Before I get into Saturday's game, I wanted to quickly touch on the Pete Kendall saga that ended on Thursday. First of all, the Jets really showed no class at all by the way they handled this whole situation. But that's no surprise, as their head coach was taught by the most classless organization, the Patriots. But the reason I felt the need to address this was because of the anger some Dolphin fans seem to have about Miami not landing the guard. Yes, we could have used him. But the Redskins gave up a 4th round pick for this guy. That means the Dolphins would have had to at least give up a 3rd round pick. That's a little steep for a 34 year old guard. With this offense trying to get younger, giving up a 3rd round pick simply wasn't worth it. And who knows if the Jets would have even dealt him to a division rival. So the Dolphins don't have Kendall. No big deal. Let's move on.
Here are some of the important things to keep an eye on when you're watching the game on Saturday night.
How does Trent Green look?
It's the third preseason game and he's been named the opening day starter. Now is the time for Green to start looking more like the quarterback that Cam believes he still is. Granted, the offense is still going to be simple, with maybe a few more wrinkles in it. But Green has to do a better job at simply throwing the ball. He needs to show better accuracy and much better velocity. I know he never had a great arm, but his throws the last 2 weeks have looked pretty ugly, like lame ducks. I'd also like to see him make quicker decisions, something Cam's offense requires and is one of the main reasons this team ditched Daunte Culpepper. All in all, some improvement is definitely needed to relieve some of my doubts about him.
How's Ronnie running?
Alright, you all know my view now on this whole idea of a running back battle. If not, I'll sum it up by saying that Cam's quotes about a battle a the RB position is basically just to light a fire under Ronnie's ass. So let's see how he responds. Cam was right in saying that his evaluation of Ronnie is still ongoing. Brown hasn't exactly taken anyone's breath away the past 2 years, though he's had moments where he's looked like the player we all think he could very well be. So against Tampa, I'm going to be looking at two things. One, does he hit the hole with a burst and without dancing? Of course, if this offensive line doesn't open up any holes, there isn't much Brown can do. Two, once he gets through the hole, can he make defenders miss and get behind the defense? He's done a good job in this respect at times, while struggling at others. This year, he does look trimmer and quicker, but I think he's going to be able to break a few more longer runs. But this coaching staff needs to start seeing that ability now if Ronnie wants to get the ball a lot this season.
What's the deal with special teams?
First, it'll be interesting to see who is returning the kickoffs. Of course, whoever it is back there won't matter if this unit can't block better. The same goes for Ted Ginn on punt returns. Sure, he's danced a little too much, but it's a time to learn so cut him some slack. The blockers, though, are not getting it done. I'm yet to see where there's been any good lanes for our return men so far this preseason. On Saturday, I hope to see some improvement.
Same goes for the coverage units, especially punt coverage. Granted, Brandon Fields has a rediculous leg and I'm very, very happy with him (Donnie who?), but the coverage unit must get down the field quicker and swarm the return guy. Otherwise we are just wasting Brandon's tremedous kicks.
How's the secondary holding up?
We all know how good this front 7 can be this year. And that's without ever seeing the entire starting fromt 7 on the field together in the preseason. It's also yet to be determined if Jason, Zach, and Keith will see any action. But regardless, I'll be more closely watching the secondary. So far, they haven't been bad, but they haven't been that good, either. They've allowed a few big plays. What I'll mainly be paying attention to is how the corners handle Tampa's receivers. Keep in mind that the Bucs aren't exactly loaded with talent at the receiver position. So I really don't want to see Will Allen or Travis Daniels get toasted at all this game. However, also watch Michael Lehan closely on Saturday, as he's likely to be the team's nickelback until Andre Goodman gets healthy. I think that Lehan is going to be a very important player early in the season for the Dolphins, especially considering we might see the nickel package in more often until Joey Porter is healthy and comfortable in this defense.