What can I really say other than just stating the obvious? This team stinks. They stunk last season. And they might be even worse this season.
But here's the thing. This was to be expected. Things weren't going to change overnight simply because of a new regime and some new players. That's not how this works. Sure, there are times when bad teams surprise the next year. But let's face facts: the Dolphins lack talent. But I didn't think things would be this bad, to be honest.
So let's get to the headlines from Sunday's debacle:
SWISS CHEESE SECONDARY
Did Tony Sparano really say a few months ago that this secondary pleasantly surprised him when he watched the tape from 2007? Seriously? Because the Cardinals simply made that group look like little boys among men. The Dolphins couldn't do anything to slow down Arizona's passing attack. And let's be honest; if the Cards wanted to, they probably could have scored 50+ points today. Andre Goodman simply looked silly out there. Chris Crocker apparently doesn't know how to tackle. And Will Allen, the best corner on the team, couldn't do much to slow down Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, either. I think the 75-yard pass play to Fitzgerald in the 1st quarter was a good example of what Allen's problem is. He was right there with Larry, but he struggles playing the ball when the ball is in the air. Fitzgerald just uses his size and athleticism to bring that ball in and break away. At least Allen showed good hustle in getting up and chasing down Fitzgerald from behind.
And you have to wonder exactly what the coaching staff, Sparano and defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni specifically, did all week when game-planning. Because I don't understand how Boldin gets matched up with a linebacker without safety help on that 1st possession by Arizona. I don't care if it was a mental mistake by some players. It's the coaches job to prepare these guys. Today, the defense looked completely unprepared.
COACHES DESERVE CRITICISM
Last season, everybody wanted to blame Cam Cameron for how unprepared the Dolphins looked. Everyone also blamed Cameron for all of the mental mistakes, missed assignments, and penalties that the players committed. And that's fine because it is the coaching staff's job to prepare the players. A lack of discipline is a reflection of the coaches - or so many say.
So now it's time to call out Tony Sparano and his coaches. Besides having their team totally unprepared for this game, their players made too many mental mistakes. They missed assignments on defense. And the penalties were completely unacceptable. How do you get called for 12 men on the field on a FG attempt? That's just ridiculous and is completely the coaches' fault. And rather than missing a FG, that drive ended with a TD by the Cardinals - opening up a 24 point lead with 10 minutes left in the 3rd and essentially ending the game.
Oh, and incase you weren't paying attention, the Dolphins got called for 12 men on the field a second time later in the game. But the Cardinals declined the penalty because they picked up 20 yards on a Warner-to-Fitzgerald connection. Yeah, even with 12 men on the field, this defense was inept.
All in all, the Dolphins tallied 6 penalties, with at least 3 more being called on Miami but were declined. Lack of discipline much? I thought that this new regime was supposed to change the culture. All I'm seeing is much of the same - at least from my perspective.
PENNINGTON STRUGGLES; HENNE DEBUTS
Alright. So let's get to this topic because I know this will be debated all week long.
No, Chad Henne should not start next week against the Patriots.
Sure, Henne was solid in his debut today - during garbage time, of course. He got one drive, completed 7 of 12 passes for 67 yards, and should have had a TD pass but Ronnie Brown dropped a pass in the endzone (that was thrown behind Brown). Regardless, Brown still capped the drive with a TD run. And so Henne did his job - led his team to a touchdown. But the Cardinals were playing a very soft umbrella, "prevent-style" defense. Henne had passing lanes that Chad Pennington simply did not have either last week or this week.
With that said, Henne completed some strong throws that I don't think Pennington could have made due to his lack of arm strength. And I do feel that Pennington's weak arm does cost this offense because defenders play to defend the short-to-intermediate passing game.
However, it makes no sense to throw Henne to the wolves this early in his career. Did we not see what happened to John Beck last season when he was put in a tough situation? Why do that to Henne. It's stupid. How about we let this offensive line gel some more before we stick our potential QB of the future on the field.
A few more things from this game:
-The run defense was much better, holding Edgerrin James and Tim Hightower to just 2.82 ypc. Randy Starks and Jason Ferguson were two who were very active in stopping the ground game.
-The pass rush really was non-existent for most of the game. That's a major concern.
-Ronnie Brown really does look good - in terms of how he's moving around. It doesn't seem like his knee is bothering him at all. And damn, he runs angry, doesn't he? Now we just have to get this offensive line to open some holes.
-Speaking of the OL, I know it's going to take time to gel. But they just don't open up running lanes for Ricky and Ronnie. And even Jake Long has failed to impress me - not only due to a lack of running lanes but also because he got beat for the 2nd week in a row for a sack.
-Brandon Fields had a terrific day punting. He only had one punt that wasn't effective. All the others traveled long distances and/or landed inside Arizona's 15.
-The receivers still can't seem to make any plays. But I have to question the way the coaching staff is using Ted Ginn. First of all, he has to be out there much more often. After all, he won't learn and progress if he isn't on the field. Secondly, and more importantly, why do the coaches refuse to a) put Ginn in motion to help him beat the jam; and b) make Ginn the primary return man. I don't get it.
If you've made it this far through my incoherent ramblings, kudos to you. The only thing I have left to say is that we all need to take a deep breath and relax. This is what rebuilding is all about. The first step is building solid lines. The offensive line is a work in progress with a high ceiling. Let's give them time to gel. The defensive line is already improved, but will get better as the young guys like Phillip Merling and Kendall Langford gain more and more experience.
Then this upcoming offeason, I'm sure we'll see the front office go after improving the secondary and the receivers. But you can't do it all in one offseason. And things will be ugly here in Miami for quite a while. Just buckle down and be patient. Most importantly, don't watch the games with any expectations at all. That way, if the team plays well, you'll be that much more excited. But if they play like they did against Arizona, you'll be prepared and can just move on.