I find this team somewhat difficult to pin down. We have good qualities and bad and I'm not sure which side to look at when describing the Dolphin team of 2005. It seems that if everything clicked we could make a run at the playoffs which would be absolutely amazing. On the other hand if Shulters doesnt make that pick against the Panthers we're 1-3. Other than week 1 we havent had a good game overall. Even that game is hard to judge in that 3/4 of the Denver secondary was dehydrated or hurt as were several defensive linemen and Mike Anderson was out. Did we just get lucky with our 2 wins or are we unlucky with our two losses? Its a strange season so far and I guess the way we look at our Dolphins is whether you're a glass half full or glass half empty person.
Glass Half Full
Our defense is playing great overall. Though our secondary is a bit weak, Saban has done a masterful job of limiting other teams ability to exploit it. Our secondary stepped up in the Buffalo game and there is reason to believe that we may have an average secondary instead of a horrible secondary. Travis Daniels in the slot seemed to work pretty well against the Bills and the safeties seemed to have a good game. Madison has lost a step but when guarding the receiver on the sideline he seems to be ok. Our defense seems to be pretty tough against the run, and we may be able to maintain a top 5 run stopping defense throughout the season. In short our defense, once again, will be called upon to keep us in every game and once again it seems they are up to the challenge
Our offense after sputtering through the first half seemed to get some spark at the end of the 3rd and all through the 4th and almost was able to complete a comeback on a desperate team at their home.
Our offensive line has moved into the halfway decent category. The run blocking was hit or miss but the pass protection was there throughout the game until it became obvious that we were in passing situations and the defensive linemen didnt have to worry about the run and could just pin their ears back and rush upfield.
Ronnie Brown improved again and has showed on several plays why he was a top 10 draft pick. The fumble at the end was just one of those plays that happen in a physical game. It was a great helmet on football hit. The only way Ronnie couldve prevented that is if he just fell down in front of the first defender and didnt try to fight mfor more yards. I dont think we want Ronnie to do that. He still hesitates on some plays but he cut that down dramatically and I also like the physical whacks he gave on a couple of plays to finish off runs
Our receivers were apparently getting open throughout the game. Not being at the game and being forced to watch it on tv its a little tough to judge, but that's the reports that several people have stated so that's a positive too.
Gus had a rough 3 qrtrs but finally seemed to settle down and when he's clicking we have an effective offense. The pass to Mcmichael was a beauty as were two other deep and semi deep passses. He's had three bad game in a row so if we're going by his history he's due for a good game and Tampa Bay should play into his strengths. Tampa likes to play soft cover two so the underneath stuff should be open all day long
If we can improve the mistakes and get everyone playing mistake free football and play up to their abilities 9-7 is not out of the question
Glass Half Empty
The penalties were unbelievable. 15 different players committed them so it wasnt just one guy but the entire team who's at fault. Saban has to address this now. I dont know what the breakdown was but false starts and defensive offsides have to stop. I can take the holding and pass interference penalties. That stuff happens but the mental ones have to stop. Saban and company have to put everything else on the bench and address this now. This is four games of this crap and its reached the stage of ridiculousness
Our defense started slow. We are going to need them for an entire 60 minutes and they cant have these slow starts. They had trouble stopping the run in the first half and due to the fact that Buffalo went into a type of prevent offense in the second I'm not sure our ability to stiop the run in the 2nd is indicative of our ability. The secondary improved but was it because we played Holcomb? We play the Chiefs in a couple of weeks and that could get ugly if yesterday was just a mirage.
Our receivers need to fight for balls. They are too soft when going up with a defensive back. It also seems as if the occasional dropped pass is something we are all going to have to live with. At this stage of the season, I dont know what you can do to fix the problem.
Ronnie still hesitates but not as much as he used to. He needs to just go and hit the hole or line when the hole isnt there.
Our offensive line has definitely improved but I put them somewhere around 20th in the league right now which leaves alot of room for improvement. We are good in pass protection when the other team isnt sure what we're doing. We are barely adequate when they know we're going to pass. The run blocking is hit or miss and needs alot more consistency.
Gus is regressing as the season goes on and I believe it's due to teams knowing how to play him. There were at least three plays where defensive backs jumped his throws and if he doesnt wake up, interceptions are going to start piling up. Going deep is fine but the way he throws the deep ball is the same as other quarterbacks throw a hail mary. More picks await with those kind of throws. Quite frankly I dont know how he's going to improve his accuracy or his play. I think Saban is going to be forced to turn us into more of a running team and not rely so much on the pass to make Gus more effective. With Ricky and ronnie in the backfield we may need to exploit that combo more to keep the chains moving and keep our defense fresh. If Gus actually gets worse, then we are going to have to consider putting Sage in.
Teams have caught up to us and we're not sneaking up on anyone anymore. 6-10 is the best we can hope for