Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dolphins at Jaguars: Thoughts & Observations (Offense)

The following are my thoughts and observations from the Dolphins Week 2 preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. At the risk of their being no pattern or organization to these random notes, I've decided to at least group them by position.

Quarterback
  • Dolphins fans have to be pleased with the way the quarterbacks performed in this game. Chad Pennington, in what little passing he did, was a very efficient 5-for-6 and looked as good as any Dolphins quarterback has in a long time. Sparano might not be willing to name a starter at this point, but there's no question Pennington is the best guy for the job.
  • Speaking of Pennington starting, I have to say that I am cautiously yet increasingly optimistic about the Dolphins' chances to win games this season. I do not believe they will be contenders for a playoff spot, but Pennington's ability to manage the game and avoid mistakes will keep the Dolphins in games, which could even propel them to around .500 for the season.
  • Rookie Chad Henne looked very good as well and certainly didn't look like a rookie. He is very poised in the pocket and confidently delivers his throws with poise and accuracy. He knows when to use touch on his throws but has the arm to really gun it in there. All indications are he's ready to be the No. 2 quarterback out of the game.
  • As for the quarterbacks that didn't get to play, it's becoming increasingly obvious that the team has little use for McCown and Beck outside of a third stringer. While I am an advocate of keeping Beck and cutting McCown lose, it certainly appears like the team is ready to part ways with Beck now if they can get something for him. There's a good argument for the move and I wouldn't be too upset, as Pennington is the now and Henne is the future.
Running back
  • Ricky Williams continues to run the ball well and it is a welcome sight given Ronnie Brown's rehab. I am confident Brown will still get his touches before being eased back into the starting role in 2009 (I will address Mort's Brown rumors in a future post) and it certainly looks like the Dolphins will have a hell of a 1-2 punch at tailback.
  • Boomer Grigsby continues to outplay Reagan Mauia and the second-year Cameron draft pick is in danger of not making the roster. Grigsby is a fine blocker, a better receiver and a special teams ace.
Wide receiver/Tight end
  • Second-year receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. had a very impressive game (4 catches, 58 yards) and showed what he can do as a receiver when he has a good quarterback throwing to him. Ginn has a great attitude and work ethic to go along with extreme talent. He's going to prove a lot of haters wrong if the Dolphins build a good offense around him.
  • Speaking of Ginn, I was disappointed to see a catch he made along the sidelines ruled in complete upon review by the referee. The play, which was a semi-long pass from Henne to Ginn down the right sideline, occurred with about 2-3 minutes left in the second quarter. Ginn made a beautiful over-the-shoulder grab and, in my view, was able to secure the ball prior to taking two steps in-bounds. While it is true that he did bobble the ball initially, he had one foot on the ground when he gained control and took another step in bounds, thus giving him two feet and possession. There is no doubt in my mind the refs blew this one.
  • Derek Hagan also had a couple of good catches and appears to be the best candidate for the No. 2 job. That still isn't a good thing, however, and receiver remains a thin position for the Dolphins.
  • It was sad to see Ernest Wilford playing in the fourth quarter against the Jaguars. I was a big fan of his entering free agency and glad to see the Dolphins sign him, but he's really been losing ground lately. If he didn't have so much money guaranteed and if the Dolphins weren't so thin at the position, I think he'd be in danger of losing his job. His problems might be might though because I know he has the ability to be a good NFL receiver.
  • Davone Bess remains the team's best undrafted rookie receiver and will likely make the team, but Sparano isn't going to put up with careless mistakes like his false start on the second offensive play of the game.
  • Speaking of which, there was no excuse for the delay of game penalty following the false start. It was a sloppy start to the game and it was nice to see the Dolphins rebound.
  • The Dolphins could really be lacking any kind of receiving threat at tight end. If Anthony Fasano doesn't show he can be a starter this season, the position will be a high priority in 2009.
Offensive line
  • I can't remember the last time I saw a Dolphins quarterback have time to throw like Pennington and Henne did in this game. The line started off slow early, forcing Pennington to scramble a few times as the pocket collapsed, but for the most part they really let him sit back their and let his receivers get open. A good line is the key to a productive offense and it will help mask the team's weaknesses at other positions.
  • Rookie first overall pick Jake Long had another very strong performance. He had only one poor play in my view where he complete whiffed on a block and let Patrick Cobbs get eaten up in the backfield, but other than that he was very good.
  • Sixth-rounder Donald Thomas also had a good showing and is seemingly entrenched as the starting right guard. He'll make some rookie mistakes here and there, but he's a massive mauler with a lot of upside.