It's simple. Win up front, and you'll be a winner. Everyone keeps trying to wonder why the Dolphins secondary was miserable on Monday against Brady and the Patriots. And why was the Davis-Smith tandem cramping? Easy. Brady had ALL DAY. When the QB has all day to pass, the secondary is sprinting for a much longer period. A series of 8-12 second all-out sprints will kill you a lot faster than a series of 4-8 second sprints. Add to that the Patriots' clever scheme had them running no huddle for most of the game. This Dolphins defense is good. But, at times, they seem to have trouble getting their act together quickly before the ball is snapped. Remember last year's game against the Packers when the Packers were at the goal line and Rodgers walked in to the end-zone on a QB sneak? There was nobody within 10 feet of Rodgers even at the snap. I saw a lot of similar confusion on Monday. Brady would hit a long pass, run down the field, snap the ball - no huddle - before the Dolphins defense was anywhere near in position.
All this running around and the secondary was just too winded to stay with even the tight-ends. That's the Dolphins defense's big weakness. And that's fixable. They just should have been ready for it. And they need to be ready for it from now on because that's what every offense is going to bring from now on. The Dolphins spent all off-season talking about adding speed - which they did on offense. But they need to address speed and stamina on defense. A big strength the Dolphins have is their depth on the defensive line. And the way to neutralize that depth is to run no-huddle and not allow time for substitutions. That's what the Patriots did and it worked.
I don't mind the Benny Sapp firing. Was it fair? No. It wasn't all his fault. But it was a terrible performance by the entire unit and it makes sense that they wanted to make an example of someone. It sure seemed like Sapp got burnt more than anyone else on Monday. Sapp blew coverage on a number of big plays last year and because he has a larger contract than most, cutting him shows that no one is safe, regardless of how much you get paid. It sends a message that if you're going to play on this defense, you'd better step up your game quick or you're gone. Plus - it doesn't hurt to have Will Allen waiting in the wings. (Let's hope he can stay healthy.)
But most importantly, the front seven needed to be better. A lot of those Brady passes came out quick. But most of the night he was just sitting back there with all day to pass. Wake, Starks, Solei, Odrick, Langford - they need to collapse that pocket and get in there fast. Davis-Smith are good, but they need some help up front.
Could the offense have been any better? Yes. Better on 3rd down? Yes. But keep in mind that this is a new offense. New offensive coordinator, new scheme, new backfield, new center - This was their first game. They're going to get better over time. Unfortunately for Sparano - they don't have time. They need to be good NOW. But no matter how much a perfectionist you want to be, the offense did a pretty darn good job on Monday - especially for a first time out under a new scheme.
The running game was non-existent. And that's really the main problem. That was the problem all last year and it's the problem now. The offense has the same problem as the defense - they need to win up front. The offensive line was ok in pass protection (not great - but ok). But they haven't opened anything even resembling a hole since 2009. It doesn't matter if you have Ricky, Ronnie, Reggie - or evan Adrian, Arian, Ray - running the ball, you're not going anywhere unless the offensive line can open some holes.
When the Dolphins made the playoffs in 2008 they have an easy schedule. But they also won the battles up front - on offense and defense. That's why they could run the ball on offense and that's why they could stop the run on defense. That's how they won games. And that's what's been missing for the past two years.
Thank god that Henne and Marshal seem to have finally gotten their act together. And Bush will be great. Bess, Fasano, and Hartline are solid. But they need some ground support. And that starts with the interior line. Kinda like our secondary needs the support of the DL.
They've got a real test Sunday against the Texans. So they need to solve these problems fast or be stuck at 0-2 at home before going on the road - for like forever. With all the nay-saying of this past off-season and disrespect they're getting from the national press, they really need a win to boost their confidence before that road streak. It's starting to look like the whole season is riding on beating Houston Sunday.