Let’s be honest, if you watched the game yesterday your still sick to your stomach. You may even be wondering how you are going to pay for the rather large hole in your flat screen. Yesterday sucked. The offense sucked, the defense sucked, the special teams sucked…again. Hell even Dan Carpenter whiffed a kick. No one was left out of the finger pointing because honestly, you could point to every single player on the team and find something they did wrong. So, on the upside, it was an all around team effort.
Aside from the deplorable play on the field, it should be realized that there is a perception of this team that makes you think they should be better. Especially when you look around the league and see what teams like the Browns and Raiders are doing and then you see Detroit and St. Louis and it’s normal to ask what’s going on in Miami. There is however facts, there is fiction, and there is impression. When you put them all together no matter how hard you try, you still fall into the hole of blaming someone. It’s almost impossible to be a fan and still be unbiased in your approach. There is a very thin line between holding someone accountable and making excuses because you like that particular person and the position they serve.
The season is now half way over and the Dolphins could still make a run at the playoffs, in fact they could still finish 12-4 on the year, and next week they could still finish 11-5, and so on as losses pile up. Regardless of what the end result is now, the mid point does not look at that good. While you may and likely will disagree with me, here is where I see things at the .500 mark. Miami Dolphins grades.
Tony Sparano: Grade C- Ultimately the head coach is responsible for the team. While his own personal game mistakes have gotten better, the antiquated offense has not. The addition of Brandon Marshall was supposed to improve the offensive unit, unfortunately that has not been the case. The offense is stagnant, inconsistent, and far too conservative for this NFL. It runs like a brand of the former Bill Parcells regimes and no other team is as conservative as these Dolphins.
Dan Henning: Grade D To be fair the argument could be made that Henning is not the problem that the execution on the field is. That also goes both ways. What is clear is that Dan Henning does not have a vision for this offense. There is no identity. The last offensive unit that was on the field this bad was during the Cam Cameron season. In that season there was no talent so that leaves me to believe that the offensive coordinator has a lot to do with it’s failures.
Mike Nolan: Grade B Last season the Dolphins ranked in the lower 20′s in team defense. This season they rank 11th prior to last weekends Baltimore game. The truth is Cameron Wake has made fans forget about Jason Taylor and Joey Porter. Koa Misi has looked promising and Karlos Dansby is the Pro-Bowler we expected. With blitz combinations and a lot of young players, the oldest player on defense is Yeremiah Bell, the Dolphins have the makings of something special. Unfortunately, the youth of this team also means coverage break downs and missed assignments. Nolan however is responsible for the lack of tackling on this team. That however may also fall on Tony Sparano for his choices made in training camp regarding contact…or lack of.
Chad Henne: Grade C This will likely stir debate and to be honest, I almost moved him up to a plus or a B-. Henne is playing within a system that I honestly feel does not fit his ability. He is not a dink and dunk passer and the coaching staff simply teaches their QB’s to drop back count to four and release the ball. Henne often looks exactly like he has been taught. The problem is that again, in this NFL, there is no set cadence for getting rid of the ball. This issue to me hinders Henne’s ability to learn how to feel pressure. He often will hold the ball too long or at times not long enough. He is quick to abandon a play without giving it time to develop. I think Henne is going to be a very serviceable QB in this league and may be a QB who can lead a team, this team, deep into the playoffs. However, he needs to start showing some emotion on the field. He is far too stoic now to be a leader. Perhaps that too is from what the coaches have drilled into his head. For that reason I left him at a C.
Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams: Grade C Neither Ricky nor Ronnie have shown any type of consistency and in terms of Ronnie Brown, he has regressed back to dancing behind the line of scrimmage instead of attacking it. In the case of Ricky, it’s more about his inability to get away from defenders anymore. There is an issue with the offensive line that also contributes to their issues but more importantly, there is an issue with the coaching staff as well in terms of ill timed play calling. There is a definite lack of continuity in the offensive play calling.
Anthony Fasano: Grade D Fasano has done nothing. He has caught a TD pass but has dropped as many again it seems as last year. Fasano is in a contract year and as it stands now, free agency isn’t going to be a bank breaking experience. Maybe a heartbreaking one instead. Fasano needs to turn it around and start playing 100 percent on every play with his mind in tune with hands.
Brandon Marshall: Grade A+ The man is on pace to break both his career receptions and yardage totals. While his TD’s are horrid, scoring only one, that onus belongs on Chad Henne and Dan Henning.
Davone Bess: Grade A Normally when a player is awarded a contract in mid-season he flops. Not so with Davone Bess who has not only impressed the Miami fan base but is gaining national recognition as well. Bess has developed the one thing he has lacked since the day he got here. YAC. The addition of Brandon Marshall has taught Bess how to turn his body and get more yards. He is becoming a legitimate go to threat that defenses need to account for.
Brian Hartline: Grade D Call it a sophomore slump. Hartline looked like he was ready to take a huge leap this year after the Dolphins added Marshall. Instead, with single coverage, he is rarely able to find the soft coverage and has had a case of dropping balls earlier in the season. Hartline needs to turn his season around and there is still time for him to do that. Miami fans want to see more than just flashes.
Jake Long: Grade A It’s hard to imagine anyone playing a more well rounded consistent game at LT than Jake Long.
Joe Berger: Grade B Berger beat out Jake Grove for the starting center job and the Dolphins cut Grove as a result. Berger is not flashy but he has gotten the job done. His issues now appear to be the flexing LG position that has rotated players all year and the RG position that is owned by Richie Incognito. Incognito is doing an o.k. job but he has Vernon Carey on the other side of him.
Vernon Carey: Grade C- Carey is a whiff machine. His inability to stay with pass rushers has forced Chad Henne into bad situations and his inability to consistently block for the running game has been disruptive.
Overall: Grade C- There are so many flashes of a very good football team on offense. Play calling has killed long drives and have thrown wrenches into momentum. The Dolphins have scored a lot of three points instead of six points. A more veteran team would have converted a lot of those. Imagine if this team had? The truth is, this team on offense has some nice pieces in place to be successful, but they need to start playing to win instead of playing not to lose. That, is on the coaches.
Grade F: Do I really need to go into details? Aside from Dan Carpenter who is leading the league in FG’s, nothing the Dolphins seem to do on ST’s seem to work. A positive however could be the emergence of Nolan Carroll as a kick-returner. We will see.
The good news is for the Dolphins fan base is that this team is relatively young. Only 3 years working together under Sparano. Some changes will be made and need to be made on the line of scrimmage, a new OC would be nice, and the trio of Ricky, Ronnie, and Anthony, are expected to be free agents after the season. Still, all in all there is reason to stay positive and realize that this is a team working towards a future goal not a now goal. For all the mistakes Chad Henne has made, it must be realized that he is still in his 3rd season and only his 2nd as a starter. In fact, Baltimore was his 21st game. QB in the NFL is not easy to learn and Henne is playing as well as Matt Ryan, Mark Sanchez, Matt Schaub, and even Joe Flacco, and he is doing it with less in-game experience.
Join us later this week for the defensive side of the ball.