SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 2: Linebacker Jason Taylor #99 of the Miami Dolphins walks off the field after the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 2, 2011 in San Diego, California. The Chargers won 26-16. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Well fellow Fin Fans, I don't get a chance to go to too many Miami Dolphins games, being way out here on the Left Coast, so whenever they come to San Diego you can count on me being there. So I was at the game today, sitting right behind the Miami Dolphins bench, so I had a pretty good view of the game - and also of the things you can't see on television, like the players reactions, coaches behavior, etc.
Two big, general, overall impressions, before I get into some specifics:
The Dolphins can not pressure an opposing quarterback.
They can't do it! This is the SINGLE BIGGEST problem with the Dolphins D! In today's passing league, you either need a pair of "lockdown" corners who can hold their coverage for longer than 6 seconds, or you need some way to hurry the opposing quarterback to create mistakes or force shorter routes/receptions. Oh, and by the way... the Dolphins do NOT have a pair of "lockdown" CBs.
On Offense, the Miami Dolphins look out of sync.
The Offensive Line is... well... offensive, mostly... at least on the right side. Mike Pouncey is playing well, and should get better, but I watched Vernon Carey whiff on a block that led to a sack at a critical time in the fourth quarter. It might have been a miscommunication, but isn't Tony Sparano supposed to be the O-line wizard? And the last interception thrown by Matt Moore at the end of the game looked like a miscommunication between him and Anthony Fasano. And oh yeah... wasn't Henne injured on a botched handoff? Sloppy. That's a better description than "out of sync". Overall, the whole thing looked sloppy.
Jason Taylor is done. Stick a fork in him! Yes, you heard me - fork him!
No, NO! Not like that! I love JT! He has been a great player; a great team leader; and he will certainly end up in the Fin's Ring of Honor and likely the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But he just can't beat a single blocker nowadays!. He had virtually no impact on the game, and was not able to contribute to any pressure on Philip Rivers. As much as I love JT, the Fins single biggest problem on Defense is lack of pressure on the opposing QBs, and JT is not part of the solution...
Matt Moore may or may not have outplayed Chad Henne. It was certainly close enough for debate, but from my perspective - he did.
Now I am not bagging on Henne, or saying that there should be a QB change. I think if Moore had practiced with the first team more, his level of play and chemistry with the receivers would have been even better. But more important than debating which Fins QB was better on this day - the bigger question is whether the Dolphins have two starting caliber quarterbacks or two good backups?
Sparano looked uninvolved.
By that I mean that he was not talking to players, talking to coaches, looking like he was trying to figure things out. Again, this is just an impression from a fan watching from behind the bench, but compared to a couple of years back when Tony S seemed to have unbridled enthusiasm for EVERYTHING that took place on the field, this just looked like a different man.
The team on the sidelines looked disinterested.
They were not really paying attention to the game; mainly sort of milling around or cutting up; Dan Carpenter was doing some kind of karaoke thing during an offensive series and it WAS funny, if inappropriate. Two notable exceptions were JT and John Denney - both were always stretching, practicing, or paying attention to what was happening on the field.
Brian Daboll was fully into the game, coaching the offense every time they came off the field.
He was very enthusiastic and he always seemed to have the players attention. It would be interesting to see what he would do in a head coaching role.
Sparano did not speak to Daboll even once that I saw.
Seems weird to me.....
Brian Hartline is a football player!
The kid was fired up and was constantly watching the game and reviewing plays with coaches.
Lex Hilliard is a battering ram.
You could hear him hit guys when he ran it up the gut. He deserves more carries. I said this last season too.
And the scariest moment was not when Chad Henne went down; it was when Mike Pouncey when down.
Matt Moore came in and the QB position didn't miss a beat. But who replaces Pouncey? Quality O-line depth is THIN.
Oh, and by the way... I disagree with folks that say if Tony Sparano is not replaced at the bye week, he will remain through the end of the season. I also disagree that keeping Tony is better than coming up with a temporary replacement. Anyone remember Wannstedt going 1-8 in 2004 before resigning, with Jim Bates stepping in as interim Head Coach? The Fins went on to win 3 more games that season, including a Monday Nighter against the New England Patriots. Now I'm not saying that the record made a difference, but I AM saying that replacing the coach in the middle of the season doesn't automatically make things WORSE. I, personally, enjoyed that season better after "the Stache" left! Just something to think about.