The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

PICKING UP WHERE THEY LEFT OFF

The Fins, who this season have the statistically toughest schedule of any of the 32 teams in the NFL, opened the 2009 season with a loss to the Falcons on Sunday, unfortunately picking up where they left off last season.  Although they had hoped to pick up where they left off in the regular season last year (when they won 9 of their last 10 games), the Fins instead picked up where they left off in the playoffs , where they got manhandled by the Ravens (while giving up 5 turnovers in the process). 

 The truly odd thing about the season opener was that if going into the game anyone told Coach Tony Sparano that his team would limit Atlanta’s powerful running game to 68 total yards and that Chad Pennington would complete 72.4% of his passes, his smile would have been wider than the Georgia Dome itself.  However, Matt Ryan threw for 229 yards which was more than enough to carry the day given that the Falcons started 6 of their possessions from inside Miami territory thanks to an uncharacteristic 4 Dolphins’ turnovers.  Those turnovers made the Fins’ visit to Georgia anything but peachy and all too reminiscent of last season’s disappointing playoff exit to Baltimore.

 The Fins, who tied an NFL mark for fewest turnovers committed in a season (13) last year, coughed up the ball 4 times in this season’s opener.  Chad Pennington committed a rare fumble to end the Fins’ first possession of the day.  Anthony Fasano added 2 fumbles of his own, the first of which was well inside the red zone when the Fins were threatening to tie the score at 7 just before halftime.  Atlanta not only recovered that mid-air fumble, but also ran it back into Miami territory, thus setting up a field goal that gave them a 10-0 lead at the half.  Chad Pennington also added a third quarter interception to end a drive at a time when the Fins still only trailed 10-0. 

 The turnover trend is not one that Tony Sparano would like to see continue and you can bet that he will be preaching as such throughout the next week.  Although this Coach always preaches about turnovers, it is particularly important as the team prepares to face Peyton Manning and the Colts, who will certainly make them pay dearly for any such generosity with the ball.

 Offensively, there was not much to cheer about in this game, save for a touchdown in the latter part of the fourth quarter that ended the shutout.  The turnovers, coupled with some poor special teams’ play, were responsible for the Falcons starting 6 of their 10 possessions in Dolphins’ territory.  The Fins’ running game was ineffective and Pennington had no success getting the ball downfield, thus highlighting why his 21 completions and 29 attempts only netted 176 yards, a number of which came on the meaningless fourth quarter touchdown drive that was the definition of too little, too late. 

 The wildcat offense was also ineffective, the addition of Pat White notwithstanding.  The only play that could have produced a positive result went for naught thanks to a severe overthrow by Pat White with Ted Ginn running alone downfield needing nothing but the ball for an easy touchdown.   

 Defensively, the Fins did a very good job of stopping the run, something that will no doubt please Sparano and his defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni.  They also did a fairly nice job of getting pressure on Matt Ryan, with particular kudos to Jason Taylor and Phillip Merling.  However, unlike their counterparts, they failed to force a single turnover.  Meanwhile, Matt Ryan showed no signs of any sophomore jinx as he played smart and threw well (22 0f 36 for 229 yards), save for a couple of first half deep passes that he surely wished he had back the moment he let go of the ball.  It was those poor passes that kept the game close enough to make Anthony Fasano’s fumble in the last 2 minutes of the first half so devastating.  No doubt, the defensive secondary will have to correct these breakdowns (that were gratuitously covered up by Ryan’s passing miscues) before stepping onto the field next Monday night for the Fins’ home opener.  After all, with Peyton Manning and the Colts heading into town, the defensive secondary can’t afford to pick up next week where they left off this week.  Come to think of it, neither can the Fins’ offense.

27 Responses to “ PICKING UP WHERE THEY LEFT OFF ”

  1. Maybe its the good vibes from last year, but yesterday didn’t faze me as much as I think it should have. Yes, it looked like the offense was in a daze, but hey, a control-offense takes time to gel. Let’s face it, they have a lot of new wrinkles they want to put in. Now, if they are still making the same mistakes five weeks from now, hindsight will prove the offense just stinks. But I think we will see some great things in the next couple of weeks.

    And to Fasano: Keep your head up. You got rocked twice with perfectly placed hits…I don’t even think Rocky would have been able to take that punishment without coughing up the rock.

  2. Well, I was truly upset after that terrifying loss, and anybody who was around me the rest of the day could attest to that. However, there is still much more time for the team to come together. Also, with our incredibly highly paid o-line, I think they can do a little more. With the exception of Donald Thomas, they’re all getting paid from 27-57 million dollars.
    The new site has a nice look!

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