So how does a team win the time of possession battle by 13 minutes, win the turnover battle, gain more total yards than the opposition, and yet still lose? That's easy. You wear the uniform of the Miami Dolphins. And that explains everything, doesn't it? And so we sit here on November 12 and remain without a win. And what's worse, our rookie QB and supposed franchise QB is yet to take a snap in a regular season game. Damnit, it sure is frustrating.
And before I get into the anything else, I wanted to talk about the most costly drive of the game and a drive which basically exemplifies the kind of season the Dolphins are having.
I'm talking about Miami's next to last possession of the game, which followed Buffalo's tying touchdown and 2 point conversion. The kickoff gets returned 85 yards for a touchdown by Ted Ginn...but it's called back because of a holding penalty (poor Teddy...2nd time in his brief career this has happened). So much for that momentum swing. Then the first play following the return, Cleo Lemon makes a perfect pass to Marty Booker which would have resulted in at least a 20 yard gain, probably more. But Booker drops it. One of his three costly drops and another missed opportunity. Then on a 3rd and 1 play, L.J. Shelton gets called for a false start and makes it a 3rd and 6 play. These are the kinds of mistakes that a bad team like the Dolphins can't afford to make. Sure, the Dolphins still converted the 3rd down, thanks to the fantastic Jesse Chatman, but that's not the point. The point is that these kinds of mental mistakes have been killing the Dolphins all year. And it continues. And as it does, it's likely Miami's winless will continue as well. Onto the rest of my ramblings...uh, I mean thoughts.
There was of course going to be a lot of attention payed to the play of Cleo Lemon. And yet again, he showed us why he shouldn't be the starting QB. First of all, you just look at his stat line. It's basically identical to his typical stat line. He's generally good for completing 55%-58% of his passes for around 140-160 yards, and might have a touchdown if he's lucky. I'm sorry, but that's not good enough. He wasn't terrible, and he certainly wasn't helped by the countless drops by his receivers, but he didn't play well enough, in my opinion, to deserve to start any more games for this team. We've seen what Cleo has to offer. He isn't improving at all. For the love of God, it's time to move on.
In the comment section of an earlier post on Sunday, I raised the question of who was to blame for the lack of downfield passes. Was it Cam Cameron, for not calling any plays that attack vertically? Was it the receivers for not getting open? Was it Cleo for not seeing or recognizing the open receivers and deciding to play it safe by checking down to a back or tight end? One of you guys said it was probably a combination of play calling and Cleo missing open receivers. I'd have to agree with that. I know there was the one play where replays clearly showed Teddy Ginn open downfield for what would have been a big gain. I laos believe I recall seeing Derek Hagan open once or twice on a skinny post route where he splits the safeties nicely. But does Cleo make the throw? No. And that makes me wonder. Did he not see the receiver? Or did he decide to not risk it because he would rather play if safe and check down to a back? Either way, there's no excuse to be missing these opportunities down the field. Oh, and one more thing. Are Cleo's feet made of cement or something? Did he not see Chris Kelsay right in his friggin face in the endzone? There's absolutely no excuse to take a safety in that position. He could have easily stepped to his left and gotten at least out of the endzone. Or he could have thrown it in the right flat to an open Reagan Mauia. But Cleo, being the talent he is, decides to just eat it. Terrible play.
Like many of you, I've had enough of this crap. It's quite apparent that Cleo Lemon's time is up. I don't care if the coaching staff feels John Beck hasn't "earned it" yet. He needs to be the starter from this point on. He needs to start in Philly. The Eagles defense isn't even what it used to be so I don't think it would be a bad time to start Beck. We need to see what this kid has and he needs to get his feet wet so he can (hopefully) be ready to take over this team in 2008. I swear, if I have to sit through another Cleo Lemon fiasco, I'm going to absolutely lose it. Stop being stubborn, Cam, and start the kid next week. End of discussion.
Let me start off by saying the defense definitely played well enough to win. Don't think for a moment that I'm blaming them for this loss. They played their best game of the season, in my opinion, and the loss falls on the shoulders of the offense. This defense played with a passion we haven't seen from them this year. They played with high-energy and showed unity all game, high-fiving and butting heads all game long. They swarmed Marshawn Lynch and really made Buffalo's running game a non-factor. Will Allen played very well. His interception of J.P. Losman was very nice and a welcome sight, as this defense just hasn't picked off many passes over the past 2 or 3 years. And for the first time this year, Joey Porter played like the player we all thought he could be. This was easily his best game in aqua & orange, playing the run quite well and getting pressure on the QB. All game long, Porter was active and just had that look that Steeler fans came to know and love while Porter was in Pittsburgh.
However, I still have to criticize this unit for something that is a mjaor pet peeve of mine. I'm sick of seeing this defense give up any momentum that the offense had just created. It isn't often that this offense gets momentum on their side, and when they do, you can't just go out there and spit it back up. But that's what this defense did following the Cleo Lemon touchdown scramble. The Dolphins had just taken a 10-2 lead and then on the following possession by Buffalo, they let the Bills march right down on them for a touchdown. Then to make matters worse, they are unable to stop Lynch from converting the 2 point conversion to tie the game, as he barely got in on the left side with his second effort. One thing I stand firm about is that good defenses must be able to hold their opponent and not let them pick up any points on a drive the directly follows a touchdown by their offense. And most top defenses are able to do just that. That's how you open up comfortable leads and put games away. I know I'm kind of nit-picking here on the defense, but that is one thing that really, really irks me.
This & That
-Jason Taylor said that he thinks his ankle injury is just a sprain but will have some tests done to find out more. Hopefully it's nothing serious.
-The receivers have got to help out Cleo Lemon. Too many drops, especially by Marty Booker. That's totally uncharacteristic for Marty. Did Chris Chambers lock Marty in a closet and out on Marty's uniform? It sure looked that way.
-I'm beginning to really question the playcalling of Cam. I thought he did a fairly good job earlier in the year, but he has gotten way to conservative since Ronnie went down with the knee injury. Grow some balls, Cam, and make the passing game more vertical.
-Jesse Chatman played exceptionally well on Sunday. He's proving that he is a very capable back-up for Ronnie Brown. He has good vision and runs with power. But don't forget about the offensive line, who opened up nice holes for Jesse all game long. That unit continues to impress me.
-And from the "what could have been" file: Did anyone see how well Antonio Cromartie played? He picked off 3 Payton Manning passes and has really played well for San Diego all year. And the Dolphins passed up on him for Jason Allen. Thank you, Nick Saban.
-Speaking of Allen, he actually didn't play too poorly on Sunday. He was active in run support and, upon first watch, I didn't notice him getting beat at all in the passing game. Maybe he can contribute to this team in the future.
It's simple. It's time to start John Beck. I was one of the few who was giving Cam the benefit of the doubt here. But now John has had a full week getting 50% of the reps. I say on Wednesday, John should be getting 60%-70% of the reps and Cam should come right out and say John's our starter. That's that. If John doesn't start against Philly, I'll have no choice but to think about jumping on the "fire Cam" bandwagon...that's if there's any room left for me by that time.