The Miami Dolphins are 3-0 in the pre-season which means absolutely nothing. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. 3-0, 4-0, 0-4…NOTHING. That being said, the Phins are in that position because last night their defense made some nescessary stands when they had to. The Dolphins defense over the last 12 years has made a habit of bailing out the offense as the team hasn’t had a significant offensive high-octane system since Dan Marino. Last night was no different.
DL: The defensive line struggled against a Tampa Bay rushing attack that often put the Buc’s in short yardage positions. A lack of upfield push allowed the Bucs to often seem as though they were running at will. When the Buc’s decided to pass, that was when the Phins were at their best. The front line punished the interior offensive line with a continual pass rush that broke them down. In the first half the Phins couldn’t get their hands on Byron Leftwhich but the pressure forced the starting QB to hurry his throws and often overthrow wide open receivers. As Leftwhich exited, the Phins employed the constant attack on Luke McCown that kept the QB on the ground. It continued with rookie Josh Freeman seeing the dirt more than his receivers. It’s apparent that the Phins will need to improve up front in the running game against bigger offensive lines, but it is also apparent that opposing QB’s will not have a lot of time to throw. The front 7 and the LB’s won last nights game.
LB’s: Akin Ayodele has emerged as a force at the MLB position. Lined up next to Channing Crowder, Ayodele is becoming what Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland envisioned when they traded for him last season. He has been very consistent in pre-season this year and looks to be heading towards making the Dolphins interior LB spot a force. Last night the LB’s dominated in the passing game when used as pass rushers. Taylor and Porter were everywhere along with the DE’s. Cameron Wake despite an offsides penalty is starting to figure out the speed of the NFL and that will not be good news for the QB’s that he will oppose. Last night also saw solid plays from two LB’s who are fighting for their jobs. Erik Walden and William Kershaw. On one play, Walden chased down Freeman from behind showing off some solid speed. One of the two may have a shot at making the team or the practice field. Both are at least auditioning for other teams.
CB’s: Over the last two weeks the talk has surrounded the secondary. While most of the talk has been on the cornerbacks. Rookies Smith and Davis have been the most critiqued. Last night, neither of them made an impression. Smith was often an arms length away from making a play but most of the time he was allowing underneath receptions to players who won’t likely be on the final TB roster. Davis had a quiet night as well but neither were so bad that the Phins should be worried. The Dolphins have likely found their future corners this past draft and a pro-bowl tandem is not out of the question down the road.
S’s: The Phins safeties had a quiet evening which means they played well. The Buc’s didn’t make any long downfield throws but they need to improve on their open field tackling against power backs. Gibril Wilson and Yeremiah Bell both had problems wrapping up and taking down runners.