The Miami Dolphins, with a 4-4 record, don't seem to be feeling good about a .500 record through one of the NFL's toughest schedules.
After a pounding from the AFC North powerhouse Baltimore Ravens, the Dolphins are scratching their heads as they are halfway through the season, without an identity.
There is one thing for sure, the Dolphins need to change how they handle themselves on the field and during the week's preparations, or they will not receive respect.
This team needs to dig deep, and play dominant, relentless, smash-mouth football for the remaining eight games, or there will be a dismal hangover during the long offseason, for the second straight season.
Running the Ball
One thing Miami has not done effectively this year is run the football. Miami shuffled around its offensive line in the offseason, as there are now three different starters on the interior line from last season. Miami has not been able to gain a distinct advantage this season in the trenches.
Up to this point in the season, Miami has scored only three rushing touchdowns, and have been out-rushed by their opponents.
Both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are averaging 4.3 yards per carry, however, they have not provided a solid one-two punch on a game-to-game basis. Typically, if one struggles, the other flourishes.
Also, Miami has had a tendency to abandon the run early in games, although coach Tony Sparano stresses that this team still focuses on a run-first mentality.
Offensive coordinator Dan Henning has shown why he is being criticized, as the Dolphins have scored only 11 touchdowns in their eight games.
Picture this scenario: It is the eve before the NFL regular-season opener. Somebody tells you that the Dolphins will be 4-1 on the road through Week 10. You would think that Miami was on its way to another AFC East title.
Wrong. Miami has yet to win a game at home, and it is beginning to take a toll on the morale of the players and the fans.
Too many times this season have the opposing teams' fans started a chant at the end of the game, when they were beating Miami on Miami's home turf.
Miami needs a midseason intervention, and quickly. They need to get the crowd back into their games, and they need to just play better. They need to put more effort into preparation, during games and they need to receive a bigger effort from the entire coaching staff, especially Dan Henning.
Upcoming, Miami will face the Tennessee Titans and the Chicago Bears, at home, within four days of each other.
Each of these games will be tests in their own, as these teams have both had success so far this season.
After Miami's loss against Baltimore, both Ray Lewis and Ed Reed mentioned how it is easy to game-plan against Miami's offense.
Miami has players on the offense that can make plays. They have three talented receivers in Brandon Marshall, Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, along with great running backs in Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown.
Dan Henning needs to get away from his conservative game plan and play-calling. When asked about his quarterbacks, Henning said "I never concerned myself about how much my quarterback could hurt the other team, I concerned myself with how much he could hurt my team," hence why the Dolphins are one of the worst teams in pass plays 20 or more yards down the field.
Dan Henning is taking the confidence away from the offense through his conservative approach, which is affecting how this team handles its business.
When you take risks, sometimes it hurts you, but other times, it is very beneficial. How do you think Brett Favre made his career? He took risks, and he holds records for both interceptions and touchdowns.
Dan Henning needs to learn to trust his offense, and do a better job of calling plays for a less conservative offense. Miami's offensive production is what will make or break the second half of its season.
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