Left tackle Bryant McKinnie has provided stability albeit far-from-stellar protection on quarterback Ryan Tannehill‘s blindside since he was acquired in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens in October, but he may have provided something else in the aftermath of the Miami Dolphins‘ shutout loss to the Buffalo Bills this past Sunday: evidence that the coaching staff is failing its players.
With a simple admission that the Bills knew the Dolphins’ snap count, which played a role in sacking Tannehill seven times and holding the Dolphins to 14 rushing yards on 12 carries, McKinnie finally acknowledged an issue fans have been grumbling about all year.
“They were getting [a jump]. I feel like they were getting a rhythm with our cadence,” McKinnie told media members on Christmas Eve. “Me being around, I knew some things that we can do to help counter that. So I definitely brought that to my offensive line coach.”
Perhaps McKinnie suggesting a change will help the Dolphins’ prospects of winning on Sunday versus the New York Jets — a victory that could land the team its first playoff spot since 2008 — but you have to wonder if the predictability of Miami’s cadence has contributed to the club’s inability to consistently protect Tannehill and run the football all season.
And if something as basic as a snap count has really played a role in issues that have plagued the Dolphins all year, and it’s taken 15 games for something to be done about it, the coaching staff, from offensive line coach Jim Turner to offensive coordinator Mike Sherman to head coach Joe Philbin, must be held responsible.
Ask any Dolphins fan with at least an elemental understanding of the game, and they will undoubtedly explain one aspect of said issue. When Tannehill shouts “Go-Go” before the snap, the Dolphins run. When he omits the second “Go” the Dolphins usually pass.
McKinnie was actually referring to Buffalo knowing the timing of the snap, not the actual play itself, but the predictability of each play’s onset and the transparency of Tannehill’s pre-snap jargon go hand in hand and have both made Miami’s offense easy to anticipate.
If the average fan, whose playing experience likely never exceeded high school football, can recognize blatant congruence in the Dolphins’ offensive strategy, you better believe defensive coordinators are pointing out the obvious in film rooms around the NFL.
In a league where a 10th of a second can be the difference between a player being worth a lucrative, multi-year contract and not even being worthy of a roster spot, the jump defenses have been getting on the Dolphins’ snaps in 2013 has been very disruptive. This could be a major reason why the team needs help to make the playoffs during the final week of the season.
Miami’s issues run much deeper than the predictability of a snap count, but potentially tipping the timing and intentions of plays would be an inexcusable contributing factor. Philbin and company have been criticized for a variety of reasons this year; poor clock management, the inability to make in-game adjustments and a lack of preparedness to name a few.
But failing to devise a cadence that would keep the Dolphins’ objective on any given play a mystery would be their biggest fault to date. It’s just too fundamental of a requirement to fail to fulfill. Also, the fact that it took a player to step up and suggest a change, regardless if that player is a 12-year veteran like McKinnie, further damages the coaching staff’s credibility. It’s something the coaches should have revised months ago.
“Oh definitely, because it will work,” McKinnie said in regards to whether or not the coaches are considering his suggestion. “It will keep the defenders honest. It was something that’s worked for me before, so it will work here.”
It’s about time they started listening, but it could be too late. A considerable amount of damage has already been done. Damage that reflects poorly on Turner, Sherman and Philbin.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.