Final Thoughts from Dolphins/Jets Game

Let's quickly touch on a few more things from Sunday's game before we put it behind us and begin to look forward.

But before we do, I have a confession: this game bothered me all day yesterday and it wasn't until a few hours ago that I figured out why.  You see, usually I need an hour or two to get over a loss and I'm fine.  Even more recently, while this team has been - for lack of a better word - terrible, the losses didn't even bother me at all.  Hell, I think last season made us all immune to losses.

But Sunday's game has been killing me, to be honest; more so than any loss has in a long time.  And I think it's because of just how close the Dolphins were to pulling it out.  If Chad Pennington would have found an open receiver and got the ball into the endzone in those closing moments, the talk of the national media would be of how great of a comeback they just pulled off instead of how great Brett Favre is (nobody seems to mention how lucky he got, though).  And going one step further, the Dolphins would be sitting at 1-0 with a chance to get to 2-0 heading into Foxboro to battle the Tom Brady-less Patriots.  Could you imagine what that would have been like?

Ugh.  That's why this one has been so difficult to get over.  Those "what if" thoughts can really drive you crazy, you know?  Anyways, enough of my rambling.  Let's get into some final thoughts so we can put this game behind us.

JAKE LONG AND DONALD THOMAS IMPRESS THE JETS
First off, as many of you have heard by now, Dolphins' rookie guard Donald Thomas showed up on Monday in Davie in a protective boot and on crutches.  Apparently, Thomas hurt his ankle during the 2nd quarter, but played through the pain (which is damn impressive to me).  Thomas claims the boot and everything are just precautions and he hopes to practice on Wednesday.  He says it's just "a little sore" and is confident he'll be fine for Sunday's game in Arizona.

Knowing that he played through pain makes it even more impressive that some Jet players were praising the play of Donald Thomas, including Jets' DE Shaun Ellis - who matched up with Thomas often on Sunday.

But perhaps even more importantly, because of the money invested in him and the position he plays, some Jets' players were also quick to compliment rookie LT Jake Long.  Says Calvin Pace of Long:

"Man, he's going to be a hell of a player...He's just your prototypical left tackle. It's very rare that you get a rookie who comes in and dominates. Joe Thomas had a good year last year, but you can credit that to him having a lot of people around him to make his job easier. [Long]'s got all the tools."

And Shaun Ellis had this to say of Long:

"He kind of reminds me of Jumbo Elliott. Once he really figures it out, he's going to be really good."

Those are great things to hear about Long.  And truth be told, Jake did seem to get better as the game went on.  I think that you can't just look at those penalties and say he struggled.  Those penalties were a result of an attitude that Jake has to not let anyone get to his quarterback.  And I love that.  It's just unfortunate that he did get beat and was forced to commit those penalties - though that tripping call is a penalty that can be called almost all the time, meaning the refs could have let it go.

Regardless, just remember that this offensive line will look a whole lot better on the field in another month or so.  And I'm encouraged at what I've been hearing about our young guys.

TWO MORE QUESTIONABLE DECISIONS BY SPARANO
I know I outlined in yesterday's post some of the questionable decisions by Tony Sparano.  But I left off two.  One might have made a difference.  One didn't, but it still a bad decision.

First off, the smaller issue.  Why did Sparano decide to hand the ball off to Ricky Williams with 13 seconds left in the first half?  He would have needed like 70 yards for a TD and the risk of a fumble is far too great.  In fact, he did fumble, but Samson Satele recovered.  Just take a knee and head into the locker room in that situation.

But the bigger issue is another "time management" issue.  Why did Sparano choose not to call a timeout before the 2-minute warning?  Instead, he saved that final timeout and let the clock run down to the 2-minute warning.  Would it have made a difference?  Let's do the math.

The Jets' 2nd & 6 play concluded with 2:30 left on the clock.  If they take their final time out right there, the Jets would have run their 3rd down play and then punted with exactly 2 minutes left.  Instead, the Jets punted with 1:53 left.  So the difference, for you non-math majors out there, is 7 seconds.  Is that a big deal?  Not really.  But if things played out a little differently, those 7 seconds might have been huge.

Sure, I'm nit-picking.  But a head coach has to always be sure to manage the clock correctly.  For now, I'll just chalk it up to inexperience and look for improved time management each week.

Your thoughts below...

And we'll begin to look to Sunday's battle with the Cardinals on Wednesday.

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