Here’s the latest installment of our Miami Dolphins Q&A, where South Florida Sun Sentinel writers David Furones and Chris Perkins answer reader questions.
Q: Why [heck] ran the ball 8 times in a close enough game where Tua was struggling a bit? – Andrew McGuire on Twitter
Q: Why so few runs? On third and two in the fourth quarter he should have run twice. – Mark Berger on Twitter
Q: What’s up with the running game? Is it staff or execution? – Tom Kavanagh on Twitter
A: I thought the same as in the questions above and others.
It was clear that coach Mike McDaniel didn’t have enough confidence in the running game against the 49ers’ top-ranked run defense and No. 1 overall defense, led by a defensive coordinator in DeMeco Ryans who is familiar with McDaniel’s system. My understanding is that McDaniel simply knew it was a losing proposition and may have opted differently if he had Terron Armstead available at left tackle.
I agree that the complete lack of a running game has reared its ugly head in short-yardage situations where it could have been used. We have to think that the Dolphins can pick up two yards over two plays on the ground instead of back-to-back incompletions, the second being the reverse tackle by Mike Gesicki that turned out to be the game. I also would have run when Miami faced third-and-inches in the second quarter, but instead went to play action, counting on Jeff Wilson to block Nick Bosa, which led to a sack and settling for a field goal.
Miami also ran just 46 offensive plays to the 49ers’ 84. And that plays a part in it. Defense and the running game go hand in hand, and the Dolphins didn’t get San Francisco’s offense off the field in a timely manner. It could also go the other way, where maybe more runs could have helped Miami in a contest where the Niners out-rebounded the Dolphins in possession, 40:34-19:26.
Q: Hi David, my question is about Gesicki, why didn’t the Dolphins make a move on him at the trade deadline? Obviously he is not in their future plans, he is not used at all now. If he walks after this season then they get nothing for him, when if they traded him they could at least get something for him? I agree with the decisions the front office has made lately, but I think something could have been done about Gesicki. – Daniel Thiemer via email
A: Let me note that this reader emailed this question *before* the 49ers game, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
Did you think Gesicki was rarely used before? In San Francisco, he got nine offensive snaps, a new career low — not just a season low. The tight end has never been on the field for fewer plays than he was Sunday in any pro game he’s played. His previous low was 16 during his rookie year in 2018.
The overturned catch late was his only catch against the 49ers. It marked his second straight game in which he had no receptions and a target. In his last four games, he has seven targets, three receptions and 34 yards.
I think the Dolphins didn’t want to commit this offseason one way or another to either sign him long term or move on from him completely in the first season of McDaniel’s offense. The franchise tag gave the organization a one-year trial period to see if Gesicki and his lack of blocking ability could hold up in McDaniel’s scheme.
Now it’s clear that it doesn’t fit. I still have hope that there is a game where the Dolphins need what he brings to step up and make contested catches, maybe in a scenario where he has to come from behind.
Q: Were many of the missed throws simply missed throws or were there communication issues? (or both)? – Tyler Bellen on Twitter
A: Some of both. Tua Tagovailoa alluded to the miscommunication several times in his postgame responses.
There were timing issues, misunderstandings between passer and receiver about the exact depth at which breaks were coming on routes. But at the end of the day, Tagovailoa also simply missed throws he should have completed.
The biggest and most costly example was the second interception, which was a simple pass on a short out to an open Tyreek Hill. Tagovailoa threw it behind the speedster, allowing the interception of the tipped ball after Hill tried to turn to make the catch.
Q: Vol [defensive coordinator Josh] Does Boyer continue to expose our linebackers in coverage with the way he sets up his plays? – Tyler Bellen on Twitter
A: That was an unfortunate aspect of the defensive game plan, but you also have to give 49ers quarterback Christian McCaffrey a lot of credit. He is extremely difficult to defend by catching the ball from behind.
Duke Riley slipped on the opening drive trying to cover McCaffrey as his route took him down the field. Riley also dropped another big reception for him later. On McCaffrey’s touchdown, Bradley Chubb was in a close zone instead of rushing the passer, which you want him to do more often.
We all know Boyer would like to blitz more often than the 29 percent he has so far, according to Pro Football Reference, but injuries in the secondary are impacting that.
Miami has another capable pass rusher on tap in Austin Ekeler of the Chargers.
Have a question?