The Dolphins continued their mistake-prone, sloppy ways on
Thursday night, committing 6 turnovers and 12 penalties on their way
to a 24-7 drubbing at the hands of the New Orleans Saints. After the
poor performance on Monday against the Bucs, it was hoped that the
Dolphins would regroup and play better against the Saints, but the
opposite happened as the Dolphins looked as if they hadn't had a day
of practice since January.
The first quarter was not quite as disaster, as the Miami
defense did a pretty good job containing the Saints offense, even
without Zach Thomas or Larry Chester in the lineup. The only Saints'
points came off an interception by Jay Fiedler. The offense, however,
did virtually nothing except turn the ball over.
It was the second quarter where the wheels completely came off
the bus. Jay Fiedler threw two more interceptions that were resulted
in 7 points and the Saints blocked a punt when Travis Minor missed a
block and the punt was returned for a touchdown.
The only saving grace of the entire first half was Ray Lucas'
play in the 2-minute drill before the half, where he crisply moved the
team down the field for a touchdown on a pass to Randy McMichael.
McMichael caught the pass and leaped over two defenders into the
endzone. It was a high-lite reel play.
Jay Fiedler and the rest of the first team offense played for
most of the first half, up until the last 2 minutes, when Ray Lucas
came in. On defense, Larry Chester and Zach Thomas did not play at
all, with Justin Seaverns starting in place of Zach. Tim Bowens left
the game early with a toe injury, but it's not believed to be
In the second half it was 3rd string time and the Dolphins did
not improve their play. Tim Levcik threw 2 interceptions in the 2nd
half and was unable to move the offense for any points. The defense
played fairly well, but gave up a 10 play touchdown drive in the 4th
Special teams play was mixed, with some good returns by Robert
Baker and Albert Johnson, but too many penalties on formations and, of
course, the blocked punt for a touchdown.
There is very little to take away from this game, other than
the fact that the Dolphins were almost completely unprepared. About
the only use the Dolphins can get out of this game is as an object
lesson of what happens when you're unprepared.
There was some good stuff, although you have to look hard to
First of all, there was the overall play of the first string
defense. Without Zach Thomas, Larry Chester or Tim Bowens for most of
the game and with 3rd string linebacker Justin Seaverns starting in
place of Zach, they did a pretty good job stopping the Saints'
Deuce McAllister ran for 3.8 ypc against the Dolphins and his
longest run was 10 yards. While not exactly a shutdown, Miami's
containment of McAllister was not bad.
The pass defense was also pretty good. The Saints ended the
game with less than 100 total passing yards and Shawn Wooden picked
off Aaron Brooks once.
On offense, the only bright spot was the 2-minute drill at the
end of the first half. Lucas looked calm, cool and collected while
driving the team down the field for a touchdown. This drive was
mostly about Randy McMichael, who caught 3 of the 4 passes completed
and accounted for 39 of the 57 yard drive, including the touchdown.
On special teams, there was one bright spot - the punt return
game. Between Robert Baker and Albert Johnson, the Dolphins averaged
13.6 yards per punt return, which is outstanding. And that doesn't
count one 30 yard return by Albert Johnson that was called back for a
THINGS TO WORK ON:
Jay Fiedler looked absolutely terrible, completing 9 of 18
passes for 83 yards and 3 interceptions. The balls were under- or
overthrown on almost every pass. He also fumbled on a sack.
However, the offensive line didn't give him any help. While
Fiedler was only sacked once, he was pressured on nearly every play
and hammered repeatedly. The offensive line didn't give the running
backs any help, either, not opening any holes for Ricky, Robert
Edwards or Travis Minor. Things got a little better in the 2nd half,
but not much.
Ray Lucas looked great in the 1:07 he played in the first
half, providing Miami with it's only offense of the game. He wasn't
quite as crisp at the beginning of the 2nd half, but at least he
didn't turn the ball over.
Tim Levcik, whom I had high hopes for, turned in a miserable
performance, completing only 5 of 22 passes for 61 yards and throwing
Ricky Williams carried 8 times for only 17 yards and caught 2
passes for 10 yards, but without any blocking in front of him, it's
hard to know if this means anything.
Robert Edwards carried 3 times for just 4 yards before his
groin tightened up again. This will raise concerns about his
durability, which must be answered if he is going to make the team.
However, one of his runs was a 4th down conversion that kept the
touchdown drive alive, so he had at least one good play.
Randy McMichael was easily the star of the game, catching 4
passes for 48 yards and the only touchdown. With this performance,
McMichael claimed himself a spot on the starting roster ahead of Jed
Chris Chambers and Oronde Gadsden each contributed a little,
but didn't make any big plays.
Robert Baker and Albert Johnson, who are locked in a dead heat
for a roster spot, caught 3 passes between them, although none of the
catches were significant. However, on return duty, both players had
some very impressive punt and kickoff returns. It will be a difficult
choice for Coach Wannstedt to decide which one to keep.
On defense, Justin Seaverns started in place of Zach Thomas as
the middle linebacker and ended the night with 9 total tackles and a
pass defensed. It was a tough assignment for the rookie and he did a
pretty good job. He struggled a little bit early, but he picked up
his play as the game went on.
Joshua Symonette also had a pretty good night, getting 7 total
tackles. He got extra playing time because Zach Thomas, Tommy
Hendricks and Scott Galyon were all sidelined.
Shawn Wooden had a good night, coming up with Miami's only
interception and getting in on a special teams tackle.
Scott McGarrahan had 3 tackles, knocked down 2 passes, and
recovered a fumble, which should help him in his bid to make the team
over Trent Gamble, who only had 1 tackle.
And DT Henry Taylor knocked down two passes.
Other than those players, the rest of the defense played well,
but didn't do anything particularly noteworthy.
Adewale Ogunleye did not do much to justify his placement in
the starting rotation after his 4 sack performance against the Bucs.
He only had one tackle in this game.
On special teams, Mark Royals did have one punt blocked, but
that was not his fault. Besides that, he averaged 45.8 yards per
punt, which is pretty good.
His backup, Casey Roussel, shanked his only punt for 17 yards
and will probably be looking for a new job in a couple of weeks.
Tim Bowens injured his toe in the first quarter and did not
return. It is probably not serious, but I have heard nothing further
The DOlphins went into this game trying to improve on Monday
night's performance with the Bucs and instead, came out with an even
worse performance and a quarterback controvsery.
While I am not a pessimist about the Dolphins, this game was
hardly the kind of performance to inspire confidence in anyone.
Nevertheless, I am willing to let it go as "just a pre-season game",
because, after all, that is exactly what it is.
It doesn't mean anything.
Unfortunately, due to Dave Wannstedt's well meaning but poorly
timed decision to replace Jay Fiedler at the end of the first half,
the team is left with a quarterback controversy. Coach Wannstedt
should have left Fiedler in and let him finish the half. Removing him
in favor of Lucas at the time he did it was a mistake.
Of course, the team might still have a controversy if Fiedler
had stayed in, but it wouldn't be as bad as it is if Lucas hadn't shown
how good he can be right after Jay looked so bad. Lucas made Jay
look even worse than he already did.
Now, Coach Wannstedt will deny that he has a quarterback
controversy and has been defending his quarterback vigorously, but the
mere fact that he has to state that Jay Fiedler is still his number 1
quarterback means that he does have a quarterback controversy.
Personally, I'm going to give the Dolphins one more game to
iron things out. If they don't look significantly better against
Texans, then I'll really start to worry. But with 9 days to get
things cleaned up, I believe that they will be much better on
As for Jay Fiedler, I've been a luke-warm Fiedler defender
since he came to Miami, but I've come to the conclusion that Jay
doesn't have very good control over this throws. I don't think it's a
function of raw arm strength, because he can hurl the ball down the
field, but he sometimes seems to have a hard time putting the ball
where it should go.
Hopefully, he'll get this problem straightened out soon,
because a quarterback controversy could kill the Dolphins' season just
as surely as injuries.