The starting offense for the Miami Dolphins against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday Night failed to light up the scoreboard, but did show signs of good things to come. Preseason games are played with only one thing in mind, evaulating players. I think coach Sparano and Co. got a pretty good idea of what they have going forward.
During the preseason, gameplans are simple. No coach wants to give anything away during meaningless games, so plays are called to give coaches a chance to see what their players can do. Here is what Miami learned during the first preseason game.
Running Back – Ronnie Brown looked like he is going to be healthy going into the regular season. He only had 5 carries, but averaged 4 yds per carry. He had a nice 8 yard run in which he really looked like his old self juking through the D-Line. Ricky Williams had only 3 carries, but the coaches know what he can do, the most important thing for him is staying healthy. Lex Hilliard had a decent game. He had the most carries with 8, and managed to score the only Miami touchdown on a 2 yd run.
Wide Receiver – It was disappointing to see Brandon Marshall drop his first 2 passes, but come on……he is going to be fine!! The big thing to take away from those two plays was how open Marshall was able to get! He’ll be nails soon enough. Brian Hartline also had a drop, but he too will be fine. The big story for the receivers was the play of Patrick Turner and Marlon Moore. Those 2 each had 2 catches for 44 yds, and they looked pretty good doing it. The battle for the 5th wide receiver spot is heating up, and if Moore and Turner keep playing well, Greg Camarillo could be pushed REALLY hard to keep his spot as well.
Quarterback – Chad Henne played most of the first half, and didn’t play too bad. His stats weren’t impressive at 5/11 for only 19 yds, but he did have 3 balls dropped by his receivers. If those were caught he would have been 8/11. His yards would have been much better as well, because Marshall had a lot of room to run after one of his drops. The good thing is Henne was making the right read, because those receivers were all open. Tyler Thigpen played most of the remainder of the game. He finished up 10/19 for 145 yds. He wasn’t great, but wasn’t bad either, making his claim to be the number 2 QB on the roster. Things can’t be good for Pat White. His 3 snaps included a running play and 2 kneel downs. Not good for someone that has to be fighting for a roster spot. If his playing time doesn’t change over the next 2 games, his future with the team could really be in question. Chad Pennington didn’t play at all, but he doesn’t have to prove a thing to the coaches, they know what he can do.
Offensive Line – The line shuffled quite a bit throughout the night, as they will do during the season. The will have guys coming in for different packages throughout most games, and all of them got plenty of playing time against the Bucs. Rookie John Jerry made some good blocks, and as a unit they only gave up one sack. Look for the shuffling to continue over the next couple games, as the Dolphins learn more about what each player can do well.
Tight End – This spot wasn’t utilized much during the game, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be the same during the season. Anthony Fasano was targeted twice, catching one for 10 yds. Kory Sperry was also targeted once during the game. The targets will be sure to go up for the tight end spot once the receivers start playing better. Catching the balls they dropped will spread the field a little more, making it easier for the tight ends to get open.
Look for Miami’s first team to execute better when they play Jacksonville Saturday night, I’m sure they will have a little more focus for that game. I’m really looking forward to watching the battle for the 5th WR continue throughout the preseason. What was once the biggest weakness of the Dolphins could turn out to be a strength!
Tags: Anthony Fasano Brandon Marshall Brian Hartline Chad Henne Greg Camarillo John Jerry Kory Sperry Lex Hilliard Marlon Moore Miami Dolphins Pat White Patrick Turner Ricky Williams Ronnie Brown Tampa Bay Bucanneers Tyler Thigpen