I waited a few hours to see if the aftermath of the early Atlanta Falcons game would subside into something that wouldn’t come across so mean spirited. It didn’t work. The Miami Dolphins got a swift kick in the face and then some today at the hands of last years surprise wonder team. The kick wasn’t just a dead on shot to the chin, but the garbage that the Dolphins left on the field makes you wonder how they will fare against the better opponents on the schedule.
First, I suppose I should point out the good. Which really shouldn’t take but a paragraph, maybe two if I want to be really nice. Phillip Merling looked fantastic. He played his heart out and showed once again that despite the fact that he doesn’t practice well, he brings it come game time. Merling looked like a budding star. The return of Jason Taylor saw the LB get his first sack of the season and his continual up field play kept Matt Ryan on his heels. Joey Porter looked really good against the run as well. The defensive front did a solid job keeping RB Michael Turner in check the entire game and until the last series of the game had held the RB to under 40 yards on 18 carries. That was superb.
On offense Ricky Williams ran like the old Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown ran like, well Ronnie Brown. The Phins found more success on the right side between Vernon Carey and Donald Thomas than on the left where John Abraham schooled sophomore LT Jake Long. Oh, and then when school was out, he took him to study hall and beat the crap out of him.
That was it. Nothing else.
Rookie Sean Smith seemed to get a tad bit better later in the game after getting torched for two would have been TD’s had Matt Ryan not overthrown them. Will Allen, the Dolphins top CB looked like he just got off the rookie bus. Allen missed one tackle in the open field that left him somewhat flailing. Yeremiah Bell is a costly safety who was supposed to become even better with the addition of Gibril Wilson. Today he looked way out of place trying to cover TE Tony Gonzalez and then after the game could only piss and moan about how he felt Tony got special treatment. Maybe…from Bell.
The Phins lined up at times, 10 yards off the receivers and still managed to get beat. Neither Smith nor Allen nor any other secondary player stood out in this game. Their best player by far was Matt Ryan who missed on several downfield throws to open WR’s. Had it not been for the pressure from the front 7 this game would have been punched by half-time.
Which now brings me to the offensive, or completely offensive side of the ball. Chad Pennington who last year played his methodical game to near perfection looked like the Chad Pennington that was booed every Sunday in New York. Maybe they should have put the Jets on the schedule first again. His passes were disgusting. Often falling short into the ground or out of the reach of the intended target. While he started strong, 6 consecutive completions, it almost seemed as though he decided to become someone else. Where was the team leader that we saw last year? He sure wasn’t commanding the huddle. Maybe it was because he was afraid to say something to Jake Long.
Long needs to get his act together. A pro-bowler last year Long today made fans question whether the Phins made the right pick last year. John Abraham owned him from top to bottom and when Abraham wasn’t in the game, some guy I never heard of took turns one the Dolphins whipping boy. If Long wasn’t giving up a sack, he was giving up undue pressure, if not pressure he was getting tangled with his footwork. The billion dollar line so to speak looked like a Dollar General Store after Christmas sale. At least Donald Thomas looked good and stayed healthy.
That all brings me around to the wide-receivers and TE’s. Perhaps coach Tony Sparano should go back to pre-season and actually play some of his starters. Anthony Fasano was non-existent in pre-season and it showed today when he put not one, but two receptions on the field and into the hands of the Atlanta defense. Fasano blew an optimal scoring drive when his first fumble was at the Atlanta 10 and subsequently run back into Dolphins territory. He would fumble again in Miami territory saving the hassle of having a defender actually running it back.
O.k. enough about Fasano. There is no big secret that I don’t care much for Ted Ginn and today did nothing to change that opinion. When the best play that I have seen out of him in some time was when he became a defender and batted a ball down…well let’s just say I’m not impressed. Complain all you want but I have never seen an NFL football player try to avoid contact like Ted Ginn. My 5 year old son takes on more contact on his soccer team. 3 years is when receivers are supposed to blossom and I really could care less if he is a downfield guy with no one to throw him the ball. Speed is one thing, heart is another and Ginn does not possess the latter. To me, I saw more in the limited time from Brian Hartline who obviously spent more time learning from Anthony Gonzalez at OSU than Ted Ginn.
This game was absolutely putrid on the offensive side of the ball and you have to wonder if Jason Taylor isn’t thinking “go freaking figure”. There was zero offensive continuity out there, but honestly, I shouldn’t expect that from a team that really is built for nothing. They are not a power running team, they are not an air attack, hell, they aren’t even a finesse team. But they have Pat White and can line up in the Wild Cat.
Miami fans caught a glimpse of what this team could be under Tony Sparano and I have to believe that right about now, the no-nonsense coach is telling Bill Parcells enough with the bull-shit player acquisitions that do nothing. If he is not, then he should be. This offense has not stars in the making and their top RB is set to be a free agent and their number 1 WR can be outplayed by a woman. The rest of the WR’s except Davone Bess look like Wes Welker clones rather than NFL superstars. Which isn’t bad except we don’t need more than one.
I didn’t mention Davone Bess in the good things from this game and that was a slight on my part. Bess looked like he could very well become an Anquan Boldin type player. Physical and tough while running solid routes and his hands were like glue. The Phins need to get him more involved in the offense and that means a number 1 or number 2 spot, not the slot.
Come tomorrow this will be one game that was lost. 15 other teams will have lost their openers by Tuesday so Miami is far being alone. That is no excuse of the play of the offense today. This team was supposed to get better and instead, it took a serious step backwards. Dolphins front office staff, including Jeff Ireland and Bill Parcells needs to take a long look at what they are “trying” to do and what the Atlanta Falcons did. It’s obvious that the Falcons are much further along in their recovery than the Dolphins are. If the Phins want to be a power team on offense then they need to decide what to do with Chad Henne. Play him and let him take his knocks or start looking for another QB to eventually replace Pennington. This offense needs someone who can spread the field and throw downfield. Pennington isn’t it. He was the caretaker and the Phins now need a manager. They need something more than dink and dunk and wildPat. They need an offense that can score.
There are 15 more games on the Dolphins schedule and the next 2 are not any easier. Next week Peyton Manning comes to town and he won’t miss the passes that Ryan did. The week after the team heads to San Diego where Phillip Rivers won’t miss either. Today, all the Dolphins did was miss. And to think we waited 8 months to see that garbage on the field. Tsk, Tsk, Tsk.