Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dolphins vs. Jaguars: Random Observations

It wasn't pretty, but the Dolphins prevailed in their 2009 preseason opener last night, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars by a score of 12-9. The team will take on the Carolina Panthers on Saturday, Aug. 22, when they'll have the extra motivation of trying to win one for my birthday.

I'm not going to be doing videos for the preseason, but instead just listing some random observations I had about certain players during the game. I was going to do a sort of "stock watch" thing as well, but after I wrote the quick hits, I realized most of what I would say in the stock watch was already there.

Now, the quick hits. Here comes the header:

Quick Hits
  • This one certainly looked like a preseason game. The offensive line was a mess at times, there were some busted plays, and the fourth quarter was played by a lot of guys that will be working fast food in September. Those rough patches are to be expected and isn't really cause for concern unless it persists throughout the preseason.
  • The offensive line certainly isn't there yet. The pass protection was troubling at times and the running game was never able to get going.
  • Speaking off the offensive line, while Shawn Murphy got the start at right guard, Donald Thomas seemed to play most of the first half, while Murphy didn't play not until much later. I've said it before and I'll say it again: If he's healthy, I can't imagine Thomas not winning the job.
  • Despite getting no help from the offensive line, the Dolphins' backs ran hard. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams looked good and should be fine.
  • It was nice to see Ted Ginn, Jr. have the performance he did. He made some quality catches, ran good routes and drew a big pass interference call like a veteran. The third year is when most NFL wideouts break out, so keep an eye on Ginn in '09.
  • Chad Henne was shaky at times, but I still see him as starter material. He looks like a leader on the field and throws a good ball. He should be fine.
  • Nice to see Ernest Wilford make a play there. You had to feel good for the guy, even if it did come in a preseason game. We got to see a glimpse of the kind of stuff he can do as a pass catcher from the tight end position and I'm intrigued by his potential there. Still, with that contract, he'll have to be more than just a third tight end to make the team.
  • I saw Anthony Armstrong really going all out on some special teams plays, even getting in on a tackle. He needs to play well there, because his biggest competition is Brandon London and that's what London does best.
  • It's certainly a change of pace to have an athletic guy like Pat White behind center, but he's a long way off from contributing and being ready to run an offense.
  • You have to feel for guys like Anthony Kimble. He had virtually no chance to make the team anyway, but to see a guy really mess up his one chance by dropping a pass and causing an interception is rough. Guys in his position have to be flawless during the few times they get on the field.
  • Lex Hilliard runs hard, but it's hard to evaluate his performance when he's was facing the Jaguars' third-team defense. He has no chance to crack the top three backs and is really auditioning for his own practice squad spot, but running like that helps.
  • Chris Williams got an extended look at both return spots, and he had his ups and downs. He certainly has home-run potential with that speed though. I just don't know if he'll be able to prove enough to earn a roster spot solely for his return skills, because he's not going to be playing on offense.
  • I expect Connor Barth to give Dan Carpenter a legitimate run for the kicking job, and the fact he got into a game shows you it's a real competition. Camp legs rarely play in the preseason.
  • I thought the first-team defensive line did a good job. Tony McDaniel played well and should earn some playing time in rotation during the regular season.
  • Vontae Davis had a very rough night, though it's nothing to worry about this early on.
  • Eric Green was brought in as a potential starter, but he was pretty awful last night and I'm close to predicting him to be cut. If he can't show anything on defense, there will be no reason not to keep Jason Allen as the fifth corner for his special teams ability.
  • I think J. D. Folsom might have a real shot at beating out William Kershaw, who wasn't particularly impressive on defense. I still think Folsom is more practice squad material at this point, but he's making the most of his opportunity.
  • I'm wary of Gibril Wilson's coverage skills, but it's nice to see him acting like a leader in the secondary.
  • Sean Smith (a favorite of mine and the guy I projected us taking in the first round) has performed above and beyond expectations. He's got great ball skills. There's no doubt in my mind he's going to start opposite Will Allen, especially with the struggles of Green and Davis.
  • Nice showing by Cameron Wake. It's impossible to know at this point how his CFL performance translates to the much tougher NFL, but he's a physical specimen, plays extremely hard and looks like he has potential as a pass rusher. He won't be asked to do much as a rookie anyway.
Remember - I'm tweeting during games now and did so last night, so you can get this kind of analysis as things happen in-game. (And who would want to deny themselves that.) You can find in-game analysis and all kinds of little blurbs of Dolphins news and info throughout the day at www.twitter.com/phinsspotlight.