Friday, September 4, 2009

The Undefeated (Pre) Season

September 4, 2009

Celebrate! Not really.

With a win in New Orleans the Miami Dolphins head home to get 10 much-needed days of rest and preparation for the NFL's regular season. A 4-0 pre season record does not mean much at all once you step on the gridiron for week one. But the lessons behind each of those wins are valuable enough.

The final game of pre season is, how do you say, the most forgettable game of them all. A bunch of backups trying to secure a spot on the team and preserve the energy and health of the starters. The talent level is obviously a bit lower than usual.

At any rate, the New Orleans game showcased a few highlights for Miami, including Patrick Cobbs and Sean Smith. Cobbs had a nice 25-yard run and TD to prove he belongs as the number three RB on the depth chart.

As for Smith, did you see that interception? It was all the buzz on forums like FinHeaven. Just take a look at the photograph above and the video below to get an idea, or if you saw it, a double take, of his one-handed endzone grab. Defintely a veteran CB play by a rookie NFL athlete.

Beyond that it was a low scoring game that had its moments. What mattered was that it was the last chance the Fins had to "practice" before the games begin to count. So how can we sum up the pre season?

  • Offense has been good enough to score when needed and be dynamic throughout.
  • Defense only allowed a total of 39 points combined in all four games.
  • Wild Cat is still alive and a viable option for Miami's offense.
  • Chad Pennington still looks like the Chad of last season, which is definitely a good thing.
  • Linebacking core has been dominant and puts plenty of pressure on opposing QBs.
  • Defense has recovered on sloppy drives by making clutch stops/good red zone D.
  • Dolphins as a whole looks more polished that last year's team.
  • Secondary unit is still in limbo and not as cohesive as they should be.
  • Special teams has been unimpressive and in need of better tackling.
  • Run stopping has been inconsistent and may be a problem versus elite RBs.
  • Wide reciever depth chart is still unsure while Ginn hasn't convinced he's a #1.
  • Offense was not "high octane" - didn't score a lot of points.
  • O-Line struggled with running game, failed to open gaps for RBs various times.
Expectations of the team are higher this time around, and while the media and league analysts are skeptical of their chances the players know just another playoff appearance isn't enough. It's back to the drawing board and week one in Atlanta will be a worthy test for Miami. The pre season should only serve as a guide to see what worked and what didn't, and not as a bragging right for the players. When you have first-teamers out there playing from the first snap to the last it's a whole different ball game.

Some players fans should look out for this season include:
  • Sean Smith - because he's a flat out beast, even as a rookie.
  • Vontae Davis - he'll have plenty to prove and the talent to prove it.
  • Jake Long - this year he's out to make the Pro Bowl as a starter (not a reserve).
  • Ted Ginn Jr. - we need to know if he's our go-to guy (third season = breakout year for wide receivers).
  • Greg Camarillo - he's coming off a tough injury and has a chip on his shoulder.
  • Gibril Wilson - new face, same goal: to be a solid presence in the secondary.
  • Jason Taylor - he's back for one more season and he's shaped up, so watch out.
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Here's the Sean Smith video we referenced above. A catch like this doesn't happen from even the best corners in the league. What a future this young gun has a head of himself.

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