Pre-Season Is OVER!


Let the games begin.  With tonight New Orleans Saints game the Miami Dolphins finished off a meaningless 3 and 1 pre-season.  The next chapter starts tomorrow as teams across the NFL pare down to 53, the final 53.  Tonight the Phins won an over matched contest of their 1st teamers against the Saints backups 14-10.

With the pre-season now over, so goes the off-season.  Starting Sunday, the team will begin working toward the opening weekend volley against the NY Jets. 

I have yet to watch tonights game, and in all honesty, I rarely watch the 4th pre-season game as the real deal is around the corner.  Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post did watch the game however, and in a rather befitting ending to the training camp season, I will once again, and for the last time this season, throw it over to his words and descriptions of the Miami Dolphins vs. New Orleans Saints.  It’s time for some NFL regular season football.

You know the drill…click continue to read Ben’s observations.

First Team First: The Dolphins completely dominated the Saints on the stat sheet, outgaining them 229 yards to 68 through the first three quarters. But it’s obvious why – the Dolphins played their starters, and the Saints didn’t. The Dolphins’ starting offensive line played the entire first half, as did the linebackers. Most of the other starters played at least through the first quarter – the only ones that didn’t were Ricky Williams and Chad Pennington, who played one and two series, respectively. But the Saints treated the fourth exhibition game as most NFL teams do, letting Drew Brees, Marques Colston, Reggie Bush, Jeremy Shockey, Jonathan Vilma and several other starters sit this one out.

Run Ronnie, Run: While Ricky only took two hand-offs before calling it a night, Dolphins offensive coordinator Dan Henning fed Ronnie Brown a steady diet of hand-offs to see how his sprained right thumb will hold up. Brown, who sat out last week’s game against the Chiefs with the injury, passed Henning’s test. He carried 12 times for 47 yards and a touchdown in the first half, and got better as the game went on, finishing his day with an 8-yard reception and a 15-yard run. Brown didn’t wear a soft cast on his hand, and seemed to have no problems playing with his thumb injury. He also looked good planting and cutting on that surgically repaired right knee.

Getting to the QB: A week after sacking Chiefs quarterbacks five times, the Dolphins’ front seven continued to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Randy Starks planted Mark Brunell into the field turf in the first half, and Charlie Anderson tripped up Tyler Palko in the backfield with a shoestring tackle. Rob Ninkovich earned his second sack in consecutive weeks when he got to Palko in the fourth quarter, rookie Lionel Dotson took down Palko with eight minutes to go, and Junior Glymph sacked Palko with 3 minutes left. The Dolphins also had a nice goal-line stand in the first quarter, though the Saints finally got the ball across the goal line on 4th-and-2. Thanks to a dominant performance by the boys up front, the Dolphins held the Saints to just 68 total yards through three quarters, and 107 for the game.

Quarterback carousel: Chad Pennington played two series, which was surprising enough. We expected to see Chad Henne, but not for two-plus quarters. John Beck, the subject of trade rumors throughout camp, played the entire game last year when these two teams met in the fourth regular season game. But this time, he didn’t enter the game until the fourth quarter, and he promptly fumbled the first snap, which the Dolphins recovered. Josh McCown, meanwhile, didn’t play a snap for the third straight exhibition game. His only playing time came in mop-up duty against Tampa Bay in the first game. Final numbers from Thursday: Pennington – 2 of 4 for 27 yards; Henne – 16 of 20 for 137 yards, one touchdown, one interception; Beck – 2 for 2, 17 yards.

Bubble trouble: Thursday was Do or Die time for about 12-15 Dolphins on the “bubble,” and it was also the last chance for certain players to prove themselves before the season. The good: Ernest Wilford’s two catches for 35 yards, Greg Camarillo’s three catches for 32 yards, Renaldo Hill’s five tackles, Sean Ryan’s touchdown catch and Davone Bess’ 22-yard punt return. The not-so-good: Lex Hilliard’s 3-yards-per-carry average, Jalen Parmele’s 2-yards-per-carry average, Davone Bess’ fumble on a punt return, Reagan Mauia’s drop and Jayson Foster’s 5 yards on three punt returns.

Three-game winning streak: The Dolphins finished their exhibition season 3-1. Too bad it doesn’t count in the standings. Now it’s a long, painful, nine-day wait until the Dolphins take on the Jets in the season opener. Get some fresh air this weekend and spend some time with the wife and kids. It’s the last time you’ll be doing that until February