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The Cardinals had a winning record with backup quarterbacks last year thanks in large part to their high-profile edge rusher who terrorized opposing offenses. We look at defeat leaders for every position, as well as overall leaders over the past few seasons.

27 Nov 2012

Any Given Sunday: Dolphins Over Seahawks

by Rivers McCown

Some fans, some orange seats, and some sprinklers all popped in for Sunday's tilt between the Dolphins and Seahawks, where they were treated to two of the better rookie quarterbacks in the NFL: Miami's Ryan Tannehill and Seattle's Russell Wilson.

Wilson has clearly taken a step forward from his first appointment with Any Given Sunday. He's learned to harness his escape instincts in the pocket, and doesn't take as many bad sacks. The biggest compliment I could give his play in this game was that he made some plays that I don't think any other quarterback in the league could make at this point. The one in particular that stood out was a third-and-12 near the beginning of the third quarter, where Seattle blitzed an unblocked safety right up the gut. Wilson doubled back around, losing the safety, then drifted to the right, got his head downfield, and hit Sidney Rice on the edge of the sideline for a 26-yard gain. There are quarterbacks with better pocket presence, and there are quarterbacks who run stronger, but the agility needed to shake this safety and quickly get the ball downfield after resetting were startling.

It especially stood out in contrast to Tannehill, who made a couple of very poor throws under pressure. One was picked, and one would have been picked in the end zone if not for a roughing the passer penalty.

However, with the stakes high at the end of the game, Wilson could not come through. The Seahawks had a first-and-10 from the Miami 40 with 2:11 to play and the score knotted at 21. After a one-yard loss on a run from Robert Turbin, Wilson threw an inexplicable ball on a covered screen to Marshawn Lynch, losing six yards, then took a sack on third-and-17. The Seahawks needed maybe five or seven yards to create an acceptable field-goal opportunity for Steven Hauschka, and instead they went backwards.

Miami took the initiative after the punt, running down the field quickly on a pair of intermediate Tannehill passes to Davone Bess, as well as a 15-yard scramble by Tannehill. Dan Carpenter kicked from the 25, and, as Chris Myers said, the field goal was good "at the buzzer." (Digression: we should probably have a play-clock buzzer. It would make delay of game a much easier call, for one thing.)

Tannehill started off slowly and made a couple of mistake throws, but generally looked very solid against the Seattle defense. Seattle had our second-ranked defense through Week 11. Tannehill doesn't pop off the tape like Wilson does, but he made some impressive stick throws and took advantage of a couple of blown coverages to keep Miami's offense humming late. More impressive was the Miami rushing attack, which averaged 6.8 yards per attempt. Reggie Bush and company had a down game against Buffalo, but bounced back this week. Bush made a couple of insane runs through unblocked defenders, getting the edge on an unblocked Seattle linebacker in the middle of the first quarter for 11 yards, and spinning right past Kam Chancellor on his touchdown run in the second. Daniel Thomas showed burst that, frankly, I didn't think he had after his rookie season.

Then there's one offensive unit that I didn't mention yet. How did they do?

By the VOA

If you've headed over to this week's Quick Reads already, you know that Marshawn Lynch had the lowest DYAR of any running back this week: -28. 15 of those negative DYAR came on the ground. The last time Lynch had a negative DYAR score in a game, it was Week 6, and it was only minus-one DYAR. You have to go all the way back to Week 1 against Arizona to find a double-digit negative DYAR score for Lynch.

Paint Phinner
SEA 16.3% 46.3% 34% 4%
MIA 60.1% 13.9% -20% 26%

Special teams (read: Leon Washington's return touchdown) kept Seattle's overall rating close in this one. For the record: Seattle's pass offense had an 83.7% VOA. Their rushing offense mustered -32.0%. Though with opponent adjustments, that goes up to -16.8%.

Call of the Game

Uh ... hmm. Nobody went for it on fourth down and there were no coach-induced challenges. Do I condemn the Seahawks for not going for it on fourth-and-1 from the Miami 38 in the middle of a scoreless second quarter? Nah. Do I take this opportunity to flex my Cultured Sportswriter Who Knows Best genes and denigrate Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman for their possible Adderall suspensions while I have my fifth coffee of the day? Nope.

So, I guess I've got nothing for this segment.

Why can't the Lions ever upset anybody?

Spotlight on: Paul Soliai

The Dolphins slapped a franchise tag on Paul Soliai for the 2010 season, but surprisingly reached an agreement with him in free agency for two years and $12 million. He was supposedly on his way to Denver for a visit at the time, and Miami had just traded fellow Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall to the Bears, so the rebuilding team narrative was strong, but Soliai decided to stay with the team that drafted him.

It's turned out to be a pretty fulfilling agreement for both sides. Pass defense in general has become much more important over the past few years, and the value of a run-stuffing defensive tackle has waned a bit, but Soliai has played a big role in leading the Dolphins to the fifth-best rush defense in the league by our numbers (through Week 11).

Against Seattle, he popped off the tape quickly on a couple of first-quarter runs. Here is how they set the tone for shutting down Seattle's run game:

14:54 in the first quarter, first-and-10 from the Seattle 16

Seattle comes out with a slot receiver to the right, in a three-wide formation. Miami counters with their base nickel set. Soliai lines up over the left A-gap, between center Max Unger and left guard James Carpenter.
The call here is for Carpenter to cut block Soliai.
Soliai keeps his center of gravity rather easily though, and stays on his feet throughout, limiting Lynch's options.
Lynch powers through Soliai to make forward progress, but only gains two yards because of the early penetration.
Graphics by Matt Glickman

7:59 in the first quarter, first-and-15 from the Miami 40

Seattle comes out in the i-formation, with both receivers split right. Miami counters with their base 4-3. Soliai is lined up over the center Unger.
And he proceeds to win at the point of attack. Well, win might not be strong enough. Embarrass.
Soliai pushes Unger right into Lynch on the stretch play, almost six yards into the backfield.
Because of how the angle changed, Jared Odrick was able to move to the left of his blocker and take down Lynch for a five-yard loss.
Graphics by Matt Glickman

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 27 Nov 2012

9 comments, Last at 26 Mar 2013, 3:58am by make


by 40 oz to Freedom (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2012 - 9:14pm

Thought the game could've turned into a blowout, but Miami had a few lucky breaks/plays. Thought the biggest was the redzone INT negated by the roughing the passer penalty. Earl Thomas actually jumped to tip the ball and came down on Tannehill. Then Miami goes ahead and scores a TD on the next play.

The other thing was Seattle seemed to forget that Tannehill could run, but they were tired. There were at least two back breaking runs by Tannehill, but the defense looked really tired at that point.

by Athelas :: Tue, 11/27/2012 - 10:04pm

It will be fun to watch and compare Soliai and Wilfork next week.

by Blak :: Tue, 11/27/2012 - 10:16pm

"The one in particular that stood out was a third-and-12 near the beginning of the third quarter, where Seattle blitzed an unblocked safety right up the gut."

Guessing this is supposed to be Miami.

And as a Seahawks fan, this doesn't particularly instill confidence for the outcome of the next game at the Bears. And that running performance was extremely uncharacteristic, as you kind of pointed out. Hopefully it was an aberration and it will be fixed in time for next week. Suspect we'll need everything our offense has got to have a hope against the Bears D.

by mossberg (not verified) :: Wed, 11/28/2012 - 3:08am

As a fellow Seahawks fan, I must add that we will also need some serious & urgent improvements on the Defense, if we're to have a chance against the Bears. Our 4th quarter D looked atrocious. There was absolutely no excuse for getting sliced and diced by Tannehill and company like we did. Dolphins put up something like 10 points in the previous two games as opposed to 17 points in the 4th quarter against the Hawks? How does a 2nd ranked defense (at the time) allow that to happen? I was slightly perturbed to say the least.

by tuluse :: Wed, 11/28/2012 - 12:59pm

I just want to say it's not necessarily a sign, sometimes crap happens.

The Bears let Kaepernick slice them up for 10 y/a and almost 70% completion rate.

by Blak :: Thu, 11/29/2012 - 4:37am

That's a good point. I'd say I'm not as worried about our defense vs their offense because of their ranking, but now that you mention it, Miami is ranked only a couple spots higher.

Hopefully the Miami game will prove uncharacteristic for the Seahawks.

by dart (not verified) :: Wed, 11/28/2012 - 11:07am

Seems to me that Bradley should have been dialing up some pressure on Tannehill (on that last drive, especially). Make the rookie beat you. He made some bad decisions with pressure in his face, but on that last drive, Seattle looked content to play 2 or 3 deep zone and just let Tannehill sit comfortably in the pocket and find Bess to gash them in the middle of the field. Inexcusable. I'm sick of this conservative play calling, on both sides of the ball. Punting at your opponents' 38 on a 4th and 1? What?

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