are different perspectives on the preseason.
want to evaluate individual players, and combinations of players, without
losing anyone to major injury. They’ll put in a plan for one game to see how
the whole functions together. Winning is secondary.
want to hone their games and make the final roster, all while avoiding injury.
want to see their team in midseason form.
barely tolerate the whole thing; they don’t want to have to work one second of
guess this means that everyone came away happy in the Dolphins’ 11-10 win over
most important thing for the Dolphins was to demonstrate some improvement on
offense, especially with the starters, both at an individual and unit level.
the Chiefs, they accomplished that.
Trent Green was more accurate than he had been, with every single pass in a
catchable spot. He was victimized on the first drive by drops, but it was clear
he had his stuff. So clear, in fact, that Cam Cameron pulled him after just two
drives; he had seen all he needed, and the benefit versus the risk of playing
him further just wasn’t there.
Lemon relieved Green and performed adequately, though it’s fair to question if
John Beck is now challenging Lemon for the back-up job. One gets the sense that
the so-called open starting quarterback competition will have an all-too-predictable
Ronnie Brown got the ball quite a bit for a preseason game (15 touches), even
seeing action as a kick returner. On the ground he racked up 57 yards on 13
carries and almost broke one for a score.
and more, it seems as though Brown could fully realize his potential in this
new offense. It bears repeating that he is the team’s best offensive player.
Running, catching, blocking…he does it all and does it well.
course the offensive line will have a lot to say about Brown’s effectiveness,
and they also played better this week. Quarterbacks had ample time to throw,
and runners had lanes to exploit. Thus far into the preseason, it seems as
though the starting five will end up being Vernon Carey (LT), Chris Liewienski
(LG), Samson Satele (C), Rex Hadnot (RG), and Anthony Alabi (RG). Liewienski
has looked much better than rookie Drew Mormino, who just isn’t ready for prime
big question mark (in the literal sense) is L.J. Shelton. If Shelton can get his weight back under
control, he could easily get himself back into the starting mix. Alabi needs to stay sharp if he wants to keep
to Carey for a moment, because he’s acquitted himself pretty well thus far and
seems to be justifying the faith placed in him to guard Green’s blindside. Against
the Chiefs, Carey was quick, used his arms well, and showed good strength in
the run game. He wasn’t perfect, but he wasn’t nearly as bad as he was when he
first tried to play LT.
not a stretch to say that, right now, Carey is the team’s best offensive
lineman. If he can continue to improve, the line will be much better than it
was last year. The signs thus far are most encouraging.
Chambers and Marty Booker were very quiet in this game. In fact, no WR caught
more than one ball apiece. What this means is not entirely clear, though it could
just be that Cameron is keeping all but the most basic elements of the offense
under wraps for the time being.
David Martin dropped a ball early but made up for it with some solid blocking
and a couple of nice catches. Martin looks better in the ground game than some
people suggested he would. Credit Martin for working hard, but also give credit
to TE coach Mike Mularkey (who knows a little bit about playing the position).
Cory Schlesinger is a load inside as a blocker; linebackers have a tough time
shedding him. As a game wears on, he will be a difference maker.
next major milepost for the starting offense is August 25 when they face the
Buccaneers at Dolphin Stadium. Cameron is likely to implement a formal gameplan
for this third preseason game. We’ll see how the starters handle it.
let’s move on to the defense. We’re not quite a month into it, yet it is hard
not to be impressed with the level of play given the absence of Jason Taylor,
Zach Thomas, Keith “Truck” Traylor, and Joey Porter. All but Porter are being
held out to avoid injury.
really stood out is the play of the defensive line sans Taylor and Truck. At defensive tackle, Vonnie
Holliday has picked up right where he left off last year. He looks terrific, a
real pain-in-the-neck to block. He and Traylor are going to be one of the best
DT tandems in the league, giving the Dolphins great flexibility to show
multiple 4-3 looks in addition to the 3-4. This will be very tough for
opponents to prepare for.
rookie Paul Soliai is proving that he has the goods. It’s still early, but he
may be the best rookie interior lineman we’ve seen since Daryl Gardener. He’s
Fifita, Chase Page, and Kevin Vickerson are also proving they can play. Page,
in particular, was disruptive against the Chiefs. Cameron and Dom Capers will
have some very tough choices to make here when cutdowns are due.
DE, depth behind starters Taylor and Matt Roth continues to be a concern. But
again, young prospects appear to be stepping up to the challenge.
out, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila has been getting the starting nod. He’s held his own
very well, recording three tackles and, with Holliday, contributing to a sack of
old friend Damon Huard. The only blemish was a roughing penalty on Huard in the
second quarter, though it’s hard not to salute AKB’s aggressiveness on the
Wright has proven that he is all the way back from his shoulder surgery. Last
year’s second seventh round pick looks quick and shows good power and leverage
against the run. He had two solo tackles.
biggest surprise, however, has been the emergence of another seventh round pick,
rookie Abraham Wright. He has already drawn extraordinary praise
from veterans with his ability to rush the passer. His burst off the edge is
very obvious. For now, expect that Abraham Wright will be worked into the
rotation at times as a situational pass rusher and special teamer while the
rest of his game matures.
special teams, the Dolphins appear to be in good shape at kicker and punter.
Jay Feely seems to be very accurate and shows good distance on kickoffs. Rookie
Brandon Fields got a lot of work in the game (7 punts). His leg strength is
most impressive, especially the hang time he gets on his kicks. However, he is
still refining his technique, which he loses at times, and needs to improve the
speed of his release.
teams are a bit disappointing right now, but that will change once cuts start
happening and better players take up those positions.
won’t be changing are the kick and punt returners. Cameron has made up his mind
to use Jesse Chatman and Brown as his kick returners, while utilizing Ted Ginn,
Jr solely as a punt returner. Given Ginn’s proficiency as a returner, this decision
is pretty surprising.
again, it makes perfect sense if the idea is to give Ginn a lot of reps on
offense once the season begins.
now, one thing Ginn must remember is that, as fast as he is, it is very
difficult to outrun NFL players to the edge. He would be much better off going
north and south. It would also help if his blockers would actually block
will improve, as will his teammates. At the midpoint of the exhibition season,
the Dolphins took an important step in developing into a good team. Three more
weeks of solid progress, and then the real fun can begin.