A look at fourth-down decision making in 2014 highlights Sean Payton, Marc Trestman, and... wait, this can't be right... Jim Caldwell? Plus: Chip Kelly may be less aggressive than you think he is.
11 Oct 2013
by J.J. Cooper
If you’re looking for someone to blame in Miami's 26-23 loss to the Ravens, it would be fair to look at the Dolphins offensive tackles. Their ineptitude has been a continual theme of Miami's 2013 season.
Repeatedly in the fourth quarter last Sunday, the Dolphins pass protection let down the rest of the offense. On the Dolphins first drive of the fourth quarter, the offense was able to overcome a Terrell Suggs sack (beating left tackle Jonathan Martin) to still get a field goal.
The Dolphins defense picked up a touchdown on a Reshad Jones interception return. With a chance to take the lead on its next possession, the Dolphins were forced to punt thanks to a pair of sacks. One came when Suggs bullrushed Martin into quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and the other occurred when Suggs flipped to the other side to beat right tackle Tyson Clabo.
The Ravens drove down to kick a go-ahead field goal, but the Dolphins had time for one more drive to either win or force the game into overtime.
That drive almost was stuffed before it started. Tannehill somehow managed to bail out Martin on fourth-and-10, as Elvis Dumervil drove Martin into the backfield almost immediately after the snap. Tannehill managed to dodge Dumervil, sprint to his right and somehow threw a 46-yard strike to wide receiver Brandon Gibson.
But the Dolphins offensive line blew this second chance. Dumervil drove Clabo into the backfield with yet another bullrush, then shed him to sack Tannehill for a five-yard loss. After an incomplete pass on third down (the Dolphins had perhaps unwisely spiked the ball to stop the clock on first down), kicker Caleb Sturgis was asked to kick a 57-yard field goal. There’s no guarantee Sturgis would have been successful from 52 yards out ... but his odds would have been better.
The Dolphins knew that they were going to take a hit when they let left tackle Jake Long go in free agency, but it’s been worse than they feared. Martin, a 2012 second-round pick, has given up six sacks. Clabo, signed in free agency, has been just as bad with 5.5 sacks allowed at the easier right tackle spot. For a guard, John Jerry’s three sacks allowed is also pretty ugly.
Sometimes you'll see a young quarterback drag down his offensive line by holding on to the ball too long, but don’t think that Tannehill is part of the problem. The Dolphins quarterback has been sacked in less than three seconds on 20 of the Dolphins 24 sacks. And only two of the Dolphins 24 sacks have taken longer than 3.1 seconds.
Martin has the worst sacks allowed percentage in the NFL after the first five weeks of the season. Clabo is third-worst. Guard Jerry is 16th.
No other team has three of the bottom 20, although the Steelers acquisition of Levi Brown means that Pittsburgh now has two of the bottom 10 (with Brown and Mike Adams, the player Brown is replacing).
|Rk||TEAM||PLAYER||Sacks||Sack PCT||Rk||TEAM||PLAYER||Sacks||Sack PCT|
While the Dolphins are the worst in the league in adjusted sack rate, the 31st-ranked Carolina Panthers can thank Cam Newton’s run-around tendencies for much of their problems. Left tackle Jordan Gross is the only Panthers’ offensive lineman to rank among the bottom 20 in sacks allowed. Newton ranks third-worst in long sacks (sacks of 3.2 seconds or longer), trailing only a pair of rookie quarterbacks. Newton this week came out and said that some of the Panthers sacks have been his fault. He’s not just defending his linemen; it’s true.
|Rk||Sacked Team||QB Sacked||Count||Rk||Sacked Team||QB Sacked||Count|
Atlanta's season has turned into a disaster, but they did have a well-designed blitz against the Jets last week.
Facing an empty backfield set for the Jets, Atlanta sent what appeared to be a six-man rush. Linebacker Paul Worrilow was actually faking a blitz, but he engaged an offensive lineman before peeling off to try to buzz under any potential hot route.
That fake blitz, coming from the inside, made it hard to discern how the Jets were to block this five-man rush. Osi Umenyiora came off the edge unblocked to sack Jets quarterback Geno Smith just 1.7 seconds after the snap.
Smith got tagged with the quickest sack of the week and the longest one, as he ran around and was eventually run out of bounds seven seconds after the snap on another Falcons sack.
But while that was the longest sack of the week, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s 6.8-second sack is more noteworthy. In five years of logging sacks, I don’t know if I have seen a cleaner pocket for longer than the one Romo had on this play. Eventually it collapsed, but Romo had ages to find a receiver.
9 comments, Last at 11 Sep 2014, 5:52am by Tina K. Maye