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What answers do YOU have - with cool update

Maybe you know the answers.

Maybe you have seen things this preseason that have you convinced you are about to know what will happen in the coming regular-season. Me? I'm still waiting for certain answers.

In my Sunday Dolphins column I give several examples of areas where the Dolphins had questions when they opened training camp ... and still have those very questions as it draws to a close.

I mean, are we really convinced the secondary -- with a rookie starting right cornerback and less than stellar work against less than stellar competition this preseason -- will play like it has been truly upgraded? Or will we wish the team would have jumped into the unrestricted free agent cornerback market a lot earlier than the late signing of Eric Green?

Have the Dolphins found the playmaker that will get the offense "chunk yards," as Tony Sparano likes to say? Feel free to indentify him in the comments section.

Has Chad Henne convinced everyone that he ready to become a good starting quarterback and all he needs is the opportunity?

Has Ted Ginn Jr. shown you everything you need to see to feel confident 2009 will be breakout time?

Follow the improvements or lack thereof of these and other situations in the column. Then please tell me if the answers are apparent. And what those answers are. 


I've been doing some research and some numbers crunching. This is what I've come up with:

The Dolphins starting offense has gotten 4 1/2 quarters of work so far this preseason. During that work, the unit has gotten three field goals and two touchdowns. That's 23 points, which is good.

Chad Pennington has had a very good preseason so far. I mean, very, very good. I would argue he's had the best preseason of any player on the team.

His completion percentage of 61.8 is down for last season's 67.4 but that doesn't really worry me because the tradeoff has been that he's been looking downfield a bit more than last season.

His yards per attempt is at 8.0 while last year it was 7.67. His TD percentage is at 5.9 while last year it was 4.0. And while he's completing more passes downfield, he's making fewer mistakes in that he has not thrown an interception. That makes his interception percentage 0.0, which is an improbable but welcome improvement from last season's outstanding 1.5 percent.

By the way, those downfield passes have brought the Dolphins hidden yardage also. Because Pennington went deep to Ted Ginn in the preseason opener, the Dolphins picked up a 34-yard pass interference penalty against Jacksonville.

Ever the perfectionist, Pennington today said, "I fell like I've been about a foot off with some of my passes." He added that he thought he could have completed 13 instead of 9 of 16 passes against the Bucs Friday. But that's not how coach Tony Sparano sees things.

The coach today called Pennington, "regular-season ready."

It has been a much slower go for Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Brown is averaging 3.5 yards per carry, all behind the first-team offensive line. Williams is averaging 3.9 yards on his 18 carries, with 16 of those coming behind the first-team OL.

The Dolphins have averaged 3.5 yards per rush behind their first-team offensive line so far this preseason. Not terrible. Not good, either.

The defense?

They've seemingly adopted a bend-but-don't break personality. Although the unit has yielded significant yardage, it has allowed only 16 points in 4 1/2 quarters of work this preseason. Opponents have scored only one TD and three FGs versus Miami's starters.

The unit does have work to do. I have counted 8 missed tackles so far this preseason -- or more than two per quarter of work.

The starters have three sacks -- from Jason Ferguson, Nathan Jones, and Kendall Langford. Yes, Jones is a starter in the dime package. Obviously, this mean neither Joey Porter nor Jason Taylor have a sack yet in 4 1/2 quarters of work. Nothing to get alarmed about -- yet. Taylor has been credit with three quarterback hurries this preseason but those are unofficial stats.

The starting defense has zero interceptions. Yes, Sean Smith has one interception this preseason and, yes, he is a starter now. But when he got his interception versus Jacksonville, he was playing with the backups against Jacksonville's backups.

By the way, it was funny to me that Tampa Bay named Byron Leftwich the starting QB Saturday. Watching that game again, I counted four passes, including a potential TD, that Leftwich blew with wildly inaccurate throws. Receivers were running wide open, but the plays resulted in incomplete passes because Leftwich was, as Bob Uecker would say, "juuust a bit outside."

That's good news for the Dolphins in the statistics column because the passes go down as incompletions. But Miami has to tighten up that coverage by the regular season because good NFL QBs such as Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and others likely won't throw four passes that totally miss the mark in the span of two quarters.