Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Broncos Game Notes; Reader Mailbag

I've been following the election proceedings pretty closely over the past few days, so I haven't had time to write a full post-game commentary, but I got a reader email about the game and wanted to use it to talk a little about the Broncos game.

Here are the questions:
The Dolphins secondary played a great game for the second time in a row. Do you think they will continue this trend? Overall, the Dolphins defense played an excellent game. The offense seemed to struggle a bit. They did come up at the end with a touchdown when they needed to. The running game for the dolphins is a bit weak the past couple of games. Why? Do you think Ricky Williams has "lost a step"?
I'll touch on each of these issues briefly.

1. You're absolutely right; the secondary played tremendously against Denver after coming up big against Buffalo. It's no coincidence that this upturn in performance has come with Jason Allen's significant increase in playing time. I've always lobbied for Jason to get playing time, if for no other reason than to put to rest the guessing games over whether he can be a legitimate asset to this team or not. Right now we are in the process of finding that out, and so far so good. Andre' Goodman also played out of his mind against Brandon Marshall. However, that's not the type of performance that I am counting on too heavily as the season progresses.

In the short term, this trend of strong secondary play probably should continue, seeing as how Miami's next three games are at home against Seattle (Senece Wallace at QB), Oakland (JaMarcus Russell) and New England (Matt Cassell). Those are all inexperienced and average-at-best passers. Over the long term, I think it may be a bit too optimistic to expect the level of performance put forth over the last two weeks to be sustained for the next eight games, especially with the pass rush essentially being relegated to one man (Joey Porter). On the other hand, I wouldn't expect Miami's secondary to get burned like it did against the Cardinals again either. That's the low point and the Denver game is the high point. Expect some level of play varying in between those two poles as the season wears on.

2. As for the offense, aside from the game-clinching 8-minute drive in the fourth quarter, that unit was awful. The defense truly won this game, and really bailed out the offense. Miami is still producing far too many three and outs, and that's largely a function of the running game being so inefficent. I can't really explain the problems in the running game, as the personnel would seem to indicate running the ball to be a strength. Samson Satele is not a strong run-blocker, but we all knew that coming out Hawaii's offense in college. And we are having to make due with a patchwork RG position between Ndukwe and Mathis. Still, Vernon Carey, Jake Long, and Justin Smiley are maulers who should be owning the running game. In the end, I just don't think this line has developed into a cohesive unit yet, and the season-ending injury to Donald Thomas may have something to do with that, I'm not sure. Regardles, if Miami can't figure out a way to consistently run the ball out of its base formations, they are going to be in trouble.

As to Ricky Williams, yes, I think he has lost a step, which seems odd to say following his electric preseason. But, he is 31 and RBs tend to decrease in productivity after the age of 30 (or even 28). Still, he's a solid backup to have and he's not hurting the team when he's on the field. Even without some of the burst that we've come to expect from Ricky, he still provides great field vision to hit the holes when they are there, and he catches the ball well. Ricky's definitely not done yet, just slowed a bit.

A few other observations:
  • Kendall Langford had an excellent game, as did the entire defensive front seven. It seemed like Langford had been hitting the "rookie wall" lately, but this game was a great bounce back.
  • Karl Paymah is an absolute fool. It's one thing to get absolutely toatsed time after time during a game Jason David-style. It's entirely another thing to then say this about the opponent (Greg Camarillo) who just beat your ass all over the field all game long: "He's really nobody...What was his longest catch, like 10 yards?" Actually, Karl his longest was for 23 yards, and if Camarillo is a nobody, what the hell does that make you?

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