Miami Dolphins Gameday: What to watch for vs. Patriots

Tonight at 7pm, the Miami Dolphins finally kickoff their 2011 season.  The Dolphins welcome in the New England Patriots to Sun Life Stadium and hope to put all of the questions to rest.  Questions that have been asked since the end of the 2010 season, which ironically, ended with a loss to the Patriots.  Will Chad Henne show improvement?  Will the Dolphins defense be the dominating unit that many think they can be?  Will the Dolphins offensive line hold up?  Will the Dolphins be able to run the ball more effectively than they did in 2010?  Again, we hope that tonight’s performance against the Pats, can start to answer some of these questions.

The pre-game injury report is out and there are only 2 Dolphins listed on it.  For the Dolphins, Charles Clay (TE/FB) is out and Daniel Thomas (RB) is listed as questionable.  Among those on the injury list, who are questionable for the Patriots: Albert Haynesworth (DL), Sebastian Vollmer (RT), Dan Connolly (OL), Kyle Arrington (CB).  The Patriots had 2 players listed as probable: Leigh Bodden (CB) and Julian Edleman (WR).

This game is a HUGE test for the Dolphins.  Not only is it against a division rival, but it’s also a home game.  The keys to success in the NFL are to win games in your division and games at home.  Last year the Dolphins went 1-7 at home and 2-4 in the AFC East.  Yes, the Dolphins did go 6-2 on the road, but that is a tough feat to repeat.  The Dolphins are 7 point underdogs tonight against the Pats.  Not many expect them to have a chance, let alone win.  If the Dolphins can somehow find a way to win this game, they’ll set themselves up to get off to a quick start.  They’d gain confidence and the all important ‘swag’.

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Dolphins Thomas returns to practice, plus our Week One NFL Picks

The Miami Dolphins are currently practicing, and making last minute preparations before taking on the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football.  The Dolphins welcomed back Daniel Thomas to practice.  The rookie sat out practice earlier this week with a hamstring injury.  Since he’s practicing, it’s a good bet that he’ll be part of the Dolphins rushing attack on Monday night.  Another Dolphins rookie, however, was held out of practice again today.  Charles Clay, the Dolphins H-Back/Fullback/Tight end did rehab work on the sidelines, as he too tries to come back from a hamstring injury.

Now that we have the business out of the way, let’s delve into our week 1 picks for the NFL Season.  Each week we’ll pick 3 games plus the Dolphins game, against the spread.  Feel free to leave your picks in the comment section and see how you match up against us.  I’m not promising winning picks, but this is our best shot at it!

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PhinNation.com official selections for the NFL Playoffs (Dolphins sneak in!)

It’s that time of year Dolphins fans.  Every analyst, ‘expert’,  blogger, tweeter, and football fan likes to give their predictions for the upcoming NFL season.  We here at PhinNation.com are no different!  Below are our picks for the Super Bowl winners, divisional winners, playoff winners.  Feel free to mock us as much as possible, but remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion (even if ours are sure to be wrong!).  Check back tomorrow for a detailed look at our Dolphins and AFC East predictions.

AFC East – New England Patriots (2)

AFC North – Pittsburgh Steelers (3)

AFC South – Houston Texans (4)

AFC West – San Diego Chargers (1)

AFC Wild Cards – Baltimore Ravens (5), Miami Dolphins (6) (yes, it’s true, we’ve been drinking!)

 

NFC East – Philadelphia Eagles (2)

NFC North – Green Bay Packers (3)

NFC South – Atlanta Falcons (1)

NFC West – St. Louis Rams (4)

NFC Wild Cards – New Orleans Saints (5), Detroit Lions (6)

 

AFC Wild Card Round – Steelers over Dolphins; Ravens over Texans

NFC Wild Card Round – Packers over Lions; Saints over Rams

AFC Divisional Round – Chargers over Ravens; Steelers over Patriots

NFC Divisional Round – Falcons over Saints; Packers over Eagles

AFC Championship – Chargers over Steelers

NFC Championship – Falcons over Packers

Super Bowl – Falcons over Chargers

There you have it!  Let us know what you think, but please keep the hysterical laughing to a minimum if possible.  Again, check back tomorrow and we’ll breakdown the Dolphins and the rest of the AFC East in more detail.

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Miami Dolphins sign Larry Johnson……again

Stop us if you’ve heard this one: The Miami Dolphins have signed RB Larry Johnson….

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We’re not sure what the reasoning was behind the move, but it could be due to the lingering injury to Dolphins HB Charles Clay.  Odds are that the Dolphins told Johnson to stay close by, when they cut him on Saturday.  He brings some much needed experience to the Dolphins stable of running backs.  The Dolphins now have Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas, Charles Clay, Lex Hilliard, and Larry Johnson on their roster.  The Dolphins corresponding roster move was to cut OG Ray Feinga.  Feinga reportedly has practice squad eligibility.

If it’s not an injury to Clay that prompted the move, the reason must be the Dolphins faith in Daniel Thomas.  The rookie has had his moments in camp, but has thus far been slow to flash the way the Dolphins hoped he would.   We think he’ll eventually get it, but the Dolphins probably just wanted some extra insurance in their RB stable.

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Ireland could have had Orton, but decided Henne was best option for Dolphins

This offseason, the Miami Dolphins considered a few different quarterbacks to bring in and compete with Chad Henne.  According to Ben Volin’s article in the Palm Beach Post today, the Dolphins list was a lot shorter than any of us thought.  The list included Matt Moore, Carson Palmer, and Kyle Orton.  The Dolphins quickly crossed Palmer off their list, as the Bengals refused to trade him.  Armando Salguero reported early in the offseason that Palmer was the Dolphins #1 choice to compete with Henne.

The Dolphins then entered into talks with the Broncos about Orton.  Interestingly, the talks didn’t really go on as long as the media lead us to believe.  The Dolphins inquired about Orton, but his contract and playing time demands were too lofty.  Volin explains that if the Dolphins wanted Orton, they could easily have gotten him.   Irelend didn’t seem to think that Orton would be a sure-fire upgrade over Henne.  We disagree with that assessment, as we’ve stated a number of times on this blog.   But what do we know?!  You have to remember that Ireland and Sparano’s jobs are likely on the line this season.  So if they think that Chad Henne can improve enough to get the Miami Dolphins to the playoffs this year, you have to think they’re serious!

So ultimately, the Dolphins settled for Matt Moore and Chad Henne as their two quarterbacks for 2011.  The article talks a lot about how Henne was left in the dark about his role on the Dolphins, from the beginning of the offseason until the ‘We Want Orton’ chants.  Part of this was to keep him hungry to lead and to improve…part of is was because the Dolphins didn’t know if they’d be able to bring anyone else in to compete with him.  What were the results?  Henne had his best preseason of his Dolphins career, accumulating a 93.4 passer rating.  Granted it was only the preseason, but he looks improved.  Maybe the Dolphins should have kept him in the dark about his role with the team a little longer…..say until February 2012?

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Miami Dolphins continue to get disrespected by National Media

The Miami Dolphins went 7-9 in 2010.  The Dolphins went 1-7 at home and 6-2 on the road.  Those statements about the Miami Dolphins are facts.  If you listen to the various National Media outlets out there, you would think the Dolphins went 3-13.  From SI.com to Mike and Mike in the Morning, ProFootballTalk.com to ESPN.com, all of them think the Dolphins are going to take a big step back in 2011.  Maybe it’s their failure to upgrade from Chad Henne at the QB position?  Maybe it’s the circus that ensued when Stephen Ross flew across the country to talk to Jim Harbaugh?  Maybe it’s the fact that the Dolphins are in the same division as the Jets and Patriots?  According to the National media, the Dolphins have gotten worse this offseason…and some think the Dolphins have gotten much worse.

Let’s just think for a second, what have the Dolphins done since the end of the 2010 season to improve their team?  They return 11 starters from the #6 Total Defense in the NFL.  The one starter that was replaced?  Channing Crowder.  He was replaced by a more athletic, play-making line-backer in Kevin Burnett.  The defense, on paper, should be better than in 2010.   This defense will not allow this team to win less than 5-6 games on their own.

On offense, the Dolphins have added speed in the way of Reggie Bush and Clyde Gates.  It should also be noted that Brandon Marshall’s offseason training to improve his quickness and speed, is showing already.  The Dolphins also added what they hope is a younger version of Ronnie Brown, in Daniel Thomas.  The Dolphins have a solid stable of wide receivers and a good tight end in Anthony Fasano.  Charles Clay may be a bit of a wild card, but he will create mismatches.  There are only 3 potential weak spots the Dolphins could have: OL, QB if the Henne of 2010 shows up, and RB if Reggie Bush gets hurt.

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Miami Dolphins SHOULD kick the tires on David Gerrard

The Miami Dolphins currently have 2 quarterbacks on their roster: Chad Henne is their unquestioned starter, with Matt Moore backing him up.  Henne will be the Dolphins quarterback until he proves he can’t handle it.  If Henne can put up performances like his last preseason game, this entire conversation will be a moot point.  However, if the Dolphins stumble early with Henne at QB, can Matt Moore be the QB that gives them the best opportunity to win?  Well, it seems as though a solid veteran QB just became available for the Dolphins:

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Yes, the Miami Dolphins should absolutely express interest in bringing in David Gerrard.  He is an upgrade over Matt Moore for the Dolphins backup QB spot.  AND, he represents a real insurance policy if something were to go wrong with Chad Henne (poor play or injury).  Yes Gerrard would be arriving to the Dolphins late in the game….but if he’s the backup he’ll have time to learn the system.  The biggest question with Gerrard will be how much money he demands (or accepts).  The Dolphins are usually pretty conservative with contracts, but you have to think they’re interested in this ‘acorn’.

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AFC East Preview: The Week Ahead for the Dolphins and rivals

The Miami Dolphins regular season opener is just 6 short days away….It’s so close you can almost taste it.  The Dolphins will get thrown into the deep end of the NFL pool in week one, battling a team that many predict to be Super Bowl contenders in 2011.  What about the rest of the AFC East?  Here’s a look at the week ahead for the Dolphins and their AFC East rivals:

Miami Dolphins

As if the team won’t be jacked up enough, the Dolphins open the season on Monday Night Football…in front of a national audience.  And trust me, they’ve heard everything that all of the ‘experts’ have been saying about them.  “They Dolphins will go 3-13″, “They’ll go 6-10″, “They’ll finish behind the Buffalo Bills”.  It all means nothing in the grand scheme of things.  The Dolphins know that no one is giving them much of a shot in the AFC East this season.  Well on Monday night they can wake everyone up by stunning the Patriots in front of the world.  Do I think it’s likely?  No.  Do I think it’s possible?  Absolutely.  The Dolphins first game is HUGE because they need to establish themselves early in the season.  They need to win their home games and welcoming in the Patriots on 9/12 will be a BIG first test.

New York Jets

The Jets start out the season on Sunday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys.  We’ve said it a few times, but we think the Jets may take a step back this season.  We don’t think they’ll fall far, but we just don’t think they have as good of a team as they had last year.  This game features a battle of bulging brothers, Rex Ryan vs. Rob Ryan.  Rob is the defensive coordinator for the Cowboys and will likely be helping Tony Romo and the offense prepare for his brother’s complex defensive schemes.  For one night, I’ll be a Cowboy fan.  A Cowboy win early in the season could come back to help the Dolphins later in 2011.

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Tony Sparano gives inspired speech at Dolphins Kickoff Lunch Party

Earlier today, the Miami Dolphins held their annual Kickoff Lunch Party.  Attending the party were the Dolphins Cheerleaders, Dolphins Front Office Peeps, Coach Sparano, and some of the Dolphins players.  The Dolphins players included Brandon Marshall, Chad Henne, Cameron Wake, and Jake Long.  During the party, Dolphins coach Sparano gave an inspired speech, which you can listen to below:

Sparano talks in his speech about how passionate the Dolphins are right now and proclaims that it will show through once the season kicks off.  He urges the Dolphins fan base to bring the same passion to the stadium every Sunday/Monday night….especially the Monday night opener when the Dolphins host the Patriots.

It’s clear that Sparano likes this Dolphins team.  He says that the locker room is very motivated and that this is the best group he’s had since he’s been in Miami.  We hope all of what Sparano says is true, because if it is, we could be in for an exciting season.  He was emotional during the speech, which leads us to believe that he truly thinks he has a good Dolphins team this year.  With a majority media ‘experts’ casting the Dolphins as the 4th best team in the AFC East, this Dolphins team could easily adopt the Us against the World mentality.  It’s up to these players…..these coaches to prove the Mike and Mike’s wrong….to prove the Peter King’s of the world wrong…The time for talking is just about over.  And 12 days, words will no longer have meaning.

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Dolphins News: Jake Long likely to sit, Marshall will not be suspended, Mando’s Henne thoughts

On Tuesday, the Miami Dolphins prepared for their final preseason game of the 2011, against the Dallas Cowboys.  Dolphins coach Sparano didn’t give away too many secrets about who’s going to play and who’s not.  However, you can expect that the starters will likely see very limited time, if they play at all.  The game will be used mostly, to evaluate the younger players on the roster.  The Dolphins need to trim their roster to the final 53 by next week.  But keep in mind, the final 53 might not be the FINAL 53.  After the final cuts next week, the Dolphins will likely look to pickup an acorn or 2, as Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland likes to call them.  One would have to guess that one of those acorns would be some offensive line help.  That’s a story for another day.  Here’s a look at some of the latest Dolphins news:

Jake Long to sit?

The Dolphins 3 time pro bowl LT, Jake Long, is likely to miss the 4th and final preseason game of the year.  He hasn’t played in a preseason game yet, but has been working out with the Dolphins at practice.  Long suffered an injury during the final preseason game of 2010 and the injury has lingered.  The Dolphins really need Long on the field during the regular season…that goes without saying….especially with the anxiety caused by the current offensive line.  Lydon Murtha is currently injured as well, which would lead us to believe that Chad Henne will not play tomorrow night.  Why would Sparano put his starting QB into a game, when he is missing his top 2 LT’s?

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