LIKE: Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. I was worried that
Ronnie would be slow out of the gates, having just healed from a serious foot
injury. Happily, he looks as spry as ever. And Ricky continues to defy the
rules for a 33 year old RB; he is still a force.
DISLIKE: The season-ending injury to Kory Sheets. I
would have liked to see him push Lex Hilliard in training camp. Unfortunately, Hillard
really hasn't had much competition for his job this preseason. He could have
used some. The Dolphins will also miss Sheets as a kick returner.
Henne's improvement. It's obvious that he is a better QB this year. Touch
passing, though still a bit deliberate, is much better. Footwork is smoother.
Decision-making has been good for the most part, with a red zone pick against
the Falcons the only truly ugly blemish on his preseason work. Henne put the offseason to good use.
DISLIKE: The way the local media has been reporting the Pat
White story. Look, it's very clear that White hasn't been impressing people for
most of camp. But it is also clear that "something" is bothering him.
Itís the only explanation relative to his talents, which are considerable.
Perhaps itís personal in nature; we donít know. What we do know is that the guy
had a tremendous offseason and is clearly improved with his passing and
physical stature, as we saw against the Falcons. He may not make the team in
the end, but I wish the media wouldnít be so quick to beat him down.
LIKE: Ikeaika Alama-Francis. The more I watch him, the
more I like his game. He's really active and looks to be a better option than
rookie Koa Misi at the Sam position. That's not to say I dislike Misi, but he
doesn't seem ready for full time duty yet. Letís see how Tony Sparano decides
to use Alama-Francis.
DISLIKE: The overall lack of productivity from the rookie LB
class in general. The Dolphins spent half their 2010 draft picks on linebackers
and they havenít been very productive thus far. Misi looks lost at times,
Austin Spitler and Chris McCoy have not impressed on special teams, and AJ Edds
is out for the season with a knee injury. Ironically, undrafted rookie Micah
Johnson is the one who has impressed the most.
LIKE: Brandon Marshall. I knew he was a force, but I
didn't realize how well-rounded his game truly is. I am particularly impressed
with his blocking skills, an understated quality in NFL WRs. Of course there's
the route running and the elusiveness, both of which are superior. And he is
very tough to tackle one-on-one.
DISLIKE: The play of the WR corps this preseason. Too many
drops, bad routes, and other mistakes. Very sloppy, especially for a veteran
LIKE: Chris Clemons. Last season we saw his range and ball
skills, but we also saw inexperience. This year "he knows", as
Sparano put it. I look forward to watching him play. He is going to be a good
DISLIKE: Will Allen's knee injury. Clearly, he just wasn't
ready to return. When healthy, Allenís presence gives Mike Nolan more options
on coverages, dogs, and blitzes. Can newcomer Benny Sapp get the job done
in the interim?
LIKE: Randy Starks. I was skeptical of the decision to
move Starks to DT. Not anymore. His quickness is going to be a big problem for
interior linemen, especially as games wear on. This will open up opportunities
for other guys across the front seven to apply pressure and, hopefully, make
DISLIKE: The lack of pressure on the QB from the base
defense. This is problem the Dolphins created for themselves when they let Joey
Porter and Jason Taylor go, and moved Starks inside. No one is stepping up
right now. Not good.
LIKE: Jared Odrick. I didnít think the Dolphins top draft
pick was capable of winning a starting job as a rookie. I was wrong, and not
just because Phillip Merling was lost for the season. Odrick looks like he
belongs at RE; heís active and shows good burst and stoutness. He has a ways to
go yet, and Sparano will have to put up with the mistakes he will surely make. But
Odrick is a guy who will get better as the season rolls on.
Merling. His problems on and off the
field are frustrating, and weíve got to start worrying if this is another
second round draft pick gone bust. The Dolphins sure could use him this year.
LIKE: Mike Nolanís defense. By all accounts he has his
guys primed for some impactful work. We wonít see but a sliver of what he has
planned until the season opener, which is as it should be. Still, Iím very
impressed by what we have seen thus far. Nolanís reputation surely precedes
DISLIKE: John Bonamegoís special teams. Once again his
special teams arenít very special. This is the third year in a row we are
talking about this. Why is that? For some reason, the dogs just arenít eating
what he is serving.
LIKE: Signing TE David Martin. The Dolphins really helped themselves by bringing
Martin back. Martin allows them to run a more potent two TE offense, as we saw
in 2008 when he became one of Chad Penningtonís favorite targets. And he looks
to be healthy again, though still out of ideal football shape.
Trading away Ted Ginn, Jr. I still fail to see what the Dolphins gained by
trading Ginn away. He was an impact returner and could have been a nice
compliment to Brandon Marshall in multiple WR sets. Proponents of the trade
maintain that Nolan Carroll is better (Carrollís the guy the Dolphins drafted
with the pick they received from the 49ers in exchange for Ginn). But thatís
not the case today, on defense or as a kick returner.
Long and Vernon
Carey. These two have a chance to go down as the greatest pair of tackles in
team history. Yeah, theyíre that good.
DISLIKE: Sparanoís game of musical
chairs at the guard and center position. Never have I seen him more unsure than
he has been this year in naming his interior line starters. Itís really out of
character for him. Sometimes you can stare at a problem so long and so
microcosmically that you lose the big picture. In this case, the continuity of
the offensive line and the offense as a whole is suffering from Sparanoís
indecisiveness. Another four quarters of play against Dallas wonít tell Sparano any more than he
already knows. He needs to decide, like yesterday.