Friday, September 7, 2007

'Phins @ Skins Week 1

Disclaimer: Those of you not interested in Miami/Washington may as well skip down to the previous NFL posts which are far more interesting/entertaining.

Now that the NFL got that last preseason game out of the way on Thursday, it’s time for my Miami Football Dolphins to kickoff. Let’s take a look at the week 1 matchup.

Dolphins @ Redskins: 1:00 pm EST
The ‘Skins bandwagon seems to be gaining more and more steam around the league as each day passes, and looking at their depth chart you can see why. While they have a few question marks, they don’t have a lot of gaping holes in the lineup on either side of the ball (several pro bowl caliber players at key positions).

There are some obvious concerns along the D-line, but London Fletcher and Rocky McIntosh help to sure up the LB’s (depth is still a concern), and the secondary is absolutely STACKED (and will be for a looooooong time – assuming Sean Taylor stays out of jail). I’m sure there’s a little concern as to how long it will take Pete Kendall to gel with his new line mates, but the biggest question mark of all is, of course, Jason Campbell.

Ultimately, the Redskins success this season will be determined by the performance of Campbell. Campbell’s shown flashes of being a more than capable NFL QB. Looking at the talent around him then (proven pro bowl caliber WR, TE, RB’s, and multiple lineman), you’d figure there’s only three reasons that Jason Campbell could fail this season.
1. Injuries to him/the offense
2. Play Calling/Coaching Staff not putting him in positions to be successful
3. He’s not that good.
Time will tell.

To beat the Dolphins, Washington needs to stop the run – make the Dolphins one dimensional and play to the 'Skins strengths in the defensive backfield. On offense, their RB's are too talented to abandon the run, but I think they should temper their expectations a bit. Draws, Screens, misdirections, etc… should be most effective against Porter, Taylor, and an active Dolphin defense that’s been known to over pursue on occasion. They should move the chains by feeding Chris Cooley early/often (one of the most underrated weapons in the league) and then open it up later in the game- look for a game breaker and exploit the Dolphin secondary with their speed at receiver.

That said, the Dolphins do get the Redskins at the perfect time. Campbell is a little banged up, Marcus Washington will likely not be 100%, Kendall hasn’t had a chance to play any real games with his new teammates and the kinks aren’t worked out of the offense yet.

According to the experts, for an unprecedented 20th consecutive year the Dolphins defensive front seven will be “old” heading into the season. For the 20th consecutive season, I think opponents are going to be sorely disappointed that the age of the defense won't keep them from being one of the best against the run and at putting pressure on the QB. As usual, that part of the defense is absolutely legit. Despite not having a single reliable person in the secondary, the unit should be solid, if not spectacular at times.

The question is, can a team that brought in an offensive minded rookie head coach (Cam Cameron), a proven but declining veteran QB (Trent Green), and drafted 3 offensive players in the first round of three of the past four drafts (Ted Ginn #9 in ’07, Ronnie Brown #2 in ’05, Vernon Carey #19 in ’04) finally put it together and score some points?

To do so in week one, there’s going to have to be a heavy dose of Ronnie Brown. The Redskins run defense was atrocious last year, and as mentioned earlier, the D-line is still shaky. Miami needs to test it early and often, as the only way I see them having any success against that secondary is if they eat up some yards on the ground to open up the pass. I expect a tightly contested battle with field position playing a big role. Cameron said we were going to be thrilled watching The Ginn Family return punts, hopefully that holds true this week. A blow out would shock me, as would a high scoring game. Somewhere around 17-13 feels right.

Regardless, hopefully it starts with Joey Porter and Jason Taylor holding a meeting at Jason Campbell’s chest.
“Campbell is down… and the ball is loose!”

Alllllllllllllllriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight Miaaaaaaaamiiii!

Believe in football.

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