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Week 6: Dolphins at da Bears
Number three overall 2013 draft pick, who the Dolphins traded their twelfth and forty second picks to move up to aquire, is finally back in Dolphin land (cricket, cricket...). No, this news is not making much noise, fans are not clamoring for Dion to be brought back into the fold, perhaps it's because he has as many NFL suspensions as he does sacks. Not a good stat line to say the least.
The real questions are, how much does Dion play, and where does he play. He shouldn't be taking any snaps away fron Derrick Shelby, he just simply isn't as good as Shelby. Shelby out played him last year and Shelby improved drastically this offseason. Shelby is third on the Dolphins in sacks, just a half sack behind Olivier Vernon, even though Shelby doesn't get near as many snaps, and has only played in five games. Shelby has been very impactful this year.
What would seem the most logical place for Dion to play is probably a conversation for another day, outside linebacker. The Dolphins seem quite intent however to keep him at defensive end, so I would imagine that Dion will be taking away rookie Chris McCain's snaps. McCain basically plays on obvious passing downs, it's almost a shame that McCain gets punished for Dion's draft status, he's earned the spot he plays.
On the other hand, Dion really hasn't earned anything, he should be relegated to special teams, and perhaps he will be for now. Dion played on special teams all last year, probably knows way too much about special teams for a third overall pick to be honest, but his positional play last year was very underwhelming. Then there was the underwhelming preseason this year, which in the midst of, we get news of his drug suspension, then in the midst of that suspension he gets suspended again. No, he really hasn't earned anything, but his draft status will get him on the field, as I said, it just seems unfair to McCain who has legitimately earned his place on the field.
If we are seeing a lot of Dion Jordan, then I'm going to have to assume that Ross is pulling strings on the football side, trying to justify the pick, I sincerely hope this isn't the case. Dion should be earning his way back into the line up by playing well, just like every other unproven multi suspended player out there, regardless of draft status. He should prove, as Cam Wake did, that he belongs on the field by making plays on special teams and when given a chance on passing downs.
Now if he does go out there and make some plays, and earns his way back into the rotation, he'll be adding to a heck of a group already, and that would be a good thing, for the Dolphins and for us fans.
Last week I said Ryan Tannehill (RT) needed time to learn the offense. His throws have been erradic this year because the timing on them was off. This was clear to me watching game film of him hitting the WR late out of the break. The last month, his timing has been improving and it shows in his completion percentage. Bill Lazor said the other day that he can only let RT run plays he's comfortable with...so the entire playbook isn't on the table just yet. What is clear? RT is good enough to take this team to the post season. Oddly enough, he seems to play better when he takes a hit. In week 1 against NE his performance improved noticably after a hit to the chops. Lazor has seemed to recognize this as well. RT, while seemingly a quiet guy, has to be emotionally charged to improve his game. That was done early by Lazor on Sunday and the result was RT putting up gawdy numbers in terms of completion percentage. I don't think Miami can open that way every week, but those plays still need to be in the playbook and used very sporadically. The last thing this team needs is a safety or LB to get a clean hit on RT and put him out.
Have you noticed that the Mike Wallace critics are silent? Yeah, me too. Wallace has shown the world that he can adjust his game from being a 1 trick pony to a complete WR. He's catching the ball across the middle, in traffic and running routes so sharp they could cut you. Kudos to him. I think Miami is still going to have to exploit his speed deep to keep defense honest. The emergence of Landry and the return of Charles Clay could propel the Dolphins Offense into a new zone. Clay appeared to be back to 99% on Sunday. Landry conintues to shine as the rookie is making a push for rookie honors. The big puzzle to me is the disappearance of both Hartline and Gibson. Hartline still has those 4 catches a game but nothing like the two previous seasons. Gibson is all but non-existanct and it could be due to Landry's play.
Lamar Miller had another decent outting and Thomas provided some good plays both running and catching out of the backfield.
Defense - Again despite having the best bookends in the league and a solid interior, the defense still gives up that critical drive. Leading 14-0 they give up an opening 2nd half TD which put Chicago back in the game. Had it not been for the offense clicking, the game might have been different if they come out and go 3 and out on that series. Instead the offense drove down for a kill shot TD. That seemed to be the dagger that killed Chicago.
STs - remain some of the worst in the league. We waive Don Jones and he is now making big plays for NE STs. Jones was one of those nitch players on STs that Rizzi should have fought for. Instead he let him go and it conintues to cost Miami. Anyone miss Carp yet? Sturgis is awful. I can't believe there's not a guy out there on waivers better. The guy Miami waived with an injury settlement is better. Bring him back. What has happened to one of the leagues premier punters? Fields seems to have at least 1 shank a game now. In any case, this is not good. STs wil win or lose a few games this year and I don't think there are many Miami Fans who are confident this unit is getting it done.
Onto Jacksonville! This is last year's Tampa Bay game. You remember that one right? Miami was heading into a brutal part of their schedule and the winless Bucs were up next. Miami lost that game. It was hard to take. The Dolphins needed to desperately win that game to put themselves in contention for the division title. Instead, they lose it. Jacksonvillle isn't winless after winning last week but this game is just as important as any other on the schedule. Miami typically comes out flat and stays flat against inferior competition. Winning will give htem a winning record for the first time since week 1. Losing will open up conversations of Philbin's departure. That's as the world turns in the NFL. What have you done for me lately? Miami should blow out J'ville by 14 points or more. If this game is close going into the 4th quarter, J'ville will be playing harder for that 2nd win.
J'villes pass defense is ranked 30th in the league. Their run defense about 12th. Miami should match up well here. and win this game solidly.