So it's now been around 340 days since the Dolphins last won a regular season football game. And like I said, the Dolphins remained in the game until the 4th quarter. We did get to see a very nice drive put together by John Beck and the offense, as the Dolphins marched down to the 1 yard line following the Eagles taking a 17-7 lead. The next 4 plays will be what is talked about for a lot of the week. So let the 2nd guessing begin.
The 4 Plays
So with 8:17 to go, the Dolphins have it 1st and goal at Philly's one yard line. On first down, I was looking for a simple QB sneak by John Beck. Instead, they hand it to Jesse Chatman and he is stopped for a loss of one. I can live with that. I like the play call on 2nd down, as Cam Cameron let Beck throw and he found Aaron Halterman for what should have been a touchdown. However, he dropped a well thrown ball. This play, in my opinion, was the key to the mess that would follow. If Halterman can make the catch, we never have to worry about the next couple of plays. Cam's going to be the victim of all the anger by Miami fans, but I think Halterman is just as much to blame. You have to make that catch. I don't want to hear that Takeo Spikes was right there. If you can get two hands on the ball, you catch the ball.
So now on 3rd and goal from the 2, they hand it to Chatman who runs to the left and gets maybe a half of a yard. Again, no problem with that call, though I think I personally would have thrown it again. So Cam goes for it on 4th and goal. I may be in the minority, but I do like the decision to go for it. The Dolphins have nothing to lose and Cam probably figured they wouldn't be able to get this close again. Since the Dolphins were down 10, they needed to get a touchdown at some point, so why not go for it here? But like all of you, I would not have called a quick pitch on 4th down. That was simply a disgusting play call. Seriously. It made me sick to my stomach. If you want to run it, then do it up the middle where Chatman could go low and power his way or leap over the top. However, I personally would have liked to see Beck roll out and have a run/pass option. Regardless, terrible call by Cam. But like I said, Halterman gets almost as much of the blame as Cam does because the Dolphins should have never been in that situation on 4th down.
Oh, and one other thing. I don't think you can say we lost this game because of Cam's play call. Even if they kick the field goal or score the touchdown, Miami would have had to somehow get the ball back. As you saw from the following drive by Philly, this defense was worn down and couldn't stop the run on that last drive. I don't think it would have been any different if Miami did get some points on that drive in question.
Obviously, all eyes were on John. He finished the game with a final state like of 9/22 for 109 yards. But I don't think it's fair to sum up his first NFL game by simply looking at the stats. You have to look at more than that. He showed good arm strength. His accuracy was spotty a few times, but that's to be expected as a rookie being blitzed as much as he was. I thought he showed good pocket presence all game long, moving around well when he needed to. He also showed the ability to make strong and accurate throws while on the move, which is a big plus in this league. I do think he was hurt a bit by some drops. Obviously, we talked about the Halterman dropped pass that would have resulted in Beck's first career touchdown. He also made a nice throw to Derek Hagan on a post pattern that was either dropped or a good play was made by the corner to get a piece of it. On first look, I couldn't tell. Also, on one roll out, he had David Martin open about 10-12 yards down the field for a would-be first down, but Chatman tipped the ball, thinking it was intended for him, and the ball fell incomplete. So some bad breaks did hurt John's stat line. Also, did anyone notice that Beck didn't turn the ball over nor was he sacked even one time. He sure does have a quick release (no not Danny Marino like, but still good).
One thing I was impressed by was the drive he led the Dolphins on following Philly's second touchdown making it 17-7. He made a good throw to Marty Booker. He found Justin Peelle and let Peelle make something happen after the catch. On that crucial drive, despite not scoring because of the aforementioned drop by Halterman and play call by Cam, Beck showed great poise and confidence. He looked like a leader out there, something we haven't seen in a Dolphins QB in a long time. I'm very excited to see him grow week to week.
Much more on Beck later on in the week when I look back at the game and break down each of his 22 pass attempts one by one. I'll hopefully get that done prior to Thanksgiving.
It was really like a tale of two halves with this defense. In the first half, this defense really looked fired up. They were swarming the ball carrier and being disruptive. And they were even doing something we rarely see: creating turnovers. There was a Jason Allen sighting!! He picked off two passes, both of which were inside Miami's 5 yard line. Those are big, big plays. Allen was also active in run support all game. Perhaps Jason Allen could become a very good safety in this league. He's showing some true flashes.
Later in the first half, the Andre Goodman picked off A.J. Feely for the team's 3rd pick of the game. And again, it was inside the 5 yard line. Sure, this defense gave up a lot of yards in the first half. But they only allowed 3 points and that's mostly thanks to Allen and Goodman making plays in the secondary. We haven't seen this all year long so it was definitely refreshing to see. Also on the plus side were the performances of Channing Crowder and Joey Porter. Crowder, especially, was all over the field. He had 12 solo tackles, got pressure on the QB, and helped keep Brian Westbrook in check early on. Porter was also active all game long, turning in 2 solid performances in a row leading up to his big return to Pittsburgh on next Monday night. That will be interesting.
However, like I said, it was a tale of two halves. And the second half was all Eagles. It just seemed as if the defense really tired as the game wore on. They allowed 188 yards of offense in the 2nd half, including 101 on just 2 drives by Philly in the 4th quarter. But they wore down for good reason. The defense of Miami was on the field for almost 35 minutes of the game. Considering they were also undermanned and inexperienced due to the injuries that this unit has endured, I can't really blame this defense for looking sluggish as the game wore on. In the end, it was a second straight solid effort by this defense, but the offense couldn't hold up their end of the bargain.
This & That
-The Dolphins only committed 3 penalties, but one was an absolute killer. I'm talking about the offsides penalty on Will Allen when he came on the corner blitz, got the sack, and caused a fumble that was recovered by Vonnie Holliday. That was just a mental mistake by Allen, who was just barely offsides. The very next play, Buckhalter goes in for Philly's first touchdown.
-We thought we might see more shotgun than usual in this game because of Beck, and we did see it a bit more than we have in the past.
-I thought Cam's play calling was still too conservative. We saw that Beck can make plays down the field, but in the 2nd half we saw much more conservative play calling, which I think severely inhibited Beck's performance. We'll see if this changes as Beck gets more and more experience.
-Anyone who questioned Ted Ginn's hands is simply crazy. He continues to prove he is a reliable target. I'm yet to see any pass that Teddy can get his hands on fall incomplete. And how about the nice rapport that Beck and Ginn seem to be developing! Sure Ginn only had 4 catches, but those 4 throws were probably 4 of Beck's 6 or 7 best all game.
-Speaking of Teddy, his punt return for a touchdown was a thing of beauty. He made the first couple of defenders miss and then exploded to the right side of the field and outran everybody. And at 87 yards, it tied the longest punt return in Dolphin history. Here's to many, many more of them!
Your thoughts, as always, below...