Monday, November 7, 2011

Dolphins at Chiefs Game Observations

I haven't addressed the issue much here on the blog due to my overall lack of coverage in the past month, but I am  squarely on the "Suck for Luck" bandwagon and I truly do not want to see the Dolphins win another game this year.

There is obviously a large portion of the fanbase that disagrees with this mentality and will take a W anywhere they can get it, but I feel that I'm looking big picture and that winning a this point in 2011 does nothing for the future.

Whether it's Andrew Luck, Landry Jones, Matt Barkley, or someone else, the Dolphins will draft a quarterback in 2011 and desperately need a franchise player at the position to finally be a consistent contender. And while the 1-7 Dolphins may end up with a high enough pick to get such a player, every win lowers the Dolphins' pick and I'm not for it. The way I see it, going 5-11 in 2011 does nothing for our future and only potentially hurts our chances of landing the player we really need.

So on to the Dolphins' unfortunate win over the Chiefs...


Offense
  • Matt Moore certainly had his best day yet as the Dolphins' starting quarterback, finding open receivers and putting some nice touch on passes. I think he got a lot of support from his protection and the running game as well as Kansas City's porous defense, but he did his job well and avoided mistakes.
  • Reggie Bush had his second consecutive impressive performance, showing nice athleticism on runs and making some great catches. The Dolphins seem to be using him better now and the line is giving him help. I'm still not sold on him as a feature back, despite him having more bulk than guys that have played at an elite level in the league, but it's obvious he has a place on offense.]
  • I wouldn't read too much into Daniel Thomas' lack of activity, as the Dolphins were moving the ball with Bush, up on the Chiefs early, and never really needed to push things with the rookie who probably still isn't 100% with his hamstring injury. There's no doubt Thomas will see the bulk of the carries when healthy, regardless of how Bush is playing.
  • Charles Clay was immensely impressive and showed exactly why he was drafted. (Fan favorite Lousaka Polite remains a free agent two months into the season, FYI...) He blocked well and make some great catches out of the backfield. He may never be a high-producer or even a full-time starter but his versatility is extremely useful.
  • Oddly as good as the Dolphins' offense was, Brandon Marshall was the only receiver that really did much of anything. Marshall made some great catches, blocked well, and overall had a very impressive game. He did an excellent job of getting open and as usual was dangerous after the catch.
  • Anthony Fasano only had two receptions, but he made them count as he hauled in both for scores. Fasano has at times been a frustration for fans, but realistically he's a solid all-around tight end that usually blocked very well and can be a threat in the receiving game too. The presence of Clay only seemed to help.
  • A week after dominating the Chargers' offensive tackles, Tamba Hali was flat-out owned by Jake Long in this one. It's been somewhat of a down year by Long's standards as he's played consistently with a sore knee, but he looked stellar in this one and totally erased the Chiefs' top pass rusher.
  • The rest of the offensive line did a fairly good job too. Vernon Carey isn't the best puller at this point in his career but he blocked the run well, as did Marc Colombo on the right side. Rookie center Mike Pouncey continues to hold his own at center.

Defense
  • It's a little difficult to judge the Dolphins' defensive line because of how little talent the Chiefs' backfield has right now, but overall the unit did an excellent job stuffing the run and putting pressure on Matt Cassel from up the middle. Dexter McCluster gave them some problems at times, but overall I thought Randy Starks, Tony McDaniel, and the rest of the crew were very productive.
  • This was by far the linebacker corps' best game of the season and it is the primary reason the Dolphins won this game so decisively. Cameron Wake did a nice job drawing holds and putting pressure on Cassel, while Jason Taylor got a few hurries as well.
  • That being said, the real story here was Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby, who combined for 23 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Not only did they defend the run well, but they were good in coverage and got better pressure than expected on the quarterback. If they keep playing like this, fans should forget about the vastly overrated Channing Crowder quite soon.
  • It looked like Sean Smith was going to have his hands full with Dwayne Bowe early, but he ended up doing a pretty good job and it's safe to say the Dolphins' constant pressure on Cassel helped immensely. The Dolphins did let Steve Breaston loose a little too much and Nolan Carroll continues to look like the weak link in the secondary. Jimmy Wilson had his usual up-and-down game, as he was beaten at times but impressive at others. That is to be expected with a rookie seventh-rounder, but it's hard not to like his effort and it's nice that he's getting experience in a lost season.
  • Yeremiah Bell had a deserved penalty for a late hit out of bounds, but earlier in the game he was flagged for hitting a defenseless receiver in what was simply a ridiculous call. Bell delivered a solid blow with his shoulder to the receiver's chest (no helmet-to-helmet) in what anyone would consider a purely legal hit. The NFL and its officials are going too far in trying to protect players and at some point they just have to let the game be played. The defenders are tasked with preventing completions and Bell made a perfectly clean action in trying to do so.

Special Teams

  • In a strange turn of events, Dan Carpenter wasn't the focal point of the Dolphins' offense, converting his only attempt of the day. Brandon Fields continued to be the Dolphins' MVP, making a great tackle on special teams while dropping two punts inside the 20 and booming one for 55.
  • Davone Bess continues to be useless on punt returns, even though he did have a whopping long of 15 on the day. I realize that Bess is solely there to catch the ball cleanly and fall forward, but I kind of hate that the team has gone three years without at least trying to put someone back there that could potentially take one all the way. Reggie Bush is not feature back and in all honesty there is no reason he shouldn't be used here.

Conclusion

There honestly isn't much bad to say about the Dolphins today, as everything came together in their first victory of the season and essentially the whole team played very well. The line did its job (for once), Reggie Bush ran well and Matt Moore didn't make any mistakes with the football because his job was made so easy.

The defense was even more impressive and after some rough outings earlier in the season, we finally saw how good Dansby and Burnett can be together. The key to the defense's struggles this year and in the past has been lack of pressure, and the heat put on Cassel in this one is exactly why the secondary was able to breathe and the Dolphins were able to hold the Chiefs' offense in check.

That all being said, I am still not in favor of winning games this season and in that sense I am disappointed with this outcome. We're not going to go 9-7 and winning four or five games is going to do nothing to help us in the future. Unfortunately for like-minded folks, the Dolphins actually have a good chance of making it two in a row at home against the quarterback-less Redskins in Week 10.


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