Wildcat Tamed; Defense Steamrolled In Dolphins Loss

Kris CardellaContributor IOctober 20, 2008


This was not what Tony Sparano had in mind when he said he wanted to create a "home field advantage".

The Dolphins struggled on both sides of the ball Sunday in a 27-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens; bringing their overall record to 2-4, and their home record to 1-2.

Sure, there were plenty of things to point to and blame for the Dolphins woes, but there were two glaring weaknesses: the inability to stop the run, and the inability to run the ball.

Miami has hung their hat on not allowing a 100-yard rusher since opening day against the Jets.  They were ranked 8th in the NFL against the run coming into Sunday's contest against the Ravens.  Yet the Ravens offensive line was able to impose their will on Miami's front seven and allowed all 3 of Baltimore's running backs to have respectable days; most notably: 105 yards and a score for Willis McGahee.

Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams were both ineffective as Ray Lewis and the Raven's front seven were covering all the gaps and not giving anything up.  The Wildcat yielded no results.  This was most evident in when two Dolphins' scoring drives, both within 10 yards of the end zone, ended in Dan Carpenter field goals.

Dolphins fans, do not despair.

Yes, we are 2-4.  Yes, our offense sputtered.  Yes, our defense couldn't make tackles.  And yes, Chad Pennington made a costly interception that possibly cost us the game.

At 2-4, we are not out of the playoff picture in the AFC.  Aside from the division leaders, no AFC team has a record better than 3-2 (and that may change tonight).  We are still 1-1 in our division with a home game against Buffalo next week.

The offense struggled on Sunday, but we were facing the number one defense in the entire NFL.  They lead every major category.

The defense will be better.  The leadership is there, the hunger is there, and I know that Tony Sparano and Paul Pasqualoni will not settle for sub-par tackling.

Chad Pennington had a rough game.  But he did single-handedly lead the offense down the field for a touchdown to bring the game to within a touchdown in the second half.  Also remember the interception he threw to Terrell Suggs for a touchdown was the first of its kind all season.  With no running game, his job becomes a lot more difficult because of the lack of top receivers around him.

So now really is gut-check time.  In a week we'll be able to see if this Dolphins team has more grit than in recent years.