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The Miami Dolphins are back after a narrow 14-10 victory in Minnesota. The defense put on a dominant performance highlighted by Jason Allen's two interceptions and Cameron Wake's game altering forced fumble leading to a touchdown.
Let's break down the game in its entirety as the Dolphins look to continue their success this season with the New York Jets at home next week.
C. Henne – 9/15 114 YDS, TD (106.0 QB Rating)
B. Favre – 22/36 225 YDS, 3 INT (44.3 QB Rating)
R. Brown – 13 RUSH, 80 YDS, FUM
R. Williams – 10 RUSH, 30 YDS, FUM
A. Peterson – 28 RUSH, 145 YDS, TD
T. Gerhart – 4 RUSH, 10 YDS
B. Marshall – 4 REC, 71 YDS
B. Hartline – 3 REC, 28 YDS, TD
V. Shiancoe – 6 REC, 86 YDS
A. Peterson – 5 REC, 41 YDS
J.Allen – 2 INT, 11 TACK, 3 PD
V. Davis – INT, 6 TACK, 2 PD
C. Wake – FF, 1.5 SACK,
K. Langford – SACK
R. Starks – 0.5 SACK
K. Misi – TD
J. Allen – SACK
K. Williams – SACK
C. Greenway – 8 TACK, 2 TFL
Quarterback – Although on paper Chad Henne played an efficient, mistake-free game, there is major room for improvement. He still locks onto receivers and the defensive line has learned to read his eyes, which resulted in a few balls batted down at the line yesterday.
Still, he faced a hostile road crowd and managed the game pretty well. He connected on his first throw, a 50 yard bomb to Brandon Marshall. I’d like to see him have more opportunities down the field because he throws a pretty good deep ball.
Backs – Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown played well until two major mistakes. They both had costly fumbles, especially Ricky, who coughed up the ball on the Dolphins own one-yard line.
Receivers/Tight Ends – Brandon Marshall proved why he’s one of the game’s most dominant receivers on Sunday. He beat his man for a 50-yard strike on the Dolphins first offensive play. Brian Hartline ran a perfect route on his touchdown grab in the first quarter.
Offensive Line – The line handled an excellent Vikings front with efficiency. Jake Long played superb against Jared Allen. The pass protection was solid, giving up two sacks, with both resulting from Henne holding the ball too long.
Run blocking was pretty good, but the Vikings stacked the line for most of the game so production was limited. They did an excellent job on Ronnie Brown’s 46-yard burst off the Dolphins own goal line.
Defense Line - Brett Favre was beat up, harassed, and hit all day. They did an amazing job in the passing game, but struggled to contain Adrian Peterson in the running game. He racked up 145 yards on the day and often broke into the second level of the defense with ease.
Linebackers – Cameron Wake is impressing more and more with every game. He forced a game-deciding fumble for a touchdown and also was in on another sack with Randy Starks. Karlos Dansby played solid as usual, providing the touchdown saving hit on the Dolphins goal-line stand in the second half.
The one negative was the missed tackles in the running game. I know Peterson is a load, but they have to work on tackling technique (Misi, Wake). Arm tackles are not going to bring down backs like AP.
Grade: A -
Secondary - To think that this unit was the biggest question mark heading into the season. Jason Allen (2 INT) looks like a shutdown corner in this man-heavy scheme. Wait, did I really just write that? He had the game of his career yesterday. Vontae Davis is looking like a Pro Bowl corner and didn’t give up anything to Favre. He’s aggressive, instinctive, and reminds me of a more physical Patrick Surtain.
Special Teams - Dan Carpenter didn’t get much action Sunday. Brandon Fields was great as usual, pinning the Vikings back within their own 20 several times. The return game wasn’t much of a factor, and return coverage was excellent, forcing a fumble in the second half.
Coaching – Defensively, Mike Ryan and crew proved again to have a huge edge. Favre was never comfortable at any point yesterday and much of that goes to the various coverages thrown at him. Offensively, there are some issues. It still appears the coaches are lacking confidence in Henne. Outside of the bomb to Marshall, it was an extremely conservative game plan.
What frustrated me the most was the decision to not try to score with 3 timeouts and a minute remaining in the first half. Play to win the game!
Overall – It was another gritty, ugly, win. But any win is a good win in this league and the fact that both wins came on the road is all the more impressive. We might not know how good this team is just yet, but we do know one thing. They are physical and mentally tough.
The defense looks absolutely dominant. Wake is going to get double teamed as the season progresses, so it will be important that other guys become factors in pass rushing situations. The secondary has been incredible thus far.
Offensively, I’m a little worried about Chad Henne. He doesn’t seem like he has all the confidence in the world. The fact that the coaches don’t let him play is disturbing. It’s time to let the kid give it all he has and if he screws up, so be it. At times he was a gun slinger last season and I haven’t seen any of that yet this year. They should open up the play-calling against a banged up Jets defense at home next week.
It was a great win.
Next Week: Sunday night against the Jets at Sun Life Stadium