I'm sure that all of you, like me, are still flying high after Sunday's win over the Chargers. And now that we've all had about 2 days to digest this victory, let's talk a little bit about some of the things that we haven't really touched on yet.
Oh, and no - I'm not trying to be a buzzkill. I'm just trying to be a realist.
Don't use the "P" word just yet
I know excitement is high - higher than it has been in years. But let's not go crazy here folks. Let's continue to exercise "cautious optimism" when we talk about where this season might be headed. It's fine for the players to talk about the playoffs - or even the Super Bowl, as Justin Smiley did. After all, of all people, the players are the ones who should believe they can win every single game.
But as fans, I think we need to be careful with expectations. Why? Because expectations have a funny way of coming back to kick you in the ass. And doing things like examining the schedule and attempting to predict what Miami's record might be after playing just 4 games isn't only an exercise in futility, but also is a good way to set yourself up for disappointment.
Let's instead just look ahead to the next game on the schedule each week and not overlook any opponent. This upcoming week, for example, the Dolphins will travel to Houston to attempt to defeat a team that they have never, ever defeated. The Dolphins are 0-3 all-time against the Texans. Sure, the Texans are 0-4. But they lost an OT game to the Jaguars and choked away a victory over the Colts last week where they were actually winning by 17 points with just 5 minutes left.
We also can't forget how much "luck" plays into these games. Just this past week, we saw "luck" play a part in Miami's win. Anyone remember when PHilip Rivers overthrew a wide open Vincent Jackson on what would have been a game-tying touchdown? Those kinds of plays can happen at any time and can benefit or hurt the Dolphins - and can be the reason the Dolphins win or lose a game.
So rather than thinking about January football after just one quarter of the regular season, let's instead focus solely on the next game. Then, after 8 games or so, let's see where the Dolphins stand.
Special Teams still in need of improving
We all thought that one of the things we could bank on this season would be improved special teams play. But that clearly hasn't come to fruition.
Sure, the Dolphins held the electrifying Darren Sproles to just 23 yards per return. But that average kick return against would only be good for 14th in the NFL. And with Sunday's performance factored in, the Dolphins kick coverage unit is still ranked 32nd in the league - allowing 28.1 yards per return. Not good.
The coverage unit also isn't helped by the fact that Dan Carpenter is averaging just 63.2 yards per kick-off. Yes, that's 5 yards more than Jay Feely last season, but still ranks the Dolphins just 25th in kick-off distance.
The return game is just as unimpressive. The Dolphins are averaging just 17.6 per kick return - good for 31st in the league. And now we even saw Davone Bess put the ball on the ground last week for what could have resulted in a costly turnover if not for some great defensive play.
Statistically, the Dolphins are a little better at punt returning - ranking 20th in the NFL with an 8.9 yard average. But even so, we all can see the problems that our punt returners have, at times muffing the catch, while misjudging some balls and letting them bounce when they shouldn't at other times. Clearly, improvement is needed.
Of course, Tony Sparano realizes this, too. But what can he do?
I think that one thing would be to let Ted Ginn return the kick-offs. That would allow him to use his long speed and provide the Dolphins with game-breaking potential in the return game. We all know he was explosive as a returner in college and he even returned one last season (with two more returns being called back). So what's the worst that could happen with Teddy back there? I think the change has to be made.
-I've been very impressed with Matt Roth - especially this past Sunday. But let's not go crazy here, folks. He had a sack, 1.5 tackles for loss, and a few more QB pressures. That's nice and all, but some people seem to think he's the second coming. I need to see consistency before I completely hop on board the "Matt Roth bandwagon."
-Chad Pennington. What more can I say? I still feel like an idiot for ever arguing his signing. He's exactly what this team needed.
-Renaldo Hill is getting overlooked. Is it any coincidence that he's been the starting free safety for two weeks and, combined, the opposition has thrown for just 279 yards? He's the leader and the communicator that this secondary needs back there as "QB of the secondary."
-I really hope that Chad Henne is absorbing every little nugget of knowledge that he possibly can from Chad Pennington. If he is, this franchise will be in good hands for years.