Sour recipe for Dolphins’ offense is one part passing, one part rushing and one very big part holding

Is it impossible to win a game while getting flagged 11 times for 107 penalty yards, the way the Miami Dolphins were on Sunday night?

No, the Miami Dolphins edged Arizona 26-23 last year despite being called for 14 penalties.

All those lost yards and all that lost momentum just make it tougher, however, to get anything

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

done, and the Dolphins offense, last in the league going into Sunday’s 27-24 loss to Oakland, doesn’t need anything to make life harder. What they need is better play on the offensive line, and better coaching in that room on the fundamentals of knocking other people around without knocking your own team backwards.

Here, in order, is a listing of the offensive penalties from Sunday night and how they tore great holes in whatever Jay Cutler was trying to build on a 34-of-42 passing night.

Illegal formation charged to Ju’Wan James: Wiped out a 14-yard gain and a third-down conversion on a catch by Jarvis Landry.

Holding on Mike Pouncey: Declined by Raiders because Miami was about to punt anyway.

Holding on Jermon Bushrod: Turned a second-and-10 into a first-and-20.

Holding on Jesse Davis: Wiped out an 8-yard run by Damien Williams that would have put Miami in a manageable third-and-2 situation.

False start by Jesse Davis: Came on the very next snap, turning a second-and-20 into something even worse.

Holding on Jarvis Landry: Wiped out a 30-yard gain to the Oakland 21-yard line on a swing pass to Damien Williams.

Holding on Mike Pouncey: Wiped out a first-down gain of 4 yards on a Kenyan Drake run.

Holding on Jermon Bushrod: Wiped out a fourth-and-9 conversion pass of 14 yards to Julius Thomas.

 

There were two other defensive penalties and a Terrence Fede holding call on a Miami kickoff return but the major problems are on offense, which is Adam Gase’s specialty area.

He’s the head coach who wants to shift into a more fast-tempo mode in his playcalling but is still trying to get his guys to do the basic stuff first. Gase talked last week about changing the way Miami practices and meets and slogs through walk-through sessions. He talked about finding a new way of teaching and of learning.

It’s clearly not working when every starting offensive lineman but Laremy Tunsil gets penalized in a close game that required crisp execution from start to finish.

Difficult to see the Dolphins topping .500 or Gase’s offense ever finding its promised high gear when the offensive line, the foundation of it all, is festooned in yellow flags.

Maybe next year, when Miami finds an offensive line coach with the authority and the skill to demand more professionalism in his room. This problem won’t fix itself quickly, and there was no hope of it ever happening under Chris Foerster, whose own lack of personal discipline got him fired and into rehab.

 

 

 

Once-proud Miami Dolphins have become the Raiders in every way that counts

So now it’s Dan Campbell in the soup.

So now the Miami Dolphins, once among the proudest and most reliable organizations in the NFL, have become the Oakland Raiders.

Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito (68), celebrates with tight ends coach Dan Campbell after defeating the Atlanta Falcons during their NFL game Sunday afternoon, Sept. 22, 2013, at Sun Life stadium in Miami Gardens.(Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post)
Former Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito (68), celebrates with former tight ends coach Dan Campbell, now the team’s head coach, after defeating the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 22, 2013. (Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post)

Check that, the Raiders are 2-3 at the moment, better than Miami’s record, and the boss in Oakland is Jack Del Rio, not a stupendously successful head coach but one with a decade of NFL experience in the job.

Compare that to the Dolphins, who with the worst kind of timing have chosen their golden 50th season to go all the way back to square one.

Miami’s head coach, temporarily or otherwise, is Campbell. In five seasons beyond the coaching intern stage, he has worked exclusively with Dolphin tight ends. His head coaching mentors have been Tony Sparano and Joe Philbin. Sounds like a guy who needs all the help he can get in setting up a winning program, so here goes.

For an assistant head coach, a right-hand man, the team has handed Campbell special-teams coordinator Darren Rizzi.

For a defensive coordinator he gets Lou Anarumo, who was in the coaching game for 20 years before making the step up to the NFL.

For help in fixing the offense Campbell keeps coordinator Bill Lazor, who to this point has been grasping at straws, with the bonus of Al Saunders in a consultant’s role. Saunders is 68 and a former NFL head coach but this doesn’t seem the stage of life where he’s willing to spend every day at practice and every game in headphones.

They don’t call them consultants for nothing.

[Steve Spurrier was a furious sideline force, more like a basketball coach]

[Jordan Spieth’s spectacular season was pretty much average for Tiger of old]

Of course, there’s a lot of hollering right now about getting tougher and pitting teammates against each other in practice and, as Campbell put it at his introductory press conference, taking this thing to where “it’s all about being primates again.”

If that doesn’t sound like the Raider way, what does?

Here is a shocking numbers, and made all the worse by the fact that Miami was ruled for 26 seasons, and very well, by Don Shula, the NFL’s all-time winningest coach.

Over the last 10 years, beginning in 2006, the Dolphins have had six head coaches, interims included. Only one team has had more coaches over that period. That would be seven. That, naturally, would be the Raiders.

Look now at the list of teams coached by one man over the last 10 years. It’s a stable group, like the Dolphins once were. New England, Green Bay, the New York Giants and Cincinnati.

All right, maybe you don’t think the Bengals are that great of an NFL brand name but, hey, who in South Florida has the right to look down on any other market now?

Bottom line, the Dolphins have really ripped the cord on anything that used to make them special and are caught in a free-fall that could last for years.

The Philbin years might actually start looking good after a while, just as the Dave Wannstedt years do now.

This franchise is going backwards after half a century.

Now comes the scrounging for other team’s properties. Instead of Joe Robbie throwing a first-round draft pick into the pot to get Shula from the Colts, it’s Stephen Ross toying with the idea of robbing Sean Payton from the Saints.

Might as well buy a Raiders jersey now. They’re interchangeable.

Whatever that Dolphins logo once stood for has been reduced to a fresh smear.

Brandon Fields learns that specialists aren’t treated all that special in NFL

 

Sebastian Janikowski is entering his 16th season as place-kicker for the Oakland Raiders, providing some late cut news didn’t slip by me, and he’s working on a huge contract extension from 2013 that includes $8 million in guaranteed money.

This makes him the exception to every NFL rule, which is what you would expect from the late Al Davis’ franchise.

Miami Dolphins punter Brandon Fields (2) at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on September 7, 2014. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Former Miami Dolphins punter Brandon Fields (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Imagine, there are 22 active kickers with career field-goal percentages higher than 80.1. Included on that list are Dan Carpenter, who was cut by Miami in the middle of 2013 training camp and came back a few months later to beat the Dolphins with a last-minute kick for his new team, the Buffalo Bills.

Carpenter was older and more expensive than the kid who took his place in Miami, Caleb Sturgis, but he was nowhere near as old or rich as Janikowski. The decision to cut Carpenter loose was the same as any other to lop a kicker or a punter. There’s plenty more where that came from.

I’m here to say that the Raiders aren’t as crazy as everybody thinks in prizing a proven specialist like Janikowski, the former Florida State star.

The release of Dolphins punter Brandon Fields Tuesday makes the point all over again.

He’s the guy that everybody wants. The fourth-best punter in NFL history statistically with a career average of 46.8 yards per kick. Owner of the top four seasons in Dolphin history, with the highlight a 50.2-yard average in 2012. Six punts downed inside the 20-yard line one game alone a couple of years ago. Oh, and Fields is terrific in the community, too, winning or sharing the team’s Nat Moore Award three consecutive seasons. For the franchise that brought us Bullygate, that ought to count for something.

Still, Fields was deemed expendable because he’s just a guy who kicks the ball, not one who throws it or catches it or chases it down. When someone like him starts costing a little money, the Dolphins go with someone who costs a little less.

[Heat training camp is coming soon and it sure doesn’t feel like 37-45 anymore]

[No-hitters happening at a pace to rival 1884, when the ball wasn’t even all that round]

[Jack’s 18 majors may not be the only all-time record Tiger has trouble reaching now]

If there was any favor done here, it was in releasing Fields before the final cut. That allows him to network with other teams and catch on somewhere else. There may be a tryout or two but what’s the point? We’re talking about an elite punter. He’ll be snapped up quick in a transaction that takes the job of another worthy specialist.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins will go on like they don’t even miss him, until somebody blocks a punt (that only happened three times to Fields in 594 kicks) or somebody mishandles the hold on a field-goal attempt (oh, yeah, Fields handled that job, too).

Maybe giving a veteran like Janikowski the royal treatment doesn’t make perfect sense, but it makes more to me than giving a pro like Fields the boot.

HERE ARE THE NFL’S ALL-TIME CAREER GROSS PUNTING AVG. LEADERS

Name                          Yrs.                 Punts                     Avg.

Shane Lechler          2000-14             1,185                     47.5

Bryan Anger            2012-14               280                     47.0

Thomas Morstead  2009-14              354                     47.0

Brandon Fields       2007-14               594                     46.8