Sunday, September 12, 2004

The Dolphins are "bulletproof"

Opening Day for the Miami Dolphins was not shocking for this Phins fan. I thought Miami would be in contention to win this game- and they were. Considering how putrid the offense played, the Dolphins were in this game up until 2:26 to go in the 3rd Quarter. The hopes of victory were crushed when A.J. Feeley made his first big mistake, an errant pass leading to a Lamont Thompson INT return. After most fans had exited the Pro, Randy McMichael caught a meaningless TD pass to avoid a shutout defeat. The final score was 17-7 Tennessee.

I did pick Miami to win, more out of loyalty than reason. I'll admit I was wrong to do so. Nevertheless, were Miami even marginally competent on offense, a victory could have been in the cards. The problem was that the offense was so far removed from mediocrity that the defense couldn't carry the team to victory. I kept hoping that we could force a fumble or return a Steve McNair pass for a TD. That was the only way Miami had any shot.

I'll try to focus on a couple of positives from this disastrous performance.

1) Lamar Gordon: His 32 yards of rushing was nothing spectacular, but he showed promise. He got the extensive playing time only because Sammy Morris and Travis Minor both got injured in the 1st Quarter. Read through my archives and I wrote that Travis Minor wouldn't hold up for 4 games. I had no idea that he'd only last 5 carries. Gordon admittedly wasn't totally comfortable, arriving in Miami only on Wednesday morning. He did show an ability to hit the hole with fortitude. When he finally adapts to the system, he should be the starting RB.

2) A.J. Feeley: His 21-31 performance, for 168 yards was an improvement over Fiedler's incompetent numbers. He did make a big mistake, as is to be expected from a QB who's only played in 13 games since High School. Feeley played in only eight games at University of Oregon and five in Philadelphia. However, Feeley was able to move the ball with some effectiveness. He was hurt by the team's overall discombobulation. There's only so many first and 15's that a QB can cope with.

3) Randy McMichael: Feeley decided to throw the ball to McMichael and it yielded positive results. He caught 8 balls for nearly 80 yards, along with 1 TD. Whomever is QB needs to latch onto the formerly alleged wife-beater.

4) Defense: The only bad play was allowing Chris Brown's 50 yard rush in the 2nd Quarter. Besides that, they held up very well. They were visibly tired in the first quarter, when the defense was on the field 12 minutes.

5) Kick Returns: Despite Brightful's flub of a punt, this group gave Miami decent field position.

Onto the numerous negatives:

1) Jay Fiedler: He did not adapt well to the pressure. Instead of taking this as an opportunity to prove his worthiness, he threw 2 INT's and went 5-12 through 30 minutes. His tenure as starter is probably over, at least for next week.

2) Sammy Morris and Travis Minor: Neither made it through 15 minutes of football. Durability is not their strong suit.

3) Offensive Line: We were promised an improved OL during the off-season. Instead, we let our best lineman, Todd Wade, walk as a free agent. We're left with a bunch of guys who can't open holes for RB's or protect the QB. The first-round pick, Vernon Carey, wasn't even in the starting lineup.

4) Penalties: This group had zero offensive camaraderie. 14 penalties for 76 yards is unacceptable. This offense cannot convert First and 10. There's no way they can start with 1st and 15.

5) Coaching: I understand there were problems, but the team appeared totally unprepared. It'll take a massive improvement to get ready for the much-improved Cincinnati Bengals.

Finally, one nugget of humor from this last week. Dave Wannstedt is notorious for his optimism. Before last year's Tennessee game, Wanny promised that the team would lead the league in rushing for the second half. I can't remember the exact numbers, but I think we actually finished in the bottom half of rushing yards for the final 8 games of 2003. Wannstedt claimed that this Miami Dolphins team was "bulletproof" before this week's game versus Tennessee. Well, the Titans penetrated the bulletproof vest of Miami and are close to being mortally wounded by the Cincinnati Bengals assault.

Next week: versus Cincinnati Bengals, 8:30. Nationally televised on ESPN's Sunday night football. (8/19/04)

Commentary throughout the week.


Blogger Eric Cioffoletti said...

I can't forsee the Dolphins making the playoffs this year after a performance like that. I would still watch them of course, but this team is painful to watch for me. They don't even seem to do anything exciting on offense and most of their games feel futile to say the least.

September 12, 2004 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger tsias said...


What's not to like?

Did you not appreciate the 1-yard runs by Travis Minor?

Were the overthrown Jay Fiedler passes not appealing to you?

I was riveted by the magnificent way that A.J. Feeley threw away the ball while avoiding a sack.

September 12, 2004 at 9:30 PM  

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