It's getting harder and harder to watch these games and then have to write about them and talk about them. But with that said, let's dive into this one, shall we?
Again, we have to start by talking about the defense and their ineptitude. And again, we have to start by talking about their inability to get off the damn field on 3rd down. The Browns were 8/12 on third down. That's fuckin pathetic. You can never expect to win when you let your opponent convert 66% of their third downs. But that doesn't tell the half of it. Allow me to explain. On the first drive of the game, the Browns convert a 3rd and 11 on a pass to Braylon Edwards (who is a monster). The Browns would end that drive with a touchdown. Then on their third possession of the game, the Browns convert another 3rd and 11 on a pass to Joe Jurevicius. That drive would also end with a Cleveland touchdown. So that's 14 points that could have easily been prevented right there. Then on the Cleveland drive that began in the 3rd quarter and ended in the 4th, they converted a 3rd and 5, then a 3rd and 6, and then scored a touchdown on a 3rd and goal from the 5. But that wasn't all. On Cleveland's very next drive, Edwards scores his third and final touchdown of the game on a 3rd and 8 play. So that means that, theoretically, the Dolphins could have prevented the Browns from scoring 28 of their points by just holding Cleveland some 3rd downs. And even if you think this is a bit of a reach, how about this? If the Dolphins hold Cleveland on 3rd and 11 two different times, and then also hold them on that 3rd and 8 in the redzone, the Browns score 18 fewer points. Yes, that's right. I am blaming the defense for a loss yet again.
The worst part of this, though, is that unlike last week, there was nothing good to take from this game when talking about the play of the defense. At least last week the Dolphins played much better against the run. This week, however, they allowed 4 yards per carry to a team missing their starting running back. Yup, Jason Wright and Jerome Harrison owned the Dolphins defense. Then you look at how poor the secondary played and you really start feeling sick. They let Derek Anderson complete 72% of his passes and average just under 10 yards per attempt. Braylon Edwards simply owned every defender who tried to stop him and the Dolphins had no answer for Kellen Winslow, either. Maybe now Joey Porter will just shut the f*ck up.
I've been checking out some of the Dolphin message boards and noticed that a lot of people have different opinions on how Cleo Lemon played. And that was likely to happen considering all the attention that the QB spot has gotten since Trent Green went down with his concussion. So many people were going to examine every move Cleo made today. And while I'm not going to criticize him as much as others might, I will say that I don't think Lemon played very good. At best, he was mediocre. The best way I could describe his accuracy is that he's accurate but very inconsistent. He put the balls in some tight spots a few times, but was well off the mark on others. None stood out more than the 3rd and 3 play with 9 minutes left and Cleveland leading by 10. That was a throw that Lemon just has to make. Ted Ginn gets off the line and is wide open. And I'm talking not a defender within 10 yards of him, meaning Ginn would have had some room to run after the catch. But Lemon makes one of the most inaccurate throws you will ever see and really puts an end to any comeback the Dolphins might have been able to make. There's no excuse for that throw. Lemon simply has to make it. But he didn't and now I have to fix a hole in my wall. Thanks, Cleo.
Moving on, Cleo's inaccuracy was also exemplified by his overthrows on a few deep balls that could have been huge if they connected. But he showed the inability to put the right amount of touch on the ball, leading to missed opportunities. He also seemed to rush some throws, thinking he had less time than he actually did. He failed to make correct reads a bit too often. He showed the inability to anticipate his throws, causing him to be late with many passes. And perhaps the most telling sight was seeing these Dolphin receivers clearly look frustrated on the field. In fact, I'm pretty sure I remember hearing one of the announcers even talk about how Miami's receivers looked frustrated. Not good.
With all that said, I do think he showed enough to earn himself another start. However, if he continues to play like this, then we may be getting even closer to the start of the John Beck era in Miami. And I really don't want to hear people say Lemon played well. He didn't. People point to his 4 total touchdowns but fail to realize that one of them was a sneak which any QB could have made and the other, the QB bootleg, was a play which I think Beck could have easily pulled off. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that I don't care about Lemon's 2 rushing touchdowns. That's what Ronnie gets paid to do. The important stats to look at when summing up Cleo's start is that he completed just 56% of his passes and averaged just 5.9 yards per attempt. Incase you didn't realize, those 2 numbers are pretty friggin poor. Also keep in mind that 27% of his passing yardage came on dump-offs to Ronnie out of the backfield. But like I said, I'll give Cleo at least one more week because he is pretty inexperienced. But at some point, likely after the bye week, it'll be time to really consider starting the future QB of this team.
Well thank the heavens for Ronnie Brown. He's been the only bright spot for this team and, right now, is the only reason to watch this team play on Sunday. Just like when I was rooting for Jason Taylor last year to win the Defensive Player of the Year award, I'll be watching these meaningless late season games in November and December, in large part, just to root on Ronnie as he tries to lead the league in yards from scrimmage as well as make his very first pro bowl. Again, today, Ronnie was spectacular, rushing for over 100 yards for the 4th consecutive time (one shy of the team record) and picking up 170 yards from scrimmage. He was shifty. He made great cuts. And he continues to show that great combination of speed and power. But the most impressive thing has been how he's shown just terrific vision, something that he was criticized for in the past. And I just love this kid's desire. These two things, his vision and desire, was on display big time in his best run of the day. That play went for just 2 yards. Of course I'm talking about his 4th and 1 run when he ran into a pile, spun, and then muscled his way for the first down. Great stuff! Basically, I just enjoy watching him run with the ball in his hands. I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that, in my lifetime, I've never seen another Dolphins' running back play as well as Ronnie has this year (and that include Smokey Williams).
Odds & Ends
Just a few other things I wanted to quickly touch on:
-Ted Ginn needs to get more involved in the offense. He needs to get on the field more. Perhaps it's even time for him to start. At the very least, he needs to be the primary 3rd receiver rather than having him share time with Derek Hagan. I'm not saying I dislike Hagan, either. But Ginn seems to be open when he's on the field like 50% of the time. And he showed some great awareness today when he was able to get open for his 32 yard reception. Now let's see him really get involved. Let's see some deep balls thrown his way, rather than at Chris Chambers. I really think Ginn's going to be a good one. But he needs to get more experience now.
-Somebody asked me today why the Dolphins traded Wes Welker. Why? I'll tell you why. One: in this offense, he isn't a good fit and, in reality, he isn't really that great. He just looks very good because he's playing on a team in which all the attention goes to Randy Moss. And don't forget the other speedster in Donte Stallworth nor can you forget about Ben Watson, the underrated tight end of New England. These guys help make Wes look better than he is. And two: the Dolphins were able to get an anchor for this offensive line for years to come with the pick they got for Wes. Samson Satele would not be a Dolphin if not for the trade. And he's played very, very well and is a major part as to why this line has played surprisingly well. Without him, Rex Hadnot would likely be at center and god knows who would be at the guard spot currently occupied by Rex. That's why the Dolphins traded Wes and why I'm still a fan of this trade!
That's all for now. I probably missed some important stuff, but hey, it's late.
As always, your thoughts below...