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  No Moral Victories in Loss to Jets
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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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-- Miami Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall, in response to a question about positive takeaways from the loss to the NY Jets.



I don't think Brandon Marshall could have said it any better for me in describing a game where the Dolphins were defeated by the Jets in all three phases: Offense, Defense and Special Teams. Yes, the Dolphins fought hard to overcome a slew of errors and missed opportunities. Unfortunately that old nemesis--finishing--was problematic once again.


I also thought that Tony Sparano and his staff were outcoached by Rex Ryan and his staff, and that this had a profound effect on the game's outcome.


Some examples:

  • The Jets defense was well-prepared for the Dolphin Wildcat, while the Dolphin D was unprepared for the Jets' version of it.
  • The Jets offense found ways to get TE Dustin Keller almost 100 yards of receptions by halftime, defying attempts by the Dolphin defense to adjust.
  • I felt Dan Henningís playcalling was disrupting the flow of the game, which was clearly through QB Chad Henne at that time. I also felt his playcalling on the last offensive set of downs from the Jets' 11 was just terrible (more on this below).
  • Mike Westhoff's special teams soundly defeated the Dolphins' units, both in kick coverage/returns and in generating a game changing play (the blocked punt). Coach John Bonamego and his guys didn't come up with anything to help the Dolphins win the game. I also think that Bonamego shares some of the responsibility of Dan Carpenter's shanked kickoff out of bounds, which gave the Jets the ball at their 40; kickoffs are not Carpenter's strength, so asking him to pin the Jets' return teams to one side of the field is a risk. This is the second time in three games that Carpenter has screwed this up.


Other observations:

  • I thought it was misguided and selfish for Jason Taylor to celebrate in front of Dolfans after his first quarter sack, one that won't be soon forgotten by the faithful. A dumb move, in my opinion, that applies more tarnish to his legacy.
  • CB Jason Allen certainly had a rough game, but I thought that the pass interference call against him in the endzone was just terrible. WR Braylon Edwards jumped into him and Allen did turn to look for the ball just before it arrived. In that borderline situation, and under those circumstances, the ref should have kept the flag in his pocket. Let them play!
  • Speaking of Allen, his unfortunate slip on Edwards' 67 yard TD was due largely to the newly sodded area of the field above where the Marlins' clay infield lies. I thought that one play cost the Dolphins the game. That canít make owner Stephen Ross or the groundskeepers feel very good.
  • The Jets really exploited the perimeter of the Dolphin D last night, attacking the OLBs regularly and with much success. This is an area of weakness that we fretted about before the season began. Koa Misi, Cameron Wake, and Quentin Moses combined for just three tackles. Not good.
  • This was the first game where I felt that Henning should have left the Wildcat back at the training facility. The plays just aren't being blocked properly right now, and RB Ronnie Brown isn't a legitimate passing threat. Why hasn't Henning moved back-up QB Tyler Thigpen into the triggerman role yet? Whatís the delay?
  • As I mentioned above, Henningís playcalling on that last series of downs from the Jetsí 11 was not his best work. On first down, he called for a Marshall toss-up when Marshall's legs were clearly spent; that was a brain freeze. The other three playcalls were all passes which were well-defended and/or badly mismanaged by Henne. While those outcomes were not directly Henningís fault, why even go that route with two timeouts and 54 seconds in hand? With the Jet D was off-balance at that point, a better choice would have been to spread the Jets out and leverage the timeouts to run the ball. Personnel-wise, WR Davone Bess would have been a better choice over Brian Hartline on 4th down; Bess is quicker and a better receiver in traffic. Again, not Henningís best work.
  • I truly believe the Dolphins are missing WR/KR Ted Ginn, Jr. Henne's first pass, which was overthrown to Hartline, would have been an easy six for the speedier Ginn. And the Dolphin kick return teams are just anemic right now, completely lacking in explosiveness. Are the Dolphins really better off with DB Nolan Carroll, the guy they drafted with the fifth rounder they obtained for Ginn? I donít see how.
  • Stating the obvious: Marshall can flat out play. I think he's the best receiver they've had in 20 years (Mark Clayton), and maybe even 40 years (Paul Warfield). Could you imagine what this guy would be doing with Dan Marino throwing to him?
  • Did anyone else notice that RB Ricky Williams was essentially benched after committing his second fumble this season? Yeah, he came back on the field but he didn't touch the ball again. Ricky is normally sure-handed, which makes his case of fumble-itis confusing. Still, I can't see how Sparano can trust him if he keeps laying the ball on the ground.


As disappointing as this loss was, the Dolphins still have a great opportunity to hit the season quarterpole with a nice 3-1 record and two divisional wins in hand if they can defeat the New England Patriots next Monday (8:30pm ET, ESPN). Not too shabby a situation heading into the bye week! Hopefully the Dolphins will get the job done.


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