The Miami Dolphins are starting to click on offense. Defensively, Mike Nolan hasn’t shown so much as one play of his defense. But when it comes to the other part of the team, the “special” teams, the Phins are still swimming in the same murky waters as the last 5 years or so. How hard is it to find quality players to play special teams? Seriously?
The Dolphins are supposed to be great talent evaluators so one would think that the depth of their roster would play perfectly into finding hard hitting tackling machines on the punt and kick return teams. Nope. You would think that three years into this mess they inherited they would find at least one person who can run back a kick-off or return a punt for more than 12 yards. Nope. Instead, we still don’t know what or who will handle return duties.
Last season Ted Ginn was marvelous against the Jets but was pretty much an afterthought for the other 15 games as a returner. Davone Bess get’s the ball upfield but if there is one defender in his way, you can be that is where he will go down. He simply can not break the first tackle. A common problem as a WR as well.
Traditionally,WR’s, CB’s, and RB’s make up your return guys. Of those guys it’s usually a non-starter who plays the role. So where is Miami’s? Brian Hartline is not really fast enough to shag balls back there and Patrick Turner isn’t taking reps. Marlon Moore was on the radar for a little while but doesn’t seem to add much to that portion of the game when compared to Davone Bess.
In the secondary, no one has stood out at all in that department and our RB’s are made up of bull rushing Lex Hilliard and Patrick Cobbs coming off a knee injury.
So what’s the prob?
The problem lies with the protection. Partly. The Dolphins can’t seem to hold blocks, they can’t seem to create open lanes, and that means they can’t create big gains. Consider that most of the Dolphins special teams players are supposed to be better tacklers than blockers. O.k. so they play both ways and if their blocking skills are not that great, they make up for it when the ball is being given to the opponent. Right?
Nope. The Phins have given up 3 plays of over 40 yards on returns in two pre-season games. That is not going to cut it. Not even close when you consider that field position in the early part of the season will be a key factor in taking pressure off a young defense who are still learning to play at this level. One third of the Dolphins teams is special alright but not in a good way. (I refrain from using anything like short bus in fear of politically correct backlash).
If all of that wasn’t enough, the Phins have had 2 punts blocked by their newly signed franchise punter, Brandon Fields. One of those punts resulted in a safety to open the Jacksonville scoring.
The NFL is full of guys who want to knock heads and would be more than willing to make a team based on their panache of tackling returners. The Dolphins so far have found very little to field a team that can rank in the top 20 let alone anything higher. When Jason Allen is your best special teams player, there is a problem. At least they have him.
There are two games left in pre-season before the show kicks off for real. This week’s Atlanta game will be a full run where the starters play around 3 quarters before holding a clipboard during the final game. But while fans will hopefully “ooh and ahh” over the offense and defense, I will be keeping an eye on the far less spectacular special teams. This is where players on the bubble make the roster and so far, I haven’t seen much to warrant keeping anyone around.