We started the 2008 season not knowing what to expect from the Miami Dolphins but thinking that if all else failed, they would be a running team, no doubt about it.
You know, the Dolphins running game is loaded with Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown and fine run-blockers like Jake Long and Justin Smiley and Vernon Carey. But something happened on the way to Miami's Jim Brown moment.
Chad Pennington has turned in a stellar year passing the football.
Pennington enters Sunday's game against the Toronto Bills with 2,881 passing yards. He needs only 119 more yards to reach 3,000 yards and that is extremely significant to the Dolphins because they haven't had a 3,000-yard passer since Jay Fiedler did it in 2001. [The under-appreciated Fiedler threw for 3,290 yards that season.]
The six seasons between 2002 and 2007 that Miami could not find a 3,000-yard passer were tough times and some proof of that is in that the drought is the second-longest in the NFL entering this year. Said another way, only one team has gone longer without a 3,000-yard passer and that is the Atlanta Falcons who have been in the 3,000-yard passer desert for nine years.
It seems the Dolphins will end their drought, even this weekend perhaps. The Falcons, behind rookie sensation Matt Ryan, are also on pace to have a 3,000-yard passer. Ryan has 2,625 passing yards so far this season.
Everyone should remember the breakout day Ted Ginn Jr. had against the Bills in their first meeting Oct. 26, right?
That performance came against usually reliable Toronto cornerback Terrence McGee, who was playing his first game in a couple of weeks after suffering a knee injury. McGee was wearing a brace and probably shouldn't have been on the field that day but he gutted it out because the the Bills had a CB shortage.
Well, McGee was embarrassed by his showing and has improved vastly since. This story in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (It can't decide if it is a Democrat or Chronicle so it's both) outlines how McGee didn't come close to defending a pass against Miami in the first meeting but has nine passes defensed in the last six games.
It also speaks of how the Bills are moving McGee around the secondary now instead of fixing him strictly at left cornerback. The idea is to put McGee on the other team's best receiver.
That suggests it'll be Ginn vs. McGee all day Sunday.
Any of you out there think Ginn can equal the seven catches for 175 yards he had in October? I don't.
I have this week reported (faithfully) about the Jason Allen injury situation. Go here and scroll down a bit if you don't believe me. Well, it was interesting he didn't play last week after practicing full every day and being listed as probable on the injury report.
Allen, who has a broken hand, practiced full every day this week as well. He still has that broken hand but he has not been on the injury report at all this week. Can't wait for today's injury report to come out because Allen said earlier this week the hand still makes it difficult for him to tackle, which is kinda sorta important for a cornerback.
But defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni tells another story.
Asked if he has concerns about Allen playing with a broken hand, Pasqualoni said, "No concerns. Jason is practicing good, really."
Asked if he thinks Allen is limited in his ability to tackle or catch interceptions with that broken hand, Pasqualoni said, "He's practiced well, it doesn't appear it. He's doing good."
That pretty much tells you two things: Allen will play against the Bills if the injury is the coaching staff's only worry. But, there is another significant worry. The coaching staff must be convinced Allen is better than Joey Thomas. And there are differences of opinion on that. There has been talk among the Miami coaching staff that Thomas is better than Allen and should play while Allen sits.
That will be decided perhaps as late as the morning of the game.
If Allen is active I wouldn't be surprised if he struggles based on two factors: He was exposed by the Patriots based on his talent, and he had a broken hand last week, had a broken hand this week, and will probably still have a broken hand on Sunday.
[UPDATE: Allen is not on the injury report at all, confirming what I've been saying about him playing based on injury. The talent question remains. For the Bills, Trent Edwards is doubtful. He will not play barring something bizarre. JP Losman will start.]
Finally, it has started out as a pretty bad weekend for the Bills already. Bills Ring of Honor inductee O.J. Simpson was just sentenced to 18 years prison hours ago.
The story describes the 61-year-old Simpson as "apologetic."
Tell that to Goldman and Brown families, O.J.
An appeal is promised.