Posted on: October 15, 2008 11:05 pm

Week 7 preview: Dolphins vs Ravens

It’s pretty hard to write good things about a game when you are so utterly disappointed in the outcome. I suppose my opinion doesn’t really matter but that hasn’t ever stopped me from giving it. The Dolphins lost the game this week for the very same reason they lost to the New York Jets and the same reason they’ve been losing games since the Wannstedt regime. They abandoned the run AGAIN. They ran the ball 20 times against a team that is not good at stopping the run. Their last drive, they ran the ball well. That’s what happens when you run the ball and then run the ball again. The defense gets tired and holes open up. Imagine if they had decided to run the ball no matter what in the first and second quarter. The Texan’s defense would have been tired in the third quarter while our defense was fresh. Instead our defense spent way too much time on the field and was tired when it counted.   I really do believe that the Dolphins have work to do to be a playoff team but it still disturbs me that they can’t get up for teams they should beat. I’m over it now so let’s move on to the “mission at hand”.   I’m not going to go crazy on stats like I did last week because on paper, the Dolphins should have destroyed the Texans but we’ve already talked about how that turned out. I’m sure I’m going to sound like a homer if I say the Dolphins are going to win so I’m going to do the same thing I did before the Chargers game and tell you what I think the Fins need to do to get a win. The Baltimore Ravens have, arguably, the best defense in the NFL. Too bad for the Ravens that their offense cannot keep up or they’d be contenders.   On offense, the Dolphins have to maintain a balanced attack. Yes, I am condoning throwing the football. Chad Pennington has proven his trustworthiness with taking care of the football. You cannot run it at or around this defense on a consistent basis. They’re too good and too fast. You have to keep them off balance, mix it up, and find cracks because there are going to be very few gashes. The Dolphins offense is pretty well suited to attack this defense if they stay patient. The short passing game and consistent running game will give the Dolphins enough points to beat this team.   On defense, the Dolphins have to consistently stop the run. Make the rookie beat us. Derrick Mason is the only good receiver this team has. Todd Heap is having a horrible year but should not be overlooked. If the Dolphins can stop the run first and make Heap stay in to block, that’s one less weapon to cover. If we can stop the run, play action goes away and then it’s tee off on the rookie QB time. Joe Flacco is not a bad QB but he’s a rookie who can be rattled and the Dolphins will throw wrinkles at him to keep him off balance and he will make mistakes.   On special teams, the Dolphins must improve. They must keep the returner in front of them and not give up big plays on special teams. Last week was the first time I heard Jacoby Jones name since last season.   The Dolphins have a good opportunity to rebound from the loss to the Texans and get a win before a big game against the Bills next week. What it will boil down to is can they play the type of game that they played against the Patriots and Chargers and commit to the run and play solid defense or are they going to drift away from the run game because the Ravens stuff it a couple of times and give time of possession to the Ravens. I’m going to be a homer and say the Dolphins win a close one 17-10. I’ll be blogging at least every 4 days or so during the season and in the off-season when news strikes. Check me out. Any constructive criticism you have to offer is appreciated and if there is anything specific you’d like me to discuss, let me know.
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 11, 2008 10:07 am

Dolphins vs Texans: A week 6 Preview

I’m sorry this is so late in the week but it’s been a busy work week. After coming off of two big victories, the fear here is that the Dolphins have a let down against the Houston Texans after beating the New England Patriots and the San Diego Chargers. Several experts have picked the Houston Texans to win, more than likely for that very reason. This is the first weekend all year where I’ve felt very confident that the Dolphins do win. There are several reasons I don’t see a let down happening. First and foremost is that the Miami Dolphins are not going to forget that they were 1-15 last year. Two wins don’t take the sting away from the fact that they almost were the first team in NFL history to go a whole season winless. Second, they also realize that the team across the sideline from them is the ONLY team that they have never beaten. They are 0-3 vs the Texans since they joined the NFL.   Several analysts have said that the Texans are due for an offensive explosion. That may be true but in order to have an offensive explosion, they have to control the line of scrimmage and this is not going to be the week that happens. The Dolphins have controlled the line of scrimmage against both of those teams and both of those teams have much better units on both sides of the line. Steve Slaton has given them a boost in the running game but he’s not LaDainian Tomlinson. I know LT was dinged up last week but LT at 80% is better than any rookie RB at 100%.   The Dolphins are giving up 3.3 yds/carry for a total of 82.8 yds a game and they’ve only given up 2 TDs rushing. The Texans, on the other hand are giving up a robust 4.5 yds a carry for 139.8 yds/game and are tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for most rushing TDs given up with 8. Advantage: Dolphins   The Dolphins are giving up 206 yds a game in the air and have given up seven TDs but have sacked the QB 12 times. Those numbers are skewed anyway because they gave up the majority of the TDs and the yardage in one game against the Cardinals. In addition to that, of course the Patriots and Chargers tried to throw the ball at the end of their games because they were losing. The Texans give up 194.5 yds/game in the air and have given up six TDs. The thing that’s striking though is that they’re giving up that kind of yardage while losing their 4 games and giving up so much yardage on the ground. Worse than that, they only have 5 sacks. Advantage: Dolphins   Turnover margin is decidedly in the Dolphins favor. The Dolphins are +1 in turnover margin while the Texans are -5. The Texans have thrown 6 Interceptions and have 3 fumbles while the Dolphins only have 1 interception and 1 Fumble.   On the Defensive side of the ball, there’s no comparison. On the Offensive side of the ball, the numbers are a little closer.   The Dolphins are averaging 4.3yds/carry and 126 yds/game and have scored six TDs on the ground. Most of the yardage and TDs has come in the last two games. They only carried the ball 42 times in the first 2 games and 74 times in their 2 wins. The Texans are averaging 4.4 yds a carry for 114 yds and have scored 4 TDs on the ground. As we’ve already established, Fumbles are Houston 3, Miami 1. Slight advantage: Miami The Dolphins are averaging 215 yds/game with a completion percentage of 66.4 and have scored 4 TDs with only 1 interception. The Texans are averaging 218 yds/game with a completion percentage of 64.3 and have scored 5 TDs but have given up a whopping 6 interceptions. In addition the Texans have given up 10 sacks while Miami has given up 8. Turnovers alone make this Advantage: Miami.   The Texans effectively have no pass rush outside of Mario Williams. He has 4 of their 5 sacks and is the only playmaker on this defense. DeMeco Ryans and Zach Diles are having good seasons so far at Linebacker but it’s much harder to make plays at linebacker when your D-line is in your lap.   On offense, Matt Schaub is a good QB playing behind a horrible Offensive Line. He is going to be as good as the protection he gets. Andre Johnson, when healthy, may be one of the best WRs in the league and Kevin Walters and Owen Daniels are nice compliments who can make plays when the defense rotates to Johnson. Are they a better receiving corps than the Chargers WRs? Maybe but it’s really close. Are they better than New Englands combination of Randy Moss and Wes Welker? Not a chance. Slaton has been a nice surprise for the Texans but Sportsline has tempered expectations for him to produce this weeks against the Dolphins. Here’s the quote! “The Texans have not run well against 3-4 defenses of late. Chris Taylor's 99-yard, one TD game vs. Cleveland in December of the 2006 season is the last time a Texans rusher posted a good game against one of those kinds of schemes. Last year, primary and secondary running backs totaled 64 carries for 246 yards (3.8 avg.) with one touchdown in three games against 3-4 defenses.”   If you cannot run the ball, you can’t slow the pass rush. If you can’t slow the pass rush with a poor offensive line, your QB spends a lot of time on his back.   I’m not calling for a blow out but I wouldn’t be surprised. I’m looking forward to watching a game where I expect my Dolphins to win for the first time in a long time. The match-up on paper is lopsidedly in the Dolphins favor. Parcells and Sparano are not going to let the Dolphins rest on their laurels and be happy with 2 wins. Look for the Dolphins to come out and play the same physical ball control style they have played the last 2 weeks and don’t be surprised to see Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams combine for 50+ carries. Go Dolphins!
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 7, 2008 2:09 pm

Drinking the Dolphin's Kool-aid.

The Dolphins appear to be the real deal. After getting beat like a drum by the Arizona Cardinals in week 2, they’ve put together consecutive quality wins against the two participants of last years AFC championship game, the New England Patriots and the San Diego Chargers. The Dolphins beat the Chargers in much the same way they beat the Patriots. They played outstanding defense, ran the ball well, and controlled the clock and the line of scrimmage. Chad Pennington had another very efficient effort. If you read my blog last time, you’ll notice that they pretty much did everything I said they needed to do to win. Stop the run (specifically LT) They held the Chargers to 19 carries for 60 yards and held LaDainian Tomlinson to 12 for 35. Keep the receivers and running backs in front of you and limit the big play. They gave up 2 plays greater than 20 yards. A 23 yard play to Sproles and a 42 yard play to Vincent Jackson. They also held Phillip Rivers 13/28 for 159 yards and one TD. Rivers had been one of the hottest QBs in the league leading up to this game and the Dolphins effectively shut him down. The Dolphins only had two sacks (One that was shared by Jerry Porter and Vonnie Holiday and one by Matt Roth) but they kept pressure on Rivers and didn’t allow him to sit in the pocket and take his time. Roth has been a pleasant surprise since he seems to have found his niche playing OLB vice Defensive End. The biggest play of the game was on defense when the Dolphins had their sole turnover on their side of the field and yet kept the Chargers out of the end zone on 4th and goal from the 1. Last year, they would have folded and given up this score but they shut LT down and gave the ball back to the offense. On the offensive side of the ball, they played the same kind of ball control ball they played against the Patriots. They had the ball for 36:41 seconds (over 13 minutes more than the Chargers). They ran the ball effectively (40 times for 167 yards) and Ronnie Brown continued to prove he’s back by rushing 24 times for 125 yards and a TD. The Dolphins ran the “Wildcat” offense 11 times for 49 yards proving that it’s not a gimmick but a valuable part of their offensive scheme. There’s no way that the Chargers did not prepare for it yet they couldn’t stop it. One pleasant surprise was the involvement of the WRs in the offense. Ted Ginn Jr. and Camarillo combined for 13 catches for 123 yards and a TD. It’s not a lot but it’s good to see them starting to get involved. Chad Pennington was 22/29 for 228 yards and a TD. These are the kind of numbers I expected from Chad when the Dolphins brought him in and the kind of numbers I said he should be throwing for after he threw the ball 43 times against the Jets week 1. I think the coaching staff learned a thing or two from that loss. The question everyone is, undoubtedly, asking is “Are the Dolphins that good or have the Chargers and Pats fallen so far?” Only time will tell but, with the Dolphins schedule being very soft the rest of the way, a shot at the playoffs is not out of the question for this team. Defense wins Championships and a solid running game makes for a great Defense. The Dolphins have proved they can run the ball, play ball control, and play solid defense. I’m not saying the Dolphins are a championship caliber team but they certainly have the potential to be a solid playoff caliber team. I’ll post again Friday with a pre-game analysis of the Dolphins vs Texans. God Bless! Go Dolphins!
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 3, 2008 4:21 pm

Week 5 pre-game thoughts: Dolphins vs Chargers

I have to start off with the fact that 4 of the 6 Sportsline “experts” picked the Dolphins to win and I don’t like it. If it gives the Dolphins confidence then that’s cool(because regardless of what they say, they pay attention). I just don’t want the Dolphins or anyone else thinking that the win over the Patriots was anything more than one win. It’s nice that a victory of that magnitude may help give the team some confidence but as soon as a team starts thinking they’ve arrived then they stop striving to improve which is what I desire for the Dolphins.   What I can say about the Dolphin’s win is that it has invigorated me as a fan and given me some hope that they can win some games and improve for the future. I really wish they could have played last week vice having the bye to see if they could build on the win and use the emotion from the win constructively. Hopefully, they’ve used the bye to strengthen their base offense because gimmicks like the Wildcat offense are nice and sometimes very effective but you win playoff games by being good consistently on offense and defense. In the grand scheme of things, that’s all that counts. Winning Playoff games. That’s what keeps a coaches job.   Something that may surprise you and gives some Dolphin’s fans hope for the “upset special” is how bad the Chargers defense has been (at least statistically). They’re 28<sup>th</sup> in total defense and scoring defense and dead last in passing defense. They’re 13<sup>th</sup> against the run which should be Miami’s strength on a weekly basis. That #13 ranking was with Jamal Williams who is a mountain of a man and a heck of a run stopper. He didn’t practice thursday and is questionable for the game. It’s going to be interesting with 2 weeks to prepare how Sparano prepares for this defense. He attacked the Patriots aging linebackers with the run and it worked. It worked because he has one of the best pairs or tailbacks in the league. Do the Dolphins have the tools to attack this secondary? Do the Chargers have the weapons on defense to rush the passer? Merriman is gone and now his backup may miss this game. The third string guy did get a sack last week but I’d like to think our line is a little better than the Raiders.   The Raiders built a 15 point lead on the Chargers last week and couldn’t hold it. The Dolphins are a team that is much better suited to play with a lead than to play catch up. If the Dolphins get a lead, then I have to believe that Sparano has the smarts to attack this team on the ground and with short, high completion and force them to stop us. Keeping the Chargers offense off of the field is the key. Phillip Rivers is not Matt Cassell and LT is not Sammy Morris. It can be argued that the Patriots have better WRs and the Dolphins managed to keep them under wraps. One key is going to be keeping LT and Chris Chambers in front of them and not giving up the big plays they did against the Cards. These WRs are not as talented as Boldin/Fitzgerald but they’re pretty good. Another key is to stop LT early to prevent play action from becoming a problem and then rushing Rivers relentlessly. Chambers and Jackson can’t get deep if they’re hitting Rivers every time he drops back.   As a reasonable, thinking human being, the best I can truly hope for is that the Dolphins keep it close and have a chance at the end. As a Dolphin fan that’s gone through a couple of seasons of poor play and hopelessness, I’m hoping for another strong performance where the Dolphins stick to their strength (running the ball) and control the line of scrimmage and get another resounding win. Go Dolphins!
Category: NFL
Tags: Dolphins
Posted on: September 29, 2008 11:38 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2008 11:42 pm

Which Dolphins show up this week?

The Dolphins are just like every other team that's coming off of a bad year and is trying to rebuild. You're going to have ups and downs. The scary or exciting thing about the Dolphins is they've played three games with three dramatically different results. They kept it close with the Jets and could have won that game if they would have stuck with the run a little more and thrown the alley-oop to someone other than the short guy (Ted Ginn). The second game they got shelled by a very good Arizona offense who, in my opinion, has the best pair of wideouts in the league. They couldn't do much of anything right in that game. Thye blocked poorly. They ran the ball poorly. Their pass defense was horrendous. All in all, it was a game that Dolphin's fans would just as soon forget. Then the following week, the Dolphins put on a performance that gus us Dolphins fans some hope. They dismantled the Patriots. Sure, Brady didn't play but he's not the whole team. Right, Patriot's fan? The thing that was most impressive was that the Dolphin's offense made the Pat's defense look like the geriatric group that they are. Ronnie Brown looked like the beast he was before his injury last year and Pennington looked like the smart, accurate, intelligent QB that he's supposed to be. Even Ricky got in on the act and contributed over 90 yards on the ground. They outplayed the Patriot's in virtually every facet of the game and forced all the Patriot's fans to go to work the next day with thier heads hung low. Were their Patriot's fans before 2001? I don't remember any. That's why I always proudly tell everyone who cares to hear that I'm a Dolphin's fan so when they start winning again, they can't say I just climbed up on the bandwagon. Next up is the San Diego Chargers. Before the season started, I had the Chargers predicted to be the AFC's rep in the Super Bowl. Their Defense took a hit with the loss of Merriweather but, top to bottom, this team has a lot of talent. If they come out and spot us a lead like they did the Raiders last week, I'll be pretty confident about our chances. If our offense can keep our defense off of the field and run the ball like they did against the Patriots, I'll feel pretty good. San Diego has some good WRs but these guys aren't in the same league much less the same height range with the Arizona WRs so our secondary should have an easier time. The scary part is LT. We haven't faced a RB as talented as this guy. This is not Sammy Morris or Thomas Jones. This guy is a playmaker that can kill you from anywhere on the field. He can run, catch, and even throw the ball. He provides matchup problems that no other player can. If the Dolphins can keep him on the bench and our defense rested and put some points on the board then we can pull off another upset. I'm not naive enough to believe that this Dolphins team is a playoff team but they'll be exciting and they'll steal some wins and blowout some teams and lose some heartbreakers. It's an exciting time to be a Dolphin's fan as they'll get better every year because Parcells, unlike Dave Wannstedt, knows how to draft and use free agency to build a team. I hope all of the Dolphin's fans are as excited as I am and I hope in a year or so, we can get back to the way we were in the 70s and 80s when everyone dreaded playing the Dolphins. Go Dolphins!
Category: NFL
Tags: Dolphins
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