Miami Dolphins 38 - New England Patriots 13
Wow. I didn't think I'd be typing those words anytime soon. I'm don't really know if I'm more shocked or more excited. Luckily, I can be both. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I've been this satisfied following a Dolphins game. Damn, it's a great feeling.
Let's get to the headlines.
"WILDCAT" MAKES ITS DEBUT IN A BIG WAY
The entire NFL world was introduced on Sunday to the "Wildcat" formation. That's what the Dolphins refer to it as. And as somebody pointed out in the game thread and in a FanPost, it is indeed the same formation that the University of Arkansas ran last season when they had RBs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones - both 1st round picks in last April's draft. And yes, Dolphins' QB coach David Lee was the offensive coordinator at Arkansas in 2007.
This article really talks more about the birth of the formation - at least as far as the Dolphins are concerned. Long story short, it was David Lee who worked with Tony Sparano (and Dan Henning, I'm sure) to install this formation and experiment with it. They practiced it extensively on Wednesday and we all saw the results on Sunday up in Foxborough.
So when giving credit, I think the entire offensive coaching staff deserves some credit. Sparano and Lee for devising this formation, and Henning for having the guts to use the formation often. Now, however, it'll be interesting to see what happens next. There's no doubt in my mind that teams will watch these plays over and over on film in preparation for the Dolphins. Will this formation be as effective when teams know it's coming? Sure, the Pats couldn't adjust to it at halftime, as the formation continued to work in the 2nd half. But what about with a week to prepare? We'll find out in 13 days when the Chargers come to South Florida.
DON'T EVER DOUBT RONNIE BROWN
It was pointed out by many of you that the start if last season mirrored the start of this season heading into Sunday's game. And that's especially true of Ronnie Brown's situation. Fans again began doubting him. Last year, he followed quieted the critics by running for 200+ yards and tallying 3 touchdowns. This year? He ran for 113 and totaled 5 touchdowns. What have we learned? Stop doubting Ronnie Brown. Just stop it!!
It's amazing what Ronnie can do when he has some lanes to run through. It's almost a thing of beauty to watch Ronnie run when there's some openings for him to run through. He runs powerful and borderline angry. He shows tremendous vision when he's "in his zone" and always finishes his runs with power.
And who knew he could throw a pass like that - especially while on the run and with a defender right in his face? To answer the question that UPS always asks: Brown can do it all!
OFFENSIVE LINE FINALLY PLAYS UP TO POTENTIAL
You'll remember that one of my "burning questions" was if this offensive line - which was supposed to be the backbone of the offense - would finally play up to their potential. The answer is a resounding "yes."
Against one of the top defensive lines in the NFL, and one of the most veteran defenses in the league, this relatively young and inexperienced offensive line proved that they can indeed be great. That's exactly what they were on Sunday. The continually opened up holes for the running game, whether it was in the "Wildcat" formation or in am ore standard formation. And they kept Chad Pennington virtually untouched all game, allowing him to have a very efficient day.
MY MESSAGE TO JOEY PORTER: I APOLOGIZE
Alright. I admit it. I was wrong. I was one of those to criticize Joey Porter for mouthing off this week. His shots at Matt Cassel during the week were kind of out of nowhere. But I really didn't get how Porter basically guaranteed the Dolphins would get their first win against the Pats. Now I get it.
Porter played like a man possessed. He had to be double-teamed on a number of occasions. and he still tallied 6 tackles, 3 sacks, and a forced fumble (which Phillip Merling recovered). Somebody must have forgotten to tell Porter that he's not a 26-year old LB in Pittsburgh anymore. Why? Because this was the first time I really remember seeing the "old Joey" come out wearing a Dolphins uniform. It's a thing of beauty.
Again, Mr. Porter, I do apologize. Please don't come to my house and sack me.
1ST DOWN EFFICIENCY
We spoke last week about the importance of having success on 1st down. So it's probably not a coincidence that the Dolphins scored 38 points on Sunday in a game where they had tons of success on 1st down. They ran 26 "1st & 10" plays in this game. Only 9 of them were for a gain of 3 yards or less. That means 17 "1st & 10" plays went for at least 4 yards. That puts you in manageable 3rd down situations. Of the Dolphins 9 3rd down situations, 5 of them were "3rd & 3" or less. That's how you sustain drives.
Of course, it also helps when 6 "1st & 10" plays go for 15 yards or more.
-What can you say about this coaching staff? They needed to get a "W" like this just to help get the players to buy into what they are preaching day in and day out. And today, Tony Sparano and his crew simply out-coached Bill Belichick. That's simply awesome.
-What a performance by this Miami secondary. Sure, they were helped by the pressure that the front 7 applied on Cassel. But to keep Randy Moss as quiet as they did is impressive. Oh, and it's safe to say that Renaldo Hill is locked in as the starting free safety. He was 2nd on the team with 7 tackles. And was it just a coincidence that no big pass play was allowed today after Hill was inserted into the starting lineup? I don't think so.
-Kudos to the receivers for making some plays. Greg Camarillo really stepped up and showed me that he is probably better than we give him credit for. And the much-maligned Ted Ginn even made some appearances - catching 5 balls for 49 yards, including 2 that went for 15+ yards. He'll come around. Just give him some time.
Is anybody else pissed that the Dolphins now have a bye week next week? Wouldn't you like to see this team carry the momentum back home to face the Chargers a week after this big win - not two weeks? Oh well. I guess it's good to go into the bye with a big win under your belt.
But please, let's keep the expectations in check. This is a great win. But don't think for a moment that this is a playoff team. Let's see the Dolphins sustain their high level of play for 2 or 3 games in a row. If - and that's a big "if" - the Dolphins can defeat the Chargers in two weeks, then it might be time to fire up the ".500" bandwagon. But not just yet, folks.
So what are you all feeling right now? Let out your excitement below, guys and gals...