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Monday, October 7, 2013
Dolphins film review: Pass protection

By James Walker

The Miami Dolphins have allowed an NFL-high 24 sacks in the first five games. As expected, that is a hot topic in South Florida as the Dolphins take a 3-2 record into the bye.

Miami allowed a season-high six sacks in Sunday’s 26-23 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. There’s a lot of blame to pass around. But I re-watched the film on Monday to examine the root of the problem on each sacks.

Sack No. 1: 10:07 mark in first quarter

Analysis: The Dolphins line up in a shotgun formation with three wide receivers. The Ravens show blitz but only bring five against Miami’s six pass protectors. Schematically, the Dolphins should win. But Miami guard Richie Incognito was beat on a stunt one-on-one by Courtney Upshaw. Incognito cannot hold his block.

Blame: Incognito

Sack No. 2: 4:51 mark of second quarter

Analysis: The Ravens rush four on third down against Miami’s five protectors. Again, the Dolphins should win schematically. But Baltimore defensive lineman Pernell McPhee beats Dolphins guard John Jerry inside and uses good leverage to quickly get to the quarterback. Ryan Tannehill only has about two seconds before the pocket collapses.

Blame: Jerry

Sack No. 3: 11:34 mark of fourth quarter

Analysis: The Dolphins are down 10 points and very predictable at this point. Miami lines up in shotgun, and the Ravens know the Dolphins are passing the football. Terrell Suggs beats Jonathan Martin off the edge with a good swim move that leaves Martin diving on the ground. Tannehill had about three seconds. Maybe he could have thrown the ball a split-second earlier.

Blame: Martin and Tannehill

Sack No. 4: 5:25 mark of fourth quarter

Analysis: On first and 10 with the game tied at 23, Suggs ups his game to another level. He bull-rushes Martin and pushes him back about five yards right into Tannehill. Martin is having a lot of issues with leverage against Suggs.

Blame: Martin

Sack No. 5: 4:55 mark of fourth quarter

Analysis: Suggs switches sides and beats Dolphins right tackle Tyson Clabo with an inside move. Clabo fails to step inside and Suggs creates an open path to Tannehill. The quarterback gets about two seconds again.

Blame: Clabo

Sack No. 6: 1:01 mark of fourth quarter

Analysis: Ravens defensive end Elvis Dumervil punishes Clabo to get a key sack. Under no circumstances can a quarterback take a sack, but I’m not sure Tannehill had enough time to throw that away. The Dolphins lost yards to set up a 57-yard miss by rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis.

Blame: Clabo and Tannehill

Final tally: Clabo 2, Martin 1.5, Incognito 1, Jerry 1, Tannehill 0.5

Final analysis: Nearly the entire offensive line was to blame for Miami’s six sacks on Sunday. There was one sack where Tannehill could have released the ball a little sooner or threw it away. But overall, Miami’s offensive line was manhandled in pass protection and run blocking against the Ravens. Major adjustments need to be made during the bye week, or the team has to consider changes.