Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Dolphins Get Ready To Lay Some Wood On The Steelers

Well this couldn't have set up any better to keep Dolphins fans tied to the TV for a full day of NFL action on Sunday.

In order to make the playoffs, the Dolphins need to beat the Steelers and hope that ALL of the following happens:  New England beats Houston, Oakland beats Baltimore, Cleveland beats Jacksonville, AND Cincinnati beats the Jets.

The Cleveland/Jax and NE/Houston games are at 1pm Eastern, like the Dolphins game, so we could know the Dolphins fate before the end of our game.  Or, we could have to wait up.  Baltimore plays Oakland at 4:15pm Eastern, and then the Jets/Bengals game isn't till 8:20pm Eastern.  FYI, that game will be the final ever NFL game in the horrible Meadowlands.  The Jets and Giants will play in the 'New Meadowlands' starting next season.  The new stadium's main feature is the fact it's clad in LED panels that will change color based on which team is playing.  Of course, it will still have the ridiculous  interchangeable end zone carpet that has crippled several players in the old stadium.

So there's a chance we still won't know if the Dolphins make the playoffs until after bed-time for most of us.

But if they're going to be in that position, here's some things they might want to be taking note of:
  • This will be a playoff caliber atmosphere.  I fully expect there to be a large 'Steeler Nation' contingent in the stands at Landshark Stadium, and the fact that this is CBS' game of the week (because it's the Steelers) there might even be some extra NFL cash spent on the pre-game hoopla.  
  • While most media circuits are on the fence over whether or not Troy Polamalu will play, I expect he willFor one, he's missed more than enough games, and this is the Steelers' last ditch effort to make the playoffs.  Also, this bastard somehow managed to win the popular vote into the Pro-Bowl voting despite only having played in 5 games this year (note:  He ended up losing out to Brian Dawkins in the end) so he might feel pressure to play from his fanbase.  Obviously he is a game-changing asset on the field so the Dolphins need to work the ball away from him if he does play.
  • No one takes more sacks than Ben Roethlisberger.  The guy is tough as nails, but he's also a tackling dummy at times.  If the Dolphins can get past the Steelers average blocking, they will tip the scales in their favor.  The Steelers have been a much more pass-oriented team the last two years, and the first line of defense is to disrupt the quarterback.
  • The next biggest threat is Santonio Holmes.  With Hines Ward looking beat up/questionable, and TE Heath Miller looking pedestrian this season, Holmes is clearly carrying the load here.  Not the most intelligent person in the world, but very good hands and solid all-around football skills.  Who will cover him?  I suspect if Ward is healthy and plays, then Vontae Davis will get Ward and Sean Smith will cover Holmes, based on the physicality of each player.  Holmes likes to work the sidelines and this could be beneficial to Smith, with his long reach and good intermediate/short route coverage.
  • For the Dolphins' offense, the key here is to get around Casey Hampton, the Steelers' All-Pro nose tackle, and win blocking assignments on James Harrison, Lamar Woodley, and James Farrior on running plays.  
  • In the passing game, the key is to throw some different looks at Ike Taylor and William Gay, or to try to avoid throwing outside altogether.  Again, Polamalu is such a force that it affects the gameplan whether he plays or not.  If he doesn't, I would work in a lot of running back screens.  He is the best in the league at defending the screen, but if he's not in the game, there may be a weakness there.  
  • Not that the Steelers have much weakness on the defensive side of the ball.  Ultimately, it's going to be all about everyone winning their individual blocking assignments, the running backs giving 125%, driving forward for an extra yard here, a 3rd and short conversion there, and the receivers finding soft spots to sit down in.  Davone Bess could have a huge game, and there may be opportunity to break a deep ball or two to Ginn.  But the throws will have to be accurate, better so than last week.
  • On a side note, the Steelers signed CB Trae Williams this week to replace an injured player.  He probably will not even be active, but some of you may remember that I stomped up and down like a 4 year old last year screaming for the Dolphins to sign Williams when we were having corner issues.  I also wanted to bring him in this year before we brought in Eric Green, re-signed Will Allen, and drafted Davis and Smith.  Williams is the 'other half' of the USF duo that featured himself and Dallas starter, Mike Jenkins, a duo that was considered the best pair in the country in 2007. It would be a real pain in the arse if he played and scored a pick 6 or something...

13 comments:

  1. Good read, Tin, you sure are digging up some good info! Let me play the devil's advocate for a moment.

    <span>The story on the Internet:</span>
    Several Steelers have stated that Indy purposely lost to the Jets last week and that Cincy will throw their game against the Jets this week in order to keep the Steelers out of the playoffs! The players rationale is that Indy and Cincy would both prefer to have the fallible Jets in town rather than the feared, playoff-experienced Steelers.

    <span>I say:</span>
    Maybe more than a few Steelers think that the deck is stacked against them making the playoffs and that that may cause enough of them to have mentally checked out, rewarding good play by the Dolphins with a victory. Who knows?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well it's stories like this that make me wonder how these football players
    ever graduate college. While I'm not going to deny the fact I'd rather play
    the Jets than the Steelers in the playoffs, the idea that Indy intentionally
    blew an perfect season, or that any coach would go up to a room of 45
    players and tell them to throw the game, and that he would survive that
    meeting unscathed and without multiple leaks to the media is downright
    absurd!
    The Steelers should be focused on winning football games, not conspiracy
    theories.

    ReplyDelete
  3. <span>Well it's stories like this that make me wonder how these football players 
    ever graduate college.</span>


    I've not gone to college, but I think that many NFL players went to college primarily based on their football skills and not on their academic prowess! They may be smart in a worldly way, the 3 Rs... forget it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well I know that athletes tend to get a little extra tutorage and that
    helps, but how a group of grown professionals could think the Pats and
    Bengals are going to 'lie down' so they don't have to play the Steelers is
    beyond me. Last time I checked, the Jets and the Steelers had identical
    records anyway, and the Jets have a 5-2 road record whereas the Steelers
    have a 2-5 road record. Seems to me the Steelers are too busy feeling sorry
    for themselves to get a life.

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  5. I can't say the Colts players let down last week, but their management most certainly did.  When you pull your starters on both sides of the ball, it's not going to be easy to win a game in the NFL.  If Cincy does the same thing as the Colts and I see no reason they would not, I expect the Jets to win again. 

    Besides lets face it I'd rather see the Dolphins to be playing the Jets this weekend than the Steelers.  I would think most teams would feel the same way.  Players want to win plain and simple even if it's in checkers.  Management is a different story and that sure impacted the Colts/Jets game last week didn't it ?  What makes us think Cincy would be any different ?

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  6. Thanks for all the hard work last year, Tinshaker
    Making the Playoffs is obviously of the most importance to either team
    However Troy P is not fully ready to play at game level and IMO
    Would be extremely foolish to risk injury of their best defensive player and ruin their defense for next season
    Clearly Troy P is one of the absolute best at his position and the Steelers Win/Loss record reflects as such

    Would Be Happier
    If the Dolphins played more of "The Hill", Sheets, Turner, start Hartline, start Clemons and sit some banged up veterans possibly even Ricky with that shoulder injury, sit Ginn I`ve seen enough, sit Wilson I`ve seen enough

    We could still win, it is at home but
    If we dont
    We get a real Looksee at other players coaches and fans need/want to see in a real game against the former SB Champs
    If we lose
    Happy to say
    BETTER DRAFT PICKS and Much needed look at rookies and non starters

    Know U and I and many other fans would like to see Pat Turner catch 3 or 4 balls and attempt to go to him in the Red Zone with that 11 foot jumping ability but
    Then again herdfan maybe right and my head might explode at the possibilities of the Miami Dolphin  WR season that could have been

    Thanks again for your informative and fun blog
    U know
    They cant keep me away from Opening Day Training Camp next season after that may be out of the country on a walkabout
    Will provide U with fun boisterous video and stills live from Dolphin Camp

    Peace
    HSB2010

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow, I come back and there is FOUR posts from you!! Woooo hooooo! Great reads--ALL--of them.

    As for playing players to see if we should keep them around for next year...I think that should have been done throughout the year at times. One game does not really give an accurate account of what a player can do. **cough cough** ginn two td returns against the Jets--nothing since.

    I am hoping we concentrate on ILB, WR, TE oh and possibly NT. Hey guys...has Mcdaniels been rotating in with Solia at NT? Has HE done a decent job? Or is Solia the better choice if Ferg does not come back? Was Solia drafted by Saban?

    Oh well, I will be following the blog closely to see what everyone thinks about the upcoming draft! Speaking of, went to Radio City Music hall this past week....how cool would it be to go there during the draft? Welllll other than the annoying Jets fans that is? Everyone else was looking at the Rockettes and I was trying to figure out where the commish stands when he is announcing what team took who?? LOL

    Here is to hoping 2010 is great for everyone!!!!!

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  8. The Knight who says Ni!January 2, 2010 at 9:26 AM

    The problem with matching up with the Steelers WRs is that we don't flip flop Smith and Davis very much. They stick to their side of the field so the Steelers can match up who they want on our corners. I don't think this matchup means that much. It's not like their is a significant size or speed issue with Holmes or Ward. Sean and Vontae just have to play their game and continue to improve.

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  9. The Knight who says Ni!January 2, 2010 at 12:27 PM

    Soiiai was drafted by Mueller in 2007. The big man should get another season to prove he can get better. He's had to learn the position and has improved from where he was as a rookie and in his 2nd year.

    McDaniel is a good role player on the DL because he can do a lot of things playing all the positions. But I think that is what he is. He's not the long term answer at NT in my opinion.

    I still believe Merling could end up as a NT. His specialty is stopping the run and he's gotten a lot bigger since we drafted him. I'm not saying he's the answer right now but he could develop into a NT in the next few years. Sparano has said he doesn't stay blocked very long and that's a quality a NT needs. You don't have to be a giant 350 pounder to play NT. Fergy is somewhere between 310-320 and he's very good at the position. Does Merling have the strength to hold up all game long is probably the biggest question with him.

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  10. http://www.miamidolphins.com/aquavision/video/coach-sparano-press-briefing-123109

    Any FAN who really wants some insight to OUR FINS from the bottom-up,
    SHOULD/MANDATORILY watch ALL of the HC's press conferences!!

    From his human side
    Check-out Tony's sense of humor @ the 16:18 mark,
    Last question of the decade,after Tony's humerous drumroll...

    Tony are you gonna be the coach @ Alabama??

    Bellybustin laugh from the coach and the entire room!!! 

    Something you ALL might not know, I LOVE OUR COACH AND TEAM!!  GOFINS

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  11. Very Intersested in the Inactive list Today, Tinshaker

    ReplyDelete
  12. me too but it won't be out for another 20 mins. I'm getting the game chat
    blog ready right now.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you for contributing in 2009 and I look forward to 2010 as well, even
    if you'll be AWOL for much of it.

    ReplyDelete