Matt Roth - Sun-Sentinel

The Good. The Bad. The Ginn

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There is not a lot of negativity surrounding the Miami Dolphins these days.  “Mike and Mike in the Morning” talked glowingly about Ronnie Brown and his 6 TD’s on the season thus far.  The local media is changing their tune, and for the first time in what seems like 10 years, fans at Dolphins Stadium were screaming so loudly that you could hear them over the announcers.  Who is this team?

The Good from yesterday is easy to find.  From another solid performance by Chad Pennington, Ronnie Brown, and Greg Camarillo (who caught his first TD of the season) the Dolphins also saw exemplary play from the offensive line that gave up only 1 sack an

d kept pressure off Pennington for most of the game while providing enough space for the RB’s to total over 160 yards on the ground.

On the defensive side of the ball, what can you complain about?  Matt Roth was everywhere and when he wasn’t dropping unexpectedly back into coverage on Antonio Gates, he was harassing the hell out of Phillip Rivers.  Of his 5 solo tackles, 3 of them were for losses and one was a sack.  Not bad for a guy that prior to the season

 was a much rumored addition to the trade list.  Roth’s explosion as a LB is a key reason why this defense is playing as well as they have been.

Jason Ferguson got more push yesterday and Joey Porter made his blocker part of the collapsed pocket.  It was fun to watch.  When Rivers found time to throw, his receivers often found themselves blanketed by the likes of Yeremiah Bell and the surprise emergence of Chris Crocker who had been benched two weeks before.

For the Dolphins, it is often not a matter of playing simply Defense and Offense and being satisfied.  The San Diego Chargers have one of the best return men in the business in Darren Sproles.  The much maligned Phins kick coverage unit held him to a mediocre 127 yards and a 17 yard average…yes, that is good.  

The bad is always ugly no matter how you disguise it and sometimes even in victory you find it hard to want to talk about it.  In looking at yesterdays game however, there fortunately wasn’t much that was ugly.  The fi


rst thought that comes to my head is the 3rd and 19 situation that the Dolphins had the Chargers in at the 4:00 minute mark, quarter 4.  With a heavy pass rush, Rivers unloaded a 42 yard bomb to Vincent Jackson that would lead to a game changing touchdown.  

The Dolphins were ahead 17 – 3 at that point and the game went from taking care of business to fighting for a victory.  The result was positive and in the end, the situation may have done more for the youth of this team that another blowout.  They needed to find a way to hold on and they did.  The problem is that once again, the Dolphins gave up a big play on 3rd and long and that is coming far too often.  Andre’ Goodman had the coverage and let himself get out of position on the floater.  This can’t continue, especially when games will be much closer as the season progresses.

Anthony Fasano who has been money all year long dropped what potentially could have been a game winning TD pass.  On the 3rd down play, Fasano was 14 yards downfield with the coverage unit in front of 

him.  The ball fluttered through the coverage and Fasano dropped it.  Hard to say if he could have gone the distance but the gain would have preserved the drive and ate more time off the clock.  This is Fasano’s first clutch drop of the season and it is doubtful to be of any concern, but still when you see it, you scream “Catch the Damn Ball”.

Davone Bess once again did well offensively but on ST’s he seriously needs to start stepping it up.  He isn’t close to breaking one yet.  Yesterday he fumbled at a critical time in the game that set SD up following their TD that brought the Bolts to within 7.  Bess was not cradling the ball in traffic and instead held it loosely in his inside hand.  This is something that is cause for concern.  It was only the 2nd turnover for the Dolphins this season but Bess and anyone else must hang on to the ball.  This team can not afford to make mistakes.

There was the good, the bad, and then there is Ted Ginn.  Yesterday, Ginn did well and bombed at the same time.  Some will defend him and focus on the positives, such as 7 receptions for 55 yards and the 

games most critical throw and catch of the game.  A 14 yard brilliant catch on 3rd down to extend the final drive for the victory.  Still it was his play throughout the game that left many shaking their heads in disgust.

Ted has been non-existent on special teams this season.  Yesterday he made an appearance as the punt returner.  The booming kick was left to the ground.  Ted ran up on the ball but backed away instead of fielding it, a common theme last year.  A penalty forced the Chargers to re-kick and on the ensuing punt, Ginn mis-fielded the ball and fumbled.  He picked up his own fumble and skirted to the sidelines for a minimal game.  He would not make an appearance again on the punt return team.

On two separate occasions, Ginn further ired fans when he chose the easy way off the field instead of playing NFL football.  Let’s face one thing, Ginn is not a bulking WR.  He is shorter than most, lanky, and built for speed.  He often struggles getting off the line of scrimmage and is often manhandled downfield by bigger corners.  Still, this is the NFL and Ginns play on those two instances makes this author sick.

There are normal 3rd downs.  You miss it you punt…you move on.  There are critic

al 3rd downs.  You make it and you extend a drive that could win you a game…yesterday Ginn did that.  Then there are crucial 3rd downs.  Those are the deciding 3rd downs.  The ones where they are not necessarily going to secure the victory but will undoubtedly help the team get closer to that goal.  Ginn failed twic on those on Sunday.

Facing a 3rd and 12 from the San Diego 33 the Phins up 17-3.  Ginn takes a Chad Pennington pass and gains 9 yards.  However, it was the fact that 3 yards up field was the defending Corner and rather than lower down and try and get the 3 yards for the first, Ginn immediately turned and ran out of bounds.  He was not forced out by coverage, he was not forced out by momentum, he literally turned to the sideline and ran directly out of bounds.  Sorry, but that was completely uncalled for and Pop Warner stuff from a skinny little kid afraid of getting hit for the first time.  O.k., so fear took over for a minute, or maybe Ginn figured he wouldn’t make it so why take the hit.  Who knows, but it would happen again. 

The first one ended with a Dan Carpenter 43 yard missed FG attempt and on the ensuing drive the Chargers found the end-zone for the first and only time but it would change the way the game was played from that point.  Missed FG, San Diego TD, Davone Bess fumble.  All in the span of 3 minutes.

Ginn didn’t learn anything from the first one.  Late in quarter four with the Phins driving to drain the clock, the Phins turned to Ginn and hit him on the sideline.  Second and 7, final drive of the game, Pennington hits Ginn again, 6 yards later and Ginn is running out of bounds and away from the defender to his forward right instead of fighting for that extra yard.  Pathetic.  Not to mention he stopped the clock as well.

This team has been playing lights out.  They are playing Bill Parcells football.  Tough and in your face.  I have no problem streaking down-field, seeing the defender and stepping out instead of taking the hit when it is unnecessary.  WR’s do it all the time.  Show me a number 1 or a number 2 WR that will do that when the game is on the line and the first down marker is 1 to 3 yards in front of them?  

Ginn played better than he has all year which is saying something.  He was crucial to the victory of this team, but his desire to avoid contact is a crux that this team can not afford.  What if the team faltered on that final drive because Ginn didn’t push 1 yard up field…he could have lunged and made a first.  What if, what if, what if?  We could play that game all day.

These Dolphins are finding a way to win.  They are learning how good it feels to not be the doormats of the NFL.  They put their bodies out there for the team.  Ted Ginn is not.  Or at least he didn’t.  I was never a fan of Ted Ginn before or after the draft.  So I suppose that should be said, but at least I respected his speed and what appeared to be commitment to getting better.  Yesterday, I lost a lot of respect for a guy who when the game was on the line refused to step up and take a hit.  3 yards of open field.  Ginn moving forward, defender moving forward.  The two should have met 1 yard shy of the first.  Given the momentum of Ginn…my money is on Ginn gaining that yard.  Instead, we will never know because instead of taking the onus of the game on his shoulders, he chickened out and ran out of bounds.  

Playmakers make plays happen.  They fight for every yard and when the game is on the line, they want the ball.  

7 receptions and 55 yards and I saw one great catch to keep a game winning drive alive, what I remember is an NFL WR, a first round top 10 WR at that, run out of bounds to avoid contact.  To me, that is running scared and maybe that is why he hasn’t been more involved on offense.  Maybe, just maybe, Tony Sparano told him not take a hit for fear of breaking him before the trade deadline.

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Tags: Chad Pennington Jason Ferguson Matt Roth Miami Dolphins Ronnie Brown Ted Ginn Tony Sparano

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