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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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My bad, they were 5 and 11....8 and 8 the year before that...a REAL PHYSICAL TEAM... LMFAO

Good article, Armando. Donald Thomas will be the starting right guard. He's clearly better than Shawn Murphy.

Some of these other bloggers are silly wankers though.

You Menace what up?
My cousin Master sends his regards.
Our o-line was good last year, Penny had some of the fewest sacks in the league. Upgrading center to Grove was huge.

thanks for that report.

Albert. What game Were you watching or what training camp are you paying attention to ? sparano praiseded henne for his 66% completion Rate and 61% on 3rd down. Then in the game he led the team to drive that led to a field goal . throws a his 1 mistake for a int, but bounces back and leads the team to the winning td. That shows leadership/ He good command of the huddle. It wasn't great , but it was good. So put the crack pipe down , pay attention and maybe learn thegame of football. Have a nice day.

How do you figure the offensive line did well when the team avg. 3.6 yards per carry running the ball? If we're going to be good we have to run the ball against the good teams.

I thought the d-line was excellent. The Jags' line was bad last year do to injuries. They are a very good running team and our d-line stopped them. It shows we have depth along the d-line. Randy Starks played well because he played mostly against 2nd teamers. So did Paul Soliai. This just means we have more depth along the d-line than they do on the o-line, which is good. Where we don't have depth is in the 2nd team linebackers and d-backs corps. They made Todd Bauman look like Tom Brady.

PS: Eric Green has terrible technique. How did he became a starter in the NFL?

P.M, send my regards to the master,please guys remember to keep in mind what the Ravins did to the phins in the play-offs, that's what the teams this year will be using against the phins, a furious rush to confuse penny, and a Offense to get a head by 10 or 14, if the fins fall behind by 10 games over, as the Raven's proved last year, the phins have to be with-in 3 to 5 going into the 4th to have the edge,lets hope that the air breathing mammals are ahead or are with-in 4 pts in the 4th..if you don't agree look at the games the fish lost last year. and the exhibition game on monday proved the team hasn't changed much from last year..e.g, pennys weak throws, ginn going down immediately after catching the ball, etc,etc....

Nj Phin Fan, Whats your take on mondays game??? PAUL BLART, MALL DUDE...

FinFaninny. randy starks started and played against the 1st team , not the 2nd team. He was dominant !

My sometimes annoying friend cuban menace/paul blart mall DUDE . I'm sure you read my take of the game during my live blog.

Menace, by the way it is hot as hell outside ,how hot has been the last 3 days.

the cuban menace never talk like that

NJ you have a nice day. Dont tell me what to do

NJ sound angry, so much hate

nj loves people

Donald thomas is now starting with the 1st team OL after the morning pracicet.

practice.

NJ Phin Fan:

Yea you know alot about football if your think 66% completion in practice is good. Henne sucks!

albert is a dopey bastard.

albert is a dopey dude. Saying Henne sucks makes you look stupid.

Henne sucks! what has he done that makes him so good???? he sucks, he would not take advice from chad pennington on the side lines the punk thinks the team is already he's. Henne is not the QB of the Future hes a pre-madona

Albert or whoever you are . That last couple of posts said it all. No need to go on any further.

Henne is the men hurray, the second year QB that has never started a game? hurray. i am so glad you are all so sure about this premadona of a QB who has never won anything! Good for you all you all probably think Bush was a good president, that crak baby .

Albert you type and spell like an idiot. Please go back to school. Before you go I need some ketchup. Now run along my little minion.

What's up cuban menace/albert. Why aren't you watching the colbert report and going to sleep. Also you fotgot to mention henne's neck size while your at it.


surething Cheese Breath. ill go get the ketchup your mom was licking off my tube last night

Its just the FIRST pre season game and everybody is getting all rialed up.

I think Murphy needs a lot of work and Donald Thomas looks like he belongs same with Sean Smith.

Vontae is going to be agood player he just needs time to adjust and get better with more reps during the game. He has great catch up speed and the ability to come back after making a mistake. Just give him time, the mistakes that hes making are mental errors and the coaching staff will help to get that worked out. But two things you can't teach is ability of which Davis has, but Davis brings agressive football play. He's a playmaker thats for sure he just needs a little more time on the field.

Penne was OK but Henne was real good I thought and made some plays, has a good arm and threw a TD. The INT he threw I believe bouched off a Dolphins recievers' pads and was picked. No big deal. Pat White looked good in the slop and playing with the third teamers there's only so much you can do.

The player who is gonna make I think the biggest differnece is Jason Taylor....I will be the first to admit that I thought he was washed up. Nope!
Taylor will win come back player of the year and lead the team in sacks this year. He looks like he's added some muscle this off season and playing the Elephant position like he did when he won the MVP award (defense).

Combined that with the new playmakers in the Defensive back field our defense will be a very good one and better than last year. Wonder if any body is crying for Goody now, or asking to sign a past their prime free agent DB or WR (Armando)

Armando you are right about Randy Starks he looked like a monster and will probably start over Merling who is underachieving right now.

Grove looked OK but playing against one of the best in John Henderson you can only look so good. JH on one play stacked and shed Grove on a run up the middle by Brown who gained a yard on the play. I would like to see more aggresive blocking from Grove and I know its only preseason so I will keep that perspective for now.

Dolphins4Life

New blog up

Real original Albert. Sorry to tell you but that was your father dressed like my mom. So your dad was licking ketchup off your tube and that was your dad's butt you were licking.

ZINGER!!!!

Cheese Breath, My Dad was with your Wife last night deep plowing her, I think that was your mom the one I let clean my tube last night, but I can see how you got confused with her looking like a men. Sorry cheese breaths go brush your yellow teeth

Dear Albert,

I'm not married. It was your dad because he took an ad out in the newspaper explaining all the details and I read it this morning while having a cup of coffee. So there is nothing more that you can say about it. Your dad is the one who licked your tube and you licked his cinnamon roll.

ZINGER!!!!

Great post Armando.

thank u mando first good article in weeks

Go Armando!

Go Dolphins!
Thanks Mando...

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