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Thoughts on Preseason Game #2

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So another game is in the books.  Despite the fact that it's preseason, it's still nice to see a 2-0 record next to Miami's name in the standings.  But more importantly, we are seeing progress on offense.  There's a lot to talk about so let's get to it.

The Quarterbacks
This is where the spotlight has been all of camp so we'll start there.  Trent Green still doesn't look like the Trent Green of old, but there was definitely improvement.  The first series, when Green went 0 for 3, 2 of those throws were inaccurate.  The pass to David Martin was in his hands and he should have caught it.  Then on the next series, Green settled in and made some good reads and throws.  He was 4 for 4, including a nice read and accurate throw to Martin down the seam on a 3rd and 9 play.  However, his velocity still worries me as the passes still seemed to float.  

Enter Cleo Lemon.  He got a shot to play with most of the first teamers and he didn't look bad.  However, please hold back all the enthusiasm for Lemon, as he didn't play all that well either.  Yes, he was more efficient, going 8 for 11.  But was he more productive?  I'd say no, considering the fact that he only threw for 11 more yards than Green despite 4 more pass attempts.  He made good throws, but all of them were short routes.  The one big play in which he picked up nearly half of his yards was courtesy of bad tackling by Derrick Johnson and good running after the catch by Jesse Chatman.  Right now, I think Green is the unquestioned starter.  That's the bottom line.

Then comes John Beck.  In my opinion, he was very impressive, going 5/6 for 52 yards.  But please, will this line block for him?  He was sacked 3 times, though one of them was due to either the receivers not getting open or Beck holding the ball a bit too long.  Moving on to his throws, his second completion, the one to Kerry Reed, was a very good throw.  It had good velocity and was right on the mark.  His pass to Courtney Anderson, who made a beautiful one handed grab, was a bit high but it was still a good job by Beck reading the defense and finding the open man.  And that two-point conversion bootleg was impressive, as he showed good awareness, didn't force anything, and then showed off his mobility and heart by going head first into the endzone with defenders chasing.  All in all, I like what I'm seeing out of Beck.  But make no mistake about it, he isn't ready to start anytime soon.  At the earliest, I wouldn't want to see him starting a regular season game until the second half of the year.

Ronnie Brown
Can we end all this talk about Ronnie being a bust yet?  And please, can we never, ever bring up the idea that Jesse Chatman could unseat Ronnie?  If he can ever get consistently good blocking, Brown could be a beast.  Tonight he showed good burst and great 2nd efforts on his runs.  He always keeps his legs moving until he is down.  I'd also like to point out that his biggest flaw according to most, his vision, isn't that big of a flaw.  On the very first carry of the game, Ronnie showed good vision in finding the hole and exploding through it for a 12 yard gain.  Also, Brown showed the ability to make the first defender miss a few times.  Unfortunately, it was mostly behind the line of scrimmage as defenders seemed to get into the backfield with ease.  For example, take a look at the 2nd and goal play with about 5 minutes left in the 1st.  Ronnie has to make a defender miss just to lose 1 yard.  IT would have likely been a 3 or 4 yard loss if the first defender brought him down.  Bad sign for the offensive line.  Good sign for Ronnie, as it shows he can make people in the backfield miss when he needs to.  Oh, and kudos to Cam and Randy for bringing in Cory Schlesinger.  I saw him make a few good blocks tonight when leading the way for Brown.  To sum it up, Brown's 13 carry, 57 yard performance was a good sign and I think he's in for a breakout year.  He's clearly being prepared to be a workhorse and I'm excited to see him, for the first time in his career, get the workload he deserves.

The 1st Team Offense
As a whole, the first team offense certainly showed improvement, which is exactly what we were all hoping for.  The line, though it still wasn't all that good, certainly showed a few signs of improvement.  The combination of (left to right) Carey, Liwienski, Satele, Hadnot, and Alabo might be the best, though I still think Mormino and Shelton will get their shots because none of the lineman played exceptional.  All 5 of the starters had their moments when they looked quite bad.  But we all know it's going to take time.  All we can ask is that they continue to improve each time out.  Because the bottom line here is that we are stuck with what we got, so let's make the best of it.

As for the rest of the offense, you can see the improvement from last week.  I can only assume that this will continue as more and more of Cam's offense gets installed and the players become more comfortable in it.  Honestly, I trust Cam Cameron and I do think he's going to get this offense turned around.  So don't worry about all the "dinks and dunks" in the passing game.  I'm sure that the time will come when the offense throws the ball down the field more often.  Maybe Cam doesn't want to show too much.  Maybe he just wants to get the players comfortable in the short passing game for now.  Who knows?  But I'm confident that there's a method to Cam's madness.  Let's just let the man work.

There are a few negatives I want to touch on.  First, the fact that the first team is yet to score a touchdown is worrisome.  I know it's early, but I'm hoping this isn't a sign of things to come in terms of redzone inefficiency.  Secondly, Lorenzo Booker is still yet to touch the ball.  For all thr hype we heard out of camp, his lack if involvement is interesting.  And lastly, I'm thinking about writing Cam a letter and asking him to please never call a draw play ever again.  This line simply can't handle them and all it does is get Ronnie (or whoever is back there) killed for a loss of yards.  

The Defense
What can I really say about the defense?  Again, another great performance by the first team defense despite the fact that the team was missing their 3 best defenders and their monster of a nose tackle.  The starting unit (which I'm calling the players who played the first half) only allowed 112 yards and 7 points.  Not bad for a team missing 3 pro bowlers and their starting nose tackle.

As for who was on the field, the player who stood out the most was Channing Crowder.  Boy does he look good so far.  He's all over the field.  He is clearly very comfortable in this defense and is blossoming into a stud linebacker.  Also, rookie Paul Soliai stood out to me.  Last week, he seemed to struggle at the point of attack.  This week, Soliai got a much better push up front.  The kid's got some potential.  And lastly, the quote of the night comes from Jason Taylor, who was being interviewed on the sidelines.  When asked about his first thoughts when he heard the team signed Joey Porter, Taylor simply said, "Oh boy."  

"Oh boy" is right.

Most impressed with: Ronnie Brown

Most disappointed in: Ted Ginn, who hesitated too much on returns and wasn't involved in the offense

Conclusion
The offense improved.  The defense continued it's good play, though I'd like to see better coverage down field.  Oh, and the injury to Abe Wright, which looked bad, reportedly isn't.  MiamiDolphins.com reports he just had bad cramps in both legs.  

The Miami Dolphins:  2-0.  Hopefully we'll be saying that again in September, though that might be wishful thinking on my part.