Welcome to Ask Mike – Week 12


from Stanger

Q – Lots of stronger arms out there, but nobody is better at finding holes in coverage schemes and torturing weak link match-ups than Peyton Manning.   Do we have the depth of coverage capabilities in our DBs and LBs to handle that?


Whether we have depth depends  a lot on who’s playing for the Broncos.  If Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are OUT, it makes that question a little easier to answer with confidence.  Right now, at the moment I’m writing this, Sanders is questionable with what may me a concussion, and Julius Thomas is also questionable with an ankle injury, that may not be that serious.  The fact that it’s not serious may not have a lot to do with whether he plays this week, but more for the coming weeks.  We’ll all keep an eye on those 2. I think what Manning does best is see the whole field, understand and recognize what type of coverage the defense is playing, and what the weakest points are, and maybe more than anything, he knows how to throw the ball before the route is completed, and put the ball exactly where it should be, so when the receiver gets to the place he’s supposed to be, the ball is there.


Right now, our depth at CB looks Grimes and Finnegan, and then Jamar Taylor, and Jalil Brown, and behind them, I would imagine Walt Aikens, who play both S and CB,  and Jimmy Wilson, who also plays both S and CB.  If Sanders is out, that puts Andre Caldwell in his place at wideout, and of course Welker mans the slot, and Cody Latimer is the other WR.   Caldwell is a HUGE step down from Emmanuel Sanders.  Caldwell’s best year as a pro was with the bengals in ’09, when he caught 51 passes for 432 yards, 3 TD’s, with a meager 8.5 YPR.  This year, in limited duty, Caldwell has 5 catches for 47 yards and no TD’s.  Emmanuel Sanders on the other hand, has 67 receptions, which already equaled his best from last year with the Steelers, and has 954 yards and 7 TD’s.  Make no mistake, it’s a big loss for the Broncos if Sanders doesn’t play.


So, to answer your question, I think our guys will be up to the task with Sanders out, but if Sanders plays, I think it will be more difficult.  However, the biggest factor is our pass rush. If we can harass Peyton up the gut with Mitchell and Odrick, and also get pressure from the outside as well, that will make the secondary’s job a whole lot easier.  So I want to see #18 wearing #90, #98, #91, #50, #95 and some others very often, all the way to a Mile High beatdown of the Broncos!




from Wyoming

Q –
All the topics being chewed up already.
I think the one advantage we will have is running the ball!
BUT I believe Denver has the speed to stretch the outside runs to the sideline!
Do you think this team has the Intestinal Fortitude ( BALLS ) to run it up the A gap with success?


I think we have the IF, but that’s not really MillerTime’s game.  He will run up the gut, but most of the time, the plan is to get him in space and let him run.  I think Damien Williams would be the guy to run those tough yards into the teeth of the defense.  Miller will too at times, but I think #34 is better suited for that.  I really like Williams’ persistence, and determination in his running.  Some guys just have that.  They don’t like to go down, and they fight for every inch.  We’re going to need that Sunday.


One thing, before you anoint us with the better running game.  C.J. Anderson has really stepped up, and will be starting for the Broncos with Montee Ball  re-aggravating his groin injury, and Ronnie Hillman out as well.  Anderson has 39 carries for
201 yards, and a heady 5.4 YPC avg.  He also has 16 receptions for 193 yards, and again, an impressive 12.1 YPR.  This kid can play, so don’t underestimate their rushing attack.


One thing to keep in mind is, when playing the Broncos, the run game could be shelved quickly if they jump on us and pull ahead quickly.  We will have to play catch-up, which all but eliminates running the ball often.  I’m hoping this never comes into play, but it is a real possibility.  The Broncos, despite last weeks drubbing by the Rams, are scoring 29.3 PPG, so if they get ahead, we will be throwing more just to keep pace.  BTW, the Broncos 30 receiving TD’s is best in the NFL.


If it’s a brawl, and a low(er) scoring game, I’d expect us to run plenty, with a nice combo of Miller and Williams, and possibly, but not likely, a few carries and receptions from RB LaMichael James.  Not sure if he will see his first action this week, but it’s possible.  I think we’ll play a little smashmouth with Williams, and try to keep the ball away from Manning.




from UK

Q – Howdy from across the pond again Mike E

The locker room seems to be much more together this year. The D has talent. The O line is better than last year and north of adequate. We are running well in Lazor’s Offense. We have receivers. The “weak link”, if there is one, may be what goes on in #17’s head. Before I start dreaming of a play-off game, what I and every fan of this team needs to know is the answer to one question. Will there be another Tanny or collective meltdown in December, followed by wailing and gnashing of teeth? Tell me no, please?!? Pretty please.

Cheers and appreciate all the good work of the admin team



I don’t think so UK, not at all bud.  Chillax!  While Tanny has been uneven, he usually saves his best work for the 2nd half.  I think he’s a smarter, more confident QB, and I think he also has better talent to distribute the ball to, along with a better running game, which takes some pressure off him.


Like you said, this team is much, much closer as a unit, and I think the players are all in for each other.  A lot of credit for that should fall on the shoulders of Joe Philbin.  His players like him, believe in him, and ultimately, play hard for him, and for each other.  The team is truly a team this season.  It shows!


Tannehill is better than he was last year, mostly because the O-line and the running game has been better, and Tannehill finally seems to have mastered Bill Lazor’s offense.  Of course, he still makes mistakes, and still holds the ball too long, but I can honestly say, there aren’t a lot of head scratching throws that he makes.  Yes, he still struggles to connect on deeper throws, but he makes a lot of good throws too.  I think his accuracy has improved, and I’m not seeing as many passes thrown behind receivers.  He also can out some pace on those long intermediate throws.


One thing that still concerns me is the uneven play in the first half.  Tanny, and the offense in general has had first half struggles too often.  Just when you think we have that corrected, we play a couple of tough defenses, like DET and BUF, and there we are, scoring 3 total points combined in the 1st half in both of those games.  We MUST fix that.  Easier said than done, but we need to make adjustments as good as our second half adjustments are early in the 1st half.  Once we figure that out, I don’t think you need to worry about Ryan Tannehill at all.




from Piggy

Q – Dear Mike E

I am concerned about the altitude in Denver.  Do you think it will help or hurt our passing game?  Do you think Peyton Manning’s forehead is affected by the altitude? Any idea what our all time record is in Denver?
Do you have a favorite Miami vs Denver game?  Do you renounce bacon and all evils associated with bacon? 


I’m not concerned with the altitude in the least.  I think it might help the deep ball with Tannehill and Wallace.  Maybe the thinner air will keep the ball in the air longer, and give Wallace a chance to just run under one.


So far, the altitude has not affected Peyton Manning’s forehead in the least. It looks exactly as it always has IMO.  Let me provide some physical evidence of such.




My favorite game against the Broncos was 12/21/98, when the 9-5 Dolphins took on the 13-1 Broncos on Monday Night Football, in the days when MNF was a true marquis game.  I relished the opportunity to see my Dolphins play, and when they were on the Monday night stage, nothing was better!


I was at a bar with a coworker of mine, a Raiders fan, so he was rooting for the Dolphins along with me.  Denver went out to an early lead in the game at Pro Player Stadium, with a Jason Elam FG 3-0.  That was the score at the end of the 1st QTR.  In the 2nd QTR, with DEN knocking at the door at the 4 YD line, Elway was forced to run, was popped by Jason Taylor, Elway fumbles into the end zone, and it was recovered by WR Rod Smith for the DEN TD!  10-0 Broncos!


Then, the Lamar Thomas show began.   Thomas caught his first TD from Dan (The Man) Marino with a minute left in the 2nd QTR to make it 10-7 Denver.  Elway drove the Broncos to the MIA 27 where Elam connected with his 2nd FG as time expired in the half, to give the Broncos a 13-7 lead over the Dolphins.


In the 3rd QTR, the teams exchanged field position until MIA struck with Marino to Lamar Thomas again, this time a 56 yard bomb to give the Dolphins their first lead, now 14-13 MIA.  5 minutes later, who else, but Lamar Thomas with his 3rd TD reception from Marino, this one a 17 yard TD to give the Dolphins an 8 point advantage, 21-13.


In the 4th QTR the defense played well until 6:45 left in the 4th QTR, Marino again lit up the scoreboard, but this time, it was fan favorite “OG”, Oronde Gadsden for the 8 yard TD to give Miami a 28-13 lead.  The Broncos pulled to within 7 with a dramatic 95 YD kick return by former Eagle Vaughn Hebron for a TD with 7 minutes left to make the score MIA 28- DEN 21.  Olindo Mare sealed the game with a FG with just over 2 minutes remaining, and the home Dolphins , now 10-5 shocked the 13-2 Broncos!  It was a great game to watch, and I was cheering loudly in a non-partisan bar in Aberdeen NJ.  Lamar Thomas was huge that night, that skinny, fast WR caught 6 passes for 136 yards and 3 TD’s.  The Dolphins run game, if you could call it that, 28 rushes, 35 yards, 0 TD’s, from the infamous John Avery (11 carries – 32YDS), Karim Abdul-Jabbar (NOT Lew Alcindor) (15 carries for an impressive 5 yards) and Dan had 2 rushes for -1.  Marino finished the day 23-38, 355 YDS, 4 TD’s – 1 INT.  Elway with an awful day, 13-36 151 YDS, 0 TD’s – 2 INT’s.


I picked MIA 29- DEN 27 for this game, but I’d gladly take 31-21.


The only evil there is about bacon is when the supermarket is out of the nice center cut THICK CUT bacon I adore.  man is that evil.  I get very angry, and curse the entire rest of the time spent shopping at the supermarket.  OK, I curse the entire time anyway, I’m freaking SHOPPING!!!!


BTW, if you’re wondering, the Dolphins lost the next week badly, to the Atlanta Falcons to fall to 10-6, but we still made the playoffs.  Guess what?  We played the WC against the Bills, and actually BEAT THE BILLS!!!! Uhhhh, not going to talk about our rematch with the Broncos.  631, you want to talk about a pissed off Broncos team, they killed us 38-3 the next week.  I know, I said I wasn’t going to talk about that.  make that game my LEAST favorite MIA vs DEN game.



from GDP

Q –
Dear Mr. Hand,

Both Miami & Denver are +69 in point differential.
Peyton Manning has lost 2 games in a row during each season since 2004 with the lone exception being last year in 2013. Do you see it happening here off the St. Louis game & WHY? You may have already answered this above.
Also JJ Watt wasn’t just a defensive contributor @ the Browns. He also caught his 2nd TD pass of the season, making him the first player since 1956 to score multiple TD’s on both offense and defense in the same season. He’s also the first defensive lineman to score four touchdowns in any manner since 1948.
Do you see Miami using Dion Jordan as a surprise weapon in this capacity at some point to shock an opponent? This week would be cool or wait till NE game.

Thanks Again,


I do think the Dolphins will win this game, because I think they are capable of doing so.  I think we have the kind of defense, that if plays up to their potential, that could give Manning trouble.  We’ll need our interior DT’s to get a push in the middle, so Manning has guys up in his face, and we also need our DE’s Wake and Vernon to bring the pressure from the outside so Manning has nowhere to go but down on the turf.  I also think that Emmanuel Sanders won’t play, and if that’s the case, they are much weaker without him.  If he’s on the borderline of a concussion, they won’t risk him this week, because they’ll need him for the rest of the season.  I’ve also heard it’s possible that Julius Thomas might not play, and again, w/o him, that’s 2 huge weapons that manning won’t have.


Of course, their defense is very good in it’s own right, and we’re going to have to do our best to protect Ryan Tannehill from DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller, the 2 leading sack artists on the Broncos defense.  Ware has 9 sacks from the RDE spot, and Miller has 10 from the SLB position.  On the other side of Ware, Derek Wolfe has been quiet as a pass rusher with only 1.5 sacks.    Brandon Marshall, the weakside LB has only 1 sack, so it’s really containing Ware and Miller.


On offense, we will have to be aware at all times where Miller is, and we need to hold Ware in check, likely with some help from TE’s and RB’s.  Ware will be up against rookie phenom Ja’Wuan James, while Miller will be coming from the other side (most of the time) against Dallas Thomas.  This is another tough assignment for Thomas, as he faced Mario Williams last week.  No rest for the weary!


I think we will continue to run well against Denver, despite the massive Terrance Knighton in the middle of the defensive line.  I also think we will have to use a lot of short crossing routes so Tannehill can get rid of the ball quickly.  This is what we’ve done all season, we just have to do it well to beat the Broncos.


As far as Jordan getting involved with the offense, I truly doubt it happens this year.  I think they’d love to get him on track on defense first, make him a productive, confident defensive player before they put more stuff on his plate learning how to run plays on offense.


Oh, and BTW – You’re absolutely right Mr. Spicoli, it is OUR time.  Your’s, mine, and everyone else’s in this room.  But, it is MY class.  Mr. Spicoli has been kind enough to bring us a snack.  Be my guest.  Help yourselves.  get a good one




And now for the cheerleader of the week  . . . .


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