Nobody needs to remind anyone on the Miami Dolphins’ defense about that debacle that occurred in Miami on Monday Night Football, to kickoff the 2011 season against the New England Patriots. It certainly was a record setting night….for the Pats. They strolled into town like a bunch of savages and took anything and everything they wanted with such reckless disregard to the Dolphins’ coaches, players, and fans. Jim Cramer from CNBC’s Mad Money was screaming “sell, sell, sell” from the top of his lungs when evaluating that defense who looked as if they just ran a marathon. They couldn’t cover or tackle a mannequin that opening night. The so called “top five” Dolphins’ defense was completely stripped of its dignity and embarrassed in front of a national audience.
Tom Brady repeatedly torched the Miami secondary at will. He lit us up like a pin ball machine. He threw four touchdowns, completing 32 of 48 passes for 517 yards. That was the fifth most yards in NFL history for a single game. Brady was surgical all night, just absolutely dissecting and picking the defense apart. If you had Brady as your QB in your fantasy football leagues, you definitely won that first week. On the other hand, if you had the Miami Dolphins’ defense/special teams like myself, you surely lost.
The Miami coaches and players knew it was coming but had no answers. Brady operated out of the shotgun, running his no-huddle offense. CBs Vontae Davis, Sean Smith, Nolan Carroll, and Benny Sapp (Sapp was cut from the team the next day) were gasping for air between plays. They were winded, huffing and puffing, with their hands around their waists. Half the team was cramping up every other minute and falling down like flies. Sapp will forever be “posterized” by WR Wes Welker from a stiff arm to the face that resulted in a 99 yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter that sealed the game. LBs Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby were non-existent and didn’t make a single $64M play all game (combined salary).
“Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on
me” is the exact quote that should be coming from Defensive Coordinator, Mike Nolan. There is no question about it, this upcoming Saturday (yes, it’s a Saturday game) will be a chess match between Nolan and the Patriots’ Offensive Coordinator, Bill O’Brien. Nolan has had well over three months to look at the film and do a “lessons learned” from the mistakes on that opening night. There will be no excuses this game. He won’t have Benny Sapp or ninety degree heat to blame this time.
This just in, the Patriots will be running out of the no-huddle again. And yes, Brady will be targeting those two big tight ends, Gronkowski and Hernandez. And most importantly, the sun always sets in the west and Wes Welker always runs a slant route on third down. So be ready, it’s coming! If the Dolphins’ defense looks like a deer in headlights again, it will be a direct reflection on the preparation and game planning from their defensive coordinator.
On the bright side, the defense has improved tremendously, especially in the last seven games. During that 0 and 7 start, the Dolphins forced only a total of 4 turnovers. In the last seven, they have caused 12 turnovers. Also, the defense has only been giving up a total of 298 yards per game as compared to 381 total yards during that early seven game stretch. Although it’s a little too late, it appears they have turned things around and are not the same group of out-of-shape guys who started off the season. Their biggest test will be this weekend.
If this defense is as prideful as they claim to be, then this upcoming rematch game against the Patriots should be their mini Super Bowl. They all walked off the field after that season opener with egg on their faces. They were utterly out of shape, outmatched, and outcoached on national television. They took a sucker punch in the mouth and gave nothing back. The Pats humiliated us on our turf to start off the year. This Saturday, the Dolphins’ defense can return the favor and redeem themselves.