Friday, August 28, 2009

Re-Cap: Dolphins vs. Bucs, or, I Think I've Contracted Scurvy.....Arrrr!

Well, that was ugly.  If there were any Dolfans in attendance at Raymond James Stadium, they had to endure rain, lightning strikes, a 45 minute delay, and worst of all, the actual game.  With the exception of about ten defensive plays and two or three offensive ones, the Dolphins didn't really have any success, at least not in the way you'd expect for the 3rd game of the pre-season.  I think the worst part for me, was telling a co-worker, who's a casual fan of the Dolphins, that the game was on TV and he should watch it.  He said he hadn't followed since the 2008 season ended and asked how their offseason was and I praised the team and their draft/free-agency period.  So he watched the game, and that is his, as well as many others around the country, first and only glimpse into where the 2009 Dolphins are.

Yesterday I opined that this game would (a) showcase our 1st teams, allowing them much needed playing time and gelling opportunity.  They did play for a long time.  The 1st team O-line played into the fourth quarter.  But there was a moment or two during the second quarter I was thinking that Sparano should pull the 1st team, but I understood we just needed to tough it out.  

I also said that (b) the game would allow Sparano enough game-film to make the call on the starting WR and starting CB competitions.  Well, this one remains tough.  Both Brian Hartline and Sean Smith struggled early on, and both came on strong later in the game.  To be honest, I thought Camarillo looked the best out of the trio vying for the open spot.  One of our glorious beat-writers said that Camarillo looked 'pain-fully slow' on that 50 yard gain of his.  Really?  It looked to me like he caught the ball, broke away from the defender then outran the defense for 50 yards.  On the other side of the ball, Vontae Davis was an enigma. On the one hand, his coverage is so close he's like a second-skin on the receiver.  On the other hand, he makes no plays on the ball, allowing the receiver to catch it and then tackling him for little or no YAC.  He also dropped an easy INT. This one is still up in the air for me, but I would expect after Will Allen looking like a pixie last night, that they will stick with the bigger Sean Smith.

And finally, (c) I said it would be a blow-out.  Boy was I wrong.  The only thing that resembled a blow-out was when the weather completely shut down the game.  The reality is that we got lucky with the win.  Had Byron Leftwich not done his best impression of Pat White during OTAs, the Bucs should have scored a couple of TDs.

I'm not going to list out all the things that went wrong, but I would like to look back at the 5 points I suggested looking for yesterday.
  1. Tampa Bay's QBs.  I think they DID try too hard.  From Leftwich missing wide open receivers badly, to McCown trying to run for every down because the rest of his team was failing him, to Freeman thinking 'hey, these other guys suck, I could win the starting job here, let me just take my time...ooops, I got injured for trying to do too much.'  So now the Bucs have the unwelcome problem of trying to trade one of two QBs who underperformed during their trade-audition.
  2. Our offensive line for the most part was not dominant, but performed OK.  There were a couple of times that I saw Jake Long make amazing plays, of the kind a true number one pick turned pro-bowl player should.  He was much improved since the Carolina game.  Vernon Carey was awful though.  And so was Andrew Gardner.  In fact, the second team O-line was abysmal, allowing Chad Henne to get sacked time and again.  But some of the sacks during the night were the result of the quarterback not being able to find open receivers, and trying to escape the pocket.  There was not a lot of interior pressure, especially with the 1st team in there.  Carey was the only one I noticed who was bested on several plays.
  3. The running backs.  Cadillac Williams was the only Buc to really gain any yards on us.  He looked pretty good despite his misfortunes.  Lex Hilliard finally got a chance with the 1st team line, and was unimpressive after a 9 yard run to the right side.  To be honest, despite my positives I mentioned in point 2, the run-blocking was not there.  Once the 2nd team came in, Hilliard's numbers got worse, and he fumbled the ball, his 3rd(?) fumble of the pre-season.  He did fight hard for a 1st down, losing his helmet in the process.  I think it will take the 4th game to see if we should take a shot with him.
  4. The Line-backers.  On a team with the likes of Porter, Taylor, Wake, Crowder, Ayodele, etc., it's a bit surprising that Quentin Moses and William Kershaw are the ones standing out.  Ask anyone and you'll know that I was forever unable to remember Moses' name for about a year since he never ever made a play in 2008 and I thought he shouldn't even be in training camp.  But he has completely changed my mind.  Watching him play now you see a drive and a motor that he never exhibited before.  He leads the team in sacks in the pre-season and has been strong in run support as well.   With Matt Roth out of the loop, Moses seems to have better than good chances here.  Kershaw is more of a longshot, simply because of the numbers game, but if we keep 4 inside LBs, then he will be in the mix.  More than anything he's shown he's probably the fastest ILB on the team, with his ability to run down running backs.  After Reggie Torbor's terrible game, I'd bet the coaching staff is starting to like Kershaw a whole lot more.
  5. Kick Returns.  Well this was a dud of an area.  Between Ginn only getting two returns, and looking barely interested on both of them (the 1st one he could've scored on if he ran full-speed, and the 2nd one he looked at the sidelines like it was a hot-tub with Natasha Henstridge in it), and Davone Bess's inability to tell direction, the game of field position went right out the window.  To my knowledge, neither Hartline or Armstrong got to return kicks but between the distractions of family members and my eyes glazing over from the sheer boredom of the game, I may have missed one or two plays.
So, the question now is if the Head Coach should play his 1st teamers again in the 4th game.  It's not usually done by smarter teams (plenty of the dumb ones did it last year and the injury meter went through the roof), but then is it smart to put a team that's not ready in the regular season opener without at least trying to get in one more practice game?  I think in the end, you have to play it safe, and keep them out, and hope they correct whatever issues they have during practices in the bubble.  Any thoughts?

55 comments:

  1. Well, that was disappointing.  I saw P. Turner in for one play and they didn't throw to him.  I'm sad now.

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  2. If that Cadillac guy had been struck by lightning, he would've made a perfect candidate for one those NFL Netrokw top ten shows...Top Ten Most UNlucky NFL Players

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  3. The Knight who says Ni!August 28, 2009 at 8:34 AM

    I think the sluggish performance was due to 3 games in 11 days. After two weeks of two-a-days and then 3 games in 11 days, they had to be tired. I'm not going to take too much from this game. The team will have to but not the fans.

    Let's get through the last preseason game unscathed and get ready for Atlanta.

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  4. was it 11 days? There's also the fact it was the first road game of the
    year, and the pirate ship is really distracting!

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  5. From what I saw in the first team Im going with the glass half full perspective. there was some decent line protection giving penne time to throw. penne did connect on a few passes downfield. Carpenter cemented himself as kicker iMO. fields had a couple nice kicks, would have been better had ST tackled. our D got sfter the QB's after a slow start. tin's new chat-a-doodle worked most of the time lol

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  6. The Knight who says Ni!August 28, 2009 at 8:50 AM

    The first game was the 17th and last night was the 27th. Add the road game to the mix as well. I think it all caught up with them. I'm not concerned. I'm ready for the real deal.  :-D

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  7. Fields had some boomers but hang time was not good, still, you're right
    about the tackling.
    "tin's new chat-a-doodle worked most of the time lol"
    See, not everything was a TOTAL dud!

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  8. Yeah my math is horrible today. Was discussing the case of the 18-year
    kidnapping/confinement case over here and I said, 'so, 18 years, so this
    happened in 1981...'

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  9. tin, she was kidnapped when she was 11, 18 years ago. I think you stayed up to late last night, gotta love those 8pm kickoffs mixed with a little mother nature. yawn...

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  10. The Knight who says Ni!August 28, 2009 at 9:11 AM

    LOL

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  11. I'm still talking from my emotional side right now.  But my thoughts start with Ronnie Brown.  Can he run in the small spots he needs to able to.  I don't see him being able to run anywhere up the middle when things get tight.  Some times I think he has no feel for where the weak spots are in a line push.  He needs free apace to run, where as Ricky can still get positive yardage when little is there.

    Hillard although I like him didn't help himself out there last night but not very many players did.  Such as Philip Merling he was of little use on the DL.  Starks or Dotson should be given a chance IMO of cource i'm not a coach and if they think Merling is the starter then I turst them.

    Tin I know that you think Miami should have picked PW later in the draft or not at all, but after a full season under his belt White a rookie looks a whole lot better than Henne has so far in preseason.  Sorry that's just the way I see it at this time.

    I need to make one more point though.  Just like last year this team can play well in the red zone on both sides of the ball.  So they may not look well at times, and teams seem to move the ball up and down the field on them.  Yet they don't give up TDs when it counts.  It's much like my attorney told me years ago Money talks and Bull Shit walks.  How they may have looked didn't really mean that much did it, In the end Miami had more points than TB did at their house.  Nothing wrong with that, and that's why I think winning is important in the preseason.  Not only do coaches get to look at guys in game like conditions it teaches the players that will be here, you can look and play bad and still win the game.

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  12. The Knight who says Ni!August 28, 2009 at 9:22 AM

    Fang, none of the RBs had anything going on last night. The OL is not there yet with between the tackles run blocking yet. We also played a very vanilla game.

    We've all seen Ronnie play for 4 years now. Are we going to question his ability based on last night? Ricky had 5-18 and Ronnie 4-12. What are we really talking about here? The entire team was sluggish last night and I'm convinced it was because they just played 3 games in 11 days.

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  13. Not only do coaches get to look at guys in game like conditions it teaches
    the players that will be here, you can look and play bad and still win the
    game.
    Whoa, I think that's a pretty lousy lesson to teach. Yes, we do have to win
    these kinds of games and not every game can be a stunner on the screen, but
    if this game were played in the regular season we probably would've lost
    it. our ones played bad enough to lose the game, and if they had kept
    playing badly they would've.

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  14. The Knight who says Ni!August 28, 2009 at 9:39 AM

    Updating a previous report, Adam Schefter, of ESPN, reports the Denver Broncos have suspended WR Brandon Marshall for the rest of the preseason for conduct detrimental to the team. If Marshall behaves himself during the remainder of the preseason, the Broncos can bring him back for Week 1.

    What is this guy 5. Grow up already, Brandon.

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  15. The coaches should have sent him home immediately instead of letting him
    disturb an entire practice.
    He just misses his quarterback

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  16. If this were a regular season game, there would have been about a dozen wildcat plays to soften up the D and get them on their heels so that we could dictate on offense. So, I agree that this game means little in the grand scheme of things. An interesting analogy that I read this morning (either ss or pbp) is that these games are like movie previews, and you can tell by a trailer whether you might be interested in the move or not. There wasn't much that generated interest last night (except Tin's off-the-field prospects!)

    Knight, I agree with your assessment. Too many practices and games in a short time span made them look slow and disorganized against an inferior team. I say stay the course and rest the starters for the NO game.

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  17. I thought Joey Porter played terrible. I counted at 3 times where he could have made a tackle on a run and missed. He is one of the reason our run defense was so bad. He also didn't pressure the qb one bit. Maybe its preseason but Porter looked old.

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  18. The Knight who says Ni!August 28, 2009 at 9:48 AM

    And with all that we still won the game. How bad are the Bucs? LOL

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  19. Knight don't try to pretend you're not Bungle. We all know you are.

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  20. CHFF's power rankings have us at 17... Jacksonville  23rd... Carolina  10th... Tampa Bay  16th... New Orleans  13th.

    Our first five games leading to the bye week are against: Atlanta 15th... Indy 9th... SD 6th... Bills 20th... Jets 18th.

    This all means very little, but it gauges what we're up against. I used these power rankings because chff is very analytical about football and therefore not as biased as some other rankers.

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  21. The Knight who says Ni!August 28, 2009 at 10:16 AM

    I don't buy into rankings and definitely not at the start of the season because no one knows what's going to happen. These so-called experts don't know enough about any of the teams yet.

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  22. We Have PlaymakersAugust 28, 2009 at 11:06 AM

    Believe it or not there are actually Dolphin "fans" that want Brandon Marshall.  LOL!  I'm going to go out on a limb & say he's not a Parcells kind of guy.

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  23. LUV'D KLANGFORD,and back to back sacks by Moses,and WALDEN...

    I think that was the 1st time I ever saw a blocked punt turn into a 1st down for the kicking team..
    Who was that (looked like 58??),that thought the ball was a hot potatoe..

    Thought the lightning delay,knocked both teams even further out of sync..

    Thought we play'd as bad as we possibly could,and other than the penalties/overthrows TB played a great game,and we still won...  CP  ""it's hard to win in this league,we'll take'em however we can get'em""

    I think the starters need to win another 1st qtr vs a potent O in NO,
    otherwise it's going to be a very questionable loooonnnng time till the games count..

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  24. http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/

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  25. We Have PlaymakersAugust 28, 2009 at 11:27 AM

    Anderson...I've never seen that happen before either. 

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  26. We Have PlaymakersAugust 28, 2009 at 11:34 AM

    58 might be Kershaw but I'm pretty sure the fumble was by Anderson.

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  27. We Have PlaymakersAugust 28, 2009 at 11:38 AM

    "Instead of letting a blocked punt by RB Patrick Cobbs go, LB Charlie Anderson fielded it, and then fumbled it back to Tampa Bay. The play kept alive the Bucs’ opening drive, which ended in a field goal."

    Tins,

    If I'm wrong blame Edgar @ the Post. 

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  28. oh I'm not saying you're wrong, just answering the question of who # 58 is.
    I can't remember who it was, but not to knock on Edgar, but whoever it was
    didn't field it at all, it it him in the hands and stomach and he never
    caught it. In fact, he didn't 'fielded it', he 'yielded' it....

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  29. The Knight who says Ni!August 28, 2009 at 11:44 AM

    It was #56 Charlie Anderson who couldn't handle the blocked punt. We get a blocked punt and a sack and fumble and don't recover either. One of those nights. Still won the game.

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  30. I'm not convinced of the 3 games in 11 days bit.  It's not like the first team has played for any significant time or snaps during that time, and I'm not basing my thoughts of Ronnie on this one preseason game.  All I said was he doesn't seem to run in traffic like Ricky can he needs space  Of course the brick wall he was trying to run against didn't help him I know that.

    The potential for Ronnie to be a premere back in the NFL always seems to be just with in his grasp, yet he hasn't reached it.  We hear it all the time. Is Ronnie ready for a breakout year ?  YES your darn right he's ready for a breakout year.  After 4 years why are we still asking that question ?

    I'm not trying to be a jerk here ( hard to tell isn't it ) :) and I really do like and support Ronnie and most all Dolphin players.  At the same I ask these questions to myself and have no answers to them.  Maybe I expect to much from players, I don't know to be honest.  Yet it seems to me if your the focal point of this offense as everyone seems to think, then 900 yards rushing and 300 yards in passing come up a little short for the #2 pick in the draft 4 years ago.

    These guys get paid to play a game things that we may only dream about, and they get paid Millions of dollars to do it.  So  I expect more, that's my bad.  I take alot of heat for that even from my Wife and Daughter.  Ask me what I think about the Banking industry...  :(

    I know i''m going to take some heat for this.. LOL

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  31. We Have PlaymakersAugust 28, 2009 at 12:57 PM

    OMG....That's so sad & lame that it's hilarious.  Ha!

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  32. Fang, here it comes, I disagree with you on this point, I think Ronnie is
    much better running up the middle than Ricky is. That's why they run ricky
    on sweeps and pitches so much, to take advantage of his speed and get him
    out in space. Ronnie on the other hand runs predominantly between the
    tackles and has a pretty good yards per carry average. Look at any team
    that has a power back that makes his money in the middle of the field, and
    you'll see a team that runs the ball ALOT. Atlanta, Tennessee, Baltimore,
    Minnesota....these teams are all running the ball 10 to 20 times more per
    game than the Dolphins.
    Keep in mind that if Ronnie ran the ball just 13 times a game and only had 2
    catches per game in 2008. Using the same yard averages, a Ronnie Brown that
    got 22 carries a game and let's say 3.5 catches a game (pretty standard for
    a number one back), he would rush for 1561 yards and have 56 catches for 431
    yards for a total of 1992 yds.
    So, to be honest, while Ronnie really shouldn't be judged by his draft
    status (that's something you should never do - a cadillac costs a lot more
    than a Honda but guess which one is more reliable?), the way he's been used
    is never going to result in a huge payoff.
    A better way to look at it would be that if he wasn't injured in 2007, he
    would've made the pro-bowl, and he did make the pro-bowl last year, so 2
    pro-bowls in his 1st 4 years is pretty good as is 4,500+ yards from
    scrimmage in 4 years.
    Now with all that said, Ronnie had major issues last year with 'dancing'
    around, and it would be nice for him to be more of a 'downhill' runner, but
    he gets the job done and honestly is our best threat on offense, IMO. They
    really should throw him the ball more often and have him run out of the I
    formation more often and let him wear down defenses. Ricky is great at
    times but very inconsistent and has hands made of wood and he tackles easily
    because he's top heavy.

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  33. The Knight who says Ni!August 28, 2009 at 1:09 PM

    Tin, good points on Ronnie. I think they should try to get him at least 50-60 receptions this year. I agree he's our best offensive skill player.

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  34. Well I happen to agree with yourself and Knight with Ronnie on a few points.  He is our biggest threat and the more he has his hands on the ball the better.  In particular the passing game he has great hands and can really make things happen out in space.  Yet I still feel he seems to get bottled up to many times.  We seem to be in 2nd and 7 or 8 all the time after a running play on 1st down.  I'll tell you right now that lays at the feet of the offensive line.  We ran inside as much or more than only 2 or 3 teams last year in the NFL, a little over 60% of our running plays were between the tackles.  Those guys up front have to do a better job than what they did last year.

    If I get time I'll pull up some numbers on how much we between the tackles last year and what we averaged per play on them.

    As for your comment on a Honda compaired to a Cadillac !!  You just say that because you think Japan is our 51st State and it's closer to you then the rest of America. ( east coast ) LOL

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  35. I thought Mexico was the 51st State?

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  36. That's what I'm talking about winning a game they should have lost.  Any time that happens you gain something from it, in a possitive way.  I don't care if every game is ugly as long as we have more points than the other team.

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  37. #58 is William Kershaw or so says the Training Camp roster.

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  38. No that's Texas they annexed Mexico last year.

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  39. That's what you east coasters like to believe. Those of us on the west
    coast know that Mexico actually annexed California...

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  40. Here are the numbers as promised.

    Between the tackles the Dolphins ran the ball 51% of the time which ranked 11th in the league.  I thought it was over 60% CRS ( canr't remember shit ) shows itself again. :)  They 24th in the league in yards gained up the middle.  So it shows they tried to up the middle but just weren't worth a hoot at doing it.

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  41. hmm, that's a bit deceptive there because that doesn't take into
    consideration any 3rd/4th down 1 or 2 yard dives up the middle that we
    converted (I'm pretty sure we were pretty good in that area) as well as the
    fact that the Wildcat moved two tackles next to each other, so how do you
    run between them? lol ;)

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  42. ...first, I really liked the chat log ...didn't participate much but the chatter made an otherwise bad night not as bad ...hope it becomes a regular feature, tin

    ...second, shades of last year all over again ...OL couldn't open any holes and Carey stank it up ...secondary looked like a sieve again ...talk all you want about individuals but a 3rd team bucs receiver made us look like swiss cheese ...1st half there was zero penetration by our LBs/DL ...Leftwich was throwing from a perfect pocket repeatedly to wide open receivers and if he was any better than a 3rd string QB the bucs would have blown us away ...as it was, he sucks and we got the best of it ...like I said, shades of last year.

    ...third, the cut to 53 is going to be wild ...some people are coming out of the woodwork and seriously challenging some of the "locks" ...Moses certainly ...and some of those "locks" remind me of Wilford ...Turner for instance, where the f*ck has he been ...and Torbor, one good game and then a major suck game from him ...thats the kind of inconsistency that will kill you.

    ...fourth, pass rush? ...did we actually try any in the 1st half? ...all I saw was time after time Leftwich was throwing from a perfectly held pocket with all the time in the world and wide open receivers ...pity the bucs that he's their starter but pity us if Atlanta is able to protect their QB even half as well.

    ...and last but not least, Henne is NOT the future of Miami ...don't know if PW is either but Henne was as bad as Leftwich and McCown last night and that about says it all.

    ...and PS ...I've said all along I wanted to see Hilliard agaist 1st team defenses ...we saw, not impressed, we keep 3 RBs, not 4.

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  43. ...I have Anderson not making the final cut ...he makes a play, muffs the next three ...that isn't going to get him to the 53.

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  44. ...its certainly a factor but still ...I just can't get the picture out of my mind of Leftwich in a perfect pocket time after time after time ...no matter the excuse, we looked bad ...but like you, I'm hoping its the "suck" game that we got out of our system early ...I think Sparano will rest the 1st team against NO, protecting them against debilitating injuries in a game that doesn't count, and take a hard look at the guys on the bottom of the roster looking in ...but if tin insists on everyone posting their 53 come Monday, mine is set and I'm betting I'm not more than 2 off ...the OL and DBs being soft still in my book.

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  45. The Knight who says Ni!August 28, 2009 at 5:23 PM

    lemmus, none of our RBs did well against the 1st team defense. The team was sluggish and I believe it was the 3 games in 11 days. During the season a team usually plays 3 games in 20-21 days with the exception of a Thursday night game and that is still 18 days. 3 games in a 11 days is a lot especially following two weeks of two-a-days.

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  46. To answer your question that would be called a skinny run. :)

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  47. ...and I agree with you Ni up to a point ...point being that keeping 4 RBs is a luxury that requires sacrificing some other slot ...so that 4th RB has to show that he is enough of a difference maker to be worth the cost ...Hilliard was tested against the Bucs 1st team defense and made no difference in the game compared to the 3 locks at RB ...neither did he show on ST ...as far as I'm concerned, thats a fair test and he didn't pass ...next.

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  48. lemmus when u say 1st half i think you're describing the 1st quarter before
    the delay. We did not blitz at all in the 1st Q for some reason but after
    the delay we started the pressure. But Leftwich was done b4 that. McCown
    was in at that point. As far as Henne goes, he had a bad game but so did
    everyone around him.

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  49. Knight, I typed up my football viewing schedule for the fall today and
    that's when I noticed we play 3 games in 11 days AGAIN during the reg season
    starting with the Pats 11/8 and then ironically we play the Bucs 11/15 (7
    days later) and the Panthers 11/19 (11 days later).

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  50. tin, not so ...Henne had the 1st team offense around him for much of his time ...despite the Penne haters, Penne had a pretty good game with that same support against the bucs 1st team ...Henne on the other hand, against the bucs subs, stunk it up ...he wants to be a gunslinger and despite the coaching continues to make bad decisions and bad throws ...last game he was ok, this game not ...imnsho hes not ready for prime time and he should be ...the more I see of Henne the more I think the PW pick was a vote of no confidence in Henne ...my opinion, time will tell.

    ...I'll grant you that I watched only in spates after the delay ...but the picture of that game that sticks in my head is Leftwich in a perfect pocket time after time with receivers wide open and zero pressure from our 1st team DL ...in decades of watching pro football, I've rarely seen such perfectly held pockets from any team, much less against a team that thinks its playoff caliber.

    ...consider also that the bucs didn't have either of their best receivers in the game ...the one that ate us alive is a 2nd stringer at best ...he had a career game against our 1st team secondary.

    ...that said, I still think the glass is half full ...Atlanta will tell the tale ...NO is moot as far as I'm concerned.

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  51. The Knight who says Ni!August 29, 2009 at 11:15 AM

    Oh terrific! We also don't have any 1PM games at home during the hot weather months. The first one is Nov. 15th against the Bucs, another Florida team. WTF?

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  52. The Knight who says Ni!August 29, 2009 at 11:19 AM

    Hilliard has been playing on special teams and has made a few tackles. He's a big back who like Sparano says plays big and runs down hill. If we were to lose Ronnie or Ricky we'd be down to one big back if we don't keep Hilliard. Cobbs is a do everything kind of guy and plays bigger than he is but he's not a top level RB. Polite is a FB and not a high carry guy.

    If we want to run the ball and pound it between the tackles, big RBs are a priority. If we were more of a passing team I'd say Hilliard probably wouldn't make the team.

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  53. lemmus, I didn't mean he had sucky players around him, I meant the players
    around him were playing sucky...

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