Friday, October 9, 2009

How To Be Good


I tweeted yesterday that the Dolphins will likely get to claim the Number 1 ranking in run defense on Sunday as it would be tough for both the Ravens and the Steelers (the other teams virtually tied right now in top three) to hold their opponents to the number required to stay where they are (1. Ravens) or move up (3. Steelers).  Of course, that will only last a day, as the Dolphins will have just as hard a task of keeping the Jets dormant on the ground on Monday Night.

I bring this up because there's definitely a correlation between the top rushing average on offense and the 2nd best defense against the run.  Competition makes for better practice and performance and thus it's no surprise that the two aspects of the team's make-up is so strong.

And the same correlation goes in hand with the Passing game and the Pass Defense.  It's not a surprise that they are the two weakest elements of the team, having to practice against each other.  Now, with Chad Henne taking the lion's share of the practice reps I expect this to slowly but surely change.  The competition between Sean Smith and Vontae Davis during the pre-season got them ready to play in the NFL.  But now that it has been re-ignited, it could prove to be the catalyst for pro-bowl level performance.  I would suggest that Will Allen's sub-par play thus far this season is due to not only the weak competition at WR, but also the fact that his biggest competition on his side of the field is Nathan Jones.  

But a couple of things are likely to change our pass defense woes.  First, the rising stars of Brian Hartline and Patrick Turner, and secondly, the improved passing from Chad Henne.

In a way, they go hand in hand, because Henne has practiced pre-dominantly with Hartline and Turner for months before becoming the Dolphins starter. Turner has apparently started to turn it on, and why wouldn't he now that his 2nd team QB has been promoted?  How many of us have been stuck in a rut with the B team at one point in our lives, only to get motivated when one of our peers actually makes it out of that rut first?   There's no doubt, seeing Hartline and Henne rising to the top, has lit a fire in Turner to try to elevate his game also.  And Hartline has been steadily rising from day one.  He makes a lot of mistakes, but what rookie doesn't, and the fact he's getting the opportunities to make those mistakes shows how the coaches feel about him.  It's likely Hartline could be with this team longer than any other receiver on the current roster.  

But back to my main point, which is, the defense now will have to compete more against the different receivers, taking more shots downfield, faster passes, different QB, etc.  It will force them to up their game in practice.  I'm a firm believer in the 'Practice Hard - Play Hard' motto.  The faster and more challenging the practice, the more likely the team is going to be able to go into the actual game in full-speed mode.

So while it's unlikely we can get our passing game rankings in the top 10 or 15 by season's end, I wouldn't be surprised if we end up a respectable 'somewhere in the middle' (i.e. 15 through 20) . If we keep on playing the run the way we have, we should end up in top 5 or 10 both rushing and stopping the run.  But it's early yet.  Lets work on it in practice.


 

23 comments:

  1. <span style=""><span style=""><span style="">""And the same correlation goes in hand with the Passing game and the Pass Defense.  It's not a surprise that they are the two weakest elements of the team, having to practice against each other.  Now, with Chad Henne taking the lion's share of the practice reps I expect this to slowly but surely change.""</span></span></span>
    <span style=""><span style=""></span></span>
    <span style=""><span style=""><span style="">TOTALLY AGREE!!</span></span></span>
    <span style=""><span style=""></span></span>
    <span style=""><span style=""><span style="">ALSO,been thinking while facing/getting burned by the lazer-armed(Ryan,Manning,Rivers)!!</span></span></span>
    <span style=""><span style=""><span style="">Our DBs in PS practices(all players fighting for roster spots,wanting to make impressions)..</span></span></span>
    <span style=""><span style=""><span style="">As well as during the season practices(wanting to maintain their status),practiced vs our O @ the time as any team would have played us @ the time,(in the box or up-tight)knowing what CP's game was,(NO DISSRESPECT INTENDED CP)!!</span></span></span>
    <span style=""><span style=""></span></span>
    <span style=""><span style=""><span style="">HENNE's ARM/practices will help teach our DBs to not to bite on the play-action fakes,allowing the receivers deep seperation,and now our receivers should also be able to find more seperation underneath b/c they'll be practicing/playing vs deeper zones!! </span></span></span>
    <span style=""><span style=""><span style="">(Cept for this week)cuz those gyz that wear grn play tight and heavy in the box no-matter who the QB is...  </span></span></span>
    <span style=""><span style=""></span></span>
    <span style=""><span style=""><span style="">I think DBess/whoevers in the slot might have a big week,IFF he can make the 1st guy miss!!</span></span></span>
    <span style=""><span style=""></span></span>
    <span style=""><span style=""><span style="">I'm concerned about CC on Keller,(not so much the WRs),</span></span></span>
    <span style=""><span style=""><span style="">IFFF we pressure the QB/stop the run vs a very good OL!!</span></span></span>
    <span style=""><span style=""><span style="">Minimal playbook Edwards and Cotchery are no TO/Evans/Parrish..</span></span></span>
    <span style=""><span style=""><span style="">And Sanchez is no better than TBrady,or TEdwards when a dragon is breathing fire into his face!!</span></span></span>
    <span style=""><span style=""><span style="">  </span></span></span>

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  2. The Knight who says Ni!October 9, 2009 at 8:04 PM

    Tin, excellent, excellent blog.  8-)

    Okay one more thing. Competition is the best coach. You learn about what level you have to be at to win. If you can practice against it everyday, you get better.

    Have you seen the movie 'The Express'? Perfect example. Syracuse was good on both sides of the ball because they competed everyday in practice. If one side did well the coach would lay into the other side. If the other side won the battle the other side would get yelled at. On game day both sides played well.

    I totally agree with that philosophy and so does the trifecta. That's what's being built here. Sparano talks about competing all the time.

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  3. The Knight who says Ni!October 9, 2009 at 8:38 PM

    Some Dolphins/Jets game updates.



    Dan Leberfeld, of Jets Confidential, reports New York Jets S Kerry Rhodes (knee) was limited in practice Friday, Oct. 9. He is listed as questionable for Week 5, but he should play in the game.

    Dan Leberfeld, of Jets Confidential, reports New York Jets CB Lito Sheppard (quadriceps) was limited in practice Friday, Oct. 9, and he is listed as questionable for Week 5. Sheppard might be a game-time decision, but he says he is getting better.

    Dan Leberfeld, of Jets Confidential, reports New York Jets LB Larry Izzo (hamstring) practiced Friday, Oct. 9. He is listed as probable for Week 5 and will play.

    Dan Leberfeld, of Jets Confidential, reports New York Jets LB Bryan Thomas (wrist) and S Jim Leonhard (knee) practiced Friday, Oct. 9. Both players are listed as probable for Week 5 and will start.

    Dan Leberfeld, of Jets Confidential, reports New York Jets OT Damien Woody (foot) missed the team's practice Friday, Oct. 9. He is listed as doubtful for Week 5, but he will be a game-time decision.

    Dan Leberfeld, of Jets Confidential, reports New York Jets CB Donald Strickland (ankle) missed the team's practice Friday, Oct. 9. He is listed as doubtful for Week 5, but he will not play.

    Dan Leberfeld, of Jets Confidential, reports New York Jets WR Jerricho Cotchery (hamstring) was limited in practice Friday, Oct. 9. He is listed as questionable for Week 5, but head coach Rex Ryan said he expects Cotchery to play.

    The Jets are pretty banged up.  ;)

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  4. Sleepless in SeattleOctober 9, 2009 at 9:05 PM

    Man the game is going to be exciting!! I can't wait!! I'll be watching along with some of the local yokels up here in Edmonds, WA. Edmonds is just north of Seattle. I'm going to get the locals rooting for us. I'll be at Rory's by the waterfront. I might skip over to another sportsbar that a friend told me about, if I can get more people cheering the Fins on. There aren't many Dolfan's up here. You can find more down in Bellevue (Microsoft country) but that's a long drive from Edmonds (for a game you can watch anywhere). I want you guys to know that I'll be doing all I can to tell people about the Fins. What a great team they are and how exciting they are to watch. This is Seahawk nation here but on Monday night, rain or shine, Miami is alot more like Seatlle than NY.     

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  5. We Have PlaymakersOctober 10, 2009 at 3:25 PM

    <span style="">"I would suggest that Will Allen's sub-par play thus far this season is due to not only the weak competition at WR, but also the fact that his biggest competition on his side of the field is Nathan Jones.  </span>
    Tins,

    So what would explain why he had such a good season last year since we clearly had less depth at both WR & CB positions??? 

    And as for the theory that having a good passing team usually results in having a good pass defense is LUDICROUS!!!  While practicing against a great QB & offense might help a little bit, it's far more important to have good defensive players.  This is not limited to just having excellent personenel in your secondary since having an effective pass rush will make any team's secondary look better.   The challenge is how you can match up against OTHER teams & their playcalling & their different looks & their players  (not your own)  that will determine wins & losses.

    A perfect example of this is the Chargers.  They're ranked 2nd in passing offense & 16th in passing defense.  That's not one of the better pass defenses is it???   When Marino was the QB in Miami & our pass defense was abysmal!!!  What made Marino so remarkable was all of his 4th quarter heroics in order to overcompensate for ineffective defenses.  Regardeless of whether we could stop another team defensively he always gave us a shot to win.  Had he ever had one of the better passing defenses I'm willing to assume that he would have played in more than one Super Bowl even with the dearth of talent at RB. 

    Just last year when Brees was lighting up the league in the passing game are you going to tell me the Saints had one of the better pass defenses???   If so I don't think it's a stretch to say that they would've been a playoff team. They signed Darren Sharper in FA & they just drafted Jenkins with their 1st round pick so clearly they're trying to upgrade their talent in the secondary.  So if the Saints have improved in pass defense this season I don't see how Brees & the offense have much to do with it.   Having a good pass offense is independent of having a good pass defense & vice-versa

    And to be even more topical--look at the Jets.  IMO-if healthy they have one of the best secondaries & best pass defenses in the league but does that mean that they have a strong passing offense???   Not at all but if they had a better, more established QB like Jay Cutler for example instead of Sanchez or Kellen Clemens THAT would give them a better passing game.  IMO--It's much more important to have better personnel & talent (w/o inuries) than better practice experience.   If you don't have good players you can practice all you want & little will change. 

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  6. We Have PlaymakersOctober 10, 2009 at 3:55 PM

    Knight,

    I think he's referring to having "competition" between players at each position.  Like having Vontae compete with Sean Smith in practice to make each player better or having Hartline push & compete with Camarillo to bring out better play @ WR.  

    I'm not sure if Henne competing with our defense will help him develop & improve nearly as much as competing against different teams in real game action on Sundays.   This is not "The Express" where they're constantly going at each other in practice.  That exists at the college level but as Sparano noted, they don't even tackle in practice.  Why???  Because with a 53 man he wouldn't have anyone to play on Sundays.  These guys take such a pounding on their bodies at the NFL level do you really think Henne is going to get pressured or even touched in practice this week the way he will on Monday night???   The best thing that Henne can do to prepare is to continue to develop a rapport & a rhythm with the offense & stay fresh & loose. 

    After that he's going to study as much game film on the Jets defense in their first 4 games & last year's Ravens defense (most notably last year's playoff game).  This will get him prepared more than having Will Allen picking off a poorly thrown ball in practice or in contrast beating Will Allen for a TD.  Henne is not a "project" like Pat White that needs to learn how to throw. 

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  7. Not arguing,just gathering others thought's/information,and contributing my own bit's of patient imagination!!

    Wasn't WAllen in a contract yr/fighting for a roster spot under a new regime w' a quick trigger finger??
    I think longterm,Vontae is more of a threat to WA than NJ(who was his only competition LAST YR)..
    How many pks did WA have after 4 games last yr??
    (I can't remember yesterday),and it doesn't concern me enough to look it up..

    """It's much more important to have better personnel & talent (w/o inuries) than better practice experience."""

    That's pretty obvious,but you gotta play the cards your dealt w'each hand,and one leads to the other!!

    IMHO,
    Better presonnel & talent WILL ultimately lead to better practice experiences,and Vis-Versa!!
    Better practice experiences WILL lead to better game,personnel & talent!! 

    Those rankings would likely have been even more lopsided,
    IF not for one-side of the team pressuring the other-side to be better in practice as well as in game!!

    GO   Average Talented (that's a joke)    M    I    A    M    I        D    O    L    P    H    I    N    S  !!!

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  8. We Have PlaymakersOctober 10, 2009 at 5:01 PM

    13kv,

    Will Allen was in a contract year last year BUT he was not fighting for a roster spot.  He was our best CB last year & still is .

    I agree that Vontae is more a threat to challenge Will Allen down the road than Nate Jones but this season Vontae is competing for playing time with S. Smith.  They're both rookies & after 4 games it's too early to tell which is the better CB or who should be the starter even though I'm leaning toward Vontae.

     IMO--Tins is too hard & too critical of Will Allen.  He got exposed by the Colts & the Chargers which happened to be two of the best passing teams in the NFL.  If we were able to establish any type of pass rush against them I'm confident the results would've been different.  Every CB gets beat from time to time but you can't give the Manning or Rivers & their WR's that much time to make plays.  If Porter, Taylor, and Wake can do their jobs Will Allen will be fine.  

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  9. We Have PlaymakersOctober 10, 2009 at 5:10 PM

    How many times have you heard from a Coach that we looked great in practice but until you carry it over on to the field on Sundays it doesn't mean a damn thing!!!  I honestly believe that practice at this level--at least during the season--can be overrated.  After going to war on Sundays for a month now I think that keeping these guys physically fresh so that they can perform at their optimum on gameday is more important.

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  10. Sleepless in SeattleOctober 10, 2009 at 7:42 PM

    All I have to say is, if Mike Ditka is picking the Dolphins over the Jets, it's for a damn good reason! Let me extrapolate, Ditka drafted Ricky Williams with dreams of bringing the SuperBowl to the SuperDome, alas, Katrina got in the way, but hey, 'nobodies perfect'! That's why 'I'm perfect', cause I'm a 'goddamn nodody!'. So what?!?, you give me Ditka, the Big Tuna 'Parcells' and hot muchy cushy Serena Williams, 'I'd love to lick you mama' picking the FINS and I'll give you the MOFOking WORLD baby!!!! Okay so I got money riding on the game... Okay, so it's a lot of MONEY. Okay, so I've been partying my stupid silly ass since I put the Fins way ahead of the Bills last week and covered my year on an 0-3 debacle. This one's easy nuf. GO FINS!!!!!!!!!!!! $100,000 on Miami -2. Cool. Enouigh said.

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  11. I KNOW WA is the man!!
    I was just suggesting that he might have been more intimidated to prove himself early/often to the new regime last yr!!
    He appointed himself the CP of the DB's,and played extra hard to prove his worth..
    NOT saying he's not doing the same this yr!!

    Yea,in our eye's he was a lock last yr,but I don't believe that many of the players last yr believed that their cases were open/shut..
    Sure WA knew that his likely was,but I doubt that he was willing to risk the other possibiliy..
    NOT saying he's risking the other possibilities this yr,I'm not concerned about WA @ all!!
    AGAIN,I was just contributing my views of why he might have had a LIL more added incentive last yr..

    GO BPHINS!!

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  12. ABSOLUTELY,WINNING HEALTHY is the OPTIMUM GOAL!!

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  13. The Knight who says Ni!October 11, 2009 at 8:50 AM

    WHP, I don't think so. He's clearly talking about how our #1 rushing attack goes up against our #2 run defense in practice and how our low ranked passing game goes up against our low ranked secondary.

    That said, I think competition both ways is important. Practicing against good players on the other side of the ball head to head, and against others who are trying to take your job.

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  14. It's not that clear to me & I don't see the correlation.  If you have the right players to run the ball then you have a good chance to succeed on Sundays & if you don't well then you've got a problem. 

    On the other side of the ball how good would our run defense look if Ferguson decided to retire before the season started & we were stuck with Soliai at NT.  It's about the players you have!!!  Soliai can compete all he wants with our first team offense & that might help him improve but without Ferguson we would not have the 2nd ranked defense against the run.  I'm not denying that practice & competition helps young players develop but in the end it's really about the ability of the players you have.  

    By all accounts Merling is not a good practice player but on Sunday is a gamer.  Therefore how he much is he really challenging the offense in practice to make them better???   Regardless of how he practices that doesn't mean that he or our offense won't be effective on Sundays.  I think that the preparation that the players need by watching the film & sitting in the class room is more significantly more importtant than physically battling head to head with your own teammates in the week leading up to a game.

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  15. Knight,

    Are you watching this Giant game???  There's nothing else on...TD Hakeem Nicks.  Nothing really surprises me here.

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  16. <span style="">"Of course, that will only last a day, as the Dolphins will have just as hard a task of keeping the Jets dormant on the ground on Monday Night."</span>

    <span style="">They're ranked as 9th best in the NFL with 130.5 yards per game.  That may not be DOMINANT but it's certainly not dormant either.</span>

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  17. Home SuperBowl 2010October 12, 2009 at 5:19 AM

    Under the Milky Way Tonight ...***** The DYNASTY BE FINS! *****

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  18. The Knight who says Ni!October 12, 2009 at 6:49 AM

    Well I do think it helps to go against good competition in practice. Of course it's about the players you have. Since we drafted Jake Long we all heard that going against Porter and now JT every day should help him. That's the correlation.

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  19. The Knight who says Ni!October 12, 2009 at 6:54 AM

    I watched the Giants game. That game was over in the 2nd quarter. The Giants are one of the most balanced teams in the NFL.

    Oh and JaMarcus Russell stinks. He's bad bad.

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  20. I think anyone who's ever played music in a group or played organized sports
    would understand my point. I get the whole 'players we have' argument, but
    those players didn't start out as good. They had to learn 'how to be
    good'. They had to face challenges, and those who overcame those challenges
    became better players because of it. And the learning process never ends.
    There's not a single player in the NFL that is just coasting thru his
    career.
    As for the idea that Philip Merling is not a good practice player, how do we
    know that? From speculation from the media 'experts'? You honestly think
    he would have even gotten on the field to begin with if he didn't show up in
    practice? He's third on the depth chart, battling for second, and he was
    that way before the season even started, i.e. from his performance in
    practice. And to dump on Merling's efforts really takes away from the
    efforts put in by Randy Starks. Either way, they're both better off having
    to go up against guys like Jake Long and Justin Smiley. Preparing against
    top talent and hustlers makes it that much easier to play on that level on
    game day.

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  21. I've been saying this to my Raider friends for years. They will never be
    successful as long as Al Davis is running the team because he is in love
    with Russell and won't allow any competition there. There's not a doubt in
    my mind had they allowed Garcia to compete, he would've won the job and that
    team would be miles better. They need a proper QB in Oakland.
    I only watched one game this weekend and that was the Patriots at Denver. I
    thought for sure Denver was going to lose after having FOUR opportunities to
    win and turning the ball over/punting. The good news was that the Pats were
    just as bad in the 4th Q. But Vonnie Holliday looked really good and got to
    Brady for the sack and forced fumble. Brady looks like a shadow of his
    former self. At one point Wes Welker got all pissed off at Brady for a bad
    throw, and he looked really pissed off from then on on the sidelines. The
    Patriots also lost Matt Light to a knee injury, so it looks like there won't
    be a rematch of Crowder/Light anytime soon.

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  22. Did any of you guys watch the N.E. Denver game last night?  Did you see the "Wild Horses" formation?  Man, I like the idea of lining up in the WC and then putting the QB in motion, either to stop under center or keep on moving accross as a distraction.  I expecially like the idea against the Jet's D.  The way they bring have 4 linemen, 4 LB, 2 corners and one S.  You trot out the WC formation, wait for the Jet's to line up in there modified 46 and then put henne or PW in motion have them stop under center and run a pass play. That should help the WC. What do you guys think?

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  23. I actually missed that play...but I think at this point we should keep
    things simple for both Henne and PW. Maybe a specially designed Thigpen
    play?

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