The excitement of a new season has turned to lowered heads shaking once again as the Miami Dolphins manage to find new ways to lose to New England at home. Tonight’s game, a 38 to 24 drubbing by the Tom Brady led Patriots could have been much closer and could have been much worse. The common theme…the Dolphins were let down by their defense.
Coming into tonight, many believed that the outcome of the game would lie with the play of Chad Henne. Well put that to bed, Henne led the team in rushes with 59 yards on the ground and one touchdown, and threw for 416 yards and two touchdowns. He added a final play INT when the ball deflected off the receiver at the goal line. Henne looked sharp and much the leader that fans have been waiting to see. He completed 30 of 49 attempts.
Brandon Marshall caught 7 passes for 139 yards and Reggie Bush added another 59 through the air. Offensively, the Dolphins did enough to win but their failure to score on two short goal line attempts hurt the team. Settling for a field goal on one and an incomplete pass on fourth down while down by 14 late.
The offensive line struggled for most of the game. Henne was under constant pressure often throwing off his back foot. He was sacked four times. While the offense came to life the defense simply never showed up. Forget all the pre-season banter by Vontae’ Davis about he and Smith being the best tandem in the NFL, Tom Brady schooled the Phins in a record breaking night putting up over 500 yards and 4 touchdowns.
The defense couldn’t stop the Patriot offense all night. In fact the few times that the Patriots had to punt was more an issue of their own play than a defensive stop. Davis left the game for a period due to cramps and back-up CB Nolan Carroll (who should be cut before the team gets out of the locker room) gave up play after play after play in Vontae’ absence. Carroll was so outplayed that for two straight drives Tom Brady simply threw almost every play in his direction.
While the defense as a unit was horrible, I have never seen the play of one individual be so blatantly bad that he alone changed the outcome of the game. The two TD’s that Carroll gave up easily proved a major advantage for the Patriots. He simply played as though he were a rookie.
For their part on the defensive line, the Dolphins vaunted defense came up empty handed. An INT by Jared O’drick was the highlight and a Cameron Wake sack came in second. For the most part, Wake was handled by a rookie who played like a veteran. Jason Taylor looked old and sluggish, and the only time NT Paul Solia’s name was called was when he lined up as a RB on a short yardage goal line play…that got nothing.
The Dolphins have a lot of work to do. While this game clearly was a disaster for the defense, it’s clear that the offense needs to produce in the running game. Perhaps the failure to actually have a running game can be attributed to the awful play of the line.
The good news is that this is week one and believe it or not, despite the play of the Oline and the defense, the Dolphins held it together and had a few chances to make it a different ball game. The passing game was crisp and Chad Henne looked very solid since taking over the Brian Daboll offense, which looked nothing like the Dan Henning offense the last three seasons.
Still, Jeff Ireland needs to get off his rear end and start kicking over some bigger acorns. The ones he is finding haven’t done squat. A new Olineman would be nice. So would bringing back Will Allen…tonight.