Meaningless Perfection…Dolphins Beat New Orleans Finish Pre-Season 4-0


The Miami Dolphins haven’t been perfect in pre-season since the 1998 campaign when they won all 4 exhibition matches on their way to a 10-6 record with a playoff birth.  This years Miami Dolphins rode the shoulders of a defensive unit that kept the opposition from scoring.  Only the Carolina Panthers managed to score more than 10 points.  17 in week 2.  The Phins played a total of 3 games within 11 days before getting a couple extra days of work to prepare for their final opponent.  New Orleans.  The Phins defense managed to keep the Saints out of the end-zone and off the scoreboard but special teams once again gave up a punt return for a score keeping the game much closer than necessary.

Tonight saw the emergence of Chad Henne.  At least in his first two series of play when he completed 6-6 passes and threw to beautiful ropes to Davone Bess on an out route and Ted Ginn down the sideline.  Henne looked far more poised in the pocket than in previous outings but after the half, Henne lined up behind the younger less experienced line and started dancing again to avoid pressure.  Henne is looking more and more like a passer who needs to be protected by the men up front.  Still, he led the team to it’s only TD drive of the night and appeared to be on a roll for a second before Patrick Cobbs fumbled the ball away.

On defense the typical front 7 looked superb putting pressure on the QB’s but no matter how well they played, it was rookie CB Sean Smith who stole the show once again.  Aside from a solid night of coverage, Smith made the play of the game with a one handed interception in the end-zone.  Perfect coverage in place, Smith used his height to block out the receiver while reaching up with one hand and taking the ball out of the air.  It was his second INT of the pre-season.  There is no question who will start the season opposite Will Allen.

Tonight was more about fringe players auditioning for the final few roster spots that may be remaining and for some an audition for other teams.  Two LB’s stood out tonight in their fights for roster spots.  Erik Walden and William Kershaw both had good games and each presented the coaching staff with enough positives to make their decisions harder.  The Phins have 13 that they need to cut by the end of Saturday as the pare down for the run to opening weekend.

The Atlanta Falcons are now on tap and the team has almost 2 weeks to get ready for their opening 2009 test.  A tought one at that.  Last years Rookie of the Year winner Matt Ryan is poised to take his team deep into the playoffs this year off his arm strength and the legs of RB Michael Turner who carried the ball well over 300 times last year.

The Phins will need every bit of the next two weeks to figure things out as their offense has not become the unit that the coaches had hoped for.  The Phins spen the pre-season working on their base offensive unit and only showcased the WildCat on a couple of occasions.  With the starters now getting ready for 4 quarters of work instead of a series or two, the focus will be on the full packages.

For now, the Phins veterans can relax knowing that it now becomes real.  They know the drills, the prep work, the time required breaking down and pouring over game films.  For the younger guys it’s a time to learn and to learn quickly what the “real” NFL season is all about.  If recent history is any indication, the rest of those left won’t have to wait until Saturday to hear those words that end their dreams.  “Coach want’s to see you, bring your playbook”.  For those players, a 4-0 pre-season could be all they get.

NOTE:  On Sunday, teams can start adding practice squad players.  Each team has 8 slots available to them.  Last year, the Phins under Jeff Ireland and Bill Parcells made changes throughout the week with their practice squad so it should be noted that just because a player makes it to the PS doesn’t mean he will stay on it.