It’s hard to believe that a quarter of the NFL regular season is already in the books; at least for the Dolphins and the other teams that have week 5 byes it is. To mark the passing of the first quarter of the season, I was asked to write a review of the Dolphins’ performance up to this point. Seeing how I am a certified high school teacher, without actual students, it seemed only appropriate that I should brush-up on my assessment skills; with the Dolphins. The following is my first marking period report card for the Miami Dolphins. (They are going to need this one signed and returned by their parents).
Quarterbacks: C – Student [Henne] has shown improvement, fails complete work.
I have to admit, I have been somewhat impressed by how Henne has preformed through the first quarter of the season. Henne is ranked 24th in yards/game with 217 and has 4TDs and INTS. He seems to have more confidence and has used his freedom to change the play at the line to his advantage. The bad part of me being impressed by Henne is that I’m impressed only when comparing him to his 2010 preformance and not to other QBs in the league. Henne’s failure to receive a better grade from me stems from his inability to complete a drive. I know this is a team issue, but he is the Quarterback and needs to be the leader. Also, Henne’s season has just been officially ended after the injury he suffered on Sunday. This means the QB position will most likely suffer. Moore looked decent, but still not good news if the Dolphins want to win.
Running Backs: B- – Works well independently, but struggles with group work.
Daniel Thomas is the sole reason that the RB core broke into the Bs. From what little time we have seen from Thomas, I have been very impressed. Thomas ranks 3rd in the NFL for yards/game with 101, but that is for only two games. Thomas’ inability to stay healthy has been his main flaw; as I love his one cut, strong running game that has a pinch of speed. I only foresee brighter days for Thomas, if he can stay on the field. Reggie Bush, no way around it, has been a bust, but, honestly, I never had high hopes for him anyway. One thing I’ll say for Bush is that I can see the effort his is putting forth, it just hasn’t translated into much. Lex Hilliard showed some flashes last game, but the Dolphins’ RBs have struggled on short yardage downs and it has hurt their grade in my book.
WR/TE: C – Has difficulty retaining process of catching.
The Miami Dolphins rank 15th in overall passing offense, but imagine what their rank could be if Marshall would catch the ball. I’m not saying every incompletion that targeted Marshall was his fault, but how many seemingly easy drops has he had? Answer: Too many to be an elite player and with only one TD, I’m not sure he is anymore. Adding to Marshall’s struggles, the Dolphins’ TEs have been absent and Bess has underperformed, despite the fact he as the second most receptions on the team. The head of the receiving class for the Dolphins has to have been Brian Hartline. Hartline has caught 13 of 23 targets and has the team’s longest reception (38 yards). Now that Henne is done, this core is going to need to step-up their game.
Offensive Line: D – Needs to develop a better sense of responsibility
The offensive line has caused several disruptions for the Dolphins’ offense. Excuse me, the offensive line has allowed their opponents to cause several disruptions for the Dolphins’ offense. The Dolphins’ offensive line has allowed 14 sacks (11 on Henne); which is the 3rd most in the NFL and 1st in the AFC. This is completely unacceptable, especially when you already have a below par offense. One bright spot has been the play of Mike Pouncy, whom has played well for a freshman.
Defensive Line: C- – Rate of achievement makes it difficult to keep up with other teams.
The D-line has been fickle with its performance on the field. They will have a play where everyone is in the backfield blowing up a run, but then follow it with 3 plays where they seem like they couldn’t stop a flag football team. As it stands now, the Dolphins are ranked 17th in overall rush defense; which is a far cry from last year’s strong D. Injuries along the line have added to their lack of success, but that is no excuse because they have shown they can make plays.
Line Backers: D – Must improve coverage habits to gain the fundamentals needed for success.
Talk about not performing up to one’s abilities. If you would have asked me, entering the season, what group the Dolphins could rely most on, it would have been the LB core. When watching the LBs play, they are not reading plays well and once they get to the ball, they get drug for extra yards. It’s ok because they make up for this by not being able to cover any TE…wait, what? Seriously, do they not know the TEs are the ones that start in a down stance, then go out for a pass? BUT, they then make up for these flaws by getting to the QB, wait no. Umm yea, uhh I think one of them calls the play…so there’s that?
Secondary: F – Not present during games.
Really not much I can say about the Dolphin secondary. They seemingly have not been present and when they are, they might as well not be. Their body of work has been horrendous and their accusations of being “the top of the class” make it almost comical. They certainly have become the class clowns of the NFL.
Special Teams: D – Sacrificing accuracy for unnecessary speed.
How many times will the coaching staff let the returners bring the ball out of the endzone and not get to the 20? I don’t care how fast someone is, ITS NOT WORKING. Any time they do have a good return, they get caught cheating and the return is negated. Carpenter has been inconsistent and by inconsistent I mean, I walk out of the room every attempt he has. Though, my valedictorian for the Dolphins has to be Brandon Fields…the punter.
Coaching: D- – It may be time to look for alternative “schools.”
They fail to make obvious adjustments at half. Play calling in the redzone is horrendous. They [Sparano] act like scoring a field goal gets you another year on your contract. Yes, players have to take a lot of blame, but as coaches, its your job to get the players to improve. One thing I will give the coaching staff is that the Dolphins always keep the game close. They haven’t lost a game by more than two scores. At the same time they keep it close, there’s always this feeling that we have no chance. How much more can we take from this staff?
Overall: D+ – Not dependable during work periods.
Improvement in all areas is needed for success. Is it possible? Sure. Will it happen? I’ll just say, get used to hearing “suck for Luck.”
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