Sunday, December 13, 2009

Miami Dolphins-Jacksonville Jagurs random observations

The Miami Dolphins kept their playoff hopes alive for at least one more week, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road 14-10.

It wasn't always pretty and the Dolphins failed to capitalize on all opportunities which kept things close, but sound play from quarterback Chad Henne and clutch plays on defense sealed the victory.

At 7-6, the Dolphins are still alive in the AFC Wild Card race, trailing the Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens with identical records.

The Dolphins head to Nashville to face the soaring Tennessee Titans in Week 15, where they'll face quite possibly their toughest individual opponent yet in running back Chris Johnson.

Until then, here are my observations from the Dolphins' victory over the Jaguars:

Offense
  • The numbers don't tell the whole story, as Chad Henne was very accurate and efficient throughout the game. He had a bad interception late, but played well almost all day. Henne is looking more and more like a leader on offense and clearly has all the tools to be a very good NFL quarterback.
  • Thank you to Dan Henning and the rest of the staff for once again keeping Pat White on the bench. Until the Dolphins are officially eliminated from playing contention, I don't want to see White with a helmet on.
  • Ricky Williams ran hard and followed his blocking well, but really struggled holding onto the ball today. He's always had small hands and needs to do a better job securing the ball, especially since Miami has no other legitimate options at tailback.
  • Lousaka Polite continues to be a force in the running game as a blocker, as well as money in short-yardage ball-carrying situations. Every week I'm becoming more and more convinced he should be in the Pro Bowl this year.
  • Greg Camarillo led the Dolphins' receivers against Jacksonville, catching everything thrown his way and consistently moving the chains.
  • Vernon Carey got embarrassed on one play, but the offensive line did a good job protecting Henne for the most part. Helping matters is that Henne's pocket awareness and decision-making is becoming much more refined with every passing week.
  • Nate Garner and Donald Thomas (now relegated to a platoon/reserve role) both did well in the running game. I like Thomas' upside more though, and would prefer him to start while Garner serves as a versatile sixth lineman off the bench.
Defense & Special Teams
  • The Dolphins' defensive line had as good a game as I've seen in a few years, getting good pressure on Jaguars quarterback David Garrard and keeping running back Maurice Jones-Drew in check. Kendall Langford and Phillip Merling both made some plays in the pressure/deflection departments, while Paul Soliai and Randy Starks dominated most of the game and came up big on some fourth-down plays.
  • Joey Porter had a strong game with his seventh sack of the year, while Cameron Wake continued his push for more playing time. Wake had a huge sack late in a game for the second consecutive week, and on another play pushed starting right tackle Eben Britton completely into Garrard.
  • Akin Ayodele played well inside, while it looked like Reggie Torbor saw some playing time on defense at Channing Crowder's expense. I'm pretty okay with this turn of events, as Torbor registered a nice sack against the Jaguars and Crowder is pretty pedestrian anyway.
  • Sean Smith has the physical tools, but his instincts have got to get better. Even for a rookie, it seems he's caught out of position just a little too often.
  • Gibril Wilson had a few nice plays, but he also was part of Jacksonville's biggest passing play of the year on a deep pass to Torry Holt. Sean Smith bit on the short route against Holt, which wouldn't have been so bad if Wilson hadn't as well.
  • Yeremiah Bell had a strong came and made a few big plays in the passing game, which is nice to see from a hard-hitting, in-the-box safety.
  • Dan Carpenter missed his first field goal since Week 2 and just his second attempt of the season, but he's still having a great year and isn't any cause for concern.