Remember these games this season? Loss to the Browns Week 3, 17-16. Loss to the Broncos Week 7, 23-20 (OT). Loss to the Giants Week 8, 20-17 and finally loss to Dallas Week 12, 20-19.
There is one thing all these games had in common—the Miami Dolphins were leading late in the fourth quarter before giving it all away. This is a frustrating feeling, to see a team playing well for most of the game before losing it all in the end. If the Dolphins had just stood strong and won those games, they could be 9-5. Even if they won two out of the four, they would be 7-7, with a slim chance at the wild card.
It's hard to forget about games like these. Some fault goes to the team, but primarily the blame is on Mike Nolan. Don't get me wrong, Nolan is a stellar three-quarter defensive coordinator—one of the best in the league.
But when it comes to the fourth quarter, he seems to forget his whole defensive strategy. He stops blitzing, puts in second-stringers and plays conservatively. He even did this at the end of last week's game against the Bills. At one point the Dolphins were up 30-13 with only five minutes left in the game, and the final score was 30-23.
I know many people might just say these are garbage points, and they probably were, but the reality is Nolan needs to play for 60 minutes of every game. I don't want to see the defense stop blitzing or playing more conservatively. That's not what a winning team does.
He needs to fix this issue by next season. I don't see it being too difficult because he is a great defensive coordinator—he just needs to coach with the same intensity for all four quarters, 60 minutes of the game.