilling plays that plagued his predecessors (Jay Fiedler and A.J. Feeley), bring a reasonable level of productivity to the table, and provide leadership to this inexperienced offense.


Lest Linehan forget: Frerotte is not Daunte Culpepper; he is a journeyman quarterback of limited means. Or, as Saban might say, “He is what he is”.


Maybe Linehan feels pressure to be creative, given the lucrative contract that Saban handed him to come to Miami. Still, one must be cautious not to try to make chicken soup from chicken feathers.


What Linehan ought to do is stroll over to Don Shula’s old desk and pull out Shula’s 1972 playbook. Offering the ball to R&R 40+ times a game sounds like the perfect approach for this crew. If Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris can make it work, why couldn’t R&R?


It ain’t sexy but it will win games with the pieces Linehan has to work with.


Giving more touches to Chambers certainly isn’t the answer. As much as any loyalist hates to say it, the guy does not play to his talent. It is all too evident that he is not a gamebreaker. Really, on any great team, he’s a #2 or #3 guy.


And who out there would disagree with Lawyer Milloy in that Randy McMichael isn’t worth his $18 million contract?


Ricky observes that the Dolphin offense lacks identity. He is wrong.


The Dolphins have an identity…it’s called R&R. When Linehan stops outsmarting himself and starts playing smart, the Dolphins will win ballgames.


Too much Trust in Gus will continue to get the Dolphins killed.




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