Film Study: Dolphins’ running game vs. Panthers


For the second consecutive week I felt the need to go back and look at the film. As opposed to Week 1 in Atlanta, however, when I was curious to see what went wrong, I wanted to see which players had the biggest impact in what went right on Friday night against the Panthers.

In particular, I was most intrigued by the turnaround of the running game. When dealing with broadcast film, it’s difficult to analyze things like Chad Henne’s reads or the coverage in the secondary. But we can easily do an in-depth study of the battles in the trenches.

The Dolphins dominated Carolina in the trenches Friday, showcasing a rejuvenated running game led by Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas. Let’s jump into the film to see which players made the difference.

There is a lot of material here, so this time I summed up each play with those that did something positive and those that did something negative, then tallied up a total rating for each player at the end of the post.

- Reggie Bush off right tackle for about a yard: Lousaka Polite, lead blocking for Bush, takes care of the safety going low to make the tackle. Anthony Fasano and Marc Colombo both keep their assignments at bay and out of the play.

Vernon Carey and Mike Pouncey pull out in front of Bush. Pouncey gets up out of stance and outside the tackle quickly, but begins to stumble and doesn’t get a block on anybody.

Carey tries to go low, but whiffs on the outside linebacker who gets to Bush behind the line of scrimmage. Just getting back to the line and gaining a yard is a testament to Bush, who breaks a tackle that would have resulted in about a two-yard loss.

Negative:
Vernon Carey, Mike Pouncey
Positive: Anthony Fasano, Marc Colombo, Lousaka Polite, Reggie Bush

- Counter to Daniel Thomas off right tackle for less than a yard:
Marc Colombo and Mike Pouncey each provide solid push. Vernon Carey attempts to block second line of defense, but play ends before he gets there. Richie Incognito pulls out in front of Thomas, seemingly laboring to do so. Richie gets a block on the safety, but probably should have chosen to get a body on the corner who assists on the tackle. Davone Bess comes in for a crack-back block, but gets in the way more than anything. Lousaka Polite initially stands up the defensive end, but fails to maintain and lets him shed the block and get in on the tackle.

Negative: Richie Incognito, Davone Bess, Lousaka Polite
Positive: Marc Colombo, Mike Pouncey

- Reggie Bush between the tackles for 17 yards: By design, Reggie begins to run towards the right side of the line, but cuts it back to the left. Mike Pouncey seals off the defensive tackle beautifully, Richie Incognito gets into the second line and removes the outside linebacker from the play, Lydon Murtha manhandles the defensive tackle, and Anthony Fasano keeps the defensive end in check. Reggie explodes into the second level and even breaks a tackle before being brought down.

Negative: none
Positive: Mike Pouncey, Richie Incognito, Lydon Murtha, Anthony Fasano, Reggie Bush

-Reggie Bush between the tackles for three yards: Excluding Marc Colombo, who looks like he’s trying to block someone already taken care of instead of attempting to account for the blitzing linebackers, Anthony Fasano, Vernon Carey, and Mike Pouncey all do a fine job of handling their individual assignments, driving the entire defensive line to the left. Richie Incognito even prevents the blitzing outside linebacker from tackling Bush in the backfield by getting a body on him at the last second while pulling from the other side of the line. It’s a numbers advantage for the Panthers, though, as they guess right by filling the right side of the line with all three linebackers.

Negative: Marc Colombo
Positive: Anthony Fasano, Vernon Carey, Mike Pouncey, Richie Incognito

- Reggie Bush between the tackles for six yards: My footage cuts to the play late so it’s difficult to get a feel for the initial set up. It’s clear that Anthony Fasano and Vernon Carey do a fine job of clearing their assignments out of the play, though. And Mike Pouncey easily handles the defensive tackle, which makes the hole so big to begin with. Richie Incognito and Marc Colombo also get solid blocks in the second level. Lydon Murtha allows his man to get inside, but makes up for it by pancaking him to the ground. Bush may actually pick up a few more yards if he isn’t brought down by his facemask by a defender lunging to make a play.

Negative: none
Positive: Anthony Fasano, Vernon Carey, Mike Pouncey, Richie Incognito, Lydon Murtha, Reggie Bush

- Reggie Bush off left tackle for about four yards: Another late cut to the play from my feed, but it appears the Dolphins are just trying to hammer it up the gut. The Panthers converge in the middle and the Dolphins’ line struggles to create much push. Reggie has no room to run, so he bounces it outside where he runs hard and keeps his legs turning. He essentially makes something out of nothing on this play, converts the first down, and has his helmet fly off in the process, confirming the extra effort.

Negative: Difficult to tell who is at fault
Positive: Reggie Bush

- Daniel Thomas goes airborne between the tackles for about a yard: Nearly the entire offensive line goes low, attempting to shorten the wall Daniel Thomas has to jump over to cross the goal line. Thomas clears the wall but is met by a linebacker on the other side. He might have got in had the Dolphins been a little closer to pay dirt, but they were probably a little too far out to have Thomas leap over and in. It appears the football might have popped out before Thomas’ knees hit the ground. He had some ball security issues at Kansas St. so it’s a little worrisome to it get knocked out even though the officials blew the play dead.

Negative: Daniel Thomas
Positive: none

- Daniel Thomas between the tackles for a minimal gain: This time Daniel Thomas stays on his feet to try and power it in. Anthony Fasano and Dedrick Epps double team one Panther, but Fasano probably should have moved on to another defender, preferably one of the three that got to the ball. Vernon Carey creates a lane for Thomas and Incognito pulls over to lead the way. It’s difficult to see what happens because Incognito goes low, but it doesn’t appear he gets a good block and Thomas is stood up by about three Panthers just outside the goal line.

Negative: Anthony Fasano, Richie Incognito, Daniel Thomas
Positive: Vernon Carey

- Daniel Thomas between the tackles for no gain: Everything is so congested that it’s difficult to tell much. It appears Richie Incognito attempts to shoot over from the opposite side to the lead the way for Thomas, but ends up just clogging the lane. Thomas is stood up at the one once again.

Negative: Richie Incognito, Daniel Thomas
Positive: none

- Lex Hilliard goes airborne for no gain: After Daniel Thomas failed to punch it in on three consecutive plays, Lex Hilliard gets the nod. Hilliard tries to leap over the line and into the end zone, but the interior O-line loses the battle and forfeits some ground, thus pushing Hilliard’s take-off point further back.

Negative: Vernon Carey, Mike Pouncey, Richie Incognito
Positive: none

- Lex Hilliard leaps into the end zone for the score: The Dolphins finally punch it in on fourth and goal. Lex Hilliard chooses to leave his feet once again, but this time it pays off thanks to Anthony Fasano, Dedrick Epps, Marc Colombo, Vernon Carey, and Richie Incognito creating just enough room for him to do so.

Negative: none
Positive: Anthony Fasano, Dedrick Epps, Marc Colombo, Vernon Carey, Richie Incognito, Lex Hilliard

- Reggie Bush between the tackles for five yards: Great push up front by Mike Pouncey and Richie Incognito. Vernon Carey does a nice job keeping his man out of the play and Lousaka Polite makes a solid block leading the way for Bush.

Negative: none
Positive: Mike Pouncey, Richie Incognito, Vernon Carey, Lousaka Polite, Reggie Bush

- Reggie Bush between the tackles for five yards: Lydon Murtha drives the defensive end to the opposite side of the line, Richie Incognito gets to the middle linebacker and keeps him out of the lane, and Anthony Fasano does the same to the safety. The defensive tackle sheds Mike Pouncey’s block, though, and gets to Bush after a modest gain. Bush keeps his legs churning, however, and drags the DT for about three yards.

Negative: Mike Pouncey
Positive: Anthony Fasano, Lydon Murtha, Richie Incognito, Reggie Bush

- Daniel Thomas between the tackles for eight yards: Lydon Murtha, Richie Incognito, and Mike Pouncey effectively drive the Panthers’ defensive line to the right, opening up a cutback lane for Thomas to the left. Anthony Fasano seals off the left side and Thomas shows nice burst accelerating through the hole.

Negative: none
Positive: Anthony Fasano, Lydon Murtha, Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, Daniel Thomas

- Daniel Thomas between the tackles for four yards: Fairly basic play with solid push from Pouncey, Marc Colombo, and Anthony Fasano. Richie Incognito pulls over to pick up a nice block as well. Vernon Carey gets to the second level of defense and shoves the linebacker who is still able to make the tackle. Run may have went for more yards if Carey could have gotten into the linebacker and driven him back, but would have been a tough play.

Negative: Vernon Carey
Positive: Anthony Fasano, Marc Colombo, Mike Pouncey, Richie Incognito, Daniel Thomas

- Daniel Thomas between the tackles for 10 yards: Huge push by Richie Incognito and great block on the linebacker by Lydon Murtha to create large hole for Thomas. Charles Clay, lining up at fullback, cuts the defensive end’s legs out from under him to seal cutback lane for Thomas.

Negative: none
Positive: Lydon Murtha, Richie Incognito, Charles Clay, Daniel Thomas

- Daniel Thomas between the tackles for five yards: The guards, Richie Incognito and Vernon Carey, do a nice job clearing out their assignments to the right. Lydon Murtha takes out the outside linebacker with a chop block and Mike Pouncey takes care of the middle linebacker. The defensive end is unaccounted for, however, and gets to Thomas after two or three yards. Thomas does a decent job of fighting for a couple extra, though.

Negative: none
Positive: Lydon Murtha, Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, Lyon Murtha, Daniel Thomas

- Daniel Thomas four-yard touchdown run: Once again, the run is designed for the right side of the line, with Richie Incognito pulling out in front of Daniel Thomas. Mike Pouncey creates good push and Vernon Carey gets into the second level of defense and puts a nice block on a linebacker. Thomas hits the hole hard and powers his way in for his first touchdown as a pro.

Negative: none
Positive: Vernon Carey, Mike Pouncey, Richie Incognito, Daniel Thomas

TOTALS

Richie Incognito: +7
Lydon Murtha: +7
Anthony Fasano: +7
Mike Pouncey: +6
Reggie Bush: +6
Vernon Carey: +3
Marc Colombo: +3
Daniel Thomas: +2
Charles Clay: +1
Lousaka Polite: +1
Lex Hilliard: +1
Dedrick Epps: +1
Davone Bess: -1 

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