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Monday Morning Thoughts

Well thank goodness that's over!  No more Dolphin-less football Sunday's until January - at the earliest, of course.  But the bye week did enjoy us all to enjoy a stress-free Sunday, if nothing else.

Next Sunday, the Chargers come down to Miami and will look to win their 3rd game in a row after defeating the Raiders 28-18 yesterday.  In that game, the Chargers erased a 12-point deficit to start the 4th quarter and will head into next week with a lot of confidence and with a ton of momentum.  Perhaps that's why the odds-makers have set the opening line for next week's game at 7 points.  Yes, the Chargers are 7-point favorites next week in Miami.

Now some might think that's a rather large point spread considering the Chargers are just a half game better in the standings than the Dolphins - and the game is in Miami.  But I disagree.  This is a league where you have to earn respect and one upset win over the Patriots isn't going to do it.  The Chargers, on the other hand, have been one of the best teams in the AFC for a few years now and are 2 plays away from being a 4-0 team (and if the refs didn't completely blow a call in the Denver/SD game, they'd at least be 3-1).  So no, 7 points is about right - maybe even a bit low.

So what do we know about the Chargers?  First and foremost, they can put points on the board.  No team has scored more than San Diego's 138 through these first 4 weeks of the season.  And they can score in a hurry - putting 25 points up on Oakland the 4th quarter.

Watching yesterday's game, I'll be honest and tell you that I'm more worried about San Diego's passing attack than I am of LaDainian Tomlinson and their ground game.  Don't get me wrong - Tomlinson is truly a great back.  But I'm more confident in the Dolphins' ability to stop the run.  Slowing SD's passing attack isn't going to be easy.  They have the kind of pass-catchers who give this secondary fits: those big, strong receivers.  Vincent Jackson and his height will be one problem.  Antonio Gates will be another.  And there were numerous occasions where the Chargers actually split Gates out wide, including on his TD reception.  The Dolphins will have to figure out how to successfully defend that.  Oh, and how ironic would it be for Chris Chambers - in his return to Miami - to put on a show.  Ugh!

What the Raiders were able to do for 3 quarters to keep San Diego's offense in check was get pressure on Philip Rivers.  Oakland sacked Rivers 4 times in the first 3 quarters while also pressuring him on a number of other occasions.  But they didn't get nearly as much pressure on Rivers in the 4th, and that was an issue.  Rivers is a gutty, gritty, accurate QB who can eat you up if you allow him.  A performance out of Joey Porter next week like we saw last week would go a long way towards giving the Fins a much better chance to pull off a second straight upset.

One week later, and we still can't stop talking about the "Wildcat" formation.  You'll remember that during last week's "post-game press conference," Tony Sparano said that they've just scratched the surface of what the Dolphins can do out of this formation.  Justin Smiley said the same thing during Friday's conference call.  And possibly as soon as Sunday, we might have a better idea as to what these guys mean.

Of course, we can take a guess.  Many have been thinking that Ted Ginn, a former QB in high school, could get involved in the formation.  After all, he took some direct snaps in at Ohio State as well - even connecting on a 38-yard TD pass his senior season (which you can watch here).  Said Ginn of the possibility:

"I always could deliver the ball. I tried to show coach in camp. I really put it on the money. It's up to them."

Davone Bess could also get involved in the formation.  He's a quick, shifty runner who also was a high school QB.  So the possibilities are endless.

However, there's also a very good chance that the "Wildcat" doesn't make any appearance on Sunday against San Diego.  Without question, the Chargers will spend some time on how to defend against the formation this week at practice.  But also keep in mind that they likely also spent some time last week in practice on defending the formation.  Why?  Because the Raiders, featuring Darren McFadden - who often ran the formation last season at Arkansas - used a very similar formation against the Bills a week ago.

Therefore, there's a chance that we won't even see the "Wildcat" next week.  But the fact that the Chargers will have to at least spend some time in practice preparing for the formation provides a competitive advantage for the Dolphins regardless of if they actually use the formation.