Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dolphins at Bengals - Live Chat

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jonathon Amaya promoted to active roster

Undrafted rookie Jonathon Amaya has been promoted to the active roster prior to Sunday's game, likely to play special teams and fill in for injured backup safety Reshad Jones, who is likely to be inactive against the Bengals.

Fullback Deon Anderson was also placed on injured reserve, just 12 days after he was signed as insurance to Lousaka Polite and to play special teams.

A Nevada alum, Amaya was signed by the Dolphins following the NFL Draft in April and played for the team in the preseason, recording six tackles and an interception.

Waived during final cuts on Sept. 4, Amaya has spent the first seven weeks of the regular season on the team's practice squad.


Analysis

Anderson's stint with the Dolphins comes to a quick and disappointing end, though he was never going to play more than special teams anyway.

With Jones likely out against the Bengals with a leg injury, Amaya will play special teams and serve as the fourth safety behind top backup Tyrone Culver.

I'm glad to see Amaya promoted, because he is someone that could draw attention from other teams, although he's probably going to end up being waived once Jones is healthy.

I'm mildly excited to see Amaya play, as he's a solid developmental prospect. Granted, he will likely be limited to special teams in his first NFL season, but he's someone to keep an eye on.

As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.


Discuss this article on the forum here!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Former Dolphins DE David Bowens named AFC Defensive Player of the Week

While not current Miami Dolphins news, I thought I'd give some props to veteran NFL defensive end/linebacker David Bowens, who was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week with the Cleveland Browns.

Bowens earned the honor this week after intercepting two Drew Brees passes and returning them 30 and 64 yards for touchdowns in the Browns' win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Incredibly, after failing to score a touchdown in his first 157 career games spanning more than 11 seasons, Bowens found the end zone twice in one game against the Saints.

Originally drafted by the Denver Broncos in the fifth round of the 1999 NFL Draft, Bowens played in 16 games as a rookie, followed by 14 with the Green Bay Packers in 2000.

After an offseason stint with the Buffalo Bills in 2001, Bowens spent part of the regular season with the Washington Redskins, but did not appear in a game.

Bowens landed in Miami during the 2001 season and spent seven seasons with the team, including one as a starter in 2004. That season, he totaled a career-high seven sacks to go along with 41 tackles, three forced fumbles, and six pass deflections.

Bowens departed via free agency in 2007, playing two seasons with the New York Jets as a top reserve linebacker and special-teamer.

He joined the Browns on a four-year contract in 2009 and started 15 games his first season in Cleveland, recording a career-high 71 tackles and 5.5 sacks.

While Bowens has never been a star in the NFL and has primarily been a backup, he was always a solid producer.

His longevity is impressive, having switched from a 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 linebacker in the back-end of his career and still playing well at the age of 33.

Congrats to D-Bow for a great accomplishment that will go down as one of the highlights of his strong NFL résumé.


Discuss this article on the forum here!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dolphins Winning Drive - 10/28/10

A daily vlog of Miami Dolphins news, discussion, and analysis on my drive home from work. This episode discusses the re-signing of defensive end Rob Rose to the practice squad, as well as some stat changes from the Steelers game involving Chad Henne, Yeremiah Bell, and Cameron Wake.

Dolphins re-sign DE Rob Rose to practice squad

Two days after waiving him to make room for re-signed cornerback Evan Oglesby, the Miami Dolphins have re-signed defensive end Rob Rose to their practice squad.

The 6-foot-4, 297-pound Rose spent the Dolphins' regular season opener on the active roster after being claimed off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks during final cuts.

He then spent two weeks on the practice squad before being promoted back to the active roster on Sept. 29, where he remained until this Tuesday.

Despite being on the active roster for four of the Dolphins' six games this season, the undrafted rookie from Ohio State has yet to dress and play in a regular season contest.

Rose was once again inactive this past Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, while fellow rookie defensive end Clifton Geathers made his NFL debut and played in a reserve role just a day after being from the practice squad Saturday.

Geathers appears to have jumped Rose on the depth chart for the moment, although it wouldn't be a surprise to see these two shuffled some more before the season is over.

As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.


Discuss this article on the forum here!

Chad Henne's last passing attempt vs. Steelers changed to interception

Things got a little bit worse for the Miami Dolphins four days after a controversial fumble call facilitated a Steelers victory Sunday, as the NFL has altered the statistician report from the game to give Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne an interception on his final passing attempt seen here.

Down 23-22 with 1:38 remaining, the Dolphins faced a 4th and 6 from their own 33-yard line. Quarterback Chad Henne dropped back to pass, evaded pressure from Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds, but was hit behind by Worilds as he threw to Ronnie Brown.

Steelers linebacker James Harrison dove for an corralled the ball on the play, which was ruled an interception by the referee on the field. Later replays showed the ball bounce before Harrison got it in his hands, but a necessary booth review to overturn the call never came.

The Steelers proceeded to run out the clock and walk away with the victory.


Explanation

Despite the ruling of an interception on the field, the stat keeper for the game mistakenly (albeit more accurately) ruled the pass incomplete.

While an incompletion is what did happen on the play, it is not what was ruled on the field, and thus is not something that officially "happened" in the game.

Regardless of whether or not Harrison caught the ball (and video proves he did not), the play was ruled an interception by the referees on the field and was not reviewed by the booth for any kind of alteration.

Keep in mind, this ruling did not affect the outcome of the game, as the play in question happened on fourth down, and thus an interception or incompletion both result in Steelers possession.

This only affects Chad Henne's statistics, which unfortunately now have an additional interception that should have been reviewed and overturned. Obviously, the booth was too lazy to review an inconsequential play with so little time remaining, but they absolutely should have reviewed it.

Nevertheless, it is important to remember that the NFL did not review the video of the play and is not altering anything that was ruled on the field. Rather, they are merely fixing the statistician's error to accurately reflect the ruling that was carried on the field, as erroneous as it may have been.


Discuss this article on the forum here!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dolphins Winning Drive - 10/27/10

This episode discusses the re-signing of cornerback Evan Oglesby and the release of defensive end Rob Rose.

Dolphins re-sign CB Evan Oglesby; waive DE Rob Rose

The Miami Dolphins have brought back a familiar face, re-signing cornerback Evan Oglesby for his fourth stint with the organization.

Rookie defensive end Rob Rose was waived to make room for Oglesby on the roster, and should fill the empty practice squad spot once he clears waivers.


Background

An undrafted free agent out of North Alabama in 2005, Oglesby originally signed with the Buffalo Bills as a free agent, but did not make the team out of training camp.

After two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, Oglesby spent the 2007 season with the Dallas Cowboys. He returned to Baltimore in 2008, but was waived prior to the 2009 season.

Signed by the Dolphins on November 24, 2009, Oglesby was waived four days later to make room for practice squad defensive end Ryan Baker. Oglesby was re-signed on December 11.

Switching jersey numbers from 41 to 27, Oglesby spent the 2010 offseason with the Dolphins and opened training camp on the Non-Football Illness list. He was released on Aug. 3, only to be re-signed a day later when undrafted rookie cornerback A. J. Wallace left the team.

Wallace eventually landed on injured reserve with an ankle injury during the preseason, and was let go with an injury settlement on Aug. 18. He has been a free agent since.

With cornerback Benny Sapp now wearing Oglesby's old No. 27, Oglesby will switch to his third number with the franchise and wear No. 31.


Analysis

Oglesby returns to the Dolphins after receiving an injury settlement and waiting the mandatory seven weeks into the regular season.

It's not a huge impact signing though, as Oglesby is somewhat of a journeyman that doesn't have starting ability or any real upside.

What Oglesby does bring is experience and special-teams ability, which is something the Dolphins are still sorely lacking in the middle of the 2010 season.

Oglesby will provide depth at cornerback with Jason Allen and Benny Sapp struggling and Nolan Carroll nursing an injury, but he's unlikely to have much of an impact in games.

As for Rose, it's no surprise to see him cut, as he'd yet to appear in a game this season despite all the Dolphins' injuries at defensive end.

It appears Clifton Geathers, who was promoted to the active roster Saturday and dressed against the Steelers while Rose was inactive, has indeed leapfrogged Rose on the depth chart.

There Dolphins' have a spot open on the practice squad vacated by Geathers last week, so it seems likely Rose will be added back there if he clears waivers.

As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.


Discuss this article on the forum here!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dolphins-Steelers Game Observations

In what very well could go down as the turning point of the season, the Miami Dolphins fell to 3-3 with a narrow and controversial 23-22 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7.

The Dolphins totaled only six points from two early Steelers turnovers, but hung with Pittsburgh for the entire game thanks to five Dan Capenter field goals and quality quarterback play by Chad Henne.

A highly-controversial call at the end of the game sealed a loss for the Dolphins, but that has already been discussed ad nauseum, including in my video from yesterday.

That being the case, here are my other observations from the Dolphins' "loss" to the Steelers.


Offense
  • I was very pleased with how Chad Henne played, especially considering he was going up against the NFL's best defense. He really settled in as the game went on, throwing the ball with good accuracy and zip almost all day. People have talked about his inability to read the field and a supposed tendency to lock onto his receivers, but this game was the best example yet of how that really doesn't describe Henne at all. He went through his progressions perfectly and almost always made the good decision. And, he did all this with some pretty bad play-calling by Dan Henning and pass protection by Vernon Carey—both of which killed the team's final drive.
  • The Dolphins weren't able to get a whole lot going on the ground, though Ricky Williams ran much better than Ronnie Brown on the day. Struggles are to be expected against the NFL's top run defense, and Brown's carry total is too small of a sample size against a good team to cause any concern. The offensive line has been the bigger culprit through the season, anyway.
  • Brandon Marshall put forth a solid effort, but the Steelers focused heavily on preventing Marshall from doing a lot of damage, forcing many of Henne's throws to go the ways of Davone Bess and Brian Hartline. Bess was extremely impressive once again and showed spectacular run-after-catch ability, while Hartline bounced back from a bad fumble to haul in all five of his targets on some nice grabs.
  • Anthony Fasano made a few nice grabs, but also had a key drop on the final drive. I'm also a bit troubled that neither of the other tight ends (Mickey Schuler or Jeron Mastrud) is ready to play some offense in two-tight end sets. The lack of that is really hurting Miami's running game, and if the Dolphins don't have the players to do it now, why don't they get one? (Or better yet, why did they let go of David Martin?)
  • Jake Long was flagged with a rare holding call against James Harrison, but it was pretty weak and was good technique by Long in my opinion. He did well all day too, and once again didn't allow a sack. Vernon Carey was a whole other story though, as he did allow a sack on a terrible effort against Larry Foote. Carey also allowed the pressure that forced Henne outside on the Dolphins' final play, then Carey allowed his man to turn around and hit Henne from behind to mess up the pass. It was definitely not his best day.
  • The Dolphins' interior line was not very impressive, getting dominated by the Steelers' defensive line in the running game. They didn't allow a whole lot of pressure in the pass rush though, giving Henne plenty of time to throw. This has been a pretty consistent theme for the line this season—great pass protection, but sub-par run-blocking.

Defense
  • I was very pleased with how the defensive line did, with Kendall Langford and Paul Soliai both getting some great push and Tony McDaniel having a nice game as well and recording a sack. Though the pass defense was sorely lacking, the Dolphins' run defense was exceptional most of the day, as Rashard Mendenhall was limited to just 37 yards on 15 carries.
  • Koa Misi added another half-sack to his resume, while Cameron Wake was held quiet in that department after his three-sack performance last week. Wake did get good pressure at times though and played the run better than he ever has. The overall pressure just wasn't consistent enough though, especially on third downs.
  • Karlos Dansby and Channing Crowder also did a nice job against the run, although Dansby struggled a bit in coverage. Most of this can be blamed on the play-calling though, as Dansby was matched up on Hines Ward far too much in the game.
  • Vontae Davis was only targeted a few times and didn't give up many yards, as the Steelers shied away from him in the passing game most of the time. Benny Sapp was exposed a handful of times, and Jason Allen was flat-out burned by Mike Wallace on a long touchdown. It's hard to fault Allen as he simply lacked the speed to keep up with Wallace.
  • Sean Smith seemed to recapture his starting role at cornerback, but we'll see how permanent it is. He has more upside that Allen, but seemed to lose confidence before the season. He didn't make any mistakes against Pittsburgh though, so it'll be interesting to see if he can keep it up.
  • Chris Clemons had a very up-and-down day, making a terrible tackle effort on a Steelers touchdown and contributing to a few long third-down conversions. He did have a sack though and made a great clutch play to force a Ben Roethlisberger fumble at the end of the game.

Special Teams
  • Dan Carpenter continued his excellent play by drilling all five of his field-goal attempts through the uprights. He's easily one of the most reliable kickers in the game.
  • Brandon Fields was great too, placing two of his three punts inside the 20 and averaging 47.7 yards per punt. It's more of the same from the strong-legged punt.
  • The Dolphins kickoff coverage was a really sore spot and allowed the Steelers to get way too many yards before their offensive possessions. Lex Hilliard did force a fumble on the opening kickoff and made a few touchdown-saving tackles, but there is no excuse for letting guys get to midfield or beyond.

Conclusions

I'm not here to say the Dolphins should've done more than they did, because then it wouldn't have come down to a bad call by the referee. The Dolphins, regardless of what they didn't do, earned the ball with a 22-20 lead and under three minutes remaining.

However, there were a few things from the Dolphins' performance that do need to be remedied. Dan Henning's play-calling continues to be questionable, while the Dolphins' defense gave up way too many long third-down conversions.

Special teams also continues to be an issue, though it doesn't appear to be something the Dolphins can fix this season now that they've already fired one coach, and can't reasonably cut every bad special-teams player on the team and find a handful of quality ones on the market in the middle of the season.

The Dolphins could have really used a win against Pittsburgh, and at 3-3, they are rapidly approaching an average season in a division with two quality opponents in the Jets and Patriots.

A winning streak is a must if the Dolphins want to salvage their season, and it needs to begin yesterday.


Discuss this article from the forum here!

Dolphins Winning Drive - 10/26/10

This episode discussed my observations from the Dolphins' loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Dolphins Winning Drive - Assessing the Controversial Call vs. the Steelers

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dolphins promote DE Clifton Geathers from practice squad

The Miami Dolphins have replaced defensive end Jared Odrick, who is on injured reserve with a broken foot, on the roster, having activated rookie defensive end Clifton Geathers from the practice squad Saturday.

Geathers made his NFL debut yesterday against the Pittsburgh Steelers wearing No. 62, recording zero tackles in limited action as a reserve defensive end.

Originally a sixth-round pick by the Cleveland Browns out of South Carolina last April, Geathers was waived during final cuts and claimed off waivers by the Dolphins on Sept. 5.

After being inactive in the Dolphins' regular season opener in Buffalo, Geathers was waived on Sept. 14 to make room for re-sign linebacker Erik Walden.

Geathers was re-signed to the practice squad shortly after, but was waived a few days later when linebacker Micah Johnson was re-signed to the practice squad.

The Dolphins again re-signed Geathers to the practice squad on Sept. 22, where he remained until his promotion two days ago.


Analysis

It's no surprise to see Geathers promoted, as he's replacing another defensive end on the roster and the Dolphins typically keep the same amount of depth at the position.

I was a bit surprised to see Geathers get the nod over nose tackle Chris Baker, who has some versatility at end and also has more experience in the Dolphins' defensive scheme, having played under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan in Denver last season.

It was also surprising to see Geathers active during yesterday's game over fellow rookie Rob Rose, considering Rose had already been on the active roster and appeared to be held in slightly higher regard by the organization.

However, it's likely the Dolphins just wanted to give Geathers a chance to get on the field and show what he could do, considering his role wasn't going to have a huge impact on the game anyway.

The son of former NFL defensive tackle Jumpy Geathers and the brother of current Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Robert Geathers, Clifton Geathers is a solid prospect in his own right and has extremely impressive measurables at 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds.

(Coincidentally, the two brothers will face off this coming weekend when the Dolphins travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals in Week 8.)

However, he's already been released from the practice squad once this season and has a handful of more proven players in front of him, so it seems unlikely he'll have much of an impact in 2010.

Geathers is no lock to remain on the active roster through the end of the season, and is simply competing for playing time and the chance to be brought back for training camp in 2011.

As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.


Discuss this article on the forum here!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

2010 NFL Week Seven Game Predictions

I'm coming off my best week of predicting games yet, getting 12-of-14 picks from Week 6 correct. Let's see if I can keep it up in Week 7.

Last week's record: 12-2
2010 season record: 55-35 (61.1%)


Falcons over Bengals — The Bengals have been a major disappointment this season, and I like the Falcons at home in this one.

Redskins over Bears — Chicago has more holes than their record indicates, and I like the Redskins to finally put it together a little bit and get the win.

Eagles over Titans — The Titans don't lose much with Kerry Collins starting (they may even be better off), but Philly is playing well right now and I think the Eagles have a mini-upset on the road.

Chiefs over Jaguars — I have a hard time believing the Chiefs are a legitimately good team, but Jacksonville is a mess right now and I can't see Todd Bouman (arguably the best NFL player from St. Cloud State ever!) righting the ship in his first regular-season appearance since 2005.

Steelers over Dolphins —  As much as I'd like to pick the Dolphins in a home upset, the Steelers are simply too good to go against right now. Miami has a chance in the heat at home, but they're not the favorites.

Saints over Browns — Colt McCoy was much better than expected in his first NFL start, but I don't see him out-slinging Drew Brees and the Saints.

Buccaneers over Rams — The Rams are playing well under rookie Sam Bradford, but I think it's Josh Freeman's time to pick up a win.

49ers over Panthers — Carolina is making another quarterback switch to a more NFL-ready Matt Moore, but the 49ers are still the superior team in terms of talent.

Ravens over Bills — In what is easily the most lop-sided game of the week, I don't see any way the Bills pull out an upset here.

Seahawks at Cardinals — In a pretty lame battle for the NFC West lead, I like a more experienced Seahawks team over undrafted rookie Max Hall.

Broncos over Raiders —  There's not usually a reason to pick the Raiders, and I'm not going to do so here in this AFC West battle.

Patriots over Chargers — The Chargers have been a major disappointment all season, and I think the Patriots are too good of an opponent to allow them to right the ship here.

Packers over Vikings — I think the Packers are the slightly better team in this great NFC North match-up, and Brett Favre doesn't deserve the satisfaction of beating his old team.

Cowboys over Giants — Perhaps no team need a win more than the 1-4 Cowboys, and I think they'll do it with their backs up against the wall on the Monday night stage.


Discuss this article and share your own picks for this week on the forum here!

Dolphins vs. Steelers - Live Chat

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dolphins Winning Drive - 10/22/10

Jared Odrick lands on injured reserve

A day after head coach Tony Sparano said Jared Odrick would be be "out a while" with a fractured right foot, the Miami Dolphins officially ended the rookie's season by placing him on injured reserve Friday.


Odrick suffered the latest injury toward the end of Wednesday's practice, not long after his return to the practice field from the fractured right fibula that had kept him out since Week 2.

It's an unfortunate and abrupt end to Odrick's rookie season, which appeared to be promising for the 28th overall pick after he won the team's starting right defensive end job in training camp and played well in the preseason.

Odrick finishes the season with one tackle—a tackle for a four-yard loss recorded against Bills running back C. J. Spiller in the third quarter of the Dolphins' season opener win in Buffalo.

Nose tackle Paul Soliai and defensive end Tony McDaniel will continue to see significant playing time in Odrick's absence, with second-year man Ryan Baker and undrafted rookie Rob Rose filling out the depth chart.

No corresponding roster move has been made to fill Odrick's spot on the roster, although practice squad defensive linemen Chris Baker and Clifton Geathers will likely be under consideration.

 As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transaction here.


Discuss this article on the forum here!

Dolphins Winning Drive - 10/21/10

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Jared Odrick out indefinitely with broken foot

Out since the regular season opener with a fractured fibula, Miami Dolphins' rookie first-round pick and defensive end Jared Odrick is "out a while" with a broken foot suffered in his return to the practice field this week, according to head coach Tony Sparano.

Despite earlier reports that Odrick had re-injured his broken right leg, and later reports that said it was the left leg that was broken, Sparano revealed today that Odrick actually suffered a broken bone in his left foot.

The injury apparently occurred toward the end of Wednesday's practice, where Odrick was working on a limited basis as he neared his his recovery from the fractured fibula.

Reports have Odrick likely to be placed on injured reserve in the near future, though Sparano says the team has yet to make a decision on that yet and no roster moves have been made.


Analysis

There really isn't much new to analyze here, because this just puts the Dolphins in the same position they've been in over the past four and a half games.

It's a disappointing turn of events for the promising first-round pick, but the Dolphins have some solid backups to play alongside quality starters Kendall Langford and Randy Starks.

Paul Soliai will continue to get plenty of reps at nose tackle, as always, and Tony McDaniel will play extensively at both tackle and end. Ryan Baker should continue to rotate in as well.

Rookie Rob Rose could also see some playing time if he's impressed enough, and practice-squadders Chris Baker and Clifton Geathers will also vie for playing time.
 
The Dolphins have the eighth-best run defense in the NFL through six weeks this season, and should be able to sustain a strong unit despite Odrick's continued absence.

Odrick will hopefully return healthy next year, while the Dolphins should also get Phillip Merling (Achilles') back too if they choose to keep him around.


Discuss this article on the forum here!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dan Carpenter named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week

The Miami Dolphins' special teams unit has been quite troublesome over the past few weeks, but now one of their players has been singled out for a league award.

Dolphins' placekicker Dan Carpenter was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 6 after converting all three field-goal attempts against the Green Bay Packers, including the 44-yard game-winner in overtime.

Carpenter, who converted both extra-point attempts against the Packers, also had a 41-yard field goal and a career-long 53-yarder at the end of the first half, which came as a result of a Lydon Murtha holding penalty on Carpenter's initial attempt.

This marks the third time Carpenter has earned the award with the Dolphins, having done so once in each of the 2008 and 2009 seasons. He was also named to the 2010 Pro Bowl roster as an injury replacement for the Chargers' Nate Kaeding.

Now in his third season after going undrafted out of Montana in 2008, Carpenter has converted 8-of-10 in five games this season, with one of the misses coming on a block against the Patriots in Week 4.

An 85.7-percent kicker in his professional career, Carpenter signed a three-year extension through the 2013 season.


Discuss this article on the forum here!

Dolphins Winning Drive - 10/20/10

Dolphins Winning Drive - 10/19/10

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dolphins release Bobby Carpenter, sign Deon Anderson

The Miami Dolphins weren't finished re-shaping the special teams unit with the firing of coordinator John Bonamego two weeks ago.

After a number of costly special teams errors, the Dolphins terminated the contract of linebacker Bobby Carpenter on Monday.

The Dolphins have replaced one former Cowboy with another, reportedly signing former Cowboys fullback Deon Anderson to take his roster spot.

With a fully-stocked active roster and practice squad, there are no roster moves imminent for the Dolphins at this time.


Bobby Carpenter

A disappointing former first-round pick by Bill Parcells in Dallas, Carpenter was brought in by the Dolphins before the 2010 regular season to provide defensive depth and help on special teams.

It was that last department that eventually got Carpenter cut, however, as crucial mistakes on special teams over the past few games led to his release yesterday.

In the Dolphins' 41-14 loss to the Patriots in Week 4, Carpenter took a bad route to Brandon Tate on his 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and also missed a block that allowed a Brandon Fields punt to be blocked.

Carpenter's special teams gaffes continued Sunday in Green Bay, as he allowed another punt to be partially deflected by a Packers rusher.

That mistake proved to be the end of the line for Carpenter, who will now try to latch on with his fourth team since May.

Carpenter ends his tenure with the Dolphins having recorded 10 tackles in five games (two starts). He has 106 tackles and 3.5 sacks over four-plus seasons since being the 18th overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft out of Ohio State.


Deon Anderson

A teammate of former Dolphins' guard Donald Thomas at UConn, Anderson was drafted by the Cowboys in the sixth round of the 2007 NFL Draft.

After starting four of the Cowboys' first eight games during his rookie season, Anderson was placed on season-ending injured reserve in November with a rotator cuff injury.

A knee injury forced Anderson to miss the beginning of the 2008 season, but he would return to appear in 14 games (five starts) and score his first NFL touchdown on a reception from Tony Romo.

Anderson served as the Cowboys' full-time starting fullback in 2009, opening nine of the 16 contests in which he appeared. He caught only one pass for five yards that season and did not have a carry, although he did help Cowboys' running backs Marion Barber III and Felix Jones combine for over 1,600 yards on the ground.

After appearing in the Cowboys' regular season opener in 2010, Anderson suffered a knee injury that was expected to keep him out at least two to four weeks.

The Cowboys waived/injured Anderson on Sept. 24, after which time he reverted to injured reserve. Dallas released him with an injury settlement soon after.

In addition to his contributions as a lead blocker, Anderson was a consistently productive special teams player in Dallas, amassing 21 special teams tackles in three seasons, including a career high in 2009.

Anderson was arrested in February after police were called to a disturbance between Anderson and a restaurant staff and traffic warranted were discovered.

Likely signed to a one- or two-year deal for the veteran minimum, Anderson will wear No. 33 for the Dolphins.


Analysis

It's no surprise to see Carpenter cut here, as special teams has been a troubling spot for the Dolphins this season and Carpenter had been one of the biggest culprits.

Carpenter never lived up to his draft status in Dallas, and while he's a solid backup linebacker, he clearly is never going to. If he's going to make costly errors on special teams, he's going to have a hard time staying employed in the National Football League.

Anderson becomes the latest ex-Cowboys to join the Dolphins team, joining fellow fullback Lousaka Polite, who essentially lost the Cowboys' fullback job to Anderson in 2007.

Polite is reportedly a little banged up right now and was unable to finish the game against Green Bay, and Anderson is a more reasonable emergency option at fullback than tailback Lex Hilliard.

However, Polite has developed into one of the league's top fullbacks and Anderson lacks the ball-carrying or lead-blocking abilities to unseat Polite permanently.

Anderson is by no means safe on the Dolphins' roster. He could last a day or he could last the whole season. A lot of that will depend on how performs on special teams and the health of Polite.

As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here!


Discuss this article on the forum here!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dolphins-Packers Game Observations

Coming off two tough losses to division rivals and a long bye week to let it sink in, the Miami Dolphins went on the road to face one of the NFC's best and came away with a victory.

Against a talented, albeit banged-up Green Bay Packers team, the Dolphins controlled the clock, protected Chad Henne, destroyed Aaron Rodgers, and played good special teams (for the most part) to earn the 23-20 win in overtime.

The Dolphins will head home for a very tough contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7, but for now, here are my observations from Miami's win over the Packers:

Offense
  • Chad Henne was certainly much better than he had been last week, which was good to see. He did have his share of negatives, including a really late throw to Brandon Marshall that got jumped for an interception. He also stared down receivers a bit too much (which has become a habit of his) and overthrew a handful. Still, I was encouraged by his overall performance and like how he put the Dolphins in position to win.
  • I don't know if it's a reflection of talent, luck, or inconsistent blocking by the offensive line, but Ricky Williams seems to be running better than Ronnie Brown right now. Williams has always had better instincts than Brown, but he just seems to be gaining more yardage on average and the holes look bigger when he's carrying the ball.
  • Lousaka Polite failed to convert a short-yardage carry for the first time in 20 attempts. The impressive feat had to end sometime, but he's still money in that spot. I'm more concerned about the number of blocking miscues he's had this season, which already seem to outnumber his 2010 total.
  • Brandon Marshall put his size and talent on display once again, completely dominating the Packers' one-on-one coverage in the first half. He's so good that you can just throw it up to him, and he'll come down with it more often than not. He almost made a terrific touchdown catch in the back of the end zone on a pass that looked like it was going to be in the stands when it was released.
  • Anthony Fasano wasn't a huge contributor in the passing game and hasn't been in a while, but he did have a very nice touchdown on a perfectly drawn up misdirection play. The Dolphins' are pretty much playing with one tight end, which could also be hurting the running game.
  • Jake Long was stellar as always, as was the rest of the line in pass protection. The Packers were down some of their best pass rushers against a unit that is one of the league's best at keeping the quarterback upright, so Chad Henne predictably went untouched.
  • Conversely, the run blocking continues to struggle a bit and the ground game is suffering as a result. The interior offensive line just isn't getting the push upfront that Miami had the past few years, which could be the result of personnel changes like cutting Jake Grove. Overall though, the offensive line is not a very troublesome spot for Miami.

Defense
  • The defensive line did a fairly good job, with Kendall Langford stuffing things as always and Randy Starks recording a sack from the nose tackle position. They did give up a bit more on the ground than I would have preferred, but fortunately Green Bay doesn't have much confidence in their running game.
  • Cameron Wake was, in a word, a beast. The Packers' offensive line has been shaky for years, and rookie first-rounder Bryan Bulaga was no match for Wake at right tackle. A constant force rushing the passer, Wake notched three sacks, six quarterback hits, and drew a crucial holding penalty late in the game. Wake is going to start getting much more attention from offenses with play like this, but right now, he seems bound for the Pro Bowl if he can keep playing well.
  • Koa Misi also recorded a sack, giving him a solid three for the season. He doesn't have near the pure ability that Wake does, but he's got a great motor.
  • The Dolphins dodged a huge bullet when Karlos Dansby came away unharmed from what looked to be a serious knee injury. Dansby is the centerpiece of the defense and is someone the Dolphins cannot afford to lose.
  • I was initially content with Tim Dobbins and Bobby Carpenter splitting time at inside linebacker, but Channing Crowder's return showed just how much better the defense is with him in it. While Crowder himself is just a solid linebacker, he's much better than Dobbins or Carpenter. Not only that, but Crowder provides great football intelligence, energy, and leadership to the defense. Alongside Dansby, Crowder and the Dolphins' defense are much better.
  • Vontae Davis was seriously burned on a touchdown by a double-move by Greg Jennings, which played into his aggressiveness as a corner perfectly. Davis recorded well, however, and put together a solid effort aside from that mistake. Davis tackled well as usual, and you have to love his physicality.
  • Jason Allen grabbed another interception, while Sean Smith almost pulled in his first career pick himself. Smith's near interception was really the result of pressure, however, and he didn't have a great game. He whiffed about as badly as possible trying to tackle Donald Driver, and isn't going to earn his starting job back by doing that.
  • I was pretty disappointed with the safety play overall. Both Chris Clemons and Yeremiah Bell missed some tackles, and they were both two of the biggest culprits in Aaron Rodgers' quick-snap touchdown that sent the game into overtime. Bell wasn't even facing the Packers on the play, which is just inexcusable.

Special Teams
  • Dan Carpenter came through big in this game, drilling a 53-yarder in the first half after a penalty backed Miami up on his first attempt, and eventually kicking the game-winner in overtime. Carpenter has only missed one kick that wasn't blocked this season and is continuing his very consistent play from 2009.
  • Brandon Fields had a very nice game, averaging 40 yards a punt with one dropped inside the 20 and another boomed for 50 yards. The long punt came in overtime that really helped swing the field position in Miami's favor, directly leading to the win.
  • I really like what Nolan Carroll did as a kick returner, as he averaged 26 yards and posted a long return of 37 yards. He may never be an elite returner, but he's got some explosion and I'm anxious to see him get more chances.
  • I'd like to single out Patrick Cobbs and Tim Dobbins for some nice tackles on special teams, but the Dolphins also had their usual suspects make mistakes that could have been critical. Bobby Carpenter allowed a deflected punt two weeks against the Packers after contributing to the Patriots' blocked punt and kick return touchdown, while Lydon Murtha got a holding call that backed up Dan Carpenter's field goal attempt in the first half. Carpenter has since been released, while Murtha may not be close behind.

Conclusion

The Dolphins did a good job winning a game they probably should have, considering how banged up the Packers were. They pass protected well and only made one real mistake, which let them hang on for the victory.

The running game is still lacking a bit, and while offensive coordinator Dan Henning had his moments (see Fasano's touchdown) he really bothers me sometimes. I don't like his decision to open overtime with three straight passes (that eventually led to a punt). It might be sudden death (for the most part) but there isn't a ton of urgency right then, and I'd like to see them put a normal offense together in that situation.

The Dolphins had some individual standouts, but this certainly wasn't a dominating performance. They'll need to be 10 times better to beat the Steelers in Week 7.


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Dolphins Winning Drive - 10/18/10




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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dolphins at Packers - Live Chat

2010 NFL Week Six Game Predictions

Last week was my anniversary weekend with my lady, so I didn't have time to get a game predictions article up. Probably for the best, as I went a pretty dismal 7-7.

I'll try and do better this week.

Last week's record: 7-7 
2010 season record: 43-33 (56.6%)


Bears over Seahawks — The Bears' offensive line is certainly a mess, but I'm not a huge fan of the Seahawks either. I think the return of Jay Cutler will give Chicago the boost they need to win.

Dolphins over Packers — Conventional wisdom says the Packers are the pick if Aaron Rodgers plays, but I still think Green Bay is too banged up in other areas. The Packers will have trouble putting pressure on Chad Henne and stopping the run, so I like the Dolphins.

Chargers over Rams — Sam Bradford certainly has the Rams playing better than expected, but the Chargers have a lot more talent overall and should stop underachieving at some point.

Patriots over Ravens — In one of the best games of the week, the Patriots will try to top the Ravens in their first game without Randy Moss. I think they'll get by and like the Pats at home.

Giants over Lions — Shaun Hill's playing a bit out of his mind right now, but it's just so hard to pick the Lions in any given week. I'm not going to, and I like the Giants in this one.

Eagles over Falcons — Kevin Kolb needs a big week to hang onto his job once Michael Vick is healthy, and I think he'll have a surprisingly good game in a Philadelphia win.

Steelers over Browns — I'd pick the Steelers in this game regardless, but getting back Ben Rapistberger Roethlisberger only seals it even more.

Saints over Buccaneers — New Orleans is certainly underachieving a bit, but I still like them over a Bucs squad that isn't entirely there yet.

Texans over Chiefs — I simply refuse to believe that the Chiefs are for real, and I think Matt Schaub has a big day to right the Houston ship.

Jets over Broncos — New York is playing great football right now and is not turning the ball over, so you have to take them against Denver.

49ers over Raiders — In what is easily the worse match-up of the week, I like San Francisco's offensive firepower over the Raiders' shaky quarterback situation.

Vikings over Cowboys — It's a battle of 1-3 disappointments, so I'll take the home team and their new offensive weapon on Randy Moss.

Colts over Redskins — The Redskins have certainly had their good moments, but I'm not sold on them yet. I tend to always lean toward Peyton Manning's side, and I'm doing so again.

Titans over Jaguars — Jacksonville has themselves a bit of a winning streak, but I don't really see it as anything more than a fluke. I like the Titans in this one.


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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Q&A with Green Bay Packers columnist, Part II

[Zach Kruse, a senior at UW-Madison and a Green Bay Packers Featured Columnist on Bleacher Report, asked to interview me leading up to the Packers' upcoming game with the Miami Dolphins this Sunday. That interview can be found in the first part of this Q&A here. What follows in this post is my interview with Zach as he answers questions about the Packers.]

The Miami Dolphins have stumbled to a 2-2 record after opening the season with two straight victories, and with two tough losses to division rivals, the 2010 season is quickly coming to a turning point.

Coming off their by week, the Dolphins play the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field this Sunday, and will certainly have their hands full on the road against one of the best all-around teams in the NFC.

Working in the Dolphins' favor could be injuries to some key members of the Packers' team, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers (concussion), tight end Jermichael Finley (knee), inside linebacker Nick Barnett (wrist), and outside linebacker Clay Matthews III (hamstring).

I sat down with Zach Kruse in the week leading up to the Dolphins' game in Green Bay to get his take on the state of the Packers and how they match up against Miami.


Chris J. Nelson: Aaron Rodgers’ status for this weekend is in doubt due to a concussion. If Rodgers cannot go and the Packers are forced to start Matt Flynn, how do you think it will affect the Packers’ offensive strategy and their chances of winning the game against Miami?

Zach Kruse: In my mind, the entire game Sunday really hinges on whether or not Aaron Rodgers plays. He is far and away the most important player on the team, and if Matt Flynn is forced to start, the whole Packers’ offense changes.


If Flynn started Sunday, I’d expect the Packers to turn much more to the run game. He’s had two years in the offense, but he’s only thrown 17 career NFL passes and even in the preseason he’s looked shaky at best. Green Bay would have to rely on Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn to alleviate some of the pressure of Flynn’s first career start.

Either way, if Flynn has to start, the Miami Dolphins are the clear favorite to win this football game.

CJN: Ryan Grant seems to be a huge loss, and the Packers have struggled to get much going on the ground. Do you think the Packers have the personnel (both at running back and on the offensive line) to have a consistently productive running game in 2010? Can Aaron Rodgers continue to produce with the lack of a ground game?

ZK: While the running game finally showed some signs of life last week, it’s still a major problem for the Packers. Jackson ran for over a 100 yards last week, but 71 of it came on one run and the Packers all but abandoned it after that.


And everyone in Green Bay made a big deal about not getting Marshawn Lynch, but I think the problem goes deeper then just personnel. For the most part, the run blocking has been dreadful all season and have opened very little running room for any of the Packers’ backs.

I think Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy recognizes that, and has relied on Rodgers hitting short passes to substitute for the run. To be fair, however, his play-calling hasn’t really given the run game much of a chance. Case in point: last week the Packers lead for over 58 minutes of the game, but they only called 13 designed runs on 67 plays. You do the math.

CJN: Despite his success, Aaron Rodgers has been sacked quite often over the past few years due to poor pass protection. Have the Packers’ remedied this to any extent this season? If so, what has been the biggest change? If not, why is this still an issue?

ZK: I think the pass protection has gotten considerably better. They have only given up nine sacks all season (but five last week), compared to the 50 they gave up over 16 weeks last season.


The biggest reasons for the improvement have been tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher playing together to start this season, and, even when Tauscher was injured, having first round pick Bryan Bulaga available to fill in.

That said, it’s still far from an elite group of pass protectors. Plus, from the limited time I’ve watched the Dolphins defense this season, you can tell they have some skilled pass rushers. Speed from the outside, much like Brian Orakpo gave the Redskins last week, can really put pressure on the two tackles and force sacks and holding calls. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Dolphins tally two or three sacks with a couple of holding penalties.

CJN: Clay Matthews III has been on an absolute tear in the first quarter of the season and is wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks. If he is unable to play against the Dolphins due to his hamstring injury, how will this affect the Packers’ ability to put pressure on Chad Henne? Who will need to step up to fill Matthews’ void?

ZK: Clay Matthews means the world to the Packers defense, and last week was the perfect example of what I’m talking about. Sorry to go all statistical on you, but it paints a pretty clear picture.


Before Matthews’ injury in the third quarter (about 43 minutes into the game), the Redskins had scored three points and accumulated only 172 yards of total offense.

Once Matthews went out, McNabb and ’Skins offense scored 13 points and racked up 201 yards of offense in the 25 or so minutes after the injury.

Was it all Matthews? Probably not, but the Packers defense was still night-and-day different without Matthews playing.

And while I’m confident Green Bay will still be able to pressure Henne if Matthews can’t play, he is the difference between the Packers just pressuring him and sacking him. That can be a huge difference for a defense that is as banged up as the Packers.

Lastly, who needs to step up if he can’t play? Probably the entire defense. The rest of the Packers’ blitzers won’t require a double team like Matthews would, so his absence could really open up Miami’s offense. Everyone needs to play better if they expect to play well.

CJN: The Packers have been hit hard with injuries at strong safety, with both Morgan Burnett and Derrick Martin out for the season. Can Charlie Peprah handle the starting strong safety job until Atari Bigby is ready to return, or might he be a liability against the Dolphins?

ZK: The Packers have just been hit hard with injuries in general. Safety is definitely a thin spot right now, however.

I think Charlie Peprah is a serviceable safety, and a smart football player too, but he’s already been exposed as a liability. He made some nice open field tackles on underneath routes last week, but when he’s forced to cover the back end of the secondary, he gets in trouble.

If you need any proof of that, watch Anthony Armstrong’s 48-yard touchdown catch last week. Peprah got all turned around and was late recovering on what turned out to be a huge play in that game.

I can imagine Henne and Brandon Marshall are salivating at the chance to throw a deep ball Sunday against him.

Thanks to Zach for bringing this great idea to me, for interviewing me in his article, and allowing me to interview him for this part of the feature!

For more Packers coverage, check out Zach's Bleacher Report profile here.


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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Q&A with Green Bay Packers columnist, Part I

[Zach Kruse, a senior at UW-Madison and a Green Bay Packers Featured Columnist on Bleacher Report, asked to interview me leading up to the Packers' upcoming game with the Miami Dolphins this Sunday. This is that Q&A, with everything except my answers written by Kruse. I'll likely do the same thing with Kruse in the next day or two with our roles reversed, so look out for that well.]


The hits just keep on coming.

News out of Packers camp today is that our up-and-coming star tight end Jermichael Finley will now miss 8-10 weeks instead of the original 3-6 doctors thought before surgery. There's no official word yet, but it's likely that the Packers will put Finley on injured reserve, ending his 2010 season.

Just another addition to a heart-breaking string of injuries that have served to cripple the Packers' season in the minds of millions of Packers faithful.

Yet that season continues Sunday, as the Miami Dolphins travel to Lambeau Field to take on a reeling Packers roster.

I sat down with Dolphins featured columnist Chris J. Nelson to give me his take on Miami as they prepare to take on the Packers.

Zach Kruse: It seems to me that Chad Henne has had an up-and-down start to his 2010 season so far. How has he progressed as a quarterback in his third year? And are Dolphins fans still convinced he’s their best option?

Chris J. Nelson: There is actually a large portion of the fanbase, from what I can tell, that is already calling for Henne’s benching. Some want Pennington because they believe it’ll be a short-term upgrade, while others think Thigpen has more upside in the long run.

I myself think talks of benching Henne are ridiculous. The positives from his progression since he became the starter far outweigh the negatives, and he’s displayed all the tools to make me think he can be a top quarterback in this league. He’s had his rough patches, sure, but he’s also played very well at times.
Like all teams with a drafted franchise quarterback, the Dolphins would be wise to exhaust their efforts to find out if he’s “the guy” before deciding he isn’t.

(Side note: You have to agree with Chris. The Dolphins have been struggling to find a franchise quarterback since Dan Marino took his talents away from South Beach. It wouldn't make sense not to let the guy have a real shot at taking hold of the position, even if he has struggled. Aaron Rodgers had his share of down moments in 2008 too.)

ZK: Can we pronounce the Wildcat dead yet, or are Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams still running it with success?

CJN: I’ve come to start calling the Wildcat the “drive killer” because we seem to use it just when Chad Henne and the offense are getting into a rhythm, and it subsequently stalls.

The Wildcat can be successful as part of an offense, but I’m not a huge fan of it. You can pass out of it occasionally, sure, but not with enough success to make the defense really have to fear it. Unlike any other offensive formation, the possibilities to run and pass are not equal.

When you line up in the I-formation, you can hand it off, you can play-action pass, you can do lots of things. When Miami is running the Wildcat with Ronnie Brown back there, the defense knows that 99 percent of the time, it’s going to be a run. It’s hard to be successful in that kind of situation long-term, regardless of talent.
A capable runner and passer, such as a Michael Vick (or what the Dolphins mistakenly thought Pat White would be) could legitimize the Wildcat as a regular formation.

(I'm glad the Packers don't have this in their playbook. It seems the NFL caught on pretty quickly to the Wildcat, and I'd be much more worried seeing Brown or Williams lining up in the I-formation than in the Wildcat, to be honest.)

ZK: The 41 points the Patriots scored in the Dolphins’ last game was obviously a result of terrible special teams instead of defensive blunders. In fact, I’d be willing to say that Miami has a very good young defensive. Would you agree, and who are some guys on the Fins defense we should look out for?

CJN: There aren’t too many things to complain about when it comes to the Dolphins defense. I think the two biggest holes right now are setting the edge against the run and the coverage of tight ends.

The Dolphins do have a handful of young talent on that side of the ball, though. The starting line of Kendall Langford, Randy Starks and Jared Odrick has the potential to rival any 3-4 front in the NFL.

Cameron Wake has phenomenal pass-rushing ability and seems destined for stardom in this league (although he’s still learning the linebacker position and can be susceptible against the run). Rookie second-rounder Koa Misi isn’t flashy, but he’s a high-motor guy and has potential.

My favorite player of the defense so far this season has been second-year cornerback Vontae Davis, who has been an absolute shutdown guy against some good competition this season. Davis plays the run well and is very physical for a corner, but he can also keep up with the best receivers in the league as well as anyone. Opposing quarterbacks are starting to take notice and have really been shying away from him the past few games.

(Interesting, Chris says the Fins' two biggest holes are the run and covering tight ends. Good thing the Packers are such a dominant running team and their top two tight ends will be playing Sunday...)

ZK: Everyone knows about Brandon Marshall, but the Miami receiver who scares me is Davone Bess. He seems like a Wes Welker-type who gets first downs and could extend drives against the Packers’ injured defense. Is he just as important to the Fins offense as Marshall? And how has Marshall fit in the Dolphins offense?

CJN: In all honestly, Davone Bess IS Wes Welker. He’s certainly had no trouble matching Welker’s production from his Miami days. Both are sure-handed, hard-working slot guys that lack top speed or the ability to really be a threat deep.

I wouldn’t say Bess is as important as Marshall, simply because the position Bess and Welker play is much more easily replaced than Marshall’s. The way Brandon Marshall can dominate a game is rare and hard to find, but you’ll notice the Patriots had no trouble replacing Welker with a rookie college quarterback like Julian Edelman last season.

Guys like Bess and Welker are nice to have because they provide a safety blanket for quarterbacks and are good at getting first downs underneath, but they should not be mistaken for elite talent. It’s a lot easier to run quick ins and slants against linebackers and nickelbacks than it is to go vertical against some of the best corners in the game.

Those slot guys rack up the receptions because they are high-percentage routes compared to all the different things the wideouts do downfield, but they are much easier to replace than a dominant No. 1 receiver.

To answer your question about Marshall, I’m happy to say he’s been everything the Dolphins expected him to be. The Dolphins haven’t had a true No. 1 wide receiver for years, and it’s a wonder what the presence of such a guy can do. Marshall’s size is such a huge advantage and his run-after-catch ability is excellent.

In the end, it might be Bess that racks up the catches and maybe even finds the end zone in a given game, but Marshall is the guy that makes the passing game go.

(Charles Woodson will have his hands full with Marshall. Those bigger, super athletic receivers—like Calvin Johnson—tend to give Woodson some problems.)

ZK: The Packers are obviously littered with injuries, but they still possess a talented roster and are playing at Lambeau Field. Let’s say, hypothetically, that Aaron Rodgers is able to play Sunday for the Packers. What do the Dolphins need to do to beat the Packers on the road?

CJN: One thing the Dolphins need to do to beat the Packers is to make them one-dimensional on offense.
Aaron Rodgers is good enough that he can still beat you even if you take away his running game, so I’d focus a whole lot on shutting the passing game down and trusting your guys up front to stop Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn.

On offense, the Dolphins need to control the clock, attempt to get the ground game going more than it has in recent weeks and take advantage of the Packers’ holes and injuries.

The Dolphins pass protection has been outstanding, and the possible absence of Clay Matthews III should help Chad Henne stay upright even more.

I also like the potential matchup between the Dolphins receivers and the Packers' injury-depleted strong safety position. I expect the Dolphins to challenge Charlie Peprah at least a few times, and a big play could really hurt Green Bay like it did last week.

("Challenge Charlie Peprah" seems like a pretty idea. Terrifying for Packers fans though. Something tells me one of those receivers will get Charlie turned around in the secondary for a big play, I'm not really going out on a limb but a prediction nonetheless.)

Big thank you to Chris for all his help.


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Monday, October 11, 2010

Miami Dolphins: Oct. 11 News & Notes

With the Miami Dolphins' bye week this past Sunday, there hasn't been a whole lot going on with the team to cover.

Thus, here are some bits of news regarding the Dolphins, some of which might be slightly dated. (My anniversary with my girlfriend was this weekend and I didn't have a chance to post!)

  • Free agent guard Ray Feinga was suspended four game by the NFL last week for an undisclosed violation of league policy. A second-year guard who was undrafted out of BYU in 2009, Feinga was released last Monday before the Dolphins' game against the Patriots to make room for practice-squad linebacker Austin Spitler. This suspension answers the question of why Feinga has not yet been re-signed to the practice squad. It's possible the Dolphins could do so once the suspension is up, as Feinga can serve it despite being a free agent.
  • Jake Long didn't practice after the Patriots' game last week, nor did he practice today. I'm not concerned though, as he has statistically been he best tackle in football with just four pressures and no sacks allowed. Long has a sore knee and is just using the bye week to rest, but he should be good to go against Green Bay.
  • Guard John Jerry (illness) finally returned to the practice field, while defensive end Jared Odrick (fibula) is doing individual work. Both appear close to returning and I'd expect both to be back by Week 6, if not Week 5. The two rookies are quality starters and will easily help the Dolphins when they return.
  • There have been some posts by Dolphins' beat writers recently about whether or not the team should regret letting go wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. and outside linebacker Matt Roth. Ginn has average 29.4 yards per kick return with the 49ers this season, while Roth has totaled 26 tackles and two sacks for the Browns as a quality run-stopper. Quite frankly, I don't think the Dolphins made a bad move in either case. The hatred for Ginn in Miami was palpable, and I think both parties were better suited going their separate ways. Roth is playing up to the potential in Cleveland that we always knew he had, but he refused to get on the field with a mysterious injury and wore out his welcome with the front office. Just because he's playing a certain way with one team doesn't mean he was ever going to have the motivation to do so with another. If Miami could have gotten something for Roth, they would have. They also got a fifth-round pick for Ginn used on Nolan Carroll, who isn't the returner Ginn is, but also doesn't have a mental block against progression and still has some potential of his own.
  • Cornerback Vontae Davis saw The Town this weekend, after suggestions from myself and other followers of his on twitter. Davis and Kendall Langford also may have gone to the FSU-Miami game this past weekend, but we just don't know...Yeah, it's a slow news day.

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dolphins sign NT Chris Baker to practice squad

A day after waiving defensive end Lionel Dotson injured,the Miami Dolphins have brought a new face to the defensive line, signing nose tackle Chris Baker to the practice squad.

Baker takes the practice squad spot vacated by linebacker Austin Spitler, who was promoted to the active roster before last Monday's game.

The addition of Baker gives the Dolphins a full eight-man practice squad, which currently leaves no room for guard Ray Feinga, who was promoted to the practice squad last week but waived before the game to make room for Spitler.



Background


Once a promising defensive lineman at Penn State, Baker was kicked off the Nittany Lions' squad in July 2008 after recurring off-the-field incidents.

After one season as an All-MEAC nose tackle for the Hampton Pirates, Baker declared for the 2009 NFL Draft. However, he was not selected.

Baker signed with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent and made the team's active roster following the preseason. He appeared in one game in 2009—in Week 9 against Pittsburgh—but did not record a tackle.

Released by the Broncos during final cuts in 2010, Baker was briefly of a member of the UFL's Hartford Colonials in September, but was released prior to the regular season.

Baker will wear No. 95 in Miami, which was previously worn by retired veteran nose tackle Jason Ferguson.

As a practice squad player, Baker will earn roughly $5,200 per week and participate in all practices and team meetings.

Baker will not be allowed to play in games, but is eligible to be promoted to the Dolphins' active roster or signed away by another NFL team at any time.


Analysis

Baker brings a bit of familiarity with him, having played under Dolphins defensive coordinator Mike Nolan when the coach held that same title with the Broncos in 2009.

One Dolphins connection Baker does not have, despite some reports to the contrary, is with starting defensive end Kendall Langford. Though both played college ball at Hampton, Baker's lone season there was in 2008, when Langford was already in the NFL.

Although he has had his troubles off the field, Baker is a talented player with upside and is a prototypical nose tackle at 6-foot-2 and 330 pounds.

Baker gives the Dolphins someone to work with the second-team defense behind Paul Soliai as long as Randy Starks is filling in for Jared Odrick at right defensive end.

Furthermore, Baker has some experience at end with Denver and should get the chance to showcase his versatility with Lionel Dotson let go.

While he won't get a chance at playing time unless the Dolphins suffer a handful of injuries, Baker is certainly a pretty talented and intriguing guy to have in for a look.

As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here!


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Defensive end Lionel Dotson waived/injured

In what possibly is the result of Jared Odrick getting closer to recovering from a fractured fibula, the Miami Dolphins have waived/injured third-year defensive end Lionel Dotson.

Dotson will be exposed to waivers and will be available for any team to claim, with priority going from worst record to best.

If Dotson clears waivers, he will revert to the team's injured reserve list, after which time he will likely receive an injury settlement and an outright release.

Originally drafted by the Dolphins in the seventh round out of Arizona in 2008, Dotson appeared in four games during his first two seasons in Miami.

After being waived by the Dolphins during final cuts a month ago, Dotson joined the practice squad of the Denver Broncos. He was re-signed by the Dolphins off the Broncos' practice squad before Week 2 after an injury to Odrick.

In three games this season as a reserve defensive end, Dotson has totaled two solo tackles.

His roster spot will be filled by defensive end Tony McDaniel, who served a one-game suspension last week for an offseason violation of the league's Personal Conduct Policy. 


Analysis

Dotson was actually waived as soon as he could have been by the Dolphins, as you must keep a player on your active roster for three weeks if you sign them directly off another team's practice squad. 

Unlike training camp and the preseason, when players are waived/injured solely to clear a spot on the roster before the 75-man cut down, the only reason to waive a player injured at this point in time is because you are hoping someone claims his contract and you can get it off your books.

I would even go so far as to say that Dotson isn't really hurt, but rather just your typical "banged-up" after a game. But that doesn't really matter to the Dolphins.

It seems unlikely the other 31 teams have an interest in adding Dotson to their active roster, which means he will likely clear waivers and revert to I.R.

It's certainly no big loss for the Dolphins, as Dotson has failed to develop in the past two-plus years and was pretty ineffective as a backup over the past few games.

With Tony McDaniel coming off suspension and Jared Odrick nearing full health with a bye week coming up, the Dolphins no longer had any use for Dotson.

As always, check out the updated projected depth chart here!


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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dolphins Winning Drive - 10/6/10

Dolphins-Patriots Game Observations

Coming off a pretty solid performance in a close loss to a very tough Jets team, there was cause for some optimism heading into the Miami Dolphins' Monday Night Football battle with the New England Patriots in Week Four.

Things were still looking for the Dolphins holding a 7-6 lead at halftime, but the that optimism quickly evaporated when the Patriots returned the third quarter's opening kickoff for a touchdown and proceeded to blow out the Dolphins in the second half.

Chad Henne threw three interceptions the week after his best career performance against the Jets, while the Dolphins struggled to stop the run in the second half.

In addition, the Dolphins also allowed a blocked punt and a blocked field goal in the second half—the latter of which was returned for a touchdown.

Struggles on both offense and defense, combined with some of the worst special teams play I've ever seen at any level of the sport, resulted in a 41-14 demolishing of the Dolphins.

The Dolphins will have to carry this loss with them for a while, as they have a bye in Week Five before facing one of the NFC's top teams in the Green Bay Packers in Oct. 17.

Until then, here are my observations from the Dolphins' loss to the Patriots:


Offense
  • Quarterback Chad Henne followed up one of his best performances in the loss to the Jets with one of his worst, throwing three interceptions and generally displaying poor decision-making and defensive reads. Henne stared down his receivers too often and simply made some bone-headed decisions that led to two interceptions by, quite frankly, a nobody in Rob Ninkovich. Marshall took responsibility for Henne's third interception, in which the receiver cut his route short.
  • Despite his poor performance, I think the talk of Henne being on a short leash is absolutely ridiculous. Henne had a great game just a week ago and has generally played well so early in his career. He's got all the tools to be successful and needs the full support of the organization if he's going to get there. All young quarterbacks go through growing pains and rough games, but the one thing that the ones that succeed have in common is that their teams stuck with them. Teams that don't exhaust their efforts on their franchise quarterback prospects are constantly searching for the next one (see the Buffalo Bills). Henne's got the talent and he's shown it at times. Let the guy progress.
  • In somewhat of a flip-flop from how things had been to date, Ronnie Brown couldn't get much of anything going on the ground, while Ricky Williams actually had a pretty good day. Some of it was just the luck of the draw, as Brown surely could have caught the dump off pass on which Williams scored. Still, Williams ran better overall and displayed better instincts, which is one thing he's always had on Brown.
  • Brandon Marshall played well, but he was one of many Dolphins to lose focus late in the game and caused Henne's third interception by cutting off his route. Brian Hartline was practically invisible all game, except for when he let a ball bounce right off his chest in garbage time. It was Davone Bess would was really the star of the night, displaying great hands and and run-after-catch ability. He found the end zone on a nice crossing route and dive, and was a reliable third-down target as always. Bess too had a drop late, but overall it was an excellent performance.
  • It was interesting to see Roberto Wallace get some time on offense in four- and five-wide sets, and he notched his first career reception on a 12-yard catch off a comeback route. His Marshall-like size really stands out, so if he can get the fundamentals of the position, he's intriguing.
  • Anthony Fasano had some nice grabs at tight end and was a pretty reliable target for Henne when he was struggling to make his deeper routes. He's an ideal No. 2 guy, but you could do worse for a starter.
  • Jake Long was strong as always, although he was flagged for a false state at one point. Long has such a great jump off the snap that it often looks like he's false starting when he isn't, which can actually be a problem for the refs. He neutralized Tully Banta-Cain however, and the team as a whole did a good job of keeping Henne upright.
  • The interior line had their good moments, but they just don't open the running lanes as much as I'd like to see and are very much a work in progress. Pat McQuistan and Richie Incognito are not the best pulling guards in the world, which limits the offense. The Dolphins could definitely use John Jerry (illness) back in the lineup soon.

Defense
  • Kendall Langford was one of the few brights spots on the defense. He's just a consistent player that rarely gets fooled or moved on the defensive line, which is why you don't want to run his direction. The rest of the defensive line wasn't nearly as good and had a ton of trouble stopping Danny Woodhead in the second half. Tony McDaniel was missed a bit as Ryan Baker and Lionel Dotson simply aren't good enough for significant roles.
  • Cameron Wake got a ton of great pressure on Tom Brady in the first half and eventually got to him for a sack. I love seeing him on the national stage, allowing him to get the recognition he deserves. It feels like he disappeared a bit in the second half last night, but the reality is the Patriots were busy doing so much in other areas and running the ball on offense that there weren't many opportunities.
  • Koa Misi notched another sack, but he's got to get more consistent. He disappears far too often in games and has to be better against the run.
  • The Dolphins' inside linebackers as a whole struggled against the run and in coverage. Karlos Dansby wasn't terrible, but it was certainly his least impressive game as a Dolphin to-date. They had a ton of trouble tackling the Patriots' tiny running back and missed way too many tackles. If you let teams run over you like that, it's difficult to win.
  • Vontae Davis went practically untested for the second straight week. Randy Moss had no catches for the first time as a Patriot and was rarely targeted, which shows just how respected Davis is becoming around the league. It also shows that teams much prefer to target Jason Allen and Benny Sapp, who struggled to contain Wes Welker in the slot.

Special Teams
  • Where to begin... I have never seen a worse special teams performance in my life, and there is so much to talk about that was absolutely terrible. Important as it is, I've never seen poor special teams play as thoroughly seal a loss as I did last night.
  • Brandon Tate's kickoff return for a touchdown was absolutely unacceptable. Yeah, Sammy Morris blew up Roberto Wallace early, but there is still no excuse for Tate to get to the edge and upfield. Jason Allen, Nolan Carroll, and Bobby Carpenter all took bad routes to the ball carrier.
  • The blocked punt I would put in Bobby Carpenter and Lex Hilliard, with Ikaika Alama-Francis being somewhat involved as well. You shouldn't have multiple guys looking for someone to block while an opponent rushes in untouched.
  • Tackle Lydon Murtha was 100% responsible for the blocked field goal, as he inexplicably let guys past him on each side without even blocking anyone. Murtha was apparently playing in suspended Tony McDaniel's spot, so it's possible he was uncomfortable in this role, but it's still unacceptable.
  • I liked seeing Nolan Carroll finally out there on kickoff returns, even though he only got a few opportunities with Stephen Gostkowski consistently booming kicks through the end zone. Carroll is clearly more explosive than Patrick Cobbs and could be a legitimate threat back there. He was holding the ball high a la Tiki Barber, so obviously he's very cognizant of ball security.

Conclusion

After two wins and a well-played loss against the Jets, I was beginning to think the Dolphins could actually contend this season. I'm far less optimistic after this game.

I don't expect Chad Henne to play that poorly every week, and I do think he'll progress. But he's going to have his ups and downs, and the team around him has too many holes to really survive that in 2010.

The schedule gets pretty difficult in the months ahead, and the Dolphins have too much work to do on special teams, run defense, pass defense, run blocking, and at quarterback to dominate anyone.

The Dolphins are going to win some games they should lose and lose some games they should win, but in the end I expect them to come out of this season hovering around .500 with no playoff berth.


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