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Game review: Miami Dolphins 10, Bucs 6

The good: Brian Hartline earned a starting WR job. Well, he wasn't actually annointed by the coaching staff, but trust me, he's going to be a starter in the regular-season opener at Atlanta in two weeks.

The kick return team also did a fairly good job, averaging 30.3 yards on three returns.

The bad: A much, much longer list for the Dolphins during Thursday night's 10-6 victory over Tampa Bay. 

"I would assess it this way," coach Tony Sparano said. "Our defense was on the field too long and our offense wasn't on the field long enough."

You think, coach? The Dolphins, ineffective on offense much of the first half, ran a total of 54 plays. The Bucs, relying on an offense that looked good-not-great while Byron Leftwich was in the game, ran 74 plays and was electrifying by comparison.

During the time Leftwich was in there, the Miami defense looked terrible. Miami defenders mounted precious little pressure on the quarterback. And the secondary blew a couple of coverages some times, while failing to make plays at other times even as defenders were draped around receivers. Luckily Leftwich is a mediocre QB so he didn't make the Dolphins pay for their problems.

"They converted too many third downs," Sparano said. "I have to watch the film and reserve judgment on that. But I thought they missed a few receivers at times during the course of that thing. I thought our guys battled hard and kind of bent but didn't break. We came up with a few good rushes and hit the quarterback a couple of times in certain situations in the course of the game."

This is where I remind you the Bucs did not play their two starting receivers. Antonio Bryant is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. Michael Clayton is recovering from a hamstring injury. Some dude named Stovall torched the Miami secondary for 73 yards on six catches in the first half. 

"We have to get off the field on third down," strong safety Yeremiah Bell said. "A completion is a completion no matter who you're against, no matter who's in the game. Like I said, the concepts stay the same, it's just that the first guys are normally better receivers. At the same time we have to make the plays and get off the field."

The ugly: Chad Henne may indeed become the starter at some point this year and more likely in 2010. But he's not ready for that baton to be passed quite yet -- not if this game was an indicator. Henne completed 2 of 8 passes for 55 yards with one interception.

Let me give you some perspective on Henne's night. His passer rating was 16.1. He completed only one more pass to his teammates than to players on the other team. It was a struggle.

"I wasn't excited about how we threw the ball as a whole tonight," Sparano said when asked specifically about Henne.

The Miami defense was disappointing in that it seems a step slow a lot. The rush gets there just after the passer releases the ball. The cornerbacks stick a hand in just after the receiver pulls in the pass. And there was too much shoddy tackling.

One more thing on the ugly. Lex Hilliard did a lot of things well the last seven months to earn a spot on the Dolphins' 53 man roster. And he might still earn that spot. But Thursday night did not help. He was ineffective running the ball, gaining only 32 yards on 11 carries for a 2.9 yard per carry average. He also fumbled, which is a transgression Sparano detests.

Did I mention Brian Hartline played well? I'm telling you he's the starter after he caught three passes for 79 yards. I asked Sparano if Hartline is the starter, because it sounds better coming from the head coach than a goofy columnist. But the coach wouldn't give up the money quote. 

"I got to watch the film," Sparano cliched. "I like what he did, OK? He did make some big plays, which is critical. One of the things we have to do a better job of on offense is we can't take 15 plays to score every touchdown. We have to get some chunk yards and Hartline was able to make some chunk yards tonight. [Greg] Camarillo was able to make a catch out there one time, too, but Hartline was able to get down the field that way, so that was positive."

Well, the head coach didn't give me what I wanted to hear. So I asked Hartline if he has adjusted his goals from simply making the club to winning himself the starting job. And ... bingo!

"Absolutely," he told me. "There's no reason why I can't ... I'm going to try to set goals to maybe so high I can't reach them. I have high goals and I'm always readjusting my goals. But as you saw tonight, we have a lot of good receivers on this team and any rotation or how we're going to use them, that's going to be the coach's thoughts. But I'm changing goals. Probably daily.

"There's a lot of things I know I'm going to learn from this film going against guys like ronde and other guys. There's stuff that I see that maybe you guys might not that when I get a chance to watch the film, I can correct and do better on."

Can I throw this out at you guys without starting an insurrection? Miami's two most productive receivers now, today, as you read this, are Brian Hartline and Greg Camarillo. Camarillo is still not at the level he reached just prior to his ACL injury last season. But he's progressing and he finds a way to make a play almost every game.

Ted Ginn Jr.? Almost invisible for the second consecutive game. He had one catch for 19 yards.

"The coverage was dictating where the ball was going and [Hartline] was able to make some plays for us and the ball was going his way quite a bit," quarterback Chad Pennington said. "We're just working on trying to get better. We got some things we have to clean up, polish up and get a little bit better which is disappointing. We've been doing pretty well on third down, made that an emphasis and tonight we didn't do a good job. And that's how you keep your defense off the field and how you keep drives going and create some momentum so we have to do a better job there."

Pennington started painfully slow, missing on five of his first nine passes, which is like a personal disaster for a guy who completed 67.4 percent of his passes last season. But Pennington recovered nicely and finished the night 9 of 16 for 128 yards and one TD. His passer rating was 103.1.

Finally, I've been hearing a lot this morning about how the Dolphins are excused for looking bad in the areas where they struggled because, well, they didn't prepare for the game. They didn't game plan. They didn't have much time between games.

Fair. But ...

They played an opponent that didn't prepare for the game, that didn't game plan, and didn't have much time between games.


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Some games are beautiful, some are ugly. I don't really want to hear who was inured on the other team, we have and have had plenty of injuries.

We won, let me double check the score... yep, we won. They won't all be pretty but to me, the mark of a team to rally around is one that screws up and still finds a way to pull it out.

So the bright spot of the game was hartline, the rookie corners looked like rookies, and the running game was so-so, and we still won. Eh

The Cuban saw the 1st part of the game)(up into the rain delay),unbelievable 1st chance to see the mighty air breathing mammals and the menace Falls asleep..............


I'm packing for Atlantic City. I'm like Rain Man at the Black Jack tables.

Where are you at in Joisey?

Maybe it was the joe buck/troy aikman commentary that but the Cuban to sleep(or maybe it was the 6 pack of bud I drink)

Oh No, The Norse warrior in the north east, some one contact the national guard...Hide the women, children (and the farm animals)lol....

Allright thats all the posts I can read without commenting. I stopped on the one where the guy said Henne has never shown anything on tape in two years. You know, it's one thing to give Henne a hard time for a poor performance last night but when you start lieing to make your opinion look like fact you're going to get called on it. Henne has driven this team to multiple scores in very limited playing time. Starting last year in pre-season and even in last weeks game. He has done everything asked of him and even when he's playing with second and third team castoffs he still gets them points. This line of "well it doesn't matter because he's playing AGAINST third team guys" is complete BS. He's getting very limited time to throw the ball when our backup o-line is in there. I don't care if the other team has their backups in there because if you watch the games you will see that their backup d-linemen are apparently better than our back up o-line guys meaning they are putting pressure on him and if you've noticed our receivers tend to have a problem getting consistent seperation. Last night he was innaccurate and definitely didn't play well. But don't sit in here and say that he's been playing that way ever since he was drafted because it makes you look like an ignorant jackass. Also IMO anyone that says it was a mistake to draft a monster anchor on the left side last year instead of Ryan is missing the big picture. Who was going to block for Ryan without Long there? Brandon freaking Frye or Carey who sucked on the left side? But we would've had Ryan, he would've stunk without blocking, and the same damn people would be complaining that Ryan sucks and we should've drafted someone for the o-line. Atlanta already had an established offensive line as did the Ravens when they took Flacco. You DO NOT draft a QB first when you have a 1-15 offensive line with no protection on the QBs blindside.

Odin, If i get called intro duty in the next 2 days ill be P/Oed...Please no plundering or looting..(and for gods sake no burning casinos....)

NJ, Whats more worrisome Al-Qaeda in Patterson or Odenseye in Atlantic city?????

Lastly, in case I'm the only one who noticed this I wanted to point out that Vernon "I only try hard in regular season games" Carey allowed two sacks last night. Yet not a bad word about him while Jake Long, our pro bowl tackle, gets LAMBASTED. WOW.

cuban good luck hiding your women as vikings are excellant trackers. odinseye will find the ladies faster than a fat kid finds the prize in a cereal box.


Discipline and consistency will come or the players will face the wrath of the trifecta. All will be fine. This is just year two in a grueling process. For all the people that see Merling as not doing well, there are an equal amount that see the improvement in Langford. The same can be said for most positions. Probably why they draft two players for each position. If they both work out, excellent. If not, they'll have back ups.

OH NO ! Odinseye is heading my way ! Lock up the liquor cabinets and close the liquor stores.

Odinseye. i'm about 2 hours away. i live closer to the city. When are you getting here ? You should've told me earlier that you were oming down, By the way penny's are isn't strong enough. LOL !

armando what happened to freedom of speech....i wrote a comment on here but it has since been deleted.....your a disgrace to america. i would like to take all your crapy articles and wipe my rear with them after a night of binge drinking and eating the hottest chili in the world!!!

good day!

I posted this same post this morning, but I can't read anymore of this garbage and copying and pasting is much easier than paraphrasing.

O Yee of little faith!

You guys sure are a group of whiny, fickle little bi-atches. One poor performance in the pre season and the seasons over and all our players suck. What the hell is wrong with you? One bad preseason game and you all know more than Parcells, what a bunch of bandwagon punks!

This was the preseason. They don't really game plan, they don't prepare like they do for a regular season game and... WE WON! Yes, as painful and boring as that was to watch, we still won, and more importantly we learn from the mistakes, that is what preseason is all about.

I'd rather them get this out of their system now than on sep 13

P.S. Anyone saying that Jake Long is garbage and it is clear we should have taken Ryan or Flacco will wear their ass as a hat if I ever meet them....

Like i said a while ago" A WIN IS A WIN".............

Brady pick 6 tonight...

Soulja, Brady worries me...

Armando - you are so full of yourself that I am surprised you and your ego can share a seat in the press room. Save us the self-serving BS and just focus on the details that you are paid to cover!

Cuban Menace,

Jason Taylor worries Brady...

Mike in Denver,

Please save us meaningless post and just read article and learn. Enough learning and then you be able to say something with mean something.

He's(Taylor) always has been a thorn in bradys side, hopefully he'll be a thorn in brady's knee... Just saying...

Haha Cuban, me too.

Anyone wonder what happen to sprovo?

Not sure after Mando busted him havent heard from him...He was a sharp poster though...

Filler writing

Buc's receivers need to be at least 7'2 tall if Leftwich is gonna start

Cuban Menace

You better be on call.

I do intend to be in rare form. By the way, is it still warm enough for the Boardwalk to be full of Pus.....ah......BIKINI'S

Go Redskins!

My favorite teams are the Dolphins and whoever is playing the pats! (or Jets!)

(or Bills!)


You da man.

I hope the Redskins DE's have a great game.

Patsies 3 and out, Brady looks jumpy

Wow, Santan Moss, Best catch of the preseason hands down!


I wasn't imagining it. Brady's got happy feet.

Yeah, ok starting hartline and Camarillo would be really bad, but my main point is just what exactly did Ginn do to be the automatic #1 starter? I know it's just preseason but the guy continues to dissapear in games, happened last year, the year prior, and so far nothing seems to have changed. I hope he "breaks out" this year to, but it's like Chambers all over again.


If you win big at the casinos, dark bacardi (or appleton rum) for everyone?

Redskins are moving the ball at will against the patsies defense, and the pats aren't helping their cause... pass interference puts the ball on the one yd line...


I'll buy that. His speed helps keep the safety somewhat honest.
I hope he does have a breakout year as well. With Parcell's and Co. the letters NFL seriously means Not For Long.

Odinseye, was sup? You started drinking yet?


I'm a traditionalist so I find it VERY HARD to stray from Dark Barcardi.
On the other hand if you don't try new things you can't start new traditions!

Bottom's UuuPPPP!!!!

The only thing that will truly stop Brady is age.


What a coincidence. I'm cracking open a cooldie this minute.

No lie tough call there huh? NOT!

Ewww Brady to Moss touchdown, that was gross!

God I hate Brady!!!!

I hate Moss too!

Holy hell Brady played that drive like he was playing Madden on rookie. Our secondary better shore up if we want to hang on to the AFC East championship.

As much as I hate the both of em, I have to admit, they make it look way too easy.

yeah that did look too easy, its not like there was bad coverage either...

It's like they're playing street ball, yo Randy, go deep and I'll chuck it to ya!

Jason Campbell's got a cannon, why were they so eager to get rid of him?

Two things.

When the corner turned his back Moss knew to take this inside. Brilliant!

Brady scared the stuff out of the safety with a fake pump and a look.

Haha Darius Butler and Pat Chung have both made bonehead plays tonight!

They should do an alternate version of that Peterson commercial with Favre instead. Show Brett sitting on his recliner changing the channel in slow motion, cue VoiceOver guy, "Brett Favre is ready for the season. Are you? Sign up now on NFL Fantasy Football.com." END COMMERCIAL.


If they ever get Campbell a supporting cast, he'll be solid!


LOL! Too true, too true.

Almost aint good enough.

Knock that guy on his a$S

"The coverage was dictating where the ball was going and [Hartline] was able to make some plays for us and the ball was going his way quite a bit," quarterback Chad Pennington said.

You cant find a better way of saying the rest of the recievers sucked w/o verbally saying they sucked!

Holy hell man it's like there right back in that 2007 season before the Giants game. I can't put up with another season like this.

Washingtons safties are playing scared. I hope Bell and Wilson have more B@lls than those two.

Wow Tom Bunchen, 9 Out of ten 126 yds 2 tds and they just started the second Qut, I told you Soulja Brady worries Me..

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