Monday night rewind: Dolphins play power ball
The Miami wildcat
If you watched the telecast of Monday night’s game, there was plenty of talk about how the Miami Dolphins use the wildcat. They were able to run multiple personnel packages and even get QB Pat White into the game to run a read option and a QB draw for positive yards. But what impresses me more than the window dressing of this Miami wildcat is when they line up and use Ronnie Brown to run the basic “Power O,” where the backside guard pulls and the fullback kicks out with a lead block. Brown is patient, waits for the hole to develop and then runs downhill. When the Dolphins need a play in this formation — as they did last night to get the winning score in the final seconds — this is what they go to. It looks creative from a pre-snap perspective, but it’s just power football – a downhill running attack with an extra blocker, thanks to the formation.
We have to give Braylon Edwards some credit for his performance after a short week of practice in a new uniform and a new system. He looked explosive running down the field, finished with five receptions for 64 yards and a TD, and the catch he made to set up the Thomas Jones score has to have the Jets feeling good about pulling off the trade. I will admit that I doubted his immediate impact in New York, but he does give QB Mark Sanchez a deep target that this team didn’t have last Sunday.
Even if you didn’t get a chance to tune into the game, just take a look at the box score this morning to see how Dolphins QB Chad Henne did in his second career start. He completed 20 of 26 passes for 241 yards and two TDs. But what impressed me after watching this game was his arm strength. Henne has the ability to complete the deep comeback and, as we saw with Ted Ginn down the field, the ability to throw the deep ball with accuracy. Maybe more important than the stats, Henne protected the football against a pressure-happy Jets defense. I’m anxious to watch him develop because he has the tools.
The Jets D
Where was it? Not a good performance by a unit that should’ve been able to limit big plays against this Miami team and should’ve been able to win at the point of attack. Rex Ryan’s unit was continually beaten up front, and the two things they must get every week — turnovers and sacks — were invisible. I can understand why Ryan was so upset in the postgame interviews, because he’s the type of coach who will smile with a 6-3 victory. The Jets aren’t built to win games where they give up 31 points and lose the time-of-possession battle.
The Dolphins RBs
I’ve already mentioned the use of Ronnie Brown in the wildcat offense, but did you notice how hard Brown and Ricky Williams run the football? They both have some shake to them, but these guys run downhill like they’re covering kickoffs. No defensive back in the league wants to see either of these two once they reach the second level.
Jets QB Mark Sanchez didn’t have a great night in Miami, but I did like the fact that he rebounded after last week. With rookies at any position, it’s interesting to see how they come back after a rough performance. Do they revert to the issues that got them in trouble, or do they made some corrections that allow them to put the past performance behind them? Sanchez, without question, did leave some plays on the field last night, but he didn’t turn the ball over — and that’s exactly what got him in trouble in Week 4. Not a game he’ll go back to as a showcase, but good enough to win.
The Big play shows up
Now that the Dolphins have it on tape, it’s time for them to continue to use Ted Ginn in the deep vertical passing game. Ginn was able to stem his route inside and gain separation against one of the league’s hottest corners in Darrell Revis that went for a 53-yard TD pass at a crucial point in the game. The knock on the Dolphins this season has been their lack of big-play ability, but with Ginn’s speed — especially when the ball is in the air — and Henne’s arm strength, opposing teams will have to prepare to be tested down the field. When you have that as an offense, the box become lighter — and that eighth defender doesn’t have as much impact.
The AFC East race
What does Miami’s win mean? For starters, it creates a logjam in the East, with only one game separating the Jets, Patriots and Dolphins. As we saw on Sunday, the Pats have issues in the secondary that can be exploited, and after last night, we now see that the Jets can be game planned on defense. A long way to go, but we have to believe there isn’t a team in the East at this point that we can point to as the favorite. With Henne in the lineup, however, Miami is a player.
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