Q: What was the biggest flaw exposed in Miami's offense and defense?
Dave: The biggest flaw was simply the turnovers -- as Prof. Tony Sparano said, teams that have four turnovers in a game win 10 percent of the time. That isn't the biggest worry, though. Tight end Anthony Fasano had two fumbles in the game. He had two in the three seasons before this. So it was uncharacteristic for a team that last year tied a NFL record low with 13 turnovers. I'm not worried about the turnovers being a long-term concern. The worry is the offensive line. Atlanta isn't expected to be a terror on defense, and the Dolphins gave up four sacks. Jake Long gave up 2 1/2 sacks all last year and he gave up two this game. The Dolphins have few big-play makers on offense, and a lot of money ($155 million) has been invested in the line. The question is whether this game was indicative of problems or also will be an aberration.
Q: Will the Monday Night game against Indianapolis be tougher, easier or about the same difficulty as the Atlanta game?
Dave: The Indy game got a little easier with the news that Colts receiver Anthony Gonzalez got hurt. That takes away a big target for Peyton Manning. You'd like to think the game will be easier in that it's at home, on a Monday night stage, rather than an opener on the road against a decent team. Manning will challenge the rookie cornerbacks, though. And tight end Dallas Clark must have seen how Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez had a big game against the Dolphins safeties. Miami doesn't want the game to turn into a Manning shootout, because they aren't a big-play offense. Easier than Atlanta? Sure. Easy? Nope.
Q: The secondary, special teams and offensive line all struggled, which one is in the most need of improvement entering week two?
Dave: Again, I get back to the offensive line needing to improve. It was expected to be a force behind which the offense can run. It wasn't close to that against an average-at-best Atlanta line. But, again, the track record suggests they'll improve. You don't expect Jake Long to get beat like that very often.
Q: Will we see any roster moves this week, including trades or free agent signings?
Dave: There won't be any major moves for the simple reason that the NFL doesn't work that way. After months of off-season roster maneuvers and practices, you are who you are. It's too early to make trades (again, not many happen in the during the season anyway). And so you are who you are right now.
Q: Should DolFans worry about Sunday's loss or was it just a minor misstep in a long season?
Dave: I won't go overboard on the worrying after one game. There were some good things. The defensive front seven looked to play with some good muscle, holding Pro Bowl running back Michael Turner to 68 yards on 22 carries. The defense also kept being put in bad positions because of the turnovers and came out pretty good. Ricky Williams still runs with power. So there were some good things. But, again, if they'd won the game you wouldn't be going overboard. It's a long season.
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Agreeing with most of what Dave said, it only makes sense that the Dolphins played a bad game and were not showcasing what's to come for the rest of the season. Jake Long was a stud last season and he faced a very tough John Abraham in Atlanta - don't expect him to get steamrolled like that many more times.
As for the O-Line, it should pay off (figuratively and literally) as the weeks go on. New players equals new bonds that must be formed. Donald Thomas and Jake Grove are fresh faces that make up two-fifths of the Dolphins' front line. Give them a chance to get comfortable and work together as a unit.
If DolFans should take anything away from this it's not to see only "doom and gloom." As Dave stated, it's a long season and we should not be exaggerating after one game. Seasons are won and lost as they go, not before they even develop. The past two Super Bowl champions (New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers) were heavy underdogs to win it all at the start of the year. Not saying that Miami will be playing in Super Bowl XLIV, but don't act like they secured the #1 draft pick next year.
We would like to thank Dave for sharing his time and expertise with us despite his hectic schedule. We look forward to more interesting columns and blog posts from him down the road. Keep up the great work.