Written by Matthew Cannata at 8:30 AM EST | Twitter: @PhinManiacs
The special teams unit for the Miami Dolphins had both high and low moment’s during Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions. For example, the Dolphins fell victim to a fake punt early in the game, which allowed the Lions to stay on the field longer and eventually score 3 points.
How did this happen? Joe Philbin explained the nuances of their scheme and also said that the unit needs to be more consistent throughout the entire game.
“We were in a block and they executed well. You have to give the opponent credit. When they do something well you give them credit. I think they tried another one and we stopped them on that one. We tried one, we didn’t execute very well, we got a penalty which was a critical penalty. It forced us to punt the ball and I think we were close to mid-field, somewhere around there.”
Jim Caldwell, head coach of the Lions, said that they’ll call a fake punt depending on the situation and of course, if they get the right look and everything falls into place.
"It depends on the situation, it depends on the game. Some games I like it, some games I say, ‘Nope, we’re not going to do it.’ But there is sometimes and that one, it just lined up just right for us. He (Bonamego) did a nice job in terms of his prep. He also did a nice job selling me during the course of the week, so he did a great job.”
So, how do the Dolphins stop something like this moving into the future so it doesn’t bite them again?
“It varies. We have a number of different ways to do things,” Philbin said. “Some blocks, we send X-amount of players. Again, I’m not going to get into too much of the scheme, but there are different ways to do it. Sometimes, we have blocks that are six-men up, seven-men up, eight-men up, and we kind of roll through, rotate through and call the ones we think have the best chance of being successful. Obviously, you have to credit Detroit. They executed well.”
With that being the low moment in the game, the Dolphins had a few high moments as well and one of them came on the blocked field goal by Earl Mitchell where Dion Jordan returned it down to the 2-yard line, which then resulted in a touchdown pass to Mike Wallace on the ensuing play. Philbin said that this can be attributed to the fact that those guys take their role seriously and practice hard throughout the week.
“I think the way they are practicing. I think the guys do a good job. I think I showed it in front of the whole team the play, if I’m not mistaken, in Jacksonville where Brent (Grimes) got the holding penalty called on Jacksonville, which took three points off the board. We make a big deal out of it. We show it to the guys and we show the significance of the plays and how they can impact and change the game. Certainly, that was an example we just showed two or three weeks ago.”
“Coach (Darren) Rizzi and Marwan Maalouf, they do a good job schematically. It’s sound. They get the guys to practice hard. They practice it well and it’s transferred to the game so far. We were close on a couple of others yesterday. We were real close. It’s been a big boost and hopefully that can continue over the next seven weeks.”
The Dolphins also successfully stopped a second fake punt attempt later in the game. Caldwell said that they thought they had the right look but that the Dolphins did a good job recovering to stop the play.
“They were uncovering our guy on the outside, but they were able to get him. By the time the ball got there, it was a little bit behind him, but they were able to recover. That was kind of a situation where we were in a position where we didn’t necessarily want to punt from there. We started to just leave Matt on the field and go for it just like we did later on because you’re kind of in that no man’s land. You don’t gain much sometimes and our defense was playing well enough. Sometimes we can take a chance or two here or there.”