Monday, September 27, 2004

Pittsburgh Steelers 13, Miami Dolphins 3

Most Florida football fans had the good fortune to miss last night’s game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. Those who did have power, and lived in the greater Miami and WPB area, were subjected to another abortion of a “professional” football game. Even a Shakespearean vocabulary could not do adequate justice to the wholly derelict Miami offense.

The game was tight through three quarters of football. Two Pittsburgh Field Goals and one by Miami was the only offense on the board. A 4th Quarter TD reception by Hines Ward was enough to catapult the Steelers to a 13-3 victory.

Miami’s offense continued where it left off with 5:00 to go against Cincinnati. Miami rallied to make the score respectable, but the overall offensive performance against the Bengals was putrid. From literally the opening minute, the offense was an abomination. I’m not lying when I recite the turn of events. Exactly like Week 2 against Cincinnati, the Dolphins were called for a false start on their first offensive snap. On the next play, only seven seconds into the first quarter, Donald Lee fumbles the ball and Pittsburgh recovers. With 14:53 to go in Quarter 1, Miami committed their first turnover. Fortunately for Miami, Pat Surtain picked off Ben Roethlisberger’s first pass and gave Miami possession again. Six plays later, Ike Taylor intercepts QB A.J. Feeley. Only 2:00 in, Miami now had two turnovers. In part because of good field position, Pittsburgh is able to capitalize with a Jeff Reed FG. Pittsburgh took a 3-0 lead. With conditions getting worse, it was entirely possible that a 3-0 lead would hold up for Pittsburgh. The coup d grace came when Feeley was intercepted for a second time. 7:00 played, three turnovers by the Dolphins.

I won’t go much past the first quarter. The Dolphins did begin to take slightly better control of the football. The fourth turnover came on a fumble in the final minutes of regulation. That doesn’t mean Miami improved offensively. They ended the game with a mere 169 yards of total offense. Leonard Henry carried the ball 21 times for 41 yards. A RB with a 3-yard average is considered mediocre. No Miami RB has been able to get much more than two yards per carry. This isn’t an indictment on Henry. Actually, he was the best back I’ve seen all season. Lamar Gordon was knocked out with a shoulder injury during the first quarter. Sammy Morris, Travis Minor, and Rob Konrad were all inactive. Henry was the only ball carrier after Gordon’s injury.

One awful moment came with 10:00 to go in the 3rd Quarter. Miami had gone from their own 8 yard line to the 47. On 3rd and 1, Henry was unable to pick up the first down. Originally, Matt Turk was coming on to punt the football. After an unfavorable reaction by the fans, Miami called a timeout and decided to go for 4th and short. The play call was a Feeley sneak. The O-Line totally collapsed and Feeley lost yardage on the run. Wannstedt said after the game that it was inexcusable.

Pittsburgh went on to score three more points in the 3rd and a TD in the final period. 13-3 was the final score of this contest. Some notable numbers for this affair. Miami turned the ball over four times, making it 10 for the season. A.J. Feeley was unable to complete 50 % of his passes, going 13/27. In an amazing turn of events, he surpassed Fiedler’s abysmal QB rating of 8.0 for the first half versus Tennessee. In the first half of last night’s game, Feeley earned a rating of 6.8.

There is one positive to take from last night. Miami was only penalized 6 times for 33 yards. That was one notable improvement. Rookie KR Wes Welker made errors in catching punts, but at least he held on to the football.

Another Dolphin fan made some points on another website. I figured I’d expand on his main points, most of which I concur with.

The first point was that Miami’s 2004 season was essentially done. You can’t argue with that. At 0-3, they would have to go 9-4 to even have a shot at the playoffs. The Dolphins will be lucky to win half that number of games. These first three games were entirely winnable. Tennessee and Cincinnati are both 1-2 for the season. Their only victories came against Miami. Pittsburgh was a team that Miami should have beaten at home. There is no excuse for this 0-3 start. If the Dolphins won six games for the year, it would be a success.

This Dolphins team will be dismantled piece by piece. I noted earlier that the Thomas/Taylor Era is over. Miami should get draft picks and young talent for the likes of Thomas, Sam Madison, and Pat Surtain. The problem is that these guys have big contracts and could be hard to trade. Miami needs the 2005 draft picks desperately. I’d like to see Zach Thomas yield a 1st and 2nd Round pick. The future of the Dolphins defense will be centered around Morlon Greenwood, Will Poole, Antuan Edwards, and possibly Jason Taylor. It might take two years, but the defense will be thoroughly disbanded.

Coach Wannstedt will get fired. I don’t know if it will happen next week or after Week 17. Suffice to say that Huizenga will have to eat the big contract that he gave Wannstedt last off-season. It doesn’t matter whether Wannstedt leaves now or in January. If Wannstedt were to be let go, QB’s coach Marc Trestman would be the likely interim coach. I doubt Trestman would do anything tangible to improve the team. Huizenga is a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of them. Even he can see the disaster that has been brought forth by Hurricane Wanny.

The point about Fiedler is dead-on. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I don’t think Fiedler would make us a playoff team. However, we would be respectable under his guidance. With Jay, we win six or seven games. An A.J. Feeley incumbency brings maybe three or four victories. Fiedler can scramble and pick up a blitz package. The theory behind starting Feeley is that Miami wants to know whether he was worth the investment. But Wannstedt will not be around to see Feeley possibly blossom into an adequate QB. If Miami wants to have any shot at beating the rival Jets this Sunday, Fielder must be behind center.

Dolphins fans are already upset at this team. The crowd was sparse last night. I’ll never betray my Dolphins. I’ll be at every home game and watch every away one on television. Fans will come back after Huizenga decides to fire Wannstedt. A new coach will bring new optimism to South Florida.

Rebuilding is inevitable. I touched on it in suggesting that we trade our prize defensive pieces. If Miami plays it right, we could get the 1st or 2nd pick in next year’s draft. We could begin to build around a superb offensive lineman or even a blue-chip QB. It’s hard to tell who will be the best player available in April 2005’s NFL Draft. This is why Wannstedt needs to go in January. Give a new coach and GM four months to prepare for the draft. If they pick the right players, Miami could be a force in 2007.

The offensive numbers will be futile. We’re already ranked dead last in defense. I’m wondering if we have a chance to go 0-16. Don’t say that it’s not a realistic expectation. If the offense continues to self-destruct, the defense might begin to quit on the team. The only barrier might be our Week 9 game against the Arizona Cardinals. It’ll be a challenge, but if we work hard enough a loss to Arizona could be in the cards.

At 4:15 next Sunday, Miami hosts the New York Jets. This could be a horrendous experience. New York’s had two weeks to prepare for Miami. Pride is the only thing that could save us from a massive blowout at the hands of Pennington, Martin, and Moss.


Post a Comment

<< Home