The Miami Dolphins' 2009 Preseason: Analysis
With new minority interests in Miami Dolphins' organization being spotlighted this offseason, the team added much needed depth and gets tougher with the coaching staff taking a hard line approach to the actual football played on the field.
Owner Stephen Ross understands his role and Coach Tony Sparano understands his role as head coach.
Get the Miami Dolphins back to No.1!
Jason Taylor Earns His Spot Back
Supposedly, one of the biggest competitions this offseason on the defensive side of the ball was Jason Taylor vs. Matt Roth. Well that didn't last long.
Roth has been "injured" and Taylor has taken back his role on the right side with relative ease.
The question mark that remains will be the exact role for Roth when he comes back to 100 percent health.
The Dolphins will need him for the long season they expect to have deep into the playoffs because of Taylor's age and injury prone body.
Will Brian Hartline Slide Into a Starting Role At WR?
Last night's display of big plays versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by Brian Hartline just might have catapulted him into the starting lineup.
Even though the first big play was called back, the 39-yard catch showed Hartline's versatility as a wideout and his strength against quality cornerbacks.
Davone Bess also made an incredible sideline catch that was out of bounds but analysts outside of the Dolphins' press are underestimating the quality of wide receiver in the Miami locker room.
They remind me a lot of the perfect '72 Dolphin receiving corps of Warfield, Twilley, Mandich, and Briscoe.
They may not be the big names of other teams but they show up for "another Miami Dolphin...first down"
The Miami Dolphin RB Position Poised For a Great Season
Four running backs are poised to make this the greatest running back effort in the history of the Miami Dolphins. That's saying a lot considering their offensive line is still a work in progress at this point of the preseason.
Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Patrick Cobbs, and Lex Hilliard.
Cobbs blasted onto the scene last year in the game versus the Houston Texans when he was the recipient of the 80-yard TD pass from a version of the "wildcat" no one had seen up to that point.
But Lex who??
Ok so Hilliard fumbled during the game last night in the team's somewhat sloppy effort vs the Bucs.
However, Hilliard has run so hard in all of the team's preseason games that he has become a fan favorite and should be able to stick on the team.
Lex Hilliard is capable of shutting the game down if anything should happen to the Dolphins other running backs. As a workhorse style running back, He is that GOOD!!
Don't forget about Lousaka Polite who earned a spot after injuries allowed him to get picked up and play consistently last season. Polite looks to be starting the fullback by the time the Falcons host the Dolphins on Sept. 13th.
Captain Pennington Leads Dolphins to AFC East Title Again
The pressure to at least win the AFC East again this year will mount no doubt with each victory the Dolphins claim.
No excuses this year. Tom Brady is back for New England.
The funny thing is only New England fans remember the struggles Brady has had against the Miami Dolphins.
Even with more firepower on offense to help out, Brady will not outclass Captain Chad. They are both "cool" but Pennington exhibits a blue collar mentality that fits in Miami for some reason on this particular team.
On the seemingly free-wheeling TD pass to Sal Fasano last night, Chad Pennington showed once again what his heart is made of and the Dolphins will take that any day of the week. His Fran Tarkenton style of play matches their personalities best.
Add that Pennington has played several times against the Patriots, he knows having a defense with Taylor, Porter, Merling, Langford and Crowder will keep him in the game long enough for him to make a big enough play to win the game.
Dolphin Defense Looks to Improve Play
There was a point in the Bucs-Dolphins game that the Dolphin defense turned it up a notch or two or thre and let loose.
Up first, QB Byron Leftwich, making him fumble in the red zone and eventually forcing the Bucs to settle for three points after he chipped at the defense for 100 yards acting like it was target practice with WR Maurice Stovall.
Luke McCown was next and his turn was noticibly horrible as the Dolphins sacked him on consecutive plays in the second quarter when he was looking to become the No. 1 Buc QB.
Last and certainly not least was Buc rookie QB Josh Freeman who was sacked by Erik Walden, hit by several definsive linemen when not realizing he was playing at NFL game speed and taken out finally by Dolphin first round pick Vontae Davis.
The Dolphins must tackle better as a whole during the regular season and stop making stupid encroachment penalties when all they have to do is look at the football. Despite all that, the new additions of Cameron Wake, Gibril Wilson and Sean Smith make this team even tougher than last year's defense.
The Tough Nature of Jake Long
Even last night the Fox announcers were questioning the pick of Jake Long when compared to the pick of Matt Ryan (the Falcon first round pick who had a great season last year).
Ok. Ryan was phenomenal, however, the Miami Dolphins would not have won the AFC East with him as QB.
Mr. Long is working to solidify his position to be one of the best offensive linemen in Dolphin history and helped to protect Captain Chad in one of the greatest turnarounds ever for a franchise in NFL history.
During last night's exhibition game vs. Tampa, one could see Long's improvement with blasting off the line and having solid technique against the speed rushers of the Buc defense. This will not go unnoticed during the season by all the teams that face the Dolphins.
It's hard enough to focus on the "wildcat" but when the fundamentals of the offensive line are almost perfect then the opposing will have even more problems.
Coach Sparano Takes Dolphins to the Next Level
There is something to be said for a Head Coach who pushes all the players of a team to be at their absolute best at all times on the football field.
Coach Sparano exemplifies this best and no doubt had been held to a higher standard by his former head coach at the Dallas Cowboys, Bill Parcells.
The good thing this upcoming season is that Sparano has more of his personality stamped on the team by having a good playoff run last season. Meaning everyone, including the Dolphin faithful, will stop acting like Parcells is the coach and he (Sparano) is the puppet.
Even the Fox announcers noticed that Sparano doesn't take a play off whether his starters are in the game or players who might be cut in time to play for a new team are in the game for the Dolphins. COACH treats them all the SAME.
The Miami Dolphins are a better and probably overachieving team because of this type of work ethic and maximum effort.