On Monday night, Dolfans were horrified to see the Patriots' offense play as if they were the only team on the field. Tom Brady had sufficient time to practically complete a novel while waiting to find an open receiver. No Dolphins pass rush whatsoever. Atrocious secondary play. A shocking site to see. The Dolphins front seven was supposed to be the team's strongest asset. The defense seemed exhausted by the end of the first quarter. Physical cramping took several players out of the game. Why did the defense not show up on Monday night? Arrogance from reading their press clippings? Poor physical conditioning? Inadequate pregame preparation? Staying below the radar while the offense took vicious preseason criticism? We won't know until much later. Tony Sparano has now forbade his players from discussing Monday night's debacle. Time to move on. However, the Dolphin's offense received much praise. QB Chad Henne was much improved, putting up 416 total yards and two touchdowns while the team scored 24 points. Dolfans seem relieved that the team's chronic offensive woes appear to be behind them but troubled about their vaunted defense. I maintain the opposite, that the defense will eventually right itself but the offense is headed for a major train wreck.
There were many troubling things about the offense Monday night. The Dolphins third down efficiency was 2/14, a ghastly number. The running game looks as if it will permanently disappear. The erroneous Dolphin perception of Reggie Bush as an "every-down" running back instead of the more accurate viewpoint that he is strictly a specialty player caused Bush to wear down rather quickly. Speaking of which, does anyone know of an 'every-down" back on this football team? The unproven Daniel Thomas, sparsely-utilized Lex Hiliard, never-utilized Larry Johnson, and aforementioned Bush are the only current candidates. Charles Clay's role has yet to be defined. Heaven help the Dolphins when future opposing secondaries shut down our WR's and there is no way to run the ball and maintain possession. We may see the alternative Henne emerge once again, the one that throws terrible passes. The offensive line played a decent game on Monday and still couldn't open up holes for the RBs. The red-zone offense was atrocious, making one pine for the released Lousaka Polite. What about the new "chemistry" between Chad Henne and Brandon Marshall? Little of substance there. Henne and Marshall missed connecting on several passes that Marshall's former QB, Jay Cutler, might have completed. Marshall and Cutler had real chemistry, unlike the one that Sparano is now trying to force. The excitement of seeing Henne throwing the football all over the field will be tempered by the continual inability to get the ball into the end zone. It is important to remember that one touchdown on Monday was set-up by a Jared Odrick interception and another one came in "garbage" time when the game result was no longer in doubt. Anthony Fasano is an underrated TE but he has nobody with whom to share duties. Unless something is done immediately, it will be a long, boring season for the Dolphin offense.
On the positive side, the Dolphins have excellent personnel on the defensive side of the ball and a very capable Offensive Coordinator in Mike Nolan. I will label their performance last Monday as an aberration and fully expect that unit to return to form soon. Otherwise, the Dolphins will be quickly entered in the Andrew Luck 2012 draft sweepstakes. The personnel on the offensive side of the ball, especially the RBs and OL, are not nearly as solid. It is now too late to make major offensive repairs. Monday night may have foreshadowed negatively for the 2011-2012 Dolphin season but not for the obvious reasons.