Monday, September 17, 2007

Disastrous Home Opener

Cowboys running back Marion Barber stiff-arms Jason Taylor

The Miami Dolphins continue to make their fans cry. In what was supposed to be the team's home opener, turned into a 37-20 Dallas Cowboys love fest. Before the game even started, it quickly became apparent there were almost as many Cowboy fans among the sellout crowd as Dolphin supporters. Indeed the Cowboys fans were louder and had much more to cheer about. I'd be willing to bet most of those Cowboy fans weren't from even from Texas. It's likely almost all of them hailed from South Florida.

But what do you expect? South Florida is a transient community where most people come from somewhere else and nobody is going to support the local team when they're not winning. As for the game itself, every weakness on the Dolphins team was exposed.

This franchise needs to wake up and realize it can't be successful with a journeyman quarterback. Trent Green had some good seasons in Kansas City. But he's 37 years old and coming off a year where he had a season ending concusion. Green threw 4 interceptions and lost a fumbled snap from center. On one of those interceptions, he badly overthrew a wide-open Chris Chambers. Those turnovers kept constant pressure on the Dolphins defense, which had to defend the Cowboys offense on the Miami side of the field all day. I expect to see rookie John Beck get some serious playing time before this season is over.

But let's be real. The Dolphins defense was also exposed. You have to wonder how much gas is left in the tank of Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. Both are still good players. But when you start playing in your 30s, you're a football version of a senior citizen. Defensive tackle Keith Traylor is the oldest player on the team at 38 years of age. Fellow defensive tackle Vonnie Holiday is 31. Every team has veteran players. But Miami's best defensive players are all in their 30s. Where is the young stud who lead this team in the future? Channing Crowder is okay. But you need more than just okay.

Where was the pass rush? The Dolphin defense registered zero sacks and at times Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo sat back in the pocket long enough to eat a ham sandwich and drink a beer. When there was pressure, Romo showed his elusiveness with his feet and managed to find receivers open on crucial downs including a touchdown pass to Terrell Owens on 4th down and 4.

The Dolphins have done the worst job of drafting first round talent. The jury is out on Ted Ginn. I'm willing to give him a pass because he's only played two games. But he's yet to show the Devin Hester tendencies that made Cam Cameron draft Ginn and his family. Last year's first round pick Jason Allen is a complete waste. Forget about starting in the secondary. Allen can't even play nickle or dime. Even when he plays on special teams, Allen can't even do his job without making a mistake. He was penalized while on kickoff coverage. Left tackle Vernon Carey is playing out of position. He's serviceable at best as a left tackle. But if you're going to be a playoff contender, you need a top notch left tackle to protect the quarterback's blind side. Put him back to right tackle where he belongs.

So now that brings us to my biggest disappointment of the Dolphins recent first round picks--Ronnie Brown. I'm sure Ronnie is a good guy and a great teammate. But 33 yards rushing on 11 carries is not going to cut it. Everybody knows he was the 2nd overall pick of the 2005 draft. Like it or not, when a player is drafted that high, he must become at least a Pro Bowl player. Anything less is a failure. You don't draft solid or average players with the 2nd overall pick. Brown is so average, he makes me want to take another chance on the chronic ganja smoker Ricky Williams. Brown spent much of the second half standing on the sidelines looking bewildered. Cameron has even tried playing head games with Brown. During the preseason, Brown was used as a kickoff returner. There were even signs backup running back Jesse Chatman might take his job. This is Brown's third NFL season and he's yet to show any resemblence to a franchise running back. Right now I would have to rate Brown as a payroll bandit.

It didn't take long to notice the absence of safety Yeremiah Bell. The tackling in the secondary was atrocious. Travis Daniels covering Terrell Owens is a mismatch of monstrous proportions.

Folks, this is going to be a long season. I'm still going to stick with my prediction of 6-10. But this team may be worse than I thought. The encouraging sign is the Dolphins will get a high pick in the draft. Unfortunatley, their recent draft records indicate the Dolphins are more likely to select a lemon rather than a blue chipper. Welcome to the world of the Detroit Lion and Arizona Cardinal fans. We Dolphins fans now finally understand your pain.

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