Following a heartbreaking and frustrating loss on opening day in Washington, let's see what some of the south Florida media people are talking about today.
A lot needs fixing
In a nutshell, that's the idea of Greg Stoda's article in the Palm Beach Post. Greg talks about how there are many things that have to get turned around before Cam Cameron's team scares any opponent. Here's some of the article:
Well, most notably, there's the lack of running game.
The fact that Ronnie Brown and Jesse Chatman combined to gain 47 yards on 18 carries was the biggest burden for the Dolphins to carry, and Miami isn't likely to become a ground force anytime soon. That's why it was silly for Cameron to say what he said about quarterback Trent Green's performance, which was nothing more than statistically efficient without being point productive.
No, actually, it's the defense that gives Miami whatever small hope it has for respectability, and that defense couldn't prevent a mediocre Washington offense from holding the ball for every tick of the overtime clock (5:36) leading to a game-winning field goal. The Redskins, in fact, rolled up 400 yards of total offense and converted half their 14 third-down situations, including both they faced in overtime.
"I'm not going to psychoanalyze how you get over the hump," said defensive end Jason Taylor. "It's not rocket science. You go kick somebody's (butt) and win the game."
Now, there's a simple truth.
Here's another one: The task requires a basic toughness that hasn't been a definition of the Dolphins in quite some time.
There's the aforementioned problem running the ball, which, of course, is a staple of NFL ruggedness. And Green mostly dinked and dunked his way to completing 24 of 38 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown.
Neither is the defense, as muzzling as it usually is, necessarily a downright ferocious one.
"They ran the ball down our throats," Taylor said.
Indeed, the Redskins' Clinton Portis (17 carries, 98 yards) led a running game that accumulated 191 yards.
The Dolphins "got tired at the end of the game," opined Portis, who rushed for 34 overtime yards on four carries in the extra period.
And it was Taylor who declared that he and his fellow Miami defenders "didn't show up" when Washington uncorked a six-play, 78-yard drive to start the second half that turned a 7-3 deficit into a 10-7 lead, and then were absent again when the game was decided in overtime.
First of all, Jason Taylor was visibly angry following this game. You could tell he was very disappointed in his own play and the play of the entire defense. And really, how could he not be? The defense was a huge letdown. Like I said in an earlier post, great defenses make stops when absolutely necessary. Miami didn't do that on Sunday. Instead, they basaically bent over for the Redskins and their running game. It's a good sign, though, that Taylor was that angry, as I got a feeling that they may come up with a big effort next week at home against Dallas.
The running game, though, is still a huge concern and I think Greg nails it when he says that he doesn't see how this team will be a running force any time soon. This offensive line must get drastically better to even think about an improvement on the ground. I just don't see this happening overnight.
Fatigue not the problem
Many fans, like I pointed out in yesterday's post, keep pointing to the fact that this defense looked tired and that Cam should be blamed for not getting these guys in football shape, saying that it was bad to hold some of the defensive stars out of preseason games. Well, apparently Armando Salguero agrees with me on this one:
"I'm not tired," Taylor said afterward. "I can play for another hour. I wish we could go right back out there and start over again."
The folks making the points about guys not playing enough in the preseason obviously don't want to think about Randy Moss. He played zero plays in the preseason. He caught nine passes for 183 yards Sunday.
So give me a break on the preseason stuff. These guys were practicing, some of them twice a day. They ran, they biked. They are in shape.
Were the Dolphins tired late Sunday? Sure. Was it because they're out of shape? No, it was because they were overmatched by a bigger, better bunch of players.
Guess what? Traylor was giving ground in the fourth quarter, but he was giving ground in the first, second and third quarters also. He didn't plug the middle as he usually does, but that can have something to do with him being 37-years-old and not that he's out of shape.
Joey Porter didn't make a bunch of plays. It wasn't because he was tired or out of shape. He simply didn't factor as much as one would expect. Even Taylor, whose motor revs high throughout a game, didn't make big plays in the first half ...
Armando hits the nail right on the head in this one. There's absolutely no way you can blame this loss on being out of shape. Taylor said himself that he's not even tired. In another article by Armando, Joey Porter is quoted as not being tired. The bottom line here is that, for whatever reason (except for fatigue), this defensive front 7 kept getting shoved around right from the get go. They played poorly, didn't make plays, and simply couldn't stop Washington when it counted most.
"The two most important drives of the game, we sucked."
"I'm not going to sit here and analyze how to mentally get over the hump of winning close ballgames. You make plays! You don't commit foolish penalties like I did! You make plays like I didn't do, and you go win the freaking game. It's not rocket science."
"I take responsibility for that third down. It was an easy, simple play. They ran a player in there and I guessed they were going to do something else. I gave up that big play. I get paid a lot of money to make that play. I didn't make it."