Earlier this week, head coach Cam Cameron said he wanted his team to fail on Saturday against Jacksonville.
"We want them to fail," he said between practices Thursday. "That's the only way you can learn."
Well coach, mission accomplished.
While the Dolphins came away with a victory in Saturday night's 18-17 win over the Jaguars, and while there were some pleasant surprises and positives to point at, the truth remains -- this team needs a lot of work. Granted, it's the first pre-season game. And one certainly can't determine with any accuracy how a season will go after a team's first pre-season game. But the last time we checked, the Dolphins offense was at the bottom of the league statistically and the offensive line was among the league's worst. Saturday night's game leaves us with no impression that those things have gotten any better, even with all the off-season changes.
Bottom line: the Dolphins first-team offense still has plenty of flaws. And they seem to be the same old flaws we've seen around here for some time. The new patchwork offensive line crumbled under pressure constantly, failing to give Trent Green enough time to get the ball downfield and failing to open holes for Ronnie Brown in the running game. Likewise, the first-team receiving corps was essentially non-existent (Chambers: 1 reception for 5 yards). Miami's first two possessions were each a quick three-and-out. During their third possession, when Miami's offense finally began to move the ball after converting a 4th and 1 for a 1st down, Green ended up throwing a pass to TE David Martin that was negated after Green was called for stepping over the line of scrimmage (because he was scrambling for his life). The next possession, another three-and-out because of a stalled running game. Even when the Miami defense did its job and forced a Jacksonville fumble, the offense botched the opportunity by allowing a 6 yard sack on the very next play. Two plays later, Green fumbled the football after the O-line collapsed around him. Same old story, same old song and dance? Well, it was Saturday night.
We can take some solace in the fact that Miami faced one of the best defenses from 2006 on Saturday night. Jacksonville ranked 4th in rushing yards allowed (91.3 yds per game) and ranked 10th against the pass (192.4 yds per game) in 2006. So perhaps Miami will fare better on Thursday night against a more middle-of-the-pack team like the Kansas City Chiefs. But if Saturday night was any indication, the first-team offense is still a very flawed unit and there is still a whole lot of work that needs to be done by Cam Cameron and his coaching staff.
Failing to learn? School is now definitely in session after Saturday night.
But it wasn't all bad. There were some pleasant things to point to for the Fins. Here's a list:
- Ted Ginn Jr. looked very crisp and fast whenever he touched the ball. His first kickoff return went for a solid 25 yards. And he did some nice work at receiver.
- The first-team defense played without Zach, JT (resting) and Porter (knee) and still dominated Jacksonville's first-team offense.
- Second year CB Jason Allen had an okay night. He forced a fumble, which was good.
- RB Jessee Chatman was the star of the night with a 75 yard TD run and an overall 88 yards on six carries. What a great addition he'll make if he can keep this up.
- DT Steve Fifita welcomed QB Tim Couch back into the NFL with a 10 yard pankcake sack.
- QB Cleo Lemon looked sharp leading the offense's second-teamers.
- Rookie QB John Beck, as I expected, looked fantastic. Aside from a fumble and one wobbly pass (darn humidity!), he looked really sharp. Beck led the team down the field for their go-ahead TD and finished the night 3 for 5 and 23 yards. His quick-release was outstanding and his pocket-presence and decion making was right on. No doubt the call for more of Beck from the fans will start to rise in the next week (especially after how pedestrian Green looked). I think Cam should consider having Beck start against somebody's first team some time durning this pre-season. Maybe against the Bucs on August 25th? Just an idea.