The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

WHAT CAN “BROWN” DO FOR YOU?

If you’re the Miami Dolphins, then Brown can do a lot for you. Sunday night the Brown team from Cleveland (as opposed to the Brown team from Baltimore who the Dolphins play in the season finale this coming Sunday) enabled the Dolphins to add a two-game winning streak to their meager list of positives this season. Thanks to four Brown turnovers, the Dolphins managed to win a game in which they gave up 143 yards to Cleveland running back Lee Suggs. The Dolphins were also out-gained for the night and their average gain per play was one full yard less than Cleveland’s (4.9 to 3.9). If this game were against any team other than this Brown team, the Dolphins could not have won given their performance Sunday night. That’s what Brown did for Miami.

The Dolphins’ performance in the game pretty much met the standard for ugly football. It clearly wasn’t pretty, especially coming against a team that had lost eight in a row and had given up oodles of points and rushing yards in its last four games. Somehow, the Dolphins managed 116 yards rushing, although 16 of that total came from a wide receiver and another good bit came on the final drive that ended with Olindo Mare’s 51 yard game winning field goal that sailed through the uprights with only seven ticks left on the game clock.

It’s pretty sad to say, but the best candidate for a Dolphins’ game ball is probably the right upright in the west end zone which turned back a Brown field goal attempt that would have relegated Mare’s 51-yarder to a tying field goal. You could argue that Zach Thomas deserved a game ball, but any time the other team has a runner with 38 attempts your middle linebacker is likely to be involved in 18 tackles. You could argue that Randy McMichael deserved a game ball for his 9-catch performance, but he also had some key drops (which have become a familiar site in the last few weeks since he quite ironically complained about not getting the ball enough). You could argue that Olindo Mare deserved a game ball, but he only scored four points on the night and, besides, he’s just a kicker. So, why not the right upright!

The good news is that A.J. Feeley—despite having to suffer pressure almost every time he attempted a pass—did not throw an interception for the second consecutive game. He currently has a streak of 95 attempts without an interception. This IS good news. However, he did have a fumble, his eleventh of the season (fifth lost) and that continues to be a problem as he needs to learn to protect the ball better in traffic (and with the Dolphins’ offensive line there is always a lot of traffic in the pocket). For the night, Feeley was 25 of 43 (58%) for 176 yards. He had one touchdown pass, an 18-yarder that Derrius Thompson caught in between two Brown defenders in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins are now 3-3 under interim head coach Jim Bates, who was just passed over in favor of Nick Saban for the head coaching spot. Ironically, Bates has turned the Dolphins’ season around (although it is clearly a case of too little, too late). Appreciating this fact, Jason Taylor, told Bates to lead the team out of the tunnel on Sunday night, a symbolic act to show his appreciation for Bates’ efforts and, perhaps, a not so subtle act to show his displeasure with Bates’ being passed over in favor of newly appointed head coach, Nick Saban.

The irony of this dismal and weird season is that the calendar says it is December and yet the Dolphins find themselves on a two-game winning streak. Aren’t these the Dolphins who always fall apart in December? Wouldn’t you know that the season that started strangely even before training camp began would somehow find a way to continue to be strange through December!

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