The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

TYLER FINISHES OFF THE TITANS

In a game in which 5 QBs lined up behind center and 6 players actually threw a pass, it took a combination of the reemergence of the Wildcat formation followed strongly by emergency QB Tyler Thigpen to finish off the Titans, 29-17.  With that unusual scenario, the Fins managed their first home win of the season and got back over .500 at 5-4.

What a week to be a Dolphins’ QB!  First, Coach Sparano announced he was sending Chad Henne to the bench in favor of Chad Pennington.  Then, 2 plays into Pennington’s first start since the 3rd game of last season when he sustained a season-ending shoulder injury, Pennington went down with what may prove to be a career-ending shoulder injury.  In the 3rd quarter, Henne went down with a knee injury forcing Sparano to employ the Wildcat formation in an effort to avoid inserting the emergency QB until the 4th quarter (which would have precluded the return of Pennington or Henne for the rest of the game, Sparano apparently not having good communication with the medical staff at that point because it did not appear that either QB would be able to march back onto the field).

When Henne trotted onto the field early in the 1st quarter to take over from Pennington one could only have imagined what was going through his mind.  For sure, one of the things going through his mind had to be the sudden opportunity to not only be the Fins’ starting QB again, but also to show Sparano & Co. that he deserved to be the starter.  And he did a decent job of it at that, going 19 of 28 (67.8%) for 240 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT until he fell victim.  His QB rating for the game was 91.4.  But then he went down with an injured knee which put him in obvious pain, forced him to leave the stadium on crutches and has him set for an MRI at 6:30 a.m. Monday morning.  It doesn’t look like he’ll be starting again any time soon, certainly not against Da Bears who come into town for Thursday Night Football this week.  

It appears that Tyler Thigpen will be the starter against the Bears.  The second stringer for that game is someone not yet on the roster; likewise for the emergency QB.  Just how did Czarcells know exactly when to leave town?  I can hear Paul Simon (perhaps the only has-been singer not to become a minority owner of the Fins in the last 2 years) singing: Where have you gone Pat White, Miami turns its lonely eyes to you?   

Turning away from Sunday’s medical issues, the Fins did some nice things against the Titans who had come into the game in first place in their division.  While the defense gave up a number of yards (117) to superstar running back Chris Johnson, they did not allow him to decide the game.  And when the Titans had to pass, the defense held up.  The Titans’ longest gain of the day off a pass attempt was a 33-yard pass interference penalty against Vontae Davis, which was a questionable call, the under-thrown ball hitting Vontae squarely in his back.    The Titans’ Kerry Collins and Vince Young combined managed only 124 yards passing.  They completed only 47.4% of their attempts.  

The defense also managed two key turnovers on Tennessee’s half of the playing field which the Fins converted into 2 TDs.  The first of these turnovers came on the opening possession of the game; another came in the 3rd quarter.  Rookie Rashad Jones got some playing time late in the game and made quite an impression, racking up a sack, 2 passes defensed and an INT.  The truth is that his INT in the end zone on a 4th  down pass which effectively ended the game gave the Fins the ball on their own 20 yard line rather than the 39 had the pass merely fallen incomplete. But given that batted balls sometimes end up in the hands of a receiver, let’s give credit to Rashad Jones for his 1st career INT. 

The Wildcat was used to finish off the 3rd quarter and set the stage for Tyler Thigpen to finish off the Titans, which he did pretty well.  The success the Fins had with the Wildcat was amazing given that the rushing attack was anemic up to that point in the game and the Wildcat had produced under 2 yards per attempt this entire season.  When the Fins turned to it in desperation after Henne went down, however, it produced big time.  Ricky Williams had runs of 14 and 23 yards out of the formation, paving the way for a field goal.  But even with the success of the Wildcat on that drive, the Fins only managed 88 yards rushing for the game.  

Tyler took over from there going 4 of 6 for 64 yards in the 4th quarter, leading the Fins on an 85-yard touchdown that put the game on ice.  In that drive he threw 31 yards to Anthony Fasano on a third down and another 9 yards for the score.  His QB rating was a very impressive 141.7.  Brandon Marshall, on the other, caught only 3 passes for 34 yards.  He also threw a long pass that was a beautiful spiral, but he threw right into triple coverage.  Fortunately the ball fell harmlessly to the ground.  Looks like his arm is a lot better than his decision-making.  He does not figure to be under consideration for next week’s emergency quarterback. 

Anthony Fasano had a very good game, grabbing 5 catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.  Brian Hartline also caught 5 passes, gaining 98 yards in the process.  Hartline’s yardage total included a 54-yarder from Chad Henne on a flea-flicker which would have gone all the way had the ball not been under-thrown.  Hartline has been very productive of late allowing him to regain the starting spot he lost due to some drops earlier in the season. 

Well, the Fins will be back playing again in only a few days.  For now we can only wonder who will be backing up Tyler Thigpen on Thursday.  Let’s hope it doesn’t even matter and that Tyler can finish off Da Bears, just like he did the Titans.

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