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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The fourth-and-one decision

You saw it. The Dolphins were on the Jets 7 yard line with 2:13 to play last night.

Nick Saban went for the field goal.

He took the "safe" option even though there was plenty of time on the clock for a Jets comeback. He played it safe with absolutely no playoffs or anything else of significance hanging on the line. He played it safe without really giving it much thought.

"Some might ask, “Why didn’t you go for it on fourth and one?” Saban said after the game. "I think if you go for it on fourth and one you put the game in jeopardy with one play. To tie it up, to go in, play good defense, get them stopped – they’ve got to do a lot of executing to get down the field in two-minute to kick a field goal.

"I had confidence in our defense to we could get them stopped. So [you] need to take the points and take the tie and that was a decision that was not really that difficult to make at the time, to be honest with you. "

I didn't agree with the decision. I understand you play for the tie at home. I understand Saban wanted to put the game in his defense's hands because the defense is the strength of the team.

But something has to be said for having a feel for the momentum of the game. And that momentum was clearly on the Dolphins side at the time.

Last year the Dolphins drafted a 235-pound running back with the No. 2 overall pick. That back, Ronnie Brown, had 110 yards on 18 carries last night. Against a Jets defense that is quite poor against the run, the Dolphins should have given Brown one more carry -- on that fourth down.

I understand the statement Saban made about trusting his defense. But the decision made other statements: He said he doesn't trust the offense. He said he wants to play it safe even when there is really nothing to play it safe for.

But worst of all, he told us he doesn't have a feel for the momentum of the game. That sixth sense is vital for a head coach. In this one instance, Saban didn't show he has it.

17 Comments:

Blogger Chris said...

A cardinal rule of football is that you never pass on a FG if it will tie the game.

We'd have crucified him if they went for it and they didn't get it.

I do agree that Saban lacks feel for the offense, especially in handling QBs. It was clear after the first quarter that Harrington was off again. Why not insert Lemon sooner?

4:17 PM  
Blogger cbwv99 said...

Are you kidding me? Did Saban just watch his D get carved up the prior time the Jets had the ball?
They were getting pretty shredded the entire 2nd half. Remember a few years ago when Minny had nothing to play for @ home against the Fish? They played so loose. They went for the jugular numerous times and knocked us out of the playoffs. You wanna know why it was a horrendous decision not to go for it? Because the Dolphins lost. By the way, great job having Jason Taylor drop into coverage on the right side on the fatal screen play. Just absolutely nauseating.

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see your point, Armondo, about Saban not having great instincts, seemingly, for the offense. On the other hand, he made a decision and went for the field goal. The thing is, there are so many other things to worry about when it comes to the dolphins. I wanted the Dolphins to beat the jets because of the rivalry, but deep down I'm happy that they lost because it improved their place in the draft.

8:10 PM  
Blogger Hal said...

That fourth down decision was...well, positively Wannstedtian.

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Jon said...

B.S. Wasn't it obvious he was playing for next year, more directly, he was playing for a higher pick in the draft? Why else would you bench Harrington in a 0-0 game? He's trying to get a top 10 pick to go with the 20-25 million in cap space they'll have next year. Look at the big picture people

12:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? This is typical in a losing season. When the coach goes contrary to Armando's opinion, he must be a moron. If he goes for it on 4th and 1 and they get stuffed then the media would have a field day! You have a 3rd string QB in the game. Your #1 RB is wearing a cast on his primary hand. You go for 3. Everyone would go for 3. Everyone except Armando in hindsight. I would have loved to see your decision prior to the play. And then I'd like to see your response when it failed. I wanted the Fins to beat the J-E-T-S, but I also know that a loss would give them a better draft pick. Top ten baby. Let's keep our picks and get some talent!

7:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

armando, you kidding me? that was the deciding play? defensive lapse shortly later, missed field goal, dropped balls, and ronnie brown with only 18 carries all night.

3 points ties the game! take it.

anyway, i'm disappointed in the game/season as well....but that's a pretty strange vent. the defense has been the strong point of the season, and in your previous logs....it seems odd you would suddenly side with the offense.

do you have faith in the offensive coach? after watching this season, i sure don't. skilled positions, offensive line, diagnosis of culpepper, fairly consistently bad play calling all year....nah - saban misses Scott and confidence for decisions like that. - brett

9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

-that wouldn't be 'missed field goals' but 'missed opportunities'. don't ask me how i mixed up the two...long season, even for a blogger. -brett

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He was trying to help his buddy get into the playoffs. Remember that they coached together.

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who really cares? ...is that Alabama job his yet?

3:53 PM  
Anonymous finndolphan said...

seem's the play-calling was a point of contention all season long,have to say myself i've never seen worse in miami!gootttaaaa fire malarkey! if not,i can't even start to think about next year!this team will hopefully look totally different next year with all the free agents on the roster.i for one will not turn blue waiting for improvement

5:55 PM  
Blogger Bloodlust said...

Saban did exactly as any other coach would have done in his situation. We have had no faith in our offense all year, and now we expext them to go on fourth down? We have lived on defense the whole year, even though they have faltered at times. They only faltered because the offense never allowed them to rest. Defense has played at least 2/3rds of the games instead of 25% of the game. You control time and the game with your offense, and regain control through the defense. All this points to lack of coaching, and inability of a player to execute as necessary to his position.

Everytime something like this happens we say players have no talent, or the coaching sucks. Well, I have to lean to the point of coaching. You could have the very best of everything,but if your coaching cannot bring out or utilize the talent they have as a team, then we cannot win. Everyone will look like bums because no one could take the talent within and make something out of it.

It is like a carpenter. You may look and see a pile of wood, he will see a deck, closet, or possibly a dinning room table. That is what the situation is here. We see players as do the coaches, it is now up to them to find a plan to make them work or function as a professional team. Defensively, we need a little help, but offensively we have no solidity.

Unfortunately I saw this coming from the very beginning, and called an idiot for pointing out the lack of ability in the way Saban ran this team. I mean his wife is crying on how Nick has never had a losing season in only one year of coaching, and he got lucky with the last 6 games of the season. Now we are here again, and this time his luck ran out.

Luck is one thing that has so little to win a game. You may get a lucky call, or catch, but luck did not win the game totally. You need to create your own luck.

It is sad that we are in such bad shape as a team. I will not blame Harrington for anything. Just as in Detroit, we gave him no time to get into the system until we just threw him in expecting a miracle. Cleo Lemon played more in preseason than Harrington, and that was Saban's mistake. If harrington is the immediate backup, he needed to be playing in at least half of the preseason, not take a few passes and let the third stringer take the remaining time. Apparently Cleo was not that much better than Joey. Neither did the offense provide better protection to allow the pass or running game. So, we were still in the same boat regardless who was at QB.

I hope we can make the correct choices this next season's drafts, with the opportunity we have by having such a bad year.

So many of you on this very blog hit the spot on what you have said, and I agree that we might as well go for the pick at this point because there is nothing more to prove or regain.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous... i frickin' told you all about this. finndolfan, why are you running wiht your tail between your legs? oh, mr. saban lover!! he sure showed us his ability, and he is by far better than any college coach? yeah... right. armando... your just as foolish as finndolfan. go on fourth down when you do not have the ability to move the ball consistantly? give your job up, a child knows better than to lose an opportunity to tie the game, and relie on your defense that has brought you through this season.

it seems like huzzeinga gave up on the fans of his team, and i am ready to give up on them. it does not matter how great your tools are, it is how well you use them. and we do not know how to use anyone here now, so what makes everyone think saban will know how to use better and more youthful talent when he gets it. if he is to prove himself, this was the time. we will not always have the best or healthy players continuously on the field. if he could havemade playoffs with these guys he definitely would do it and more with greater talent. sadlly, how can he bring talent from those when he seems to lack the talent himself?

JT & ZT you're still the greatest! I wish you two the best next year, even if you decide to leave this bonehead organization.......

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Pete said...

Hey. This is Pete, one of the founders of Yardbarker (www.yardbarker.com). I couldn't find your email address, but I'd like to speak to you about the linking program that we're doing with a bunch of sports bloggers. It's basically a way for you to get a lot more sports fans reading your best posts. Would you mind contacting me at pete@yardbarker.com so I can email you with more info? Thanks.

Pete

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Kurt in Tampa said...

I was at the game, much earlier on in the series I think where Ronnie Brown first got back on the field he was averaging what looked like 8 yards a carry, they called a terrible long pass play on 3rd and 1 then had to punt. That was a momentum killer and the moment i realized without a doubt the play caller was a complete idiot and should not be on the team. If its Mularkey, we've had enough Mularkey get someone with real football insticts...

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It showed me he wants the 8th pick not the 17th and I'm on his side. Prepare for next year so we don't have to go thru this again.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is crazy... to impoly that Saban, who just had his first losing season has no instinctive feel for the momentum of the game is idiotic. All those other wins were lucky? Come on, at elast make criticism logical and unemotional. You are a writer, I expect this from fans not professions.

If the defense stuffed them and then we kicked a 3 to win, the tune would be totaly different. "Saban played his strengths...the tie forced the Jets to score and not run out the clock...the D has been the strength for years...etc...etc.."

Robin

11:03 AM  

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