Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Dolphins-Cowboys: Game Analysis
I think Cam Cameron summed up this game the best when he called it a "total team loss." Since I can't say it any better myself, let's just move along to analyzing the laundry list of disappointing things uncovered in this game.
Trent Green - One of the few players who looked good last week, Green really struggled this week. I mean, he looked bad. I would tend to lay some of the blame on the pass protection, except for the fact that the offensive line actually performed competently in that regard. Green was brought in for his leadership abilities, and that means raising the level of play of those players surrounding him. Well, it's hard to be a good leader if you are struggling so mightily yourself. Don't get me wrong, I am not calling for a QB switch. Green still gives this team its best chance to win - by a long shot. But he does have to get better. His smart, efficient play kept the Dolphins in the game against Washington. But this week, it was his poor throws and bad decisions that let the game slip away. This offense will only go so far as Trent Green is able to take it. If he continues to float his passes and severely overthrow his open receivers, don't expect much success.
Ronnie Brown - Every week it becomes more and more apparent that Cameron simply doesn't have much faith in Brown. Even though the run-blocking is generally atrocious, Brown is showing no instincts that are essential to being a good runner. He has tremendous physical abilities, but without the instincts to find holes and hit those holes before they close, he's going to continue to struggle. Cameron distrusts Brown so much that he spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench. Even when the score was still close, Cameron abandoned the running game, instead relying on Green to make plays in the passing game and that simply didn't work, even against a sub-par secondary. This offense needs a running game to work because the passing attack is not nearly potent enough to carry it, but so far Brown has failed to step up and make the most of his opportunities.
Ted Ginn Jr. - Ted is still not getting involved in the passing game even though he splits time with Derek Hagan in three-WR sets. He's run the same amount of end-arounds (2) as passes thrown his way. Thus far, his speed has proved inconsequential in the passing game. As far as special teams, he shows about once a game that he has the skills to be a great return man. Unfortunately, on all the other returns he stutter-steps and hesitantly dances around. I know it's only been two games, but thus far he's averaging a mere 21.2 yards per kick return and 8.1 yards per punt return. He can do much better, but when will he?
Time of possession - The Cowboys dominated this statistic, holding onto the ball for a whopping 35 minutes. Of course, that's to be expected when Green turns the ball over five times.
Pass rush - To put it simply, where the heck is the pass rush? What was so dominant last year, has become a huge disappointment. Jason Taylor isn't getting any significant pressure on the QB and the guy brought in to relieve the double teams (Joey Porter) isn't making any impact. With no pass rush, the opposing QBs have all day to stand in the pocket and find the open receiver. That's made even easier with a banged up secondary.
Travis Daniels - Speaking of the secondary, Daniels has been a big let-down this season. He can't seem to stay with anybody that he's covering, and as a result he's been victimized for multiple long gains. Luckily, Andre' Goodman should be returning within the next couple of weeks, but how effective can we truly expect him to be right away? Daniels makes a solid third CB, but the coaches have decided to start transitioning him to safety, where his skill set is more compatible. I'd rather see him stay at CB because a transition to safety may take a long time and Yeremiah Bell should be back next season. We'll have to wait to see how this plays out, but in the meantime it's certainly not clearing up the cloudy situation that is the Miami secondary.
Tackling - The defense had far too many missed tackles due to sloppy technique. That's inexcusable.
Jay Feely - As Olindo Mare continues to struggle in New Orleans (1/3 on field goals), it's nice to see that the team made the right decision by bringing in Feely. So far he's been perfect, nailing all four of his field goal attempts.
Chris Chambers - As a whole the WRs did a good job getting open this game, and it looks like Green has found some chemistry with Chambers in particular. Green threw in Chambers direction 16 times this week, and Chambers hauled in 9 of those passes for 109 yards. He reigned in his tendency to drop easy passes which was encouraging. Chambers now has 201 yards in two games. It took him five games last season to reach that mark. I know it's early, but if he can keep up this production, he may very well post Pro Bowl numbers again.
Play of the Game - Patrick Crayton's 49 yard punt return. After pinning the Cowboys inside their own 20 on a nice punt, the Dolphins had to punt the ball again because of a stupid mistake by Edmond Miles. Crayton then made a tremendous return, and put his team in position to score the go-ahead touchdown. That series of mistakes and plays was a huge momentum shift in the game and Miami was never able to recover.
Player of the Game - This is a tough one, but I'll give it to Anthony Henry and his two interceptions. He led a secondary that was supposed to be vulnerable to the passing attack. Instead, the Dallas secondary took the ball away from Miami four times and prevented the Dolphins from ever having a chance in the second half.