Breaking Down the Dolphins win vs. the Panthers Friday Night

Forgive us for this late breakdown of the Miami Dolphins win over the Carolina Panthers Friday night.  But we wanted to review all of the tape to give our full thoughts on the game….and frankly, it was a busy weekend!  The Dolphins beat the Panthers on Friday night 20-10, and actually won a home game (throw a parade!).  But as in all preseason games, it’s more important how you play than if you win.  After an ugly opening game against the Falcons, the Dolphins seemed to improve in a number of areas, which we’ll get to in a few moments.  However, remember that the team the Dolphins were playing on Friday night was the worst team in the NFL in 2010.  They were bad enough to earn the #1 pick in the draft, and used it to select Cam Newton.

As we mentioned, the Dolphins looked good in many of the major areas on Friday night.  They jumped out to a 20-0 lead and dominated the first half of play, when mostly starters were playing.  Here are our thoughts on the key components of the game:

Chad Henne

Henne threw 2 picks and looked out of sorts against the Falcons….But he rebounded nicely against the Panthers.  We’re not saying he’s the next elite QB based on his 1st half performance, but he helped prevent Dolphins fans from chanting ‘We Want Moore”.  Henne didn’t throw an INT or a TD in the game, but he was able to get the ball into the hands of the playmakers around him.  After all, this was the Dolphins theory, wasn’t it?  If they couldn’t bring in another QB to challenge Henne, why not help him by giving him more weapons.  He targeted Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess, and Reggie Bush a lot in the first half.   He was 15 for 24 and threw for 194 yards.  He commanded the huddle and was accurate for the most part (except on a couple of OPEN deep balls).  Again, he’s not as bad as he looked against the Falcons or as ‘good’ as he looked against the Panthers.

Reggie Bush

The Dolphins brought in Reggie Bush to add an electric player to the backfield….one they haven’t had since Ricky was in his prime.  He didn’t disappoint in his season debut for the Dolphins.  Bush rushed for 48 yards on 8 carries and caught 2 balls for 33 yards.  He showed that he can take even a checkdown pass and make something positive out of it.

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Pryor goes to the Raiders….big surprise!

Earlier today, the NFL conducted it’s supplemental draft.  We haven’t written much about it on because we didn’t think the Dolphins would end up selecting anyone. The Dolphins and 30 other teams stood firm today, as only the Oakland Raiders made a selection in the supplemental draft.  Here’s how we learned of the Pryor news:

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Yes, the Oakland Raiders selected Terrelle Pryor, the troubled QB from Ohio State.  Not only did they select him, but they forfeit their 3rd round pick in the 2012 to do so.  Maybe they see him as the next JaMarcus Russell?  Who knows?  All we know is that this is the furthest thing from a surprise that there is in sports.  Pryor was suspended by the NFL and will be unable to practice or play for the Raiders for the first 5 weeks of the season.  Early word is that he’ll be used as a WR/TE…maybe they’ll eventually try to use him as a QB….again, Who Knows with Al Davis and the Raiders!

We’re not so sure that the Dolphins decided to pass on Pryor.  For all we know, they could’ve submitted up to a 4th round pick for him…but the Raiders beat them to him.  OR, the Dolphins might have chosen to abstain from submitting a pick, guessing that Pryor’s past is a prediction for his future behavior.

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Mike and Mike: Dolphins to win 3 or 4 games in 2011?…….REALLY?

Earlier today, Mike and Mike in the Morning talked about the Miami Dolphins during their “Two-A-Days” segment.  Yes, I admit, I listen to Mike and Mike in the Morning.  I’ve listened to them for about 5 years, but I’m starting to get tired of their act.  For those of you that don’t know, Mike Greenberg is a huge Jets fan.  Mike Golic is a former DT for the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles.  The two of them talk every morning about the big stories in the sports world…The main discussion points usually revolve around Football, Baseball, and Basketball.

Well, on today’s show, the dynamic duo discussed the Miami Dolphins and gave their best ‘guesses’ at the Dolphins 2011 record.  Greeny (Greenberg) said the Dolphins would finish 3-13, while Golic said the Dolphins would go 4-12, taking a step back from last year.  Listen, I know these guys have a lot to cover in the sports world….but 3-4 wins for the Dolphins this year?  REALLY?  Vegas, who’s usually right around the mark, has the Dolphins win total at 7.5 wins.

Having said all of that, no one can predict the future, and Mike and Mike are entitled to their opinion….In fact, they get paid A LOT of money to give their opinions.  BUT, keep in mind that these 2 don’t exactly have a stellar track record when it comes to the NFL.  Each week, the two ‘experts’ give their picks for 2-3 NFL games.  Last year, Greeny went 12-21-3 and Golic went 18-16-2.  So please, take their predictions for what they are worth.

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Is LenDale White coming to the Miami Dolphins?

Last night, we saw a rumor that was circulating about a new running back joining the Miami Dolphins.  At first I laughed at the notion that the Dolphins might sign or have signed LenDale White.  No one seems to be able to confirm or deny the fact of whether or not LenDale White was signed by the Miami Dolphins.  Wikipedia has White listed as a member of the Dolphins.   However, we have been unable to get confirmation for the the Dolphins, their beat reporters, or White’s agent thus far.

Maybe the goal line struggles on Friday night led the Dolphins front office to rethink their RB situation.  Daniel Thomas was stuffed twice from the one and Lex Hilliard dove over the top twice, finally scoring a TD on 4th and 1.  Maybe they want an even bigger back that can punch it in from the 1 yard line.  That role for the Dolphins used to be reserved for Lou Polite, but his roster spot is apparently in jeopardy.  So if in fact he was signed by the Dolphins, why LenDale White?

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Guest Blog: What you need to know about Sparano/Henne in 2011

The following guest blog was sent in by Jarrod, a follower on Twitter:

An NFL playbook consists of roughly 1,000 plays. When the season is over, coaches scour over the previous year’s tape to see what needs to be added or subtracted (whether it be plays or players). Those changes usually begin in March with Free Agency, into April’s Draft, and offseason OTAs.

This offseason was different because of the lockout. Without Free Agency, Sparano was forced to game plan this season with Chad Henne as the starting QB. Drafting a QB early and throwing him into the fire was never really an option since Sparano HAS to win this season (Ross made that clear).

With his job on the line, Sparano’s only chance to succeed this season was to go with the QB who knew the system. Any hopes of getting a veteran QB and getting him up-to-speed went out the window when the NFLPA did away with 2-A-Days.

Chad Henne will be the starting QB for the Miami Dolphins in 2011. Sparano was dealt a bad hand, but there was very little he can do. Changing QBs three-weeks away from the opener will only set the team back. The Fins got lucky a few years ago when Chad Pennington became available, barring the release of a very intelligent QB, get used to seeing #7 in the backfield.

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Reggie Bush, Brandon Marshall, and Jason Taylor all to play tonight for Dolphins

Tonight, the Miami Dolphins host the Carolina Panthers at 7:30pm EST at Sun Life Stadium.  Tonight, we will get another chance to evaluate Chad Henne, and to see if he can bounce back from a disappointing game last week against the Falcons.  Last week, Henne was without two of the Dolphins’ biggest offensive weapons, Brandon Marshall and Reggie Bush.  According to Coach Sparano, both will play in tonight’s preseason game #2 for the Dolphins.  Reggie Bush will likely get into the mix early and often (think about how the Falcons targeted Julio Jones last week).  It could be running the ball, or catching the ball out of the backfield.  The Dolphins won’t unleash their Reggie Bush playbook too much, but he’ll certainly be involved.

Photo by Daveblack via Wikipedia

Brandon Marshall will also make his return to game action, giving Henne another weapon.  New Dolphins offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll, is said to be focusing on getting the ball to The Beast.  Now Henne just has to do it on the field, in game situations.  Coach Sparano has said that the starters will play more tonight than they normally would in the 2nd preseason game.  The starters will likely play deep into the 2nd quarter and perhaps even until halftime.  Sparano suggests that with the limited practices due to the Lockout, the Dolphins need to get their starters more reps.  We can only hope that they can remain healthy!

An old Dolphins friend makes his return to game action tonight, when #99 Jason Taylor takes the field again for the Dolphins.    Taylor was brought in to be a situational pass rusher for the Dolphins, but has been subbed into the starting lineup with the injury to Koa Misi.  Taylor might be an exception to the rule that Sparano set forth, as we don’t see him playing too deep into the 2nd quarter tonight.

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Big Game for Chad Henne, Dolphins tomorrow night??

Tomorrow night, the Miami Dolphins take on the Carolina Panthers at Sun Life Stadium.  The Dolphins starters will look to rebound from an underwhelming performance  last Friday against the Falcons in Atlanta.  How big of a game is it?  We think it’s a pretty important game for both Chad Henne and the rest of the Miami Dolphins.  Here’s why:

Henne must be confident

We’ve talked all offseason about how important it was for the Dolphins to upgrade the QB position.  We thought it might be an upgrade via free agency or trade.  However, it’s clear that Chad Henne will most likely be the Dolphins opening day starter at QB.  He’s been working on Brian Daboll’s offense for 5 months now and has all of the physical tools needed to succeed.  His performance last Friday was a microcosm of Henne’s career.  He had good points (see TD bomb to Hartline) and low points (first pass picked off and then another INT).  It’s being said that Henne has shown more command of the huddle and increased leadership this season.  For him to continue to grow as a leader, he must produce on the field and must exude confidence.  He must put up a good game on Friday night to keep the angry villagers at bay and keep Matt Moore at a safe distance behind him on the depth chart.

Defense, Defense, Defense

We’ve been praising the Dolphins defensive unit this offseason and why shouldn’t we?  The Dolphins D was #6 overall last season and seem to have only improved this offseason.  However, the defense must prove it on the field, where it matters.  Last week, they forced the Falcons into a 3 and out on their first series…Then, following Henne’s first interception, the Falcons ran the ball down the Dolphins throats and scored a TD.  I’m not worried about the Dolphins defense right now, but they will need to prove how good they can be….and it starts tomorrow night against the Panthers.

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Dolphins Practice Report: D. Thomas with a solid day, R. Bush to play Friday night

Earlier today, the Miami Dolphins held their final practice of training camp that will be open to the public.  From the sound of it, Chad Henne and Matt Moore rebounded from their disappointing practices yesterday.  The Dolphins defense continued to apply pressure to both QBs, but today the Dolphins QBs were able to make some completions in 11 on 11 drills.

Like we said yesterday, the true test of the Dolphins QBs will come under the lights in the remaining 3 preseason games.  This Friday night the Dolphins will take on the Carolina Panthers in front of the home crowd at Sun Life Stadium.  One player that is looking forward to finally getting into some game action (albeit fake game action), is Reggie Bush.  Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said today that Bush will get some playing time on Friday night and that he (Sparano) has an idea of how many touches he’d like Bush to get.  The Dolphins acquired Bush this offseason for Jonothan Amaya and a late round draft choice (which no one seems to know what it is).  He should bring some explosiveness to the Dolphins backfield.

Reggie Bush’s counterpart in the Dolphins backfield is Daniel Thomas, the rookie out of Kansas State.  Thomas has had a relatively quiet camp thus far and rush only 4 times for 5 yards against the Falcons last Friday.  Today seemed to be a good day for the Dolphins young RB.  Reports from camp suggest that he had a number of good runs today…Maybe he’s finally settling in….or maybe the  Dolphins offensive line is finally starting to open up some holes for him!

In other news, Panthers coach Ron Rivera confirmed today that Cam Newton will get the start for the Panthers on Friday night.  The Dolphins defense will look to improve upon their opening preseason game against the Falcons where they allowed 1 TD in 2 full series.  If the Dolphins defense struggles against a rookie QB (even IF he was the #1 pick in the draft), it might be time to worry…..But we don’t see that happening.

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Dolphins Offense and QBs struggle on Tuesday, Sparano says Colombo is starting RT

Earlier today, the Miami Dolphins completed their next to last ‘open to the public’ practice of training camp.  And from the reports we’ve read from eyewitnesses, it wasn’t very pretty….at least for the offense. From what we’ve read, the Dolphins top 2 QBs started out okay in 7 on 7 drills, each going 6 of 7.  But in the 11 on 11 drills, the Dolphins defense stepped up and started to force interceptions from the QBs.  It was said to be one of the uglier practices in Dolphins camp.

Please do not misunderstand the following paragraph as an excuse for the offense.  They need to get better…Whoever the Dolphins QB is (Henne), needs to get better…..The offensive line has to begin to show signs of improvement….These things must all happen before the September 12th meeting with the Patriots….Or Tony Sparano will be looking for an OL coaching job in early January.

During a normal offseason, it’s usually the defense that has an edge on the offense, early in training camp.   This offseason, as a result of the Lockout, has meant that the Dolphins D is even further ahead of the Dolphins offense.  Even further tipping the scales is the fact that the Dolphins are trying to install Brian Daboll’s offense in a relatively short amount of time.  Should we really be surprised that the offense is so far behind the defense?  After all, the defense was #6 in the NFL last year, while the offense was ranked #21.  So even if all things are considered equal, shouldn’t the defense be outperforming the offense?

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Former Dolphins ILB Crowder doesn’t think Henne can get the job done

When the Miami Dolphins released Channing Crowder, we knew the day was going to come when he would truly speak his mind about his former team.  Today was that day.  The Dolphins former inside linebacker commented on everything from his love for Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, to his rocky relationship with Dolphins GM, Jeff Ireland.  For a full run down of his comments, check out the Palm Beach Post here.

Crowder was interviewed earlier today on the Joe Rose Show on 560 AM and confirmed that he will be ‘retired’ for this season.  He is awaiting the birth of his son and wants to spend time with his family this season.  He suggested that he will be back for the 2012 season and beyond.  He does point out that its highly unlikely it will be with the Miami Dolphins.  He said that he was often called up into Ireland’s office and assessed fines for his sometimes, outspoken comments.  It should also not surprise any Dolphins fans that Crowder is unhappy with the man that unceremoniously cut him earlier in training camp.  Crowder does profess his love for Tony Sparano, who he ‘loved’ playing for.

Here are some of Crowder’s quotes about the upcoming Dolphins season:

When asked whether Henne can get the job done for the Dolphins this season: “As of what I’ve seen so far, no.”

“The defense will be great this year, but they can’t make a run unless they get a delivery man throwing that ball to all the great players they have.”

“But you know the proof’s in the pudding, so if he comes out here this year going crazy I’ll have to put my foot in my mouth. But if I was a betting man I wouldn’t bet on that boy going crazy.”

So there you have some pretty damning quotes by one of the most vocal voices on the Dolphins team.  Does the rest of the team feel this way about Chad Henne?   Or is it the Dolphins defense that feels this way about him?  OR, is it just a scorned player speaking out?  After all, Crowder wasn’t around Dolphins training camp that long this year.  Other, current Dolphins, have said that Henne has shown more leadership this year in camp.  Maybe Crowder just hasn’t seen it firsthand?  We caution you to take Crowder’s words with a grain of salt, but also remember that he’s never been one to hold back what he really thinks.

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