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The struggles continue; Dolphins lose 31-28

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Incase you're looking for where the Dolphins' season has headed, look closely at the picture above. You'll see it.

You know, incase you didn't know this yet, I HATE the Jets. I hate them even more than the Patriots even though the Pats have been far more successful over the past 7 or 8 years. Maybe it's because I live in Jets territory. Or maybe it's because I know that they aren't really that good of a team. Even last year, when they went 10-6, they were not that good. This makes today's game the hardest yet for me to swallow. Why? Because the offense, which has been under fire for some time now, actually played well. This game could have easily turned in favor of the Dolphins. But of course, it didn't. And know we are left still waiting for this team's first win. Will it be next week? It could be. But I would have definitely traded a win today for a loss next week (even though I'll be at the game next week). Man this is painful! Let's get to it.

Trent Green
Green played well today. He completed 64% of his passes and didn't make any real mistakes. Yes, he threw an interception. But he was just trying to make a play on a 3rd down. That interception doesn't really bother me because, if he throws it away, the Dolphins have to punt anyway. As for Green's throws, they were accurate for the most part and he did a good job of reading the defense and finding the open man. He also did a nice job of moving around the pocket when he needed to. And his throws had a little bit more zip on them than what we have seen out of Green up to this point. At least for this week, Trent Green, in my opinion, is free of any criticism.

Ronnie Brown
Oh man did Brown show up today. Cam Cameron said that Ronnie would get the ball and he certainly stayed true to his word. Ronnie was exceptional, showing flashes of why he was a #2 overall pick. He ran with power and a burst. He showed good vision, something people questioned, in finding the holes and hitting them quickly. Then he finished all his runs. And in the passing game, Brown caught the ball well and then ran well after the catch, showing some speed and quickness that really has to get Dolphin fans excited. Some people will say that Ronnie looked good but will not give him his due respect because it was against a poor run defense. However, this "poor" run defense was ranked tied for 6th in the NFL entering today's game in yards allowed per carry, allowing only 3.5 yards per rush. Ronnie, today, averaged 4.9 per carry. That's getting it done. And staying true to form, Brown got better as the game progressed and as he got more and more carries. In his first 15 carries, Brown averaged 3.6 yards per carry. In his final 8 carries, Brown averaged 7.3. Let's give some props to Brown because he clearly deserves some. And hopefully Cameron will feature Ronnie more and more in this offense from here on out. No more Jesse Chatman. This is Ronnie's job. End of story.

Chris Chambers & Marty Booker
Chambers and Booker both looked pretty good today. The two of them were able to consistently get open and make plays in the passing game. Chambers, especially, has really impressed me so far this season. In this game, Chris made some tough catches, including one over the middle that he had no business holding on to. And most importantly, I can't recall any dropped passes by either of the starting wide receivers. I know it's early, but if Chambers can keep this up all season, and maybe score a few touchdowns, he could be on his way to Hawaii for the 2nd time in 3 seasons.

Ted Ginn Jr.
Yes, there was a Ted Ginn sighting at the Meadowlands. First of all, he's looking better and better each week returning kicks. It makes you wonder how much he would have benefited from returning kickoffs in the preseason instead of Ronnie, but that's a moot point now. He averaged just under 27 yards per return today, including a nice 39 yard return. More importantly, though, is that he caught his first career NFL pass. Yes, I'm aware it was only one catch. However, it's a confidence booster for him and, more specifically, that play could be an effective one and needs to be used more. Ginn caught it right at the line of scrimmage on a quick throw and then turned it into a 15 yard gain. Let's see some more of that. Oh, and let's not forget to congratulate Teddy on his first career tackle, as he stopped Kerry Rhodes on the interception.

The Defense
Now it's time to take a look at the negatives of this game. And who would have ever thought that this defense would be the negative this season. But you know what? It has been. So when can we start putting the blame on this defense for this 0-3 start? In my opinion, right now! In the game against Washington, I said that the defense played ok, but not good enough because they couldn't step up and make key stops. Yet again, they couldn't make key stops. The first thing I want to point to are the 3rd down conversions. The Jets were 8/13 on third down. Mark my words: you will never, ever win a football game when you let your opponent convert over 60% of their 3rd downs. That's simply terrible. The one that instantly comes to mind is the 3rd and 17 which the Jets converted late in the 3rd quarter. You can't have that happen. Ever. And wouldn't you know that specific 3rd down conversion would continue a drive that ends up with a Jets' touchdown, making it 31-13. Who knows? You make that stop in 3rd down and the Dolphins could have very well pulled this one out. It's a long shot, but you never know.

You also can't allow teams to run down your throats all game and the Jets did just that, picking up 141 yards in the game. That's completely unacceptable. Here's my one bold statement of the game: the Dolphins' defense cost the Dolphins this game. That's right. I said it. The defense is to blame for this game. They couldn't get off the field on 3rd down. They allowed the Jets to run the ball all game long. They committed stupid, stupid penalties at very bad times. Jason Taylor and Joey Porter were nonfactors in this game against a Jets offensive line that had been playing poorly up until this game. They continue to miss too many tackles. It's sickening. Just sickening. I never thought I'd say this in 2007, but the Dolphins' defense has cost this team 2 wins (today's game and the Redskins' game). It's that simple. And now I feel like I'm going to be sick.

Special Teams Coverage
I almost labeled this section "special teams" but realized that Ted Ginn and Jay Feely are playing well. The coverage unit, though, is not. Just when you saw some life out of the Dolphins offense, Leon Washington kills Miami's momentum with that kickoff return for a touchdown in which the only Dolphin to lay a hand on him was Jay Feely. How is the friggin kicker the only one to touch the return man? Why was nobody outside of the numbers on the left side of the field during that return? Seriously, that was way too easy. And that, along with the 3rd and 17 play, are two plays which, if they didn't happen, could have swung the game in favor of the Dolphins. Instead, Miami's 0-3 and going nowhere fast.

Conclusion
My conclusion is that this team is going to be the death of me. I still can't believe that the defense is to blame. Who would have thought? And I know some of you will say that the offense didn't play that good because a lot of their yardage came when the Jets were playing very soft defense. But that's bullsh*t. It's not like they were in a prevent defense, either. And the offense was moving the ball well before the 4th quarter. They were just not punching it into the endzone as much as they could have. At this point, I'd have to say that this offense is actually playing better than this defense. And one of the positives to come out of this game is that the offense does seem to be progressing and improving. The offensive line, as well, seems to be coming together and showing visible progress.

Here are two more positives to come out of this game. First, with every loss we are getting closer and closer to seeing John Beck this season. I'm not saying it's happening anytime soon. But I could see it happening, for example, in week 15 or 16. By then, this line could be playing much better and Beck should have a firmer grasp of the offense. No matter how Green is playing by that time, if this team is out of any playoff contention (which they probably will be), it would be a good idea to get Beck some experience. It would only improve this team's future.

Finally, with every loss we inch closer to a top 5 pick. Yup, that's right. I'm thinking about the 2008 NFL Draft already. But you have to look at the positives or you'll go crazy, especially as a Dolphin fan. And speaking of the draft, I'll say this. Even if this team has the #1 pick, you do NOT take a running back. Those people calling for Darren McFadden just don't get it, in my opinion. Ronnie is a very good running back and there's no need wasting a top 5 pick on another back, even if you dislike Ronnie. Instead, you take the best tackle on the board or you go defense. This defense needs to start being rebuilt a little bit. But I guess we'l' hold back on this draft talk until at least January.

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