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Commentary: Quarter-pole Review

Discussion in 'Miami Dolphins Forum' started by RoninFin4, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. RoninFin4

    RoninFin4 Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    Commentary: Slightly Past the Quarter-Pole Review
    By RoninFin4 aka Kevin Dern​

    Hello Dolfans, I’ve known many of you from our time at other sites, and given all that’s gone this season, and in light of the Henne Era taking flight, I think it’s time that I followed suit and made a new home for myself right here. I’ve been a columnist at FH for the last year or so writing periodically as working for Anthony Munoz, grad-school, and other things have kept me from writing as much as I’d like to, but I figured I’d start off with some commentary here at The Phins and being that I already know the quality of the posters here, I’m ready for this to be a new, permanent home. I hope you all enjoy my writing style, and I look forward to the conversation over here! I’ll admit right off the bat I’m a bit long-winded sometimes, so hopefully it makes for some interesting bathroom reading.

    I originally started this article after the “1st quarter” of the season when Miami stood at 1-3, but after talking to my former University of Dayton Flyers (Ranked 23rd in the preseason!) roommate and New York Jets fan (don’t ask, it happened, I don’t know how…) all weekend, I decided I’d wait until after the Monday Night Game to post this.

    And man, am I glad I did. Probably one of the top 5 entertaining Dolphins games I’ve witnessed. Obviously there’s room for improvement on defense, but man, Chad Henne! I think he’s for real, and I can’t wait to see what a bye week does for this offense as we get ready for one of the best teams and toughest stretches in our schedule coming out of the bye (New Orleans, then back to back road games against the Jets - I’ll be at this one myself, and New England), I hope that Miami can keep on this role a la last year after starting 2-4.

    Let’s take a look back at each position over the first four games of the season, followed by a mini-preview of what might happen the rest of the way.

    Overall:

    “You are what your record says you are.” - Bill Parcells. In that case, we’re one 1 of 4, or 25%, and that’s an F for sitting at 1-3, just based on the percentages.

    That’s how I originally intended to start the bulk of this article, but upon further review, the 2009 Miami Dolphins may be one of the most dangerous 2-3 teams the NFL has seen in a long while. With the league’s top-ranked run offense, a top 5 run-defense (thanks to 38 yards given up on two fake punts), and a very potent 3rd down conversion rate, Miami, especially now with the Henne Era as I like to call it, in full swing, we definitely have something to build upon going into the bye week.

    I usually don’t like a bye week to come until after 7 or 8 games have been played, but I think this year’s comes at a great time. Sitting at 2-3, but with a 2-0 AFC East record, having the Saints, Jets again, and Patriots to close out the first half of our season, I’d argue that Miami needs to end up at 4-4, hopefully 5-3, heading into the 2nd half of the season in order to position ourselves for a playoff run. But before I get too far ahead of myself, there have been some major concerns. As good as our O-line has been, and how much they’ve progressed from that stink in Atlanta in week 1, I still had my doubts about their pass-protecting skills going into the Jets game. For all the bluster and hype about the Jets “vaunted” defense, to not allow a sack, and rarely was Henne knocked down, the O-line was absolutely superb, and I’ll have to borrow a tidbit from my old VIP Contest competitor Conuficus for this, but they’ll only get better as Jake Grove and Donald Thomas have played exactly 11 combined games for the Dolphins. Jake Long is only a year and a quarter into his NFL career - I smell an even brighter future for this unit, especially if they keep progressing at the pace they’ve done so at over the last month.

    Defensively, however, are where I believe most of the concerns are at at this point in time. Where have Joey Porter and Jason Taylor been? What do you make of Gibril Wilson and Yeremiah Bell’s play so far? Is Channing Crowder really fit to be the leader of this defense or would he look better playing in Akin Ayodele’s spot with Brandon Spikes or one of my favorites, Rolando McClain playing next to him? It hasn’t been all bad though as our front 3 have been excellent, and we’ve seen pretty nice play from Phillip Merling and Tony McDaniel in spots. Sean Smith has been a stud as far as rookie corners go, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to me if Vontae Davis overtakes Will Allen before the year is out.

    Our special teams units remain an enigma of sorts. Our kick and punt coverage units have been pretty decent, but our return units, uh…well you know the story by now. It’ll be interesting to see what happens now that sadly, Patrick Cobbs will be shelved for the rest of the season. Is Kory Sheets that guy? Guess we’ll find out when New Orleans comes to town.

    Going back to that Parcells quote, yeah, our record says we’re 2-3. Say what you will about Chad Pennington - he was an absolute warrior and leader for us in 2008, but let’s be reasonable, how far could he have really taken us in 2009? We had to play perfect football on offense just to score (as evidenced in the Indianapolis game) and couldn’t put up more than 23 points. In two games with Henne at the helm, and a new found ability to stretch the field, we’ve put up 38 on a bad defense, followed by 31 on “one of the best defenses in the NFL” according to pretty much anyone on the Jets roster or in the ESPN buildings. I like our style the rest of the year, and if, big IF, the defense can start to figure out how to get to the QB and cover the deep ball, I’m inclined to give us a solid C+ for right now.

    Now, for the individual positions.

    Quarterback: Incomplete - what do we really know until we see more of Chad #2?

    In 2008 Chad Pennington had one of, if not the greatest season a quarterback not named Marino has had in franchise history, at least in terms of statistics and leadership. It’s too bad the Not For Long league is a “what have you done for me lately league?” isn’t it? It should be abundantly clear by now that the Miami Dolphins probably weren’t going to ever get past the first round of the playoffs with Pennington at the helm - even if he’d have had a big-time receiver to throw to. Just looking at the murderer’s row of a schedule Miami’s got ahead of them (side note: yes, I think it matters. Just look at the 2008 team - we barely eeked out wins over teams led by Seneca Wallace and JaMarcus Russell, a win is a win, but some of last year’s sure didn’t look too impressive), the playoffs are still very questionable, but a win Monday would right this ship to some degree.

    As for Pennington this year, there’s nothing to sugarcoat. He simply didn’t get the job done. 0-3 is 0-3 no matter how you slice it. The two-minute drill against the Colts was by far the worst I’ve seen in a long time. It definitely wouldn’t inspire any confidence from me if we were say, down 6 with less than a minute to play and 80 yards to go in a Super Bowl game - it’s over at that point right there. You have to wonder, had Pennington not been injured this year, at what point would Henne have entered play? If we still had beaten Buffalo with Pennington at the controls and were to lose to the Jets and gone 1-4 into the bye - I think you’d have no choice but to get Henne ready at that point right there.

    Pennington’s leadership will be missed, don’t get me wrong - 2008 was easily one of the most enjoyable Dolphins seasons in my lifetime, but I think the time is right for a change. Let’s see if it’s Chad Henne.

    So far, Henne’s put together two pretty good games. The 4th quarter against the Jets was damn near magical. That said, he’s only had two starts and I think it’s far, far too early to rush to judgment. However, I do like his odds to dare I say it, knock on wood, be that franchise QB we’ve been missing since ole #13 hung up the cleats. For now though, this position gets an incomplete until we know more.

    Running Back: A

    I don’t think there’s enough that you can say about the Dolphins running backs and their collective performance this year. Ronnie Brown is already more than halfway to equaling his TD total from last year and he and Ricky Williams are on pace for 1,000 yard seasons. As a unit, Miami’s running game is on pace to become the 2nd best rushing attack in the last decade (only to Atlanta’s 2006 total) as we’re averaging nearly 180 yards per game. Patrick Cobbs hadn’t contributed as much as he did last year prior to his injury, but he was still an integral part of the Wildcat and sub packages this year. I worry a little about who will replace him as the wingback in the Wildcat package to help seal the edge. Lex Hilliard? Kory Sheets? Do you activate John Nalbone? It remains to be seen.

    Speaking of blocking, Lousaka Polite had a tremendous game against the Jets - definitely one of if not the best he’s had in a Dolphins uniform. Those bone-crunching blocks he leveled against Calvin Pace, Kerry Rhodes, and others in that Jets game were devastating. If he can keep this effort up, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams may very well duplicate what Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward did last year for the Giants in both totaling over 1,000 yard season. Many people say that Adrian Peterson is the best runner in the NFL, and I agree - I think there’s several backs still ahead of Ronnie Brown in terms of running, but none are as versatile, and if lost, not many would negatively impact their team as much as Ronnie would. Until proven otherwise, this unit may be the best in football, so an A is in order here.

    Receivers & Tight Ends: C

    A lot of people had Miami pegged at taking a WR in the draft like Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt, or even a TE like Jared Cook whom they were high on early in the draft, but they ended up with Patrick Turner, Brian Hartline and John Nalbone. To this point, neither Turner or Nalbone have played a down, and Hartline has had his moments - both good and bad. Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo remain models of consistency as possession receivers. Ted Ginn continues to remain a mystery, but I think we all saw a glimpse of what might be with that bomb from Henne against the Jets. Perhaps the coaching staff and front office see the potential and didn’t pull the trigger for a Dwayne Bowe or Steve Smith before the deadline.

    If Ginn continues to progress along with Henne, we might have the makings of a dangerous tandem into the future. I really like Davone Bess as a slot guy, but I still think we’re a solid starting WR away from having a dangerous unit. Hartline has good hands, but has dropped a few here and there. It still amazes me that Camarillo was out there the first week of the season starting after tearing his ACL last year.

    Fasano looks to have a nice rapport with Henne and was involved in the offense for the first time since the Atlanta game. However, losing his counterpart, David Martin, I think has hindered the offense with no one possessing the same ability to run up the seam and open things underneath. Joey Haynos has been an effective blocker in the Wildcat, and we saw some of that as he came on down the stretch in ‘08. Hopefully we’ll see Turner and Nalbone develop, but barring injury, I’d be surprised to see either active this season.

    All in all, the group has been average, but I think a lot of that can be attributed to the play of Pennington and the offensive line early on and our propensity to run it against Indianapolis (though Ginn had his best game tarnished because of a late drop) and the San Diego game was odd all-together with Henne coming in off the bench. In two games with Henne as the starter, we’ve seen a few more shots taken downfield. The throw to Camarillo on 3rd and 7 against an all-out blitz was a thing of beauty; so was the bullet to Camarillo again on 3rd and 10 a few plays later. Lasers to Fasano and Haynos over the middle of the field helped open running lanes, and the bomb to Ginn, whom beat Darrelle Revis AND Kerry Rhodes on the play was just a thing of beauty. Hopefully it continues, but based on the results so far, you have to give this group a C.

    O-Line: B+

    Still trying to come up with a solid nickname for this unit. They’re downright nasty in run-blocking, as evidenced by leading the NFL in rushing at just under 180 yards per game through 5 games - incredible, especially after last year. They’ve made the Wildcat into a potent offensive formation - it’s not a gimmick in Miami - and the old Power O play has become our staple as Justin Smiley might be one of if not the best pulling guards in the league. Jake Long struggled against Atlanta and a little bit against Dwight Freeney, but he’s looked better since. I think some of that is the new techniques brought in by Coach Gugs, as well has being on tape of veteran pass-rushers to see. Now that he’s found out what his “weaknesses” are, he’s been playing better, and aside from Ryan Clady of Denver, there may not be a better young tackle in the NFL. Donald Thomas and Jake Grove are pretty stout inside - I can definitely say why this regime paid Grove the big bugs. Correctly diagnosing all the Jets fancy blitz packages and not allowing a sack was brilliant.

    Vernon Carey’s had some lapses in pass-blocking, but like Long, and the rest of the O-line has been dominant in the ground game. The unit as a whole has definitely progressed since that week 1 showing in the Georgia Dome. This group has a chance to be the best all-around league in the NFL. I’d argue that Denver is up there now, but Miami’s got a chance to surpass them if they keep their effort up.

    Well, I think that’s it for the offensive review. I’m anxious to see how the defense plays against the Saints tomorrow, and I think I’ll post my defensive review after I see the team play in person in two weeks at the Meadowlands against the Jets. But for right now, I’m very happy that Chad Henne has proven his worth so far, and that the running game can pretty much control the clock and help our defense out. Hope you enjoyed my first column, and I’m open for any suggestions about future topics, so PM me if you have any ideas. Let’s go Dolphins!
     
  2. the 23rd

    the 23rd a.k.a. Rio

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    nice work.
     
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  3. Thunderbolt89

    Thunderbolt89 Well-Known Member

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    Hey thanks that was a great read,you put a lot of thought into it. I agree on your points especially about Henne. I think the team might finally have their quarterback,a lot of my friends keep telling me now that Henne might just be our future. I also think the 2008 season was one of the most enjoyable seasons. I will never forget last year,but hopefully we can build upon on it starting this season.
     
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  4. eric

    eric New Member

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    nice article
     
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  5. cnc66

    cnc66 wiley veteran, bad spelur Luxury Box

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    Nice work Kevin, thanks. It is good to have you back bro.
     
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  6. Boik14

    Boik14 Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    Nice write up Kevin, definitely good to see you around. This place is the best and its because our members make it so...I know you will add to that :hi5:

    As far as the article, I have asked many of those same questions about the pass rush though I do know Porter has been battling a hamstring injury. Taylor has definitely lost a step though hes still an adequate pass rusher if we give him help. I really like what I have seen from Cam Wake but Id like to see more of it. Langford and Merling are stout vs the run but the pass rush from the defensive line has been minimal and thats definitely part of why the secondary is struggling as the two are usually intertwined somehow.

    I think our receivers have been fine; its been the gameplanning, offensive scheme, and play calling that has at times held them back. I still believe Bess is the best kept secret in the league. Bess, Hartline and Cammy make a more then 2/3/4 on the depth chart regardless of what order you put them in. Hartline may have a little more explosion in his game but all three seem to know where the marker is and have good hands. Its a matter of time until Ginn blows up (in a good way) :)
     
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  7. RoninFin4

    RoninFin4 Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    Thanks for the kind words fellas! I hope can contribute something to an already fantastic site. LOTS of great posters on here! Glad to see a lot of familiar ones as well.
     
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  8. RoninFin4

    RoninFin4 Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    I'm anxious to see how the Dolphins pass-rush can potentially improve over the year. I'm assuming Roth probably won't dress this weekend because of the tweaked ankle, but I wonder if in some packages if/when Roth returns, how often we'll see JT play on the weakside as he did under Saban - especially if Porter's hamstring is still bothering him.

    I'll admit I got a little nervous when there were rumors surrounding the Dolphins going after a Dwayne Bowe type that Davone Bess might've been a bargaining chip in a proposed deal. In my mind, our priorities to re-sign after the offseason would be Ronnie and Bess, 1 and 2.
     
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  9. Clipse

    Clipse mediocrity sucks

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    Great post Ronin! I've loved your commentaries on FH. Please post more often bro :up:
     
  10. cdz12250

    cdz12250 Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    Bathroom reading? Dude, I thought I was the only one who sits on the throne with his laptop.
     
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  11. JimToss

    JimToss Thank You Chad Pennington

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    Great to see these well done Ronin posts again.
    Worth the transfer over from FH just to get them back. Now if only Vark will find his way.

    Agree with basically all your sentiments. I've been a strong Pennington supporter, mainly because of that magical season last year. I also looked at the "stretching the field argument" as being completely ridiculous, due to the accuracy Pennington had. Boy, am I starting to realize just how wrong I was. Its simple enough, without Henne and his cannon of an arm (with some of the trademark Penny smarts) we lose the Jets game. Plain and simple.

    I especially enjoyed the little Bowe trade scenario. I loved the idea of getting him, but was unhappy when Bess's name was being thrown around. Unfortunately I still do not see that big play threat coming from any position other then our RBs.

    Also think Ed Dickson may be that replacement for Martin we may want to find next year in the draft. I think his blocking is questionable, but so was Martins. I personally think he could be a great receiving TE.

    No point in me ranting on anymore, seeing that you covered basically everything I could repeat here. Look forward to your defensive review.
     
  12. Fin Fan In Cali

    Fin Fan In Cali Dolphin fan since 1970 Luxury Box

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    I am off to give it a good read bro.:wink2:
     
  13. djphinfan

    djphinfan Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    any friend of this cranky old fart is a friend of mine..welcome..lol
     
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  14. djphinfan

    djphinfan Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    LOL...ahhhhhh thats funny man, wait..i think i can smell it..
     
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  15. Fin Fan In Cali

    Fin Fan In Cali Dolphin fan since 1970 Luxury Box

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    First off Brother Kevin glad to have you back, and your decision to make us your permanent home.:knucks: The article was very good![​IMG] I appreciate your time and efforts. I agree with you the bye week couldn't have come at a better time for this team.

    Henne has helped the O Line with possible sacks because he gets rid of the ball, and doesn't make mistakes. As far as our defense, I look for us to get even younger, faster and stronger next year.

    The QB rating you had as a C+. I would have to say B bro. I appreciate everything that Pennington has done for this team on the field, and in the film room. He has helped the progression of Henne greatly. He can zip the ball with more speed, and deeper down the field. Defenses now have to play further off the line just for this factor. I believe the running game will even open up more as Henne shows what he can do. I simply laugh when I see other fans make the comment we don't have a QB.

    I think it is very important for Hilliard or Sheets to step and fill Cobbs big shoes. We need another back to spell R&R and keep them fresh.

    On you receiver comments, we need to get Hartline more playing time. Every time he has the ball thrown to him, good things happen. Losing Martin at TE was a big blow offensively to this team.

    The play calling that Dan Henning did when Henne went into the San Diego game was very bad, and did not play to Henne's strengths.

    Again bro, this was a great article.[​IMG] I wanted to be fair and print it off, and read it fully. I really appreciated the awesome reading!
     
  16. Jeffrey

    Jeffrey Banned

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    Yeah bro. Good job.
     
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  17. Fin Fan In Cali

    Fin Fan In Cali Dolphin fan since 1970 Luxury Box

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    I went into the living room for peace. Not the bathroom.:lol:
     
  18. RoninFin4

    RoninFin4 Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    Will definitely post more often. I've had some Internet troubles the last week and we had our largest event of the year at the Munoz Foundation the beginning of October. Since there's only 3 of us, we had to put in a ton of overtime, but I look forward to contributing more.

    I'm planning on adding a defensive review after the Jets game in two weeks. I'm actually going to be there in person, and I'd like to see what Pasqualoni can do with Roth back in the mix as well.
     
  19. RoninFin4

    RoninFin4 Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    Definitely glad to be back permanently! :knucks: I may have been a little harsh with the QB grades. I orginially had it as an incomplete grade, but after Henne posted the highest combined QB rating for a QB in his first two starts in NFL history, I had to put something out there. I do think some of Henning's playcalling when Pennington was in there was very questionable.

    Hilliard or Sheets definitely have some big shoes to fill, even though Patrick was only 5'8". I do like the fact we've been using a 3rd tackle in certain situations in Nate Garner. I wonder if Murtha, who was one of the most athletic tackles in the draft, could almost act as a jumbo TE in spots.

    Definitely agree with you about Henning's playcalling in the SD game. For some reason I just think he has a bad propensity to sort of stall drives with certain plays or shifting in/out of the Wildcat at times, but the majority of the time he's been on the money.

    I know it was only a 3rd and 7 conversion, but that pass Henne threw to the left out to Camarillo may have been one of the best passes a Dolphins QB has thrown in the last 10 years - that was brilliance in the face of the all-out blitz. The one a few plays later rolling right was right up there as well, an absolute laser.

    I'm excited to be seeing the Dolphins live for the first time since 2006, and it being my first Dolphins - Jets game on top of that. Now that I think we actually have our QB in Henne, I'm absolutely pumped. That said, there's still a very tough Saints team to get through tomorrow - and I strangely think that Miami is more ready for them than most of the talking heads thing.

    Lastly, glad to be here again. The posters and site are excellent and I hope I can keep on contributing. Thanks again for the kind words! :up:
     
  20. djphinfan

    djphinfan Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    LOL, ever funnier. that was a good laugh man.

    I cant believe you had no cognisance, lol
     
  21. PHINANALYST

    PHINANALYST Well-Known Member

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    great post brother ...

    we'll get 'younger' next year on defense, only because we'll jettison any of JT, JP, Allen and Ferguson .... such as we can ditch both JP and JT for Merriman ... we'll need the rest of the year to see where we might stand without Ferguson or Allen ...

    also still believe that Carey could be traded in offseason pending on progress by Gardner or the newly acquired Murtha ... maybe we wait until '11 ...

    no matter, we don't need much to address this teams needs to make it a legitimate SB contender in '10, and Merriman is key to that ...
     
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