Jake Long committed one penalty in his last 26 games at the University of Michigan.
one game as a pro, Long doubled that number. Both penalties wiped out gains and
helped kill drives. Missed assignments, some forced, added to Long’s
just got to correct those (mistakes) and make sure that never happens again”,
said Long. “It was frustrating, but I'll learn from it."
to the NFL, rookie.
will be fine, though he wasn’t alone. Overall, the young Dolphins got a rude
welcome to the 2008 season. It wasn’t entirely unexpected.
Jets are a veteran team, heavy with high priced free agents on both sides of
the line, and a “go for broke now” focus. They were supposed to win this one,
and they dominated the Dolphins on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
was an accomplishment for Dolphins, and perhaps somewhat of an embarrassment to
the Jets, that they were in position to win the game at the end.
it’s the Jets…the hated Jets. No loss to the Dolphins’ top rival is a good one.
pride is hurt”, said QB Chad Pennington, the former Jet, as he tapped on his
aching heart. “Losing is not fun. We put a lot of hard work into it. True
professionals bounce back and continue to fight another day. It’s one thing to
have a will to win, but you have to have a heart to lose, which means you have
to continue to improve and fight through those things.”
words to live by, especially for the younger players.
the naysayers will be quick to look past this and point out that the offense
couldn’t muster more that two touchdowns and a paltry 49 yards rushing, and the
defense gave up over 100 yards rushing to Thomas Jones, and allowed two Brett
Favre TD passes, one of which was a ridiculous desperation heave gathered in by
one Chansi Stuckey (who?).
many errors”, lamented coach Tony Sparano. “You don’t win in this league with
Yet Sparano couldn’t have expected everything to go smoothly first time out. Not
by a long shot. And, yes, he’s probably kicking himself over a few things he
could have done differently, or better, to help steal the win.
example, and this is Monday morning quarterbacking, why go for it on 4th
and 2 with 9+ minutes to play? With Pennington getting hot, a gimme field goal would
have been a good choice that would have left them with a 10 point deficit and
plenty of time to make up the rest. As the Dolphins scored a touchdown on their
next possession, their final drive would have been for a tying field goal, instead
of a must have TD.
Dolphins’ chances in overtime would have been very good. The Jets were tired
and had an injured kicker, all but forcing them to score a touchdown to win.
Had the Dolphins won the toss, a red hot Pennington and a good kicker would
have given them a clear edge.
many are wondering if the 6-4 Ernest Wilford would have made a difference in
the red zone last Sunday. It’s a good, and fair, question. Just remember that
he’d have been out there if the coaches felt Wilford had earned it.
understand that there was no help for some of what happened against the Jets,
stuff that Sparano and his staff will just have to muddle through this season.
there’s only so much that can be fixed in a year.
hard part is enduring the pain of this turnaround. Football is an emotional
game, and losing isn’t fun. Sparano doesn’t accept losing, and has told his
players as much. He expects them to do better.
next are the Arizona Cardinals. These are not yesterday’s Cardinals. They have good
talent on both sides of the ball, having just defeated the San Francisco 49ers on the road (23-13).
will watch the film and quickly conclude that some adjustments will be needed.
the Dolphins employ more two TE sets to help get the running game rolling, and
give Pennington another reliable target to work with? David Martin and Anthony
Fasano were effective against the Jets.
Ernest Wilford, a gamer, earn his way onto the field, or will the coaches give
him the benefit of the doubt?
the Dolphins begin to work Ronnie Brown more into the offense, especially on
third down? With his hands and speed, he’s a mismatch against linebackers and
even extra DBs.
against Patrick Cobbs, who isn’t chopped liver by any means, but Brown is
perhaps the best all-around player on the team. They need him on the field as
much as possible.
that end, one thing that can’t change is an emphasis on the running game, even
with the costly season-ending injury to OG Donald Thomas. 17 attempts just isn’t
enough, but the execution up front has to get better.
the decision to keep safety Chris Crocker as a starter will surely be
re-visited. Unfortunately, his reputation as a poor cover safety was all too
obvious against the Jets. It won’t get easier against the Cardinals with Mssrs.
Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald on deck, and old hand Kurt Warner slinging
it to them.
for the run stopping, with one Edgerrin James warming up. The Jets ran
successfully on the Dolphins all day, most of it to their right. This is where
rookie DE Kendall Langford lines up. While Langford showed some good pass rush
ability, the Jets’ veterans took advantage of him on running plays. Not all of
it was Langford’s fault, but something will have to change as James is a better
runner than Jones.
we know: Langford will get smarter the more he plays. The Dolphins just hope veterans
like CB André Goodman, who was caught peeking by Favre on the 56 yard touchdown
he gave up to Jericho Cotchery, will start playing smarter. Goody’s been around
too long to be falling for stuff like that.
Cardinals are decent, but the Jets are better. Let’s see if the Dolphins can
even their record up.