If you read this blog, and I know you do because you're reading this blog, you know how I feel about the importance of Miami's offensive line. Just in case you need reminding, here is today's column on the OL I wrote for Mother Herald.
If you want the matchup breakdown of tonight's Monday Night Football meeting between the Dolphins and Colts, you now have the link for that.
But in this post I want to approach things from a different perspective.
I want to show you the pressure points for the Dolphins. These are the areas that the Colts probably think they can attack and perhaps even win at during the game. These are the areas where the Dolphins need improvement over last week.
These are the areas that, finding resolution, will bring victory to the Dolphins. And lacking resolution, would send the Dolphins down in defeat. The pressure points:
The secondary -- Last week the Dolphins dodged a bullet. Sean Smith had terrible technique on two or three plays and Matt Ryan found him each time. But the Atlanta QB either overthrew, or underthrew passes to open receivers that would have shredded the secondary. So Smith's first game was not a disaster. It was fine.
The Colts have nearly as good a complement of receivers as the Falcons -- although Anthony Gonzalez will not play tonight -- and their QB is much better. Peyton Manning makes throwing mistakes in tosses to open receivers, too, like any other QB. But he doesn't do it two or three times in one game as Ryan did.
So Smith must show improvement. He told me his greatest problem was keeping his technique good when running with a receiver that went in motion across the formation. He said he worked on that all this week. We'll see.
The offensive line -- Read my column on the unit. If gives insight into the difference in philosophy between the football side and business side of the Miami Dolphins. It also makes the point that if the OL plays well tonight, the Dolphins will likely win.
Interesting perhaps only to me is that the Miami OL has struggled in games against smallish offensive defensive lines recently -- with the Tampa Bay preseason game and the Atlanta regular-season opener coming to mind. It wasn't just Jake Long, either. Miami is big across the line and all five men had issues with opponents that were generally quicker.
Justin Smiley told me it wasn't all five guys struggling at the same time, either. It was four guys carrying out their assignments and one guy blowing it. And it was a different guy every time. So that tells me the OL needs time to gel. The struggles against the quicker opposition is a timing issue as much as anything.
So it's not about proficiency. It's about efficiency.
That makes me optimistic a better day is coming soon. We'll see if that day is actually tonight.
Chad Pennington -- I love Chad Pennington. He's a great leader. He's a winner. I recognize his arm-strength issues but don't necessarily believe they are the reason he hasn't won big in the NFL.
The last two meaningful games he's played, he's been terrible. He was terrible in last season's playoff loss to Baltimore, throwing four interceptions. He was better against Atlanta, but still had a couple of turnovers -- one via interception and one from a lost fumble.
So the last two games Pennington is 46 of 67 for 428 yards, with two touchdown passes and five interceptions. That's a 64.7 QB rating.
More troubling than those statis is the fact Pennington has gotten the Miami offense in the end zone only twice in the last two games -- once against Baltimore, once again Atlanta. And both those TDs came in the fourth quarter when the games were all but decided.
It's the quarterback's primary job to get his offense in the end zone. Pennington hasn't done a great job of that the last two games.
He's better than that. And he has to start reminding people of that starting tonight.
Finally, I'm having a hard time seeing a victory tonight. So it's on you. What is the recipe for victory against a team with a solid D, a better QB, an OL that is the equal of Miami's and a better receiver corps?
Coaching? The Dolphins have the edge there. But what else authors a victory?
[BLOG NOTE: Yes, there is a live blog of the game tonight! I'll have it set up a few hours before kickoff and be on here with you guys to discuss pregame activities and news. Come back then.]