The Miami Dolphins have finished the first quarter of the 2011 season so what better time to dive in and hand out grades. I know, I know, the team should just get “F’s” all around and for the most part you might actually be right. But is it fair to the other kids in the class? I mean just because the other 2nd graders act up doesn’t mean they all will fail…right? Right?
What amazes me the most out of this season thus far is the excitement that was rampant only a short four weeks ago. Even after the Monday night opening loss to New England there was hope that this team simply struggled on defense against a very good offense. Little did we know. Would anyone have believed that the offense of the Miami Dolphins would be their bread and butter and not their defense?
Heck even the campaigning of “Suck For Luck” has lost some of it’s luster when you consider that of all the pieces the least of the teams problems is ironically QB. It makes you wonder if trading out of the first pick would provide more building blocks in terms of draft picks…I did say “wonder”. Let’s forget all the fluff and jump in and see how I grade the team through four weeks of play. I am going to be unbiased we will see how much hate mail it generates.
Passing game: C: – The truth is the problem is not Chad Henne. Henne currently ranks in the top 10 among NFL QB’s in passer rating. I know you were not thinking that four weeks ago. Unfortunately he still doesn’t show that killer drive to put teams down and keep them down. Maybe that is more of a coaching issue with play calling. Either way it reflects on Henne. Unfortunately, while the play of the QB may be fine the play of the rest of the team involved in the passing game is not. Specifically the blocking and the hands of Brandon Marshall.
Running game: C: – Daniel Thomas could be the real deal…if he can stay healthy. Reggie Bush is being asked to run up the middle and he isn’t finding success. This grade however is more indicative of the line play.
Oline: F: – Can someone give me one reason to rank them higher? They have not consistently pass blocked or run blocked. The right side of the line is non-existent for most games and Chad Henne has spent more time on his back than anyone dating Charlie Sheen.
Front Line: D: – A “D” is actually being nice and I will give that increase from an “F” to Jared Odrick’s play thus far. He is proving that his drafting wasn’t a mistake. Overall, there has been little if no pressure put on opposing QB’s. It’s simply a very sad state of affairs. The DE’s/LB’s are not getting around the tackles and the lack of pocket pressure is exposing a weak secondary unit for the Dolphins.
LB’s: F: – Who’s bright idea was it to bring back Jason Taylor? The fact that Taylor is taking snaps away from Koa Misi is putting Misi at a disadvantage in terms of getting reps in real game situations. Players will not be able to simply “get better” in practices under the new CBA rules. While Taylor may lauded by some, he simply isn’t doing enough to prove his worth. On the other side of the ball Cameron Wake is making nearly no impact. He has been schooled by a rookie tackle, a back-up tackle, and two second team players. He is a far cry from what he was last year. Making matters worse is the play of Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby. Neither have made an impact play all season.
Secondary: F – By far the weakest unit on the Miami Dolphins. Reshad Jones has been incapable of being anywhere but out of position and his back-up couldn’t beat him in training camp. Vontae’ Davis is nursing a hamstring injury which has thrown Nolan Carroll into the spotlight. And spotlight it is. Carroll with no help over the top from Jones is not an island of his own choosing but instead lost on one awaiting someone to rescue him. Carroll’s play has been so bad at times that even he looks lost when he isn’t. The savior should have been Sean Smith but even Smith can’t seem to get it together maybe that will change when Davis gets back.
Kick Return: D – With the new kickoff rules in place more teams are kicking touchbacks. The Dolphins however have the speedster Clyde Gates returning the ball…Gates has done well to use his speed out of the endzone to get the ball back to the 15. The Dolphins need to start auditioning for a new return man.
Punting: A+: Brandon Fields has been out of this world this year. His kicks are not only booming but rarely out-kick his coverage as well. He has also been working on his directional punting as well. Too bad the defense has squandered every single one of his well placed balls. Thanks GH for the heads up for leaving him off this list.
Punt Return: D – The punt return game is really non-existent but at least Davon Bess is holding on to the ball.
FG’s – D: – Can you say off year for Carpenter? ’nuff said.
KR defense: C – Well the Dolphins haven’t given up a TD yet that I am aware of…but they routinely allow opposing kick returners to get the ball out past the 20.
PR defense: C – See KR defense
Tony Sparano – F: He is 0-4 and simply looks as though it eating him alive. He looks nothing like the shell he was at last year’s end….he looks worse. There is little energy left and the fist pumps for field goals is nothing more that satire these days. The team looks unprepared from top to bottom and out of condition as well. All direct responsibilities for the HC. Furthermore, the half-time adjustments have been absolutely mind blowing this year…why? Because they have rarely made any.
Brian Daboll (OC) – C: It’s hard to say who is responsible for the way Reggie Bush is being used, Daboll’s or Sparano’s? For now I pin that on Sparano. Daboll has opened the passing game but still the team is struggling in the redzone. It’s imperative that he gets that fixed. One thing I will give him, this offense is not the same dull Dan Henning offense of the last three seasons.
Mike Nolan: F: – Top 5 defense? I have no idea what has happened here and I’m not sure Nolan does either.
Overall Team Grade: F – It’s impossible to grade a team higher when they haven’t won a game.
Join us later this week as we look at key individual player grades.