No Gambling in Vegas

No Gambling in Vegas

This was a tough loss to swallow. There’s no doubt about it. When you get a pick 6 then a turnover on downs on the opponents 34-yard line and quickly score again you’re supposed to win that game. Jon Gruden gambled big early and lost big. Geriatric Chucky went all in on a run play when he was holding a 2 and 7 off suit. The Dolphins defensive line was biting early. Christian Wilkins was disruptive and logged a sack and tackle for loss. So, on the second drive when Gruden made the call to go on 4th and 1 yard to go, the Dolphins were giddy because their defense had a Royal Flush, and they weren’t bluffing. They dropped Barber for a half yard loss, when a half yard gain was needed, and danced off the field. Gruden switched to the Blackjack table when he asked his defense to clean up his mistake at the Poker table. He doubled down and asked the dealer for another card and went bust when the card turned out to be a corner run blitz. His heart must have broken into a million pieces when he saw what the dealer had- a halfback run off tackle right into the gap the run blitz left open. Before he knew it Malcolm Brown had gone by his defensive line, secondary, and was doing the Bop dance in the endzone. I hope I didn’t lose you with my mixed card game analogies, but you get my drift. When a coach makes a dumb mistake like that you’re supposed to punish him and put your foot on his throat. You’re supposed to make him answer tough questions from his local media about why he would do something as crazy and unconventional as going for it on a 4th & 1 from his own 34-yard line on only his second offensive possession. Instead, Gruden was up there in his post-game presser smiling with an incredulous smile after a win. He arrogantly talked about how he’s “not going to apologize for a win,” when obviously he had made one of the biggest mistakes at the Casino in his long illustrious career in football. You know what? Gruden earned the right to be bombastic and cocky, because the Dolphins conservative play calling after those early moments let him off the hook. He may have lost a lot of money early at the Poker and Blackjack table, but he made it all back. He was slanging his arm at the slot machines and engorging himself in all of the Dolphin meat he could consume at the buffet.

I have no idea what the offensive coordinators (plural) of the Dolphins were thinking. Did they really think a 14-0 lead was going to be enough to beat one of the hottest and most productive offense in all of football? Their play calling was as if they got a team memo saying “no gambling in Vegas and that goes for play calling too!” Instead of making aggressive calls to win the game, the Dolphins went into a shell of horrendous play calling and that started the Raiders on a roll. 1st and 10 at the half yard line and the Dolphins dialed up a screen pass to Waddle on the far side of the field with no blockers to take out the guy defending him. Mack Hollins, the only other receiver on that side ran a pass route to clear out his defender. No one seemed to be assigned to help Waddle make the play into a positive one and we are already a bad screen executing team to begin with. To make matters worse, Brissett, our current QB1, decided to actually throw the pass when he saw the presnap coverage. Waddle’s defender Howard Jr. was not playing that far off and he was creeping up to the line of scrimmage as soon as the ball was snapped, almost as if he was in our huddle when the play call came in. Was Waddle supposed to climb the ladder to catch a high ball and then make a guy with a running head start miss? That safety was the beginning of the end and we all knew it. You could feel the momentum swing instantaneously on that play.

The Dolphins proceeded to do almost nothing for the next two quarters. They wasted possessions by calling easy to predict and defend run plays out of single back formations on 1st and 2nd downs and then throwing in obvious passing situations on 3rd and longs. We were playing right into the hands of the Raiders. The Raiders linebackers want to thump, not chase around Mike Gesicki in coverage. Denzel Perryman, the former Miami Hurricane, was out there trying to kill dreams and knock off heads. Every hit he made reverberated through the stadium and right into our living rooms. Anyone notice that when the Dolphins got desperate and started to spread out the Raiders defense after letting them rattle off 25 points in a row, that’s when we started having major success? Anyone notice that the Raiders defense was having a hard time covering Gesicki once we remembered that our walking mismatch existed? Anyone notice that our offense started moving the ball when we started throwing to setup the run out of shotgun spread formation instead of running into a loaded box to setup the passes, they were daring Brissett to make? The conservative play calling absolutely sunk the Dolphins in this game and averaging 15 points a game so far in this season, even with an opportunistic defense like the one we have simply will not do.

With all of that said, the Dolphins did eventually fight their way back into the game and made the game literally go until the final buzzer in overtime. It was an instant classic, amazingly fun to watch, and heartbreaking to lose. Brissett frustrated me with a lot of his low errant passes that didn’t allow his receivers to run after the catch. Brissett frustrated me with his lack of seeing the field and not letting it rip when he had Gesicki running wide open across the middle for a big chunk play that would have probably been a touchdown. Brissett frustrated me when he did have plays where he had time to throw and still checked the ball down to Gaskin before looking at his other reads in his progression. At one point he only had 112 yards on 20 completions. Those would be good numbers for your running back, but not your trigger man.

Nevertheless, Brissett was still a gamer and made some big throws and runs in high pressure moments where we absolutely needed a clutch big play on 4th & 20 and on 4th & goal- he came through big time. He converted the two-point conversion to force overtime (that we wouldn’t have needed had the historically reliable Jason Sanders made the field goal before halftime). Brissett showed me some big-time guts and if he improves on some aspects of his game, the Dolphins can with him. However, he’s not better than Tua. Let’s kill all that silly noise right now. The Dolphins should have won that game if the referees would have done their job and called that obvious pass interference in the endzone on Fuller. Unfortunately, that’s how the game goes sometimes. Sometimes you get the calls, sometimes you don’t; unless your last name is Brady. Even still, the Dolphins could have acquitted themselves better and probably would have won this game decisively had their offensive coordinators been willing to gamble just a little bit more in Las Vegas.

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