There are SOME positives to take out of the Dolphins win on Friday night

On Friday night, the Miami Dolphins beat the Atlanta Falcons in the first preseason game of 2011, 28-23.  However, from the reaction we’ve heard from Dolphins fans, you would have thought the Dolphins were blown out 62-7.  Yes, Chad Henne’s first pass was picked off…Yes, he threw another one….Yes, the starting defense allowed a TD on Atlanta’s second drive of the game….We know all of the negatives.  BUT, please, please, please remember that this was the FIRST preseason game.  Not only was this the first preseason game, but it was the 1st preseason game in a year when there were no mini-camps, OTAs, QB schools, etc.  So of all of the seasons we’ve watched preseason games, the 1st one in 2011 should be treated as the least important.  The Dolphins have been in camp for 2 weeks….the new signings (Burnett, Moore, Colombo, etc.) have only been practicing with the team for a week.  Add to this that the Dolphins and Falcons both played ‘vanilla’ and you can begin to understand why you can’t put too much into preseason game #1….But for now, we understand that this is all we have to go off of.

Make no mistake about it, we’re not apologists for the Dolphins, we’re just trying to put things into perspective.  If the same problems are there in preseason game 3…or week one vs. the Patriots…then we can start to worry.  Can the offensive line gel before opening night?  Can Chad Henne manage the game properly and avoid costly turnovers?  Can the defense live up to it’s Top 5 billing?  All of those questions will be answered later in preseason and once the regular season begins.  Right now it’s too early to be overly critical.  Just as you can’t read too much into the negatives about the Dolphins, you can’t read too much into the positives.  But, some of the things we saw were encouraging:

Injuries

The Dolphins came out of the Atlanta game relatively injury free.  Koa Misi and Jared Odrick were nicked up, but neither injury seems too serious.  The Dolphins held out several players to play it safe (Brandon Marshall, Reggie Bush, Jason Taylor), etc.  Hopefully the Dolphins can remain relatively healthy until the regular season starts.

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First glimpse at the 2011 Dolphins, who are you excited to see tonight?

Tonight at 730pm the Miami Dolphins take on the Atlanta Falcons in their first preseason game of the year.  The 2011 version of the Dolphins is hopefully going to be an improved unit from the 7-9 (1-7 at home) version of the Phins.  Our question to you – Which Dolphins are you most interested in seeing in action tonight against the Falcons?  You can vote in the below poll and leave us your comments on why you want to see that player more than any other Dolphins.

Personally, I can’t wait to see how the Dolphins rookies perform.  If I had to pick one player it would be Clyde Gates.  Reports from early in camp are that this guy has blazing speed and can actually catch the ball.  We’re excited to see what he can do in the game.  Some other Dolphins we’ll have our eyes on are Mike Pouncey, Daniel Thomas, Kevin Burnett, Rashad Jones, and Reggie Bush.  Out of all of those players I think Gates and Jones will see the most action tonight.

On a sentimental note, we’re looking forward to seeing Jason Taylor back out there as part of the Dolphins defense.  JT will probably play very sparingly tonight, but it will just be good to see #99 back out there….In a Dolphins uniform!

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PhinNation.com’s Fantasy Football League (Dolphins fans only!)

The Miami Dolphins season opener against the Patriots is just 1 month away.  That also means that time is growing short for you to join the PhinNation.com Fantasy Football League!  We’re planning on running a league for ONLY Dolphins fans.  This is a free league and is open to the first 11-13 Dolphins fans that email us at phinnationblog@gmail.com .  We have a few entrants already, so if you are interested, please email us as soon as possible.  We’ll let you know when the league is full.

We’re expecting big things from this league because we know that Dolphins fans are the most passionate football fans in the country.  Considering what we’ve been subject to recently, we have to be, right?!  We expect creative team names and a lot of trash talking…Plus, since the league is all Dolphins fans, we can also talk about the team.  If you’re interested, we encourage you to sign up quickly!

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After a long wait……..It’s FINALLY Miami Dolphins Gameday

We have not seen the Miami Dolphins on the football field (against an opponent), since early January.  That’s over 7 months!  In those 7 months we’ve seen story after story about the Dolphins…speculation and rumors.  We saw the Dolphins Owner fly across the country, trying to lure a new coach…We heard about Brandon Marshall’s domestic incident in April and his subsequent diagnosis with Borderline Personality Disorder….We saw the NFL draft unfold, with Dolphins seemingly improving the roster….We watched 4.5 months of the NFL Lockout and read reports about the Dolphins player-only workouts……and recently we saw the free agency period unfold with a flurry of action.  And now?  Now it’s time to finally start to see if the Dolphins are better this year than they were last year.  Were the changes made the right ones?

After reading that, you might think that we’re prepping you for the Dolphins season opener against the Patriots…No, no.  We’re talking about preseason game one for the Dolphins against the Falcons in Atlanta.  We’ve been so starved for football that the 2nd most meaningless preseason game has us itching for football (the 4th game is most meaningless). Seriously….the countdown until 730pm kickoff tonight seems endless.

So what should we look for tonight?  What should we expect?  Tony Sparano said that the Dolphins starters will only play a very limited amount of time.  They will likely play 1 or 2 series.  Some players might even be held out (i.e. Jason Taylor) from the game altogether.  Let’s face it, the Dolphins have only been practicing for about 2 weeks now.  The Dolphins offense has only installed a fraction of Brian Daboll’s playbook thus far.  The defense will likely run shell, vanilla coverages (mid-season form for the pre-Nolan Dolphins).  Quarters 2-4 of this game are going to be great…watching young players try to prove themselves on the football field.  Who’s going to stand out and step up?

What has us so excited is the opportunity to see the new Dolphins in action.  We’re eager to see Reggie Bush catch a checkdown pass out of the backfield…..Kevin Burnett stuff a running play…..Mike Pouncey pull and open up a running lane for Daniel Thomas……Jared Odrick get after the quarterback…..Jimmy Wilson pick off a backup QB’s pass and take it to the house……Clyde Gates take a Matt Moore pass and blaze to the endzone……We can hardly wait…..but the wait will come to an end soon Dolphins fans…

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New Police reports shed further light on Dolphins’ Brandon Marshall’s stabbing incident

As the Miami Dolphins prepare for their first preseason game of 2011, details continue to unfold about Brandon Marshall’s domestic incident in April.  Earlier today, we learned more details about Marshall’s stabbing incident.  A bloody gun?  Clean cuts to Marshall’s wrists?  The longer time goes on, the more we are learning about this story…and quite frankly, it’s scary.  And by scary, we mean the kind of scary that is FAR away from the Dolphins practice field.

While we are saddened by the latest police reports, we are hopeful that the April incident was the low point for Brandon Marshall.  We haven’t heard much from Brandon since he opened up about his personality disorder.  We can only hope that he is getting the medical help that he needs to deal with his Borderline Personality Disorder. Again, we’re not writing about this as Dolphins fans, we’re hopeful for Brandon Marshall the human being.  To his credit, it seems that Brandon has turned things around.  He’s getting help from doctors and learning how to best deal with his sickness in everyday life.  Getting his personal life back in order is the most important thing in Brandon’s life right now, but it is unknown at this point where his relationship stands with his wife.

If football and his Dolphins teammates can help Brandon get his personal life under control, perhaps that is an outlet he can take advantage of.  On the Dolphins practice field, it seems as though Brandon Marshall is back to his old Alpha receiver self.  In Sunday’s scrimmage he did a great job, catching multiple TD passes from Chad Henne.  Again, we love Brandon and having him as the Dolphins #1 receiver in 2011 will be great, but only if he can deal with his sickness and straighten out his life outside of football.  Good Luck Brandon!

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Dolphins’ rookies are ready to make an impact

The Miami Dolphins, like many other NFL teams, have some draft picks that ‘hit’ and some that ‘miss’.  In 2011, the Dolphins’ brass is hoping that they have a lot more hits than misses…..Well, because their jobs are on the line.  If the Tony Sparano and Jeff Ireland led Dolphins’ don’t make it to the playoffs, the coach and GM might very well be unemployed after the season.  So today, we want to give you our thoughts on the Dolphins 2011 class of rookies and how much of a potential impact each of them can have.  After each player you will see a “Potential Impact”, which is our assessment of how much each player can help the Dolphins in 2011.  A score of 1 is a minimal impact/backup player and 10 is a key contributor with a HUGE impact:

Mike Pouncey – Center

Pouncey was drafted to play center for the Dolphins and has looked good so far in camp.  Yes, he’s had a few snapping issues, but keep in mind that the guy has only played center for 1 season.  He will be able to fix his snapping issues.  Pouncey gives the Dolphins an athletic center who can pull effectively and open holes for the running backs.  Potential Impact: 10

Daniel Thomas – Running Back

Thomas has gotten off to a bit of a slow start in Dolphins camp.  However, we’ll really know how good Thomas can be, once the preseason games start.  Can he hit the hole hard, as he did at Kansas State?  We’ll see.  Thomas has some veteran help in the backfield in the form of Reggie Bush, which should only help him accelerate his learning curve.  Sparano has said that Thomas has ‘soft hands’, which would lead us to believe that he will be expected to catch a lot of balls out of the backfield.  As with many young running backs, the toughest thing for Thomas may be to get used to blitz pick-ups.  We’ll get our first glimpse tomorrow night against the Falcons.  Potential Impact: 8

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What I’m Reading: Henne’s Strengths, RB Depth Questions, Ricky in the Ring of Honor?

We are only 2 days away from the Miami Dolphins first preseason game of 2011.  This Friday, the Dolphins will head to Atlanta for preseason game #1 against the Falcons.  We don’t expect to see much from the Dolphins starters in this game, but it will be great to see the Dolphins back on the field, playing against someone other than themselves!  In the meantime, we wanted to catch you up on some of the things we’ve been reading:

Looking at Henne’s Strengths – DolphinsShout.com

Since we often pay so much attention to what Chad Henne does wrong for the Dolphins, DolphinShout.com wanted to take a look at the things that Chad Henne does well.  We’re encouraged by the early accounts of Henne’s training camp and hope he can make all of the improvements we know he needs to make.  If he can, this team has the ability to be a lot better than people think.

Power Rankings, Shmower Shmankings – ESPN.com

ESPN.com, in their infinite wisdom, decided (of course) to release preseason power rankings for the 2011 NFL Season.  For those of you that don’t feel like clicking on the above link, they ranked the Dolphins 24th out of 32 teams.  Twenty-fourth.  And that jokester John Clayton’s little comment quipped that the Dolphins should contact Dan Marino to play QB because Brett Favre turned them down.  We’re only passing this along because we want to reference it later this season, when people finally start to realize that this team has the potential to be a legit playoff team.

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Former Dolphins LB Channing Crowder retires unexpectedly

Ten days ago, the Miami Dolphins cut ties with 6 year pro Channing Crowder.  Since then, Crowder has been shopping his services to other NFL teams (Patriots, Bears, Eagles, Bills).  As it turns out, Crowder didn’t like his options and has instead decided to call it a career.  As we said when the Dolphins cut Crowder, we’ll miss his personality, as he has always been one to speak his mind.  Admmitedly, his production on the field never quiet lived up to the talking he supplied off the field.

We’re fairly certain that Crowder will soon be hitting the airwaves of WQAM, likely getting a radio spot.  During the Sid Rosenberg Show today, Crowder surprised everyone listening (and Sid), when he announced his retirement.  Later in the segment the program director came on the air and said that he’d be speaking with Crowder’s agent on Wednesday……to see if there’s a regular spot for Crowder on the radio.

Crowder ends his 6 year career with 1 INT (of Tom Brady), 3 forced fumbles, and 469 tackles.  We thought we’d share a couple of memorable Channing Crowder moments with you….for old time’s sake.

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How much of an impact will the new acquisitions have on the 2011 Dolphins?

The Miami Dolphins were very active at the onset of free agency.  They have since slowed down their pace recently, but appear eager to scoop up any ‘acorns’ that might be laying around.  This would explain why the Dolphins are bringing in guys like Tiki Barber, Larry Johnson, and Troy Smith in for workouts.  There is still the possibility that the Dolphins could bring in additional pieces, further tweaking the 2011 roster.  However, today we wanted to take a closer look at each of the Dolphins veteran acquisitions this offseason.  We’re going to give you our thoughts on the potential impact this player could have on the 2011 Dolphins.  The impact scale goes from 1-10, with 10 being a HUGE impact and 1 being minimal.

Kevin Burnett – ILB/OLB

When the Dolphins released Channing Crowder, it almost went overlooked by some Dolfans, that the player the Dolphins brought in to replace him….is actually pretty freaking good.  Hours after cutting Crowder, the Dolphins signed Kevin Burnett.  Crowder was released because his production didn’t live up to his contract and couldn’t seem to come up with a game-changing play.  Burnett, would seem to be quite the opposite, check out his numbers.   Burnett’s 2010 season was better in some regards, than Crowder’s career numbers.  Teaming Burnett, who can play inside or outside, with Karlos Dansby in the middle, will give the Dolphins a very athletic linebacking corps.  Potential Impact: 8

Reggie Bush – RB

The Dolphins decided to part ways with Ricky Williams (Ravens) and Ronnie Brown (Eagles) this offseason.  They decided to get younger and more explosive in the backfield.  First, they drafted Daniel Thomas (a younger version of Ronnie Brown) and traded for Reggie Bush.  Bush’s acquisition gives the Dolphins they haven’t had in the backfield in some time…a speedy, home-run threat.  Bush has averaged about 800 yards of total offense in his 5 NFL seasons. He’ likely get somewhere between 13-16 touches per game (handoffs/passes) and is a threat to take it to the house at any time.  He will be splitting time with Thomas and is essentially replacing Ricky Williams.  Not to be overlooked is Reggie’s ability to return punts.  Potential Impact: 7

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Some players that could be surprise cuts, coming out of Dolphins Camp

PhinNation.com has a lot of die-hard Miami Dolphins fans following us on Twitter.  So over the weekend we threw out an open invitation for Dolphins fans to write a guest blog for the site.  Today, we’re going to publish the first of the guest bloggers (Seth S./ Twitter @Seth1374).  Here’s Seth’s blog about some possible surprise cuts at Dolphins camp this year:

Every year in Dolphins camp there are surprise cuts, from Donald Thomas last year, to Terry Cousins, to Daryl Gardener and Jack del Rio.  Who are the candidates for this year’s surprise cut?  I chose based on expectations of the player and the actual chance they could be cut.

1. Louisaka Polite– Yes he signed a new contract.  But, look around.  Who from the backfield is left from last year.  Rickey? Gone. Ronnie? Gone.  Polite is still there, and he was one of the lowest rated lead blockers according to ProFootballFocus.com last year.  Now, he does convert on 3rd and 1 or 4th and 1 a lot, but wouldnt a random fullback had picked up at least 90% of those as well?  Additionally, Charles Clay has been practicing mostly as FB/TE hybrid.  If Clay proves competent at lead blocking, what value does Polite have?

2. Will Allen— This one maybe too obvious, after all he hasn’t practiced in three days and he hasn’t played in 2 years.  Combine that with the performance of Jimmy Wilson, as well as the presence of Nolan Carroll and Benny Sapp.  I think it goes without saying that either Sapp or Allen is gone after cuts.  Additionally, I don’t see Benny Sapp getting cut as a suprise with his cap number.  It is basically him or Allen.

3.  Marc Colombo — I know you are saying, he was just signed, he is Sparano favorite.  That is all true.  He was also cut by the Cowboys and rated as the 4 worst Right tackle in the NFL last year.  Having said that, he is running with the first team for the Dolphins right now.  Lyndon Murtha is performing well in practice.  If Murtha overtakes Colombo, why keep him?  Depth?  Garner is more versatile and Jerry is younger. Carey can play tackle if need be and they could always bring someone younger into develop.  By the way, I don’t think John Jerry being cut right now would be a surprise.

4.  Phillip Merling– He has rebounded quite well from his achillies injury.  Unfortunatly for Mr. Merling he plays for deepest position on the team and might be caught in a numbers game : Odrick, Starks, Solai, Langford,  McDaniel (new contract thats why he’s safe).  That is five locks.  How many will the Dolphins keep?  If they keep six, then Fields or Kearse provides NT depth.  So now it is up to the brass.  Do they think Merling can get better or do the Dolphins keep a younger player to develop?  There is the outside possibility that the Dolphins could look to trade Merling late in camp  to address another need (i.e. Camarillo for Sapp trade).

5.  Chris Clemons–  Yes he started last year, but even Mr. Clemons close family would admit he struggled last year.  I think Chris is a good player, but look at the numbers at safety. Yeramiah Bell is safe.  Additionally, the Dolphins 7th round pick, Jimmy Wilson is showing flashes in practice and Rashad Jones has big play potential.  Tyrone Culver is a great special team player who contributes in sub packages.  So if the Dolphins keep the young guys, what would be the purpose of keeping Clemons?  I think it probably comes down to Clemons either starting or not making the team.

Seth S, Guest Blogger - PhinNation.com