The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

DOLPHINS WILL BE HOME FOR NEW YEAR’S

Thanks to Joey Harrington’s poor performance on Sunday the Dolphins, whose last regular season game is against the Colts on December 31, will be home for New Year’s. Their playoff hopes ended in a disappointing 24-10 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and with it their 4-game winning streak and their slim hopes of going to the playoffs both went down the drain.

Joey started the day by leading a 14-play touchdown drive which consumed the first 7:20 of the game. Joey was 7 of 8 on that first drive, the touchdown coming on a 17-yard pass to Marty Booker who has emerged as Joey’s favorite receiver. In the second quarter Joey moved the ball again, before reverting to the form which frustrated Detroit Lions’ fans for the last 4 years. On 3rd and goal Joey threw a horrible interception in the end zone. It was all downhill from there. The Jags took the ball 95 yards down the field for a touchdown with 1:50 remaining in the half. The Fins started their ensuing possession from their own 9-yard line with 1:34 left in the half and they should have run out the clock and gone into the locker room down 10-7. Instead, Joey threw his second interception, this one giving the Jags the ball at the Fins’ 33-yard line. Jacksonville needed only 2 plays for the touchdown which gave them a 17-7 halftime lead.

It was just one of those days for the Fins. Jason Taylor had to leave the field to go for x-rays late in the second quarter. He returned to start the second half with his arm bandaged. JT, the playmaker team leader, was sorely missed. If you need proof, consider that when he went into the locker room with 2:02 left in the half the Fins were leading 7-3. By the time his teammates joined him in the locker room, they were down 17-7.

The defense needed all the help it could get on Sunday as Jacksonville kept making plays. The secondary needed real help because it continually gave up plays even when the receiver appeared to be covered. Jags’ 6’6” receiver Matt Jones continually came away with the ball against Miami’s more diminutive defensive backs. Poor play by the secondary resulted in QB David Garrard completing 72.7% of his attempts and compiling an unreal 136.4 QB rating. This explains why the Jaguars were able to put together 2 drives of over 90 yards on the day. On the other hand, Miami receivers had their share of drops. Derek Hagan had yet another drop in his up-and-down rookie season and even usually-reliable Wes Welker put one on the ground. Playing catch-up the entire second half the Dolphins could only manage 68 yards rushing for the day.

It was another one of those days for Olindo Mare, too. Prior to this year Olindo was one of the best statistical kickers in football. On Sunday he missed his 10th field goal of the year (although half of those were from 50 or more), increasing his personal high for most misses in a season. With Cowboys’ released kicker Mike Vanderjagt waiting for a call, the Nictator could be tempted to pull the trigger. After all, Olindo would seem to be expendable given both his sub-par performance this season and his $2.1 million salary cap number for next season. With the season already a lost cause, however, the only reason for making such a move would be to send a message to the other players that their jobs are only as secure as their current level of play.

With any meaning now gone from this season, the real question which remains is whether or not Daunte Culpepper and Ronnie Brown are going to be placed on injured reserve. This would seem like a good move since nothing would be gained by bringing either one of them back and risking further injury. Training camp 2007 would appear to be the best choice for their next contact work.

Unfortunately, Joey looked like he was really getting into the holiday spirit on Sunday as he was “passing” out gifts to the Jags. If he continues giving away such gifts, Coach Saban will be looking to give him away this off-season. When Joey goes home for New Year’s this year, he may be going home for good!

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