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Tale of trenches from the Salguero DVR

By now you watched the preseason opener from the stands, on television at home in South Florida, or on the NFL Network replay. So you know what the Dolphins receivers and quarterbacks and running backs did. If that's all you're interested in, you are dismissed.

This post is about football in the trenches.

This post is a critical look at how the Miami offensive and defensive fronts fared against the Jacksonville Jaguars Monday night. A word of caution: The Jaguars are a physical team along their defensive front. Conversely, their offensive line has had issues dating back to last season and is probably among the bottom third units in the NFL.

So working with those facts for perspective, let's get to the breakdown of what happened.

Start with this truth: Randy Starks played very well Monday night. He was undoubtedly the most active defensive lineman of any that played with the first or second team. But I'm not just going to tell you. Let me show you.

On Jacksonville's first possession of the game, the Jaguars are in shotgun on third-and-13. Charging from his defensive end spot, Starks hits quarterback David Garrard just as he throws the ball. It's a bad throw because that's what happens when a 300-pound man hits you in the gut. It's an incompletion, and the Jags have to punt. Thank you, Randy.

On Jacksonville's second possession, Garrard has no tangible pressure on a first down completion. On second down, there is great coverage by Channing Crowder and Sean Smith and Garrard pulls the ball down instead of throwing it. It results in coverage sack, officially credited to Jason Ferguson.

And on third-and-7 from their own 24, Garrard throws another incomplete pass that forces a punt. The reason for the incompletion? Randy Starks hits the quarterback again as he is throwing, and the ball falls short of an open receiver.

Jacksonville's coaches adjust. The next two series, the Jaguars double-team Starks. Jason Taylor and Joey Porter and Phillip Merling are rushing, but the Jags try to stop Starks with two blockers. And that leaves Nathan Jones unblocked on the blitz to force another errant throw by Garrard.

It's more of the same in the next Jacksonville possession. Brad Meester and Vince Manuwai double Starks on a play that results in a pass completion to Jarett Dillard. Next play, Manuwai is blocking Starks and a back chips him coming out of the backfield.

No other player on the Dolphins defensive front draws as much attention from the Jags. Starks is done for the night after this series. Good work.

But that's not all the good work on D.

Crowder played very well. He was very active. He had the tight coverage I mentioned earlier. He blitzed three times, never getting there but applying good pressure. He also blew up a screen pass that gained only 2 yards, making the tackle but getting no credit for it. In fact, the game book gives neither Starks nor Crowder any tackles. Talk about misleading.

So who else was active on the defensive front?

Ferguson had excellent penetration on a short completion to Torry Holt. Jones, as I mentioned, came free on a blitz. Jason Taylor had supporting pressure on two pass plays -- meaning he didn't get to Garrard first, but he was there as well, which is a good thing against a 236-pound quarterback.

Joey Porter was mostly quiet and Phillip Merling, who played a lot, didn't have any play that stood out to me.

On the Dolphins offensive side of the equation, I am fascinated by how coaches handled the right guard platoon. Starter Shawn Murphy and backup Donald Thomas alternated first-team snaps every other possession. But here's the interesting thing:

Thomas only played with the starters. When the starters came out after halftime, Thomas was done. Murphy, meanwhile, got snaps with the subs in the third quarter.

So which of the two played better? You must understand that I do not know the Dolphins' blocking schemes nor do I pretend to know what technique Miami coaches want used in certain situations. Having said that, it seemed to me the offensive line was more cohesive when Thomas was in the game.

Murphy had one bad moment when he missed a blitzing Justin Durant up the middle on the first Miami possession of the game. The whiff forced a bad throw by Chad Pennington. Muprhy also used terrible technique when I saw him bear hugging Derrick Harvey once to prevent the defensive end from going through him on a Ronnie Brown run.

But Murphy had a couple of good moments, also. He had a great peel block that wiped out CB Brian Williams on Ted Ginn's end around. He also had a nice second-level block on linebacker Darryl Smith later on.

I noticed something that we all probably take for granted but should be said anyway about Jake Long. In his second season, the Dolphins are obviously expecting him to be something of a horse and leader of the offensive line. Maybe that's the reason I saw him get blocking help from Justin Smiley only once on passing plays.

It was otherwise Long out on an island the entire game against Jacksonville defensive ends or blitzing linebackers. The only time he was soundly beaten was when Long found himself with one knee on the ground, trying to stop a charging Durant from getting past. The play resulted in a 1-yard loss for Ricky Williams.

Right tackle Vernon Carey also gets very little help in pass-rush situations, and that was not a great idea on one play in which he blocked no one as two blitzers zipped past, forcing an incomplete pass to Davone Bess. Carey was otherwise solid.

So, you should be asking now, how did new center Jake Grove do this game against John Henderson, Rob Meier and Atiyyah Ellison? I would say Grove more than held his own. I would say if he can win as many as he loses against Henderson, the Dolphins are going to be fine at center this season.

Grove got the better of Henderson in a one-on-one situation on the drag route Ginn caught in the first quarter. Grove then had a beautiful cut block on Durant on the 11-yard run Williams had with 6:57 left in the first quarter.

I am not saying the offensive line dominated. Absolutely not. They were barely efficient. But what I am saying is there is individual talent here. Once these guys find some cohesion, I would expect the overall picture will improve. Inserting Thomas in the starting lineup this week would speed that up.

And I believe that is what the Dolphins will do.

  

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Did you pay attention on every play ? McDaniel was active and made plays.

Mando . you don't need to know miami blocking schemes to see how donald thomas was just bulldozing DL . The ol was definitly more physical when thomas entered the game. Grove played much better when thomas was in the game because he had to worry less with murphy out. On the dl tony mcdaniel was also noticeable , particually never giving up on plays and chasing runners down.

Great post, Mando.

Armando, weren't the Jags o-line issues last year related to multiple starters being lost to season ending injuries? Not to mention they are generally considered a good running team.

Look at you Armando digging into the trenches!
Your the man.
I know we treat you like Sporano treats an undrafted rookie free agent, but pat yourself on the back.
You just moved up the depth chart.

Mando---wow! way to work it out & get it to us dvr-less, nflnet-less fans! thnx

Starks and McDaniels play makes me feel a little more confident about getting rid of Holliday.
Thomas did look good at times, but I wouldn't give up on Murphy at all. They both look like they could develop into beasts.

how can any one judge any player based on the game last night where fins played the worst football team in preseason history, a team with players couldn't move or do any thing. that's why the great VONTE.DAVIS was roaming the ugly field saying to "himself" what happened? how did i end up here?

ha! the great vontae davis?

Gopats

You got off to such a good start. Stop it! Now!
You don't have to talk to yourself little buddy. I'll talk to you.

Gopats

When first time you know love?

carlito, THE GREAT VONTE last nigh was checking the ground and the field ,he didn't need to play against that creepy team .you don't want him to get injured in this desert of a field .do you ?

your posts tonigh are very funny carlito

Dude, now that is a fricken fracken breakdown. The freightliner coming through for the dolphins!

Excellent work by Starks. Excellent work by Mando.

Armando

Griese kept mentioning that Chris Williams will have to improve as a reciever to make the team.
I think he could make it as a return specialist.
What do you think?

odinseye, since you got this blue sign up it opened more doors for you .
now you can sign blue like nj and sign black when you cause a problem.

ps.you wrote so today abot 90 posts w/ that blue your honey nj gave it to you .

ravens,
steelers
new england
giants
indiana
seahawks

I AM TRYING TO REMIND YOU that nfl has real strong teams not what we saw last night

Gopats

last night only thing vontae great for was penalty. He will be better, but have to work and not be so excite all the time. Also he speak like a Mike Tyson.

If you want to call "the great" from last night how about Sean Smith the great or Cameron Wake the soon great or Jason Taylor the used to maybe again great.

Gopats

I understand how you could get confused, and I won't condem your lifestyle.
However, unlike yourself, my Honies are female.

Insightful post...liked it.

Gopats I have funny story for you.

There was very drunk guy at the game last night sitting in front of me. In 3rd quarter he start yelling go patriots and tell me he should have wore his pats jersery. I thought maybe he was confuse so I told him thats not a good idea. Then he told me he used to play for patriots and tried to show me some fake ring. Then I realize he really drunk and start to laugh at him. Next he start yelling very loud "GOOOOOO PATRIOTS!"

A very big (and scary) guy in Joey Porter shirt two rows up yell at him to shut up (with many more curse word) or he was going to come down and punch him in the face. He was quiet then.

true story

Did anyone else notice Cameron Wake's welcoming to the NFL.
I think it happened on his very first Pass rush attempt. He got absolutely PANCAKED by a TE.
I'm not cutting on the guy, I think he'll be a Pro-Bowler, but it happened.
Welcome to the big leagues Cameron!!!!

Cameron Wake also had a sack or very close to it. Can't remember, but I notice he did good.

Good breakdown Armando. I was impressed with Starks and the DL. The starters were providing good pressure almost every play. I think we have great depth at DE with McDaniels having a good game too.

Thomas should be with the starters because of consistency. Murphy will get better but is a good back up to have. I just hope we can improve on our run blocking.

Yeah that was a very nice pancake....actually its been awhile since i've seen someone pancaked so bad....but put that aside and he put alot of pressure on the QB.....1st and 2nd team "D" was able to put alot of pressure while they where in the game. even the third team was not to bad but Eric Green was real bad I mean real bad......Overall for it being the first preseason game it was good and I saw alot of potential......The Phins will be very comperative this year very comperative..I think we will have a great defense and just enough Offense to be in every game.

12 - 4

Gopats

Carlito

I was wondering if either you know how to get in contact with Paul Blart, better known as the Cuban Menace?

If you have a chance to speak to the Menace, could you tell him we here at the blog miss him and were very concered about him?

Thanks in advance and good looking out fellas

Carlito, you are very right about using the word great but let's be frank we abuse the english language on these blogs by over stating every one' value. some one said earlier this guy looks like a BEAST and the word used for any young player who had a bad move and that's all part of the fun.

ODINSEYE, how did you know WAKE got panicked ? give a break will you .
odinseye the great.


Fin Fan in Orlando

I know it's just one pre-season game, but I agree with you. I think this Defense will be one of the best ever for the Dolphins.

Can't wait until we play our next victims!

Gopats

I "scouted" the Jags for a pre-season game. I watched the game live. I watched it again at 11:00 and DVR'ed it so I could go over it in slo-mo. I'm going to watch it again tonight. It's what I do. Make all the jokes you want, I'm still a true hardcore Miami Dolphins fan!!!!

Odinseye,

Do not know how to contact Cuban. I don't trust police and people who root for jets and dolphins. That is just not right.

Cubano,

you punk azzzzz chit

Cubano,

Yes I do have a story about my first girlfriend, but I will not embarrass you family with story about your mommy.

odinseye, every day you make fun of me and i don't say a word b/c i don't thing you mean it or wish any ill. sorry if i offended you .we just trying to go to sleep w/ the Colbert Report .GOOD NIGHT TO ALL

gopats, you never tell me what you think about my drunk confuse pats fan story from last night.

the fin fan should'v hit him w/ a hot dog ,people from new england are not fighting people like the dolphin fan who they live like kings,
sleep,
eat.
watch tv,
eat,
back to sleep

Carlito , it's because it's bullshyt. you weren't at the game.

Gopats , you want to go to sleep. Watch Keith olberman.

ok,good night sleep

Good stuff Mando, keep it going. We don't get in-depth Dolphins news up here in Tennessee. Go Fins.

I have a season tickets, I'm at all home game,

Gopats

I think you funny. You try hard to be good fan. Me like you, no mean to hurt feelers

If gopats wants to sleep he should watch the marlins

Marlins suck just like gopats

Armando,

Thanks for the breakdown of the line play. Excellent, excellent post. That is EXACTLY what I want from a team beat writer. Very insightful. I hope you make a habit of these types of posts (although I realize these types of articles are the most time consuming).
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Cuban menace ( or carlito , gopats , col , z ,cubano ) . I thought you were going to sleep , you pr -^- ick.

Hey Mando....did you notice Donald Thomas driving his man downfield time and again....this man is the real deal....please stay healthy Donald!!!

Miami mike. are you a chef in a sports bar in jersey ?

what about the diesel?

Pat White looked good, our o-line needs ALOT of work, what we average? 2.4 that game in attempt? lol pathetic.

I agree the defensive line was great last night. The longest run of the game was eleven yards and that was when the subs were in. I also have to point out to you that Cameron Wake had a lot of pressures on the quarterback last night. He really showed he deserves a spot on the roster. Get rid of Walden or move him inside, he cannot rush the passer.

Oh and I forgot, we really need to run the football better. We have one of the best running back tandems in the NFL. When we get some good blocking, ronnie and ricky can show they are still elite. 2.6 yards a carry isn't good enough. The offense is based around running the football effectively. Chad Pennington isn't the kind of quarterback who can win you games by himself. He's an efficient short to mid range thrower. He needs a running game to help confuse the defenses.

oline takes time to gel. Gopats late 80's and early 90's NE needed time to rebuild look how long it took them to put a winner on the field. and that was with a crooked nfl . you shouldn't be posting here BUT i give you props cuz you do point out miami's good player's. by the way brady called and he needs his azz waxed. chop chop servant boy. lol .

Well done, informative.

Mando, Murphy needs as much work as possible. I know the team wanted to get on tape, Murphy working with the 1st team. So they rotate him in... Then he plays the rest of the game because he needs the reps. He played like 2 years on the OL in college right? If he has to start, they have to speed up his progression in order to get him ready to play with the starting unit... Only way to do that is to get him live reps...

OK kids, here's the menace's take on Mondays game #1, phins "D" played well.#2 chad(Savior)Pennington still has issues with the long throws #3 chad(size 96 inch neck)Henne definitely has a future (whither if its being a side show attraction for a carnival or with the phins is to be determined)#4 jason(saturnite fever)Taylor has something to prove #5 that was one serous down pour they had in the 3rd quarter #6 ted(no testicular fortitude)ginn still goes down immediately after catching the ball.#7 field goals wont get miami deep in the play-offs. #8 watched the game on the nfl network at 11 and it was great to hear nat more and bob griese announce the game #9 vonte davis has a long way to go. #10 sean smith is going to be a good one.# 11 if i was to grade the game id give it a "C"... and thats the way the menace sees it kids, Ill be on the blog through out the day so drop the menace a line..

I wonder who is talking to himself? Hmmmmmm...

Chad Henne is a glorified QB that has proven nothing! I have seen him practice and play and he is not impressive. On Mondays game the game every bias journalist on the herald’s staff claims that Henne was good, showed nothing. They must have seen another game because he’s passes were wobbly and the interception could have been intercepted by two defenders, it was not tipped. Pat white he’s throws are tight and on the money, he’s an option QB something the league is more and more embracing. Get off the juice and report the facts not your bias opinions.

I was not the least bit impressed with the offensive line. I agree with you Armando, they need to gel. They may have a lot of individuals that can do things, but as a group, it's not there yet.

I hope it comes. I hope it comes fast. I hope they do like Armando said and promote Thomas to the starting unit this week.

Albert,

You claim all the staff journalist in the Herald are bias. Dont disagree with them or else FINHEAVENBLOWS! will cut you down, just a warning my friend.

good points mando, we have to remember how physical the jags d-line is and esp. with grove having to deal with henderson. it looked overall like we held our own and controlled the line of scrimmage overall, good sign against a physical team like jax!

weren't the jags like 8 and 8 last year?? how physical could they have been??

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