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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A suggestion for Brian Daboll and the Miami Dolphins coaching staff

I have a small suggestion for Brian Daboll and the Miami Dolphins offensive coaching staff.  Maybe I should start by saying that I am not, nor will I ever be an offensive coach in the NFL.  So take this for what it’s worth.  However, I do watch every Miami Dolphins game 2-3 times a week to analyze what I think is going on.  Also, being a DirecTV Sunday ticket holder, I am able to watch other games from around the NFL.

Let’s all come to grips with the fact that Chad Henne is going to be the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins in 2011…..at least for the start of the season.  For all of his flaws, Chad Henne does have a very strong arm and has the ability to make every throw in the NFL.  Below is a video I found on YouTube, which was actually put together by one of our readers and followers on Twitter (@PhinsRock).

 These are the highlights of Chad Henne’s 2010 season.  It is refreshing to see all of the good things that Chad can do and shows that he has potential to be a good QB for the Dolphins, if he can manage to be more consistent.  Keep in mind that Henne was hamstrung by a poor offensive coordinator last year, which should be helped by the addition of Brian Daboll.  Daboll’s offense will bring an aggressive offense to the Dolphins, something they’ve lacked for a number of years.  We will see more throws downfield, attacking the defense.  We will see more shifts, which often create mismatches for the defense.

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Miami Dolphins Sign LB Marvin Mitchell

The Miami Dolphins officially announced the signing of former Saints linebacker, Marvin Mitchell.

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The signing of Mitchell is mostly a depth signing for the Dolphins.  He has played primarily a backup role in New Orleans, which is stats indicate.  Mitchell adds depth to a linebacking corps that is already pretty well stacked.  Cameron Wake and Koa Misi are slated to start at OLB for the Dolphins, with Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett at ILB.

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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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