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Dolphins beat Panthers 27-17: The reactions

Let me get to the most important thing first: The old Miami Dolphins' Fight Song is light years better than the T-Pain version the new ownership tried to thrust upon everyone in the preseason-opener. Tonight, the old, faithful version was played in the stadium and I was one of the throngs that decided it was better.

Yes, I come down on the side of the banjo over autotunes. I'm sure Mr. Pain, who has more recording success than most lately, will understand this traditionalist is not in his corner.

Go old school!

On to the game: The Dolphins improved their preseason record to 2-0. They did it behind some excellent rush offense from the first to the third units. The Dolphins rushed 28 times for 141 yards, which is a 5.0 yard per carry average.

Lex Hilliard led the charge with 52 yards on nine carries. It was an important night for Hilliard because he's in a tough spot. He is the fourth running back on a team that might only keep three. And you know Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams and Patrick Cobbs are making this team.

So Hilliard made the point he can be an option on the roster if coaches decide he's too valuable to expose to practice squad while adding him as a special teams performer. And it seems special teams is how Hilliard must make it.

"Lex is a big back that runs like a big back," coach Tony Sparano said. "But we have to look at the film to see how he did on special teams."

I do not want to be a party pooper but I have to be honest with you. The Panthers are not a good run defense. They are desperately searching for defensive tackle help. It did factor into how successful Miami was as much as Jacksonville's stout middle factored into how poorly the Dolphins ran the ball last week.

The Dolphins ran five Wildcat package plays. They netted, in order, 3, 0, 11, 4, and 35 yards. The 35-yarder was on a flea-flicker in which Ronnie Brown flips the ball to Chad Pennington, who throws downfield to Patrick Cobbs. It was the same play the Dolphins ran against the Houston Texans last year.

In fact, all the plays were the same the Dolphins ran out of Wildcat last year. And that's exactly what the Dolphins wanted to show.

"We ran the same four plays that every NFL team has about 95 cut-up plays of us," Sparano said. "It's the same four plays we ran all last year so there are no secrets there. But it is a good homework for us. We put the same four plays out there and you get a chance to see what people have been studying their whole offseason and how they want to defend us a little bit. it gives us a good chance to find some things out."

So running the old Wildcat plays shows Miami's opponents nothing, but it shows Miami how opponents are adjusting. As I've written over and over, expect not one Wildcat or WildPat or Wildcat 2.0 play this preseason. That won't be unveiled until the regular season.

All of Miami's QBs had good nights. Chad Pennington had a rating of 132.8 which is excellent. He completed 8 of 11 passes for 105 yards with 1 touchdown. Chad Henne's rating was 94.5 as he completed 10 of 16 passes for 75 yards with one TD. Pat White got very limited second-quarter play as was the plan, Sparano said. White completed 2 of 3 passes for 4 yards, but he seemed to get out from under center quicker this week than last week -- an improvement.

Donald Thomas, who passed Shawn Murphy for the starting RG job last week, played well as far as the naked eye can tell. He played into the second half.

"I need all the plays I can get," Thomas said. "If they told me, 'Play the whole game,' I would have been fine with that. I feel good. Once we go back Monday and look at the film, I'm sure it will say I still have a lot of stuff to clean up. Tonight was a learning tool."

If you are a diligent reader of this blog, you know the Dolphins are emphasizing third down efficiency this year. Third down is the money down. Third down is when big-time players must step up to make big-time plays.

The Miami offense converted 6 of 14 third down situations for an excellent 43 percent. The Panthers converted only 2 of 11 for 18 percent, which translates to great work by the defense.

The Miami defense had only one sack. But it had plenty of pressure.

"We were both out there trying to get some real rushes in," Joey Porter said of his attack of the QB along with Jason Taylor. "I think our young guys showed up and made some big plays. Cameron Wake got to the quarterback. Q. Moses got to the quarterback. All those guys got some good playes in there, so I think it was a good evaluation for everybody to show that our dropoff isn't that bad no matter who is in the game."

Speaking of pass-rush pressure, the Panthers got one sack. That came when rookie Everette Brown beat Jake Long for a sack.

Bigtime Julius Peppers put that sack in perspective, however, when he was asked about his personal matchup with Long.

"All this is practice with a time and a score," Peppers said. "It's not like we are game-planning for each other or trying to make any statements right now."

The special teams, particularly the starting special teams, is a concern. They gave up a 58-yard punt return by Captain Munnerlyn, which set up a field goal attempt.

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mojo i agree the song is really lame and for someone to say they truly like the lyrics are either drunk or smoke'n hardcore stuff. dont get me wrong when you score a td it can get the crowd hyped but why not make new fight song with better lyrics to express the team to day not from yester-year. by the way with all the new owners we should have fight songs for every race.lol

2 live crew fight song pop that p#$$y

The existing fight song is awful, childish and embarassing. I don't consider Stephen Ross a bad guy for trying to do something contemporary...I thought it was actually kind of neat, even though I'm pretty old school. The Dolphins have been mired in past glory way too long and everything from the uniforms to the song needs freshening up. Let go of the past people...the "Houston Oilers" stolen song is pathetic.

my last thought on the fight song is this. we need a dj that has range in all music and one that can play a certain song that describes the mood of the stadium or the players and plays at that time of the game. fight songs are for college its hard to have hate in the nfl now b/c of free agency, players go from team to team and has little controll over it, so you might hate a team but wind up playing for the same team later. go figure

KKKKKK_Ken from Conn. i called you out on the previous live blog. 3 words : VONTAE DAVIS BABY ! How you like me now.

Marcus. VONTAE DAVISSSSSS !

lmao@Carlito. Good one on the muff post.

The way that Trifecta "sees" things in players that the rest of us can't, and they are usually correct, there is NO WAY they let Lex Hilliard go. Even I can see how good this kid is. Ricky is gone after this year or next. Hilliard will be even better by then. Another late round steal for the draft mobsters!!!

NJ,

I was really impressed with how Vontae stepped it up last night. He played well, and he still brought that high level of excitement... thats just his personality I think.

I thought the O-line did great with Donald Thomas back and that allowed all of the Dolphins Rb's to have good nights.

On the D-line, Soliai and McDaniel both were solid too.


Soulja. Don't forget the good play of the possible future at OLB in quentin moses and cameron wake. Moses could finally being living up to his bill after learning the olb position in the 3-4, wake needs to improve his run stopping. Things could be looking real good for the future at OLB.

Crowder has been around the ball alot in these first 2 games too

Any chance they keep Hillard as a backup Fb? He is only 5 lbs lighter than Polite?

Hey NJ Phin Fan:

Your man crush on Vontae Davis apppears to be justified. Just kidding, well at least about the man-crush. Davis played really well. He and Smith have the possibility of becoming another Madison and Surtain if Davis can keep his head in the game like he did last night.

- Pennington was his usual steady with some underthrows. It's a bit concerning to see receivers having to wait for the ball very often, though. Nothing new there.

- On the other hand Henne has the strong arm to compete in the NFL, the strong arm to make Ginn and all the WR better; consequently, making a much improved running game more fluent. He overthrew a wide open Wilford that would've been a TD. That, he needs to fix quick.

- Ronnie ran well. Not great. The front line was better. There were times he could've broken tackles for several extra yards and he didn't. You could see it on the coach's expressions during those plays.

- Dolphins brass must find a spot in the roster for Lex Hilliard. He is a big back, which would help greatly during games. Ronnie and Ricky(getting older) will be first backs. Cobbs breaks long plays during screens and trick plays. Hilliard must be the bone breaker when the opposing defense is getting tired. He will score, and score plenty. Pound that defense with all the backs including Polite, and your running game will be intimidating.

- Good playing time for Vontae Davis. Came back strong. Smith must elude the swine and play as a starter again.

- Donald Thomas is good. He must clean up some stuff, but the big guy is good. He will be an elite guard in this league if he can remain healthy. What a steal.

- I feel so bad for Chris Williams. We needed him to come up big, but he didn't. Way too risky. He'll get more chances against Tampa Bay if he doesn't get cut before.

- What's up with Fasano? Where is he? Two games and I haven't heard anything. He must be working on his blocking. But I don't see any connections between the QBs and Fasano, yet.

- Lots of pressure on the opposing QB from the line and LBs. I was dissapointed that they ran out of steam during 3rd downs. Wake is showing strong improvement.

- Special team was better during the Jacksonville game. They need to do better on returns.

- I can't believe the refs missed the fumble that would've gave us the ball for a clear score. Come on NFL!! They have all this bulls..t about stopping celebrations during games for TD reviews, and they can't review a clear fumble?? Sick.


-

Ken, that's right ! I just had to throw that at you. LOL !. It's one game and he still has alot to learn , but to bounce back and play well was encouraging .

just saw that wildcat play-pass to cobbs SWEET!!!!

That play could of resulted in a TD

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Ronnie Brown looked great! I know it is pre season but he looked great!

pizza you are right i am a city worker. good deduction. Ace i was slamming budweiser's last night. ahh how i love the king of beers! sometimes i drink labatts. landshark isn't too bad either. thur night miami is on fox so everyone can watch and not worry bout the site freezing up.

I'll say it again, if Pennington does what he did last night for an entire game, then there will be ten third down situations that he throws a pass and completion that is well short of a first down, just to get the completion, seeing as how it does nothing but help his numbers to do so. He did it all year last year. 10 times a game is 160 completions a year that he will get to pump his stats rather than get the effing first down!

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Soiled :)

I was getting a little worried about Wake early on with all the descriptions of him being "ordinary". Good to here he's getting after those guys regularly.

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I saw the same game.. If Henne had the same recievers that Penny did what a difference it would make. TOUCHDOWNS!!! For a reciever to always have to wait for the ball must be frustrating as hell. Knowing a TD is there. Henne gets Zero credit for the game he played with the guys trying to make the team and no protection for the most part. Time to see the big picture and stop treating Penny for the god he is not and the nervous player he has been in his career.

Chad(the savior)pennington is a FOOTBALL GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Does anyone think that Lex Hilliard could be traded to the Broncos with a late round pick in exchange for Brandon Marshall...I would hate to lose Lex, but with his recent performance his stock is rising and we have quite a bit of depth at running back.


if there are any coaches reading this, somebody please explain to our great back ronnie brown that in order for the wildcat to work that he has to be willing to give up the rock at least 50% of the time if not more

i have a potential solution for the hilliard situation... given the change in rules that a kick-off team can no longer employ the 3-man wedge; seems to me that this subtle change will require a different style person to field kickoffs/punts; a player who can break 1st, 2nd tackle and run up the middle vs the traditional bouncing it outside... what if we give hilliard a shot at this and use him as our 3rd or 4th back and increase his carries as season goes on???

just a thought given that we clearly have 4 backs to divide carries btwn

Hey Tom!

Why don't you pen a new fight song?

Signed,

An old friend.

Anyone notice how Wilford was blocking pretty well? He may steal a spot yet. I think Martin is gone, he is in a contract year anyhow, and always nicked up. Time to move him while he's healthy...IMO

Morganstyle:

As good as Hillard has looked he would not net any thing close to Brandon Marshall in value. Marshall is a 100 catch guy 2 seasons in a row and he will not come cheap.

Ken,
I hear you brother, that's why I mentioned a draft pick as well. I do like the idea of Hilliard returning kicks, the guy as some serious heart and will break some tackles!

Hilliard is quick for a big back, but NO WAY is he fast enough to be a top tier NFL return man.

Like a mosquito in a nudist camp - where do I start. Getter Done, your closest "... NO WAY fast enough..."?? Lex ran the 100, 200 and 4X100 in high school when he wasn't chucking the shot. Let's drag out Ricky's stats for comparison - and his yellowing birth certificate as well.

As for trading Lex to Denver, under the present screwed-up McDaniel regieme you might as well send him off to Club Gitmo. Definately cruel and unusual punishment. Marshall is talented, but right now he's a very upset young man who has had his off field problems

The old Dolphins banjo song is a feel good song. I feel good every time it is played because they play it after touchdowns. Good analogy with Coke Classic. Once again in the early 70's Miami had the song and could have kept it if Joe Robbie had ponied up 25 grand. He would not, so the writer took the offer to the Houston Oilers and they paid him. For a while it was Houstons song and we could not officially play it. When Houston moved to Tennessee in 1999 we took it back and have played it ever since. Lee Ofman was the writer of the song.

I think some of you guys believe the Dolphins should be 3 and 0 now instead of 2 and 0.

Silvertip you need better facts my friend.
Lex may have been on a high school track team pre-pubescent, but he is hardly a sprinter.

Hilliard ran a pre draft 4.70 40yd time.
Here is his 2008 pre draft analysis from Sports Illustrated.

POSITIVES: Strong interior ball-carrier who may be tried at fullback. Patient, waits for blocks to develop, and finds running lanes. Keeps his feet moving on contact, breaks several tackles during a single carry, and tough to bring down. Effectively picks up blocking assignments and will stop defenders on the blitz.

NEGATIVES: Possesses marginal speed and quickness. Loses momentum when he changes direction and more of a straight-line runner.

ANALYSIS: Hilliard is a nice-sized ball-carrier who competes hard and does the little things well. Strong at the point, he lacks the speed and creativity to be a feature runner, yet he offers possibilities as a short-yardage specialist and could develop into a lead blocker.

PROJECTION: Undrafted Free Agent


Also I wasn't the poster who said we should trade for Brandon Marshall. Denver will want more than I'd give for him at this point!
We have some up n coming WR's IMO.

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