The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

DROPS DROP DOLPHINS

Last week turnovers did in the Dolphins. This week they won the turnover battle, but it was drops by receivers in key situations that did them in. One of the biggest drops was at the hands of Randy McMichael, the talented tight end who ran his mouth last week because not enough balls were thrown his way. Sunday in Denver, at least one pass too may was thrown his way. With just over two minutes to play, McMichael dropped a pass that would have gotten a key first down as the Dolphins were driving for either a tying field goal or a go-ahead touchdown that probably would have won the game. Instead, he dropped a short pass right in his hands for a big first down. Moments later, Derrius Thompson dropped a key fourth down pass that was also in his hands and likewise would have given the Dolphins a crucial first down.

After these two key drops, the Broncos went on offense and were able to get a first down in a situation where everyone knew they were going to run the ball. The defense simply could not stop the rushing Broncos when it counted and that enabled them to literally run out the clock, preserving a 20-17 win. Although the Dolphins scored two first-half touchdowns, all they could manage in the second half was a 32-yard field goal in the third quarter.

One of the problems was that Feeley played much better in the first three quarters than in the fourth. Good quarterbacks play their best in the fourth; great quarterbacks win games in the fourth. Feeley has yet to find a way to do much in the final quarter. Feeley was 15 of 27 in the first three quarters, but only 2 of 8 in the fourth (of course, the drops that killed their final possession did not help).

In Feeley’s defense—and it is growing tiresome to keep looking for ways to defend his performances—he is still inexperienced as an NFL starter, he was victimized by key drops, he did not get help from his running game (that totaled only 70 yards), and he kept getting hit in passing situations. Overall, he was 17 of 35 (48.6%) for 175 yards with one touchdown and one interception. These are not great stats for a QB trying to convince the Dolphins that he is their future. For now, he’ll have to accept being their present, even if the present will mercifully end two weeks from this coming Sunday.

Overall, the Dolphins did not look like a team tied with the 49ers for the worst record in the NFL. They played the now 8-5 Broncos close on the road and had a legitimate chance to win in the fourth quarter. The offensive line had some breakdowns, but is playing better than it had earlier in the season. The defense, which is missing its two tackles and its two best linebackers, has been playing fairly well this season, despite giving up a lot of yardage lately, including 415 against the Broncos (196 of which were on the ground).

Thanks to a 49ers victory over Arizona, the Dolphins once again have a shot at the first pick in the 2005 NFL draft. Although the 49ers have the tie-breaker edge, one more win (in their last three) by the 49ers, coupled with three more Dolphins’ losses will give them the top pick. After Sunday’s performance, who would doubt that the Dolphins are capable of three more “drops.”

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