The Miami Dolphins won their 2nd pre-season game of the year against the Carolina Panthers 27-17. While the Phins notched a win, coaches got a good look at what is wrong with this team. Which is a good thing because they still have time to get those kinks ironed out before the season starts. The Dolphins may have gotten a win, but they have a lot of work ahead of them.
QB’s: Chad Pennington looked better than last week while playing just over a quarter of football. Sharp on his throws most of the time, his lack of arm strength was evident when he couldn’t lead a wide open Patrick Cobbs on the 10 yard line. The “Wild Cat” play should have been a 6 pointer. Instead, the ball hung high allowing a defender to close in and stop Cobbs on the 10. The Dolphins would settle for a field goal.
Pat White came into the game to relieve Pennington and looked out of place and over matched by the remaining members of the Carolina 1st team defense and 2nd teamers. White wasted no time turning his legs into his weapon and on at least two occassions took off on what may have been designed running plays. White has a long way to go to become a QB and the Dolphins may want to consider trying him in other areas to get some use out of him this year.
Chad Henne threw for over 75 yards with a TD. He completed all but 3 of his passes. He is beginning to look poised in the pocket but he too quickly checks off for the shorter dunk pass. Still, Henne was able to maintain some decent drives and led the team to a FG and a TD. The Dolphins dropped him to the 3rd and 4th quarters to see how he would handle running the offense in a close game. He looked good.
RB’s: Ronnie Brown exploded early running with conviction and the offensive line was giving him room to run. It was a pass from Chad Pennington however that got him his lone TD of the game. Brown did more in the base offense tonight than in the “Wildcat” package. Ricky Williams had a short night but did take a Ronnie Brown hand-off about 19 yards. Patrick Cobbs played 3 quarter but found the running lanes tighter with the back-ups in. Lex Hilliard was once again the star of the RB’s but his late 3rd and 4th quarter heroics come against players such as himself. Young guys trying to make the roster. Still, his bull-dozing runs are starting to raise some eyebrows and questions. Like how will the Dolphins hide him on the PS this year?
WR’s: This was the quiet unit tonight. No one stood out. Davone Bess dropped an easy catch that would have been a first down and Anthony Armstrong did little to show he belongs. Brian Hartline in his starting debut was rarely seen but when he did touch the ball he looked like a pinball as he bounced between defenders.
TE’s: Not much to say. The TE’s were primarily run blockers tonight.
Oline: The offensive line looked much better running the ball that last week, at least in the 1st period. Pass protection broke down a few times and Brandon Frye looked to give up another blinding sack.
Dline: The Dolphins defensive line was solid in the first quarter but then forgot how to tackle in the 2nd. The unit had De’Angelo Williams stopped for a 3 yard loss but the defenders forgot the fundamental tradition of actually wrapping up the runner. Williams scampered off Dolphins defenders for a 30 yard TD run.
Still, depite that hiccup, the pressure that they put on the Carolina QB’s was intense and often. The Phins seem to make a habit out of collapsing the pocket for the second week in a row. Make it a 3rd and this unit might have me believing they could be something special.
LB’s: Channing Crowder and Akin Ayodele were all ove the field tonight. Crowder actually had a tackle behind the line of scrimmage as well. On the outsides, Cameron Wake should have received his 2nd official sack of the pre-season but they ruled McCown had thrown the ball before his knee hit. It didn’t. Porter and Taylor looked good in their short stint on the field.
CB/S: With Sean Smith isolated with possible swine flu, Vontae’ Davis had a chance to make his case. While not as impressive as Smith’s in week 1, Davis looked a lot more comfortable and received no flags. One thing that can be said is that Davis likes to hit and is a very good tackler in the open field. Davis stood out because my eyes were focused on him. The rest of the unit did their job and while Carolina found moderate success at times the unti as a hole seemed to be more fluid…maybe because Eric Green is gone. It should be noted that the Panthers were not playing with Mushin Muhammed and Steve Smith, their number 1 and 2 WR’s.
ST’s: The Phins once again showed how much more work they need on ST’s. The team gave up a punt return for a TD despite a blatant hold on the punter that pulled his jersey off his shoulder. Still, there was no reason for the runner to make it to the endzone. The Dolphins just didn’t wrap and didn’t stay in their lanes.
After last weeks game the talk around the web was the play and speed of KR/PR Chris Williams. Williams is competing for a job on the 53 and it would seem that this would be the only place he could land. Unfortunately for Williams, he came nowhere near his play of last week. Williams fumbled over a punt and made little yards on either KO’s or punts. Williams also spen much of the 2nd half on the bench as the Dolphins put others in the game at those positions. At one point Davone Bess was once again catching punts. Not a good sign with only 1 game left before the first round of cuts.
While this game is a win and valuable playing time was had by the younger guys the overall play seemed very sloppy at times. Especially from the 2nd unit.