Posted: 12/2/2012 9:02 PM
It had been a long time since Cameron Wake felt this helpless.
There the Dolphins' best defensive player was, standing on the sidelines during the most critical stretch of the fourth quarter in Sunday's 23-16 loss to New England.
The Dolphins' offense had just scored a field goal to close the deficit to seven points. ThePatriots' offense had taken the field with 8:28 left in the game and Miami's defense needed to get a stop to put the offense in position to tie the game.
But instead of charging the Patriots like a matador, Wake was standing on the sidelines next to fellow starting defensive end Jared Odrick, while their backups, rookies Derrick Shelby and Olivier Vernon, were on the field.
"They were running the ball. This season, the first quarter, the first half, they weren't moving the ball on us, so it wasn't that we can't do it," Wake said, referring to stuffing the run. "We showed we can."
But there Wake was watching eight straight plays.
One snap. Two snaps. Five snaps. First down after first down after first down, the Patriots pushed and prodded a proud and stingy Dolphins defense down the field while Wake and Odrick watched.
"I'm always bothered when I'm not on the field. That's the unfortunate part about being a team player. Is it realistic to play every snap?" Wake asked. "I don't know, but I don't want to be off the field."
On that one critical fourth-quarter drive, Patriots tailbackStevan Ridley gained 38 yards on six carries before Miami called a timeout and got Wake, Odrick and backup defensive lineman Tony McDaniel out there. But by then New England had eaten up all but four minutes of the game clock and were on Miami's 30-yard line.
"They were running the ball," coach Joe Philbin said, explaining the substitution. "We had a play count that we want to keep guys to [in order] to keep guys fresh."
Play count? Seriously!
If play count is the reason two starters, one of which happens to be a Pro Bowler, weren't on the field in the game's most-critical stretch, then the coaches did a poor job managing their personnel.
"They're a real good run defense," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "They got a lot of physical players up front. Wake, [Randy] Starks, [Paul] Soliai, Koa Misi. Those guys are good."
Notice the first name Belichick mentioned? WAKE!
Nobody is saying Vernon and Shelby are to blame for Sunday's loss. It's not their fault the Patriots used that critical possession to orchestrate a 16-play, 77-yard drive that was capped with a 20-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski.
What Philbin and Miami's coaches did was like Erik Spoelstra sitting LeBron James in the fourth quarter of a game the Heat trails. It is insane not to put your best player on the field, especially if he excels against the run, like Wake and Odrick do.
"That sealed the deal at the end. ... Mano-a-mano," Patriots starting guard Donald Thomas said of the 16-play drive. "We dialed in and got the running game going to eat up the clock."
ProfootballFocus.com rates Wake as the ninth-best 4-3 defensive end when it comes to defending the run. His coaches have consistently praised him for how well he sets the edge. Shelby had played 152 NFL snaps coming into the game.
"Not being where you're supposed to be," linebacker Kevin Burnett said, explaining the Patriots success on their final offensive drive, which featured two third-and-2 conversions. "Not fitting it right. One guy out of place. You've got an eight-man box, so one guy out of place, big run."
More like two starters out of place.-------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------- ---------Please dont tell me Philbin pulled out Wake and Odrick at a critical point in the game because some chart dictated that they sit out. I've never in my life heard of any foolishness like that. Philbin just lost a degree of respect with that one.
Last edited 12/2/2012 9:25 PM by rightNexact
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