So I know there has already been one of these posted, but these are the REAL five most effective plays of 2008. Plus I am giving you a bonus play, so get excited.
In 2008 coach Tony Sparano mixed up the Dolphins game plan with some new plays. I tried to choose some plays that are likely to still be used in the 2009 season.
In 2007 Joey Porter joined the Dolphins as one of the most feared linebackers in the NFL. Then the Dolphins decided to go with a 4-3/3-4 mix that did not fit Porter’s style of play.
Porter would finish 2007 with 5.5 sacks and the Dolphins would finish with a 1-15 record.
Then the Dolphins went to a 3-4 defense in 2008. The Fins’ new coaching staff recognized they needed to give Porter a scheme he could excel in. Plays were built around Porter, who was arguably the Dolphins’ best defensive player.
He would record 17.5 sacks and affect countless more plays with his rushing abilities. The Dolphins would finish 2008 with an 11-5 record.
Porter was second in the NFL with his 17.5 sacks and first in the AFC. As a result of his comeback season he was named to his fourth Pro Bowl and second team All-Pro.
It will be hard for Porter to repeat last year’s performance but he should still be a force in the Dolphins linebacker corps.
The Wildcat was responsible for a crushing defeat against the Patriots early in the 2008 season. However, after that the Wildcat was just an above average running play.
Obviously anyone would take 6.1 yards a rush (which is what the Dolphins averaged on Wildcat running plays), but once teams started preparing for the Wildcat it began to be stopped relatively easily.
However, there were still two plays that worked out of the Wildcat regardless of when they were used: Trick plays and Ronnie Brown up the middle.
The Dolphins scored on three trick plays out of the Wildcat. Two of those were flea flicker passes that each went for 50-plus yard touchdowns. Patrick Cobbs was on the receiving end of one of those passes while Ted Ginn Jr. caught the other.
The other trick play I am talking about is the Ronnie Brown touchdown pass to Anthony Fasano.
While the person under center in the Wildcat is supposed to be a threat to pass, Ronnie Brown really was not. Which is why it was a surprise to see him connect on a 19-yard pass to Fasano against the Patriots.
As much as teams prepared for the Wildcat, no one seemed ready to handle Ronnie Brown up the middle.
Teams were so concerned with the wrinkles the Wildcat could have that Brown would often be eight-yards down the field before anyone realized he had not handed the ball off to Ricky Williams or Ginn.
It took the Dolphins almost a full season to realize Ted Ginn Jr. was not the stud they expected him to be on kick returns. Ginn would run full speed, and then be met full force by any competent special teams unit.
He rarely put the moves on any defender and made it look like he was only capable of running in a straight line.
Then the Dolphins gave Cobbs another chance to win the job after he failed to in 2007. In 2008 Cobbs shined on kickoff returns in his limited role.
Cobbs was able to put the moves on defenders necessary for a kickoff man and it felt like we had great field position every time he was the return man. In only one-quarter of the returns Ginn had, Cobbs broke the longest return of the year and averaged 3-yards more than Ginn.
I have said this before, and I will say it again: the Dolphins tight ends were more reliable receivers than the Dolphins actual receivers in 2008.
When Tony Sparano came to the Dolphins from the Cowboys he made sure tight end Anthony Fasano came with him. Fasano was known as a good blocking tight end who had decent hands, but no one could have predicted the breakout year he would have.
Fasano had 34 catches for 454 yards giving him 13.4 yard per catch. More impressive though is that seven of those catches were for touchdowns. Fasano was a real problem for defenses as few players could match up to size and strength.
Something else worth mentioning is that 26 of those catches were for first downs.
David Martin had a little less prowess in the Red Zone than Fasano, but he still had a stellar year. He had 31 catches for 450 yard while averaging 14.5 yards per catch. Like Fasano, Martin was a matchup problem for defenses. He managed three touchdown catches and 20 first down receptions.
Fasano and Martin accounted for nearly half of Chad Pennington’s nineteen touchdown tosses. They had nine combined, pretty impressive for two tight ends.
One of two things were happening on short yardage third downs for the Dolphins. I will get to the second of those two for the number one play, but first let’s look at what Davone Bess did for the Dolphins.
Bess did not average a huge amount of yards per reception. Bess did not have many touchdowns.
However, Bess kept alive plenty of Dolphins’ drives with his clutch catches on third downs. As long as Chad Pennington got the ball near him, Bess was likely to make the catch.
I feel the statistics on Bess last season are misleading, because he did much more for the team than statistics will show. Apparently the Dolphins organization agrees because he is opening up camp as the team’s number two receiver.
Over half of Bess receptions (29 of 54) went for first downs.
If it was not a pass to Davone Bess on third down, then it was probably a run by Polite. Polite handled more of the one-to-two-yard plays while Bess handled the three-to-four-yard plays.
On third-and-short almost everyone in the stadium knew who the Miami Dolphins were handing the ball to. And it did not matter one bit. Polite always found a way to extend drive by crashing right through defensive lines.
Polite was given the ball 23 times last year; and he got the first down 15 of those times. Polite was six-of-seven when trying to convert on third-and-one.
I remember one time when the Dolphins went for a quarterback sneak on third-and-one, and failed to convert. The crowd reacted; the crowd let the Dolphins know they wanted Polite to get the ball.
The Dolphins will not make that same mistake in 2009.