I'm surprised that some actually believed me when I said I was on the 10-6 bandwagon. I'm even more surprised that some of you believed I was exasperated and suicidal over the results of the first game of the season.
If you guys should know anything about me right now, it's that I don't get too high or too low.
But on to important stuff. This Dolphins game versus the Jets demonstrated hope for the future while at the same time reminding us of the ineptness of the past. So instead of doing a positional breakdown, grading each area of the team and the coaches, I'm going to make a list of the things that make me hopeful for the future and a list of things that remind me of the past.
So bad news first, these are the things that happened in the first game that remind me of the past.
1. Playcalling - The playcalling in this game was questionable. At first, the playcalling seemed balanced, with both Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown getting touches and being effective. Then, the Dolphins seemed to forget that they have a two-headed battering ram and got pass happy with a quarterback who is most effective when he doesn't have to throw the ball 40+ times. The Dolphins faced 3rd and goal from about the 2 or 3 yard line and made no attempt to pound the rock into the endzone. As pass happy as they had gotten at that point, a run would have caught the Jets by surprise. Additionally, why not go for the field goal at that point? The Dolphins turned the ball over on downs, putting them in a position where they needed to get two touchdowns to win the game. They almost did. But if they had made that field goal, they could have scored their 2nd touchdown later and been down by 3, putting them in position to tie the game late with a field goal rather than putting them in a position where they had to have a touchdown. And when are we going to hire coaches that do not go away from the run? Every year it seems coaches get pass happy with this team because we're only gaining 2-3 yards per play on the ground. Do they not know their own personnel? Both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are players that get going in the 2nd half and wear defenses down.
2. Clock Management - Why does it seem like the Dolphins were letting precious seconds run off the clock instead of immediately calling timeouts when they needed to? Particularly before halftime, it seemed as if the coaching staff was unsure about whether to call timeouts or let the clock run out. Now, the result may have been the same, but having 50+ seconds on the clock gives a team a better opportunity than having less than 30. The Dolphins need to be more decisive when calling timeouts. Additionally, in the 2nd half, timeouts were wasted. This too is on the coaching stuff for not getting the play out to the offense fast enough.
3. Inconsistency - A staple of the Dolphins the past decade has been inconsistency. And that continues to be the case today. Yes, they are a young team and this is to be expected. But it is frustrating to watch the defense stuff the Jets one series and let them run the ball down their throats the next. And special teams were the very definition of inconsistency.
Now come some bright spots. Here are the things I saw in this game that made me have some hope for the future.
1. Tight Ends - Was that really David Martin making tough catches and clutch plays? And how about Anthony Fasano? That is one of the better performances I have seen by a tight end on this team in a long time. Let's just hope this performance was not an aberration.
2. Toughness - Despite losing the game, this team showed a lot of grit and toughness. They were still competing in the 4th quarter and actually put themselves in position to win the game despite their mistakes, the questionable playcalling and the dubious clock management. Hopefully the team doesn't lose this trait as the season goes on if they continue to lose.
3. Offensive Line - I know people are complaining about the pass protection, but I have to tell you that I saw improvement in this unit. In the first half, Pennington was not getting touched. What was the difference? Balanced playcalling. In the first half, the Dolphins were keeping the defense honest by running the ball. Once they went pass happy in the 2nd half, the Jets had an easier time setting up their blitzes and getting to Chad Pennington. Still, this unit was inconsistent and needs to improve.
4. Front Seven - Even though they allowed over 100 yards on the ground, this unit is still much better than last year's unit. They were able to pressure Brett Favre and the Jets did not consistently gash them for big gains on the ground. But as mentioned earlier before, consistency was an issue here as well. The front seven needs to be more consistent against the run and put a little more pressure on quarterbacks.
Overall, the Dolphins are a rebuilding team and you have to expect them to lose more than they win this year. The key will be to see if they can improve as the season goes on.