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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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Note: Stats as of Week 9 games




Front Seven: B

Holding opposition to less than 100 yards rushing per game (89.6) while generating all of the team's 18 sacks. Joey Porter leads the league in sacks (11.5) and is a candidate for league defensive MVP. Rookies Phillip Merling and Kendall Langford have seen significant playing time (3 sacks, 28 tackles between them).


Secondary: C

The good news is that they've held opposing passers to an 87.8 efficiency rating, which is 7.4 points below Chad Pennington's, and a 60% completion rate (12th lowest). The bad news is that they're surrendering 242 yards per game and have given up more passes of 20+ yards (37) than every team except Seattle. Big, physical receivers have been especially troublesome. Is Jason Allen (6-1, 200) the answer at CB?


Overall: B

Stout versus the run with NT Jason Ferguson playing. Good, consistent QB pressure. Secondary is questionable versus the pass, but turned in a brilliant effort against Denver. +9 turnover ratio is 2nd in NFL (Tennessee +10).




Line: B

Just about 100 yards per game on the ground, not very dominating but enough to create balance and sell playaction effectively. Consistency remains a problem. Pass pro has surrendered 15 sacks thus far (13th lowest), though not all are the line's fault.


Receivers/Tight Ends: B-

Greg Camarillo (483 yards) has just 20 fewer yards than ex-Dolphin Wes Welker, even though Welker has more receptions (13). A strong second half could give Camarillo a cool grand for the first time. Ted Ginn is getting better and is already influencing defensive coverages. Tight ends David Martin and Anthony Fasano are dependable receivers; Fasano is also a tough blocker and an excellent red zone target.


Running backs: B

Ronnie Brown is the best overall player on offense and plays QB in the Wildcat. He could finish with a 1,000 yard season with a strong second half, and is currently tied for 2nd in the league in TDs scored (8). Ricky Williams has been used judiciously, and remains one of the select few that will get the ball when the game's on the line; he's going to have plenty in the tank for the stretch run. Offensive coordinator Dan Henning has done a good job splitting the touches between them. Combined, their rushing yardage would be good for 4th overall in the NFL (748). Fullback has been a revolving door.


Quarterback: A

Pennington is having the best overall season by a Dolphin QB in over a decade. He is the team's midseason MVP.


Overall: B+

Top 10 offense in total yards, 6th in passing, 4th fewest in penalties and penalty yardage. Only 6 turnovers thus far. Who'd have thought it from what we saw in the preseason?



Special Teams

Kicker: B-

Dan Carpenter?s work on field goals (12 of 14 ? 83%) and PATs (100%) somewhat offsets his poor work on kickoffs (4 touchbacks), putting added pressure on the kick coverage teams to make more tackles.


Punter: C

Brandon Fields stands 18th in gross average (44.4 yards), though he is doing a good job forcing fair catches (8, tied for 7th). He is not having a good season thus far, relative to his abilities.


Kick/Punt Coverage: F

The most disappointing area of the team, considering the investment made in free agency. On kickoffs, the Dolphins are the worst in the league. On punts, 7th worst. The grade here is an ?F? because the coverage teams cost the team one win (Houston) and almost another (Denver).



Coaching: A

Offense is very innovative. Defense is better than expected. Is there a coaching staff out there getting more from their players than Tony Sparano and his assistants?

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