Posted on: October 15, 2008 11:05 pm
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.
Posted on: October 11, 2008 10:07 am
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!
Posted on: October 7, 2008 2:09 pm
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!