Miami Dolphins (1-13) at New England Patriots (14-0)
Incase some of you have forgotten, we got a game coming up on Sunday that we should turn our attention to. And yes, I'm aware that it's highly likely that the Dolphins get blown out up in Foxboro. But crazy things do happen. And this has been quite a week for the Dolphins. After a long, long season, there seems to be some good karma around the Dolphins all of a sudden. And if you are a believer in karma and those kinds of things, then this Sunday's game is very, very interesting. Also considering the fact that the Dolphins, winless no more, can relax and play a bit looser, might we actually have a ballgame to watch on Sunday? Dare I say it?
Offensively speaking, the two teams that nearly pulled of victories over the Patriots did so in different ways. The Eagles chose to pass the ball 40+ times and take their shots against New England's secondary. They were successful in gaining yards, picking up 345 through the air, but A.J. Feeley did throw 3 interceptions. On the other hand, the Ravens chose to base their offense off of the ground game. They ran the ball 36 times for 162 yards (a 4.5 ypc average). It's no secret that many believe this Patriots defense can, in fact, be run on successfully. They're 9th in the NFL in rush defense but 24th in the NFL in yards per carry against, allowing 4.3 ypc. And the first time these 2 teams met, Miami ran the ball 27 times for 163 yards. But that was with Ronnie Brown (until he got hurt) and a fresh, healthy Jesse Chatman. This week, we don't know if Chatman will even play and, if he does, is likely to be rusty. So eventhough New England can be run on, I don't really like Miami's chances to move the ball on the ground with a rusty Chatman and with Samkon Gado and Lorenzo Booker as the other 2 backs.
And that is the reason I'm going to propose a different idea. Many of you might think I'm crazy. You know what? You're probably right. But at 1-13, what do the Dolphins have to lose? Here's my modest proposal. The Pats will likely think the Dolphins plan on running the ball a lot. So I wouldn't be at all surprised to see 8 man fronts all day long, especially early on in the game. So what I would like to see the Dolphins do is put the ball in the air early and often. Let's see a play-action on Miami's first play from srimmage and let Cleo Lemon air it out to Ted Ginn. Let's get New England's defense back on their heels. Let's use the pass to set up the run.
Ok, Ok. So you all think I've lost it, right? Why would anyone want to put the ball in Cleo Lemon's hands early and often against the "great" Patriots? To that, I'll just say one thing: Cleo wants to prove himself. He got that first win last week. Now he, and the whole team, can take that deep breath and just go out on the field and play. Don't forget, too, that Cleo is a free agent at season's end. This game is one in which he could really earn some cash for himself in the offseason if he performs well. There are people out there who e-mail me and tell me that Cleo is "the real deal." I don't see it. But, hey, let's see him go out there on Sunday and play a big-time game. He didn't play too bad the first time these teams met, completing 64% of his passes for 236 yards. Now let's see some growth, maturity, and progress from Cleo.
Keep in mind, in talking about my idea to throw early and often on Sunday, that Cleo isn't out there by himself. He needs help from the players around him. This offensive line MUST give Cleo time ot throw the ball. They did just that in the 2nd half of last week's game. They must continue to do that in order to keep this one close. Then you got the receivers. The young wideouts like Ted Ginn and Derek Hagan have to go out there and perform well for their new "boss." I want to see Ted Ginn get back involved in this offense and begin to grow into the kind if player we need him to be. And the veteran of the receiving corp, Marty Booker, has 2 games left to convice the Dolphins, and Bill Parcells, that he is worth his $4+ million cap number in 2008. Go make some plays, Marty.
And that brings me to the X-factor: Lorenzo Booker. The Pats have never seen Booker. And in their first meeting, Ronnie Brown was heavily involved in the passing game before his injury. Booker needs to be able to fill that void. I'm very excited about Booker potentially being matched up against one of New England's linebackers. None of them will be able to match Lorenzo's speed and quickness. This needs to be exploited. If the Dolphins can get the ball in the hands of Lorenzo via the passing game, then I really do think the potential will be there to make some big plays.
So that's my plan. As idiotic as it might sound, I want the Dolphins to go out there on Sunday and put the ball in the air a lot. I want to see how the Pats respond to this kind of surprise gameplan. Miracles do happen. A big play here, a big break there, and all of a sudden the Dolphins are in a tight game entering the 4th quarter. And that's really all we Dolphin fans can ask for.
12/23/07: YOU GOTTA BELIEVE