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A breakdown of Miami's passing game troubles

The Dolphins passing game is in trouble and not just because inexperienced quarterback Chad Henne is taking over this week.

The Dolphins passing game the first three weeks of the season is ranked 30th in the NFL, averaging a paltry 155.7 yards per game. The Dolphins have only four pass plays of 20 yards or more and only St. Louis has fewer. The Dolphins have zero pass plays of 40-yards or more and that ties them with eight teams for the fewest.

It is no small wonder the Dolphins are struggling now because in today's high-flying NFL, where most teams throw more than they run, the Dolphins aren't throwing the football very well.

Many people believe that will change with Henne at quarterback because he has a strong arm that Chad Pennington did not even before he went on the injured reserve list Tuesday.

I've been telling you and will continue repeating it -- yelling from the mountain tops if I must -- that Miami's receiver corps is more the issue than the QB.

I gave the rundown of Miami's receivers yesterday and intend to do so again today to make more clear to you why this group is not good enough to give the Dolphins an excellent pass offense.

Look at it from a scout's perspective. As Nick Saban used to say, every position has "critical factors" that a scout should weigh to decide if a player can play the position successfully. Since there are no perfect players, no one achieves all the critical factors. But the blue chip players come close.

The critical factors for receivers?

They need great hands: A receiver is nothing if he cannot grasp and hold on to the football.

They need great speed: A receiver must be able to threaten the defense and not only close distance between himself and a backpedaling DB, but then create separation from that DB.

They need great quickness: A receiver must be able to turn and change direction quickly.

They need great ball skills: A receiver must be able to come down with the football when it is in the air and he is being challenged for it by another player, or often, two other players.

They need football intelligence: A receiver must be smart enough to learn the offense, learn the philosophy behind the passing game, learn defenses and recognize coverages. Then he must put all those together instantly on the field -- sometimes before the snap -- so he can adjust and overcome situations accordingly.

They need toughness: Football is a blood sport and everyone has to gut things out at one point or another. A receiver needs to stay on the field when he's hurt. He needs to be willing to block, because a great blocking receiver can turn 12-yard running plays into 62-yard running plays. He needs to be willing to expose his body against bigger players across the middle of the field when necessary.

So let's go to the elite, the best of the best, and see how that kind of player sizes up. Let's break down Andre Johnson, who I believe is among the best if not the best WR in the NFL today. He's also a fellow alumnus of Miami High and the U so I have to show him respect for that.

Hands? Johnson has good hands. Yes, he's had a couple of fumbles in his career, but never more than one per season. He typically catches with his hands and not his body and when the ball touches his hands, it typically sticks. 

Speed? Johnson runs in the low 4.4s He has no issue getting behind defenders. He never gets caught from behind.

Quickness: Despite his size, he can change direction and it does not take him forever to get started, something a certain Miami receiver has issues with.

Ball skills: Seldom is there a ball in the air that he must fight for, that he doesn't claim. Ask Yeremiah Bell about that one on that fateful fourth-down play last year.

Football intelligence: The Hurricanes ran a pro-style passing game and he had no problems picking it up. The Texans run a fairly complex pass game and Johnson is nails at recognizing adjustments and blitzes. He gets it.

Toughness: Johnson has had some injury issues, but not lately. The guy is 225 pounds of chiseled flesh that imitates granite. His downfield blocking is one reason rookie Steve Slaton gained 1,282 yards last season. And yes, Johnson goes across the middle and often initiates the contact with defenders.

So that's the breakdown of an elite guy. Now let me give the breakdown of Miami's top three receivers so you can understand why the Dolphins are struggling with their passing game and desperately need upgrading here.

Ted Ginn Jr.

Hands: Good until this year, but lately inconsistent. He dropped two touchdowns vs. Indianapolis, including the game-winner and let two balls get into his body, rather than catching them with his hands vs. San Diego. Those resulted in drops. So this season he's average here at best.

Speed: Ginn has elite speed and easily breezes through the 4.3 range. But it takes him a while to get going. He's a long-strider.

Quickness: Very little here. Ginn doesn't change direction like, say, Davone Bess. Study them together. The gulf in quickness between them is startling.

Ball skills: Offensive coordinator Dan Henning said something telling last week when he claimed Ginn would come down with the game-winner vs. Indy "five out of 10 times." You want a receiver who is better than 50 percent. You want 70-80 percent.

Football intelligence: We are in Year 3 and Ginn is said to still be perfecting the art of running routes. Enough said.

Toughness: If you've seen him play, I don't need to say anything here, you know the deal.

Davone Bess

Hands: The guy caught 293 passes in three seasons at Hawaii. He had 54 catches as a rookie and there was never a complaint about how he caught the ball. Great!

Speed: Bess is a 4.6 to 4.7 guy in the 40-yard dash. And that is the reason he's not an elite receiver. He will catch every ball and make somebody miss. But he can't run away from defenders.

Quickness: I just told you he'll make somebody miss. That's because he can change directions on a dime. Very good.

Ball skills: Above average in that Bess comes down with his fair share of contested passes.

Football Intelligence: Ace again. He's human and he misses some reads, but the guy knows to find an open area in the defense.

Toughness: Bess was a street kid, so he obviously doesn't back down from people. But his size limits his blocking. He's got the want-to, though.

Greg Camarillo

Hands: Ace here. Camarillo will catch the balls he's expected to catch and catch some balls that are improbable catches.

Speed: The big flaw again. He ran a 4.6 on a really, really good day before his knee surgery. He won't often get caught from behind, but he's not often behind the defense to test that.

Quickness: OK but not great. Camarillo can change direction but he is taller and lankier so it takes a millisecond longer to get that body moving in a different direction.

Ball skills: While there is no defining catch over a defender that I can remember, neither can I remember a moment Camarillo failed to come down with a catch he had a chance to make. So good enough.

Toughness: He never stops. He's always chugging. He fought back from a serious knee injury and is starting again in less than one year. And he has the desire to block and isn't afraid to run routes across the middle.

There you have it. Miami's top three receivers have traits that keep them on the roster and make them effective in some situations. They are all complementary players. But none is elite. And none is likely to become elite because they all lack important critical factors for that to happen.

Miami needs to add one elite receiver to this group of complementary players to turn this receiver corps from average or below average to very, very good.

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"The Three Wise Men" or "The Three Stooges"?

Henne's performance on Sunday will go a long way to answering this unfortunate question.

armando,

you starting to get your sense of humor back .not there yet but this month your articles are very good on info and teaching the fans how to look at many aspect of the game not just the average stuff.i learned a few things .

Grondz, the Dolphins have taken steps to improve the secondary. They drafted two CBs very early. They drafted Chris Clemons for the deep secondary.

They hope the bodies to resolve the problems are on campus. But the kids have to develop.

WR? The bodies are not on campus yet IMO. Hartline and Turner? Maybe good. Maybe not.

Though Mando, NJ PHIN FAN swears i'am every one form GoPats to you, he'll still swear we're ALL THE SAME POSTER....Great prediction this sunday i hope Mr. Henne has a good game and think it also will be the air breathers 1st "W"..have a Phintastic day guys...

Ian M, I agree with you. The remainder of this year, regardless of the record, has to tell us what Henne is about.

The Dolphins cannot go into 2010 wondering if Henne is good or not. They have to know.

They went into 2008 not knowing if Beck was good or not after he played parts of 2007. That cannot happen this time because it wastes too much time.

mando, where is clemmons in practice? 2nd team or?

Thanks, GoPats.

Harricane, Clemons is working with the scout team, second team.

Totally agree Armando, they'll know one way or another by the end of the year, any chance they'll try to swing a trade for Boldin or Marshall? Or even give Turner some playing time!!

For those of you saying miami could've had Brady quinn please get a f'n clue. The guy was benched last week and has done NOTHING ! so far.

No trade that I can smell right now.

Turner will play when he EARNS it. Hasn't done that yet.

thankx mando,

pls let us know what these D "changes" look to be, in your opinion. i think we some "brian" this weekend.

Mando's on the set!
Picture this for Sunday vs Buffalo:
Henne throws deep to the sideline receivers 8 times in the game.
2 Throws are wild.
2 throws are dropped.
1 is picked.
3 Are Caught.
Even if we lose 45-0, and Henne has a rating of 6 I'll be more satisfied than I have been the past 13 months.

Actually, more importantly, pricemaster is on the set!

I thought the Flacco thing was funny personally, didn't he go 17th or something, he def wasn't going to get taken No 1 overall and he was gone by the next pick plus nobody wanted to take that No1 pick off us.
It was Ryan or Long, could have been worse it could have been Gholston!!

armando , can you please tell us how the cuban menace actually thinks that people on here are that stupid to NOT know he's also carlito , aloco , go pats , cubano , etc. You Know many me !

Pricemaster, Why the negativity??

Thanks Mando, here's hoping eh!!

we see some "brian".....oooppps

Armando,

Two question: Will we get to see ball "jump" out of Henne hand like coach say? When will Dolphin fan embrace Henne as hero?

Mando, please help NJ and tell him i only post as myself(p.s Nj after mando post this you owe me a apology)

Carlito:

Part 1: Sunday.
Part 2: I hope Sunday, but have no way to predict if that will ever happen.

Gotta go, folks. Thanks for coming here.

I'll be putting up a new post later this afternoon.

Actually Nj, as I tell you many time before. I am not Cuban Menace.

Why would I lie about this?

Nj paranoid blowhard post as boobyd12 and talk to himself all day about Fasano and Moses.

Mando,
Read all of the posts today.
The self-hatred of Phins fans is gone!
We are no longer ashamed!
Finally we feel strong again!
Our women have been coming to bed with enthusiasm, their orange & aqua colors and their headbands!
We Are Back!

Until Sunday!!!!! ;)

NJ

give it a rest.....we don't care if carlito uses other names as long as he's not you. you think only you should use aliases and bully all other posters who aren't you? and i don't care if you're "in blue," the content is still mean spiritied and offbase. go pray to Moses. the LB, not the prophet.

i have been sayingthat all off season, we need a wr. i don't know what was management thinking with the crew we have now.

Sir Reg

Thank you for stand tall for common man like myself. This very noble. But I do not use other name. i am only carlito. I talk to gopat and cuban so NJ accuse me to be them because I don't hate them like him and not fill with hate like him.

Sir Reginald, sounds strangely like our Intellectual poster know as Mr Doddsworth, Nahanal ,, is this you???

Cuban,
Not being negative.
Just the opposite.
Trying to say that deep passes never caught are better than no deep passes at all.
Now that the safeties will be back at NFL depth we can run the ball like men and we don't need to rely on the back-door wildcat plays.

We need some ILB and safeties that can stop getting torched down the middle for a million yards a game.

Put in clemens for gibril, torbor for chowderhead and now we have henne in for pennington.

The D sucks with Chowder and Wilson.

Sir reginald dungshyt , NOBODY really cares what you think .

Let's keep the D the way it is.
Let's give up some points.
I want to see shootouts!
Henne put up 40 points a game, every game, for 4 years at Michigan.
I don't want to be up 10-6 at the end of the 1st qtr and Dan Henning tries to run out the clock for the next three quarters.
We were on our way to 2-14 with Pennington anyway.
Let's have some fun this year, next year there will be no season, there will be no new CBA.

nj phin is a self centered person,he wants to be the man in every thing which i don't care for but when he sees some one w/another view than his he gets sick and attack him then he gives us his music like;

LOL
LMAO
SAY HI TO THE CUBAN
ARE YOU F....CLULESS AND NEVER gentle w/ any one unless when he talks to himself .

viva carlito the guy w/good heart .

I have to agree it's not the QB its the receivers.... I remember in the late 80's when Marino was hitting all his receivers in the hands and I was yelling at the TV saying "what the hell do you want Marino to catch it for you too" Henne hit Ginn in the hands twice but couldn't bail Henne out... And here i am again yelling at the TV "What the hell do you get paid to do? Catch the freaking Ball!!" If the ball hits your hands you have to come down with it.. That's his Job!!!

Our receivers are good Number 2 and 3's respectively but we don't have a clear No. 1... I'm still trying to lobby for Harrison just for this year to at least give our receivers some Tutelage. I know Terry Glenn is there but we need someone that can also go on the practice field and show them... Ugh, enough venting and enough said.. Let's go kick some Bills Butt...

WIN LOSE OR TIE, DOLPHINS TILL I DIE!!
GO PHINS!!

Aloco, NJ thinks Iam you also, so i cant comment on this, for some reason the "Plumber" seems to think i'am every one that does not agree with him, which is strange cause last dec. id post the same comment as him at the same time...

all of you are idiots......the dolphins are not using ted ginn the way he is supposed to be used plain and simple.

You do not send ginn down the field and throw jumpballs to him. You run him on crossing patterns, drag routes and occasional go routes.

His speed can be utilized vertically and horizontally. We will see what kind of adjustments are made now that henne is the qb.

Right now ted ginn is the best receiver we have on our roster. ( dont know what turner can do ). So get off his case and support him.

Regarding Turner: "Coaches were unimpressed with hands and consistency....long ways to go".

Mando, this speaks volumes about our scouting and draft. You would think that someone would have seen this BEFORE we drafted him. Agree?

you have to understand that Ginn catches the ball with his body, not with his hands, even during his days at Ohio St, he has just always been that way and its impossible for him to become a #1 because to do that he is gonna have to be willing to put his body into position to make a catch. This means he will have to sometimes throw his patented caution to the wind, which he will never do, he is a #2, and always will be, bring me somebody else BP

Mando,

Totally agree with you. I will say this, I called how horrible this offense was before the season on this blog.... and you're response: "I want to kill myself now after reading your post."

I will say this though, I think by year's end Brian Hartline will be one of the top 3 receivers on the team.

What is the breakdown of the two rookie WR's??? We should give them a chance not by just playing them in a game but thowing them the damn ball

Crowder caught Andre Johnson from behind last year. Bess might be quicker than Ginn in a small space but he's sloooooowww...

Tommya, I now want to kill myself after watching them throw the ball.

Darkness shall fall before we see the sun.
A Dolphin shall rise from the ashes left over the sea
We shall never give up never surrender.
Don't worry my friends for soon our glory will be restored.
So keep your chin up and your chest out
Cause here we go our time is know.

We have the 16th rated offence in the league. In the Indy game our offence was our defence keeping Manning in the sideline for 75% of the game. Even with our present QB injury/inexperiance issues our problem this season has and will be defence.
Lets break it down:
Defensive pro's
1. Run defense
2. Cornerback play - even with the rook's in there.
Defensive con's
1. Pass rush
2. LB/Safety coverage

Our LB's may be showing their age in their inability to pressure the QB and handle RB's and TE's in coverage.
We all know Bell is a beast. That leads one to conclude that Gabril Wilson isn't up to the task. If his play doesn't improve soon and dramatically he will continue to be targeted by opposing QBs.
It only takes a handful of big plays to beat you in this league. Especially when we aren't producing many ourselves. And if we can't handle a weak and banged-up Bills team at home on Sunday it does not bode well for the rest of the season.

Go Wildcat!

Good Post but I agree with money jacket, because although we dont have the best receivers pennington cant even get the ball to them!! So IMO no threat of a deep ball is way more harmful to an offense (because we have never had an elite receiver) than average receivers period... I honestly dont understand why every one including Armando keeps overlooking that!! lol

Mando's on the set!
Picture this for Sunday vs Buffalo:
Henne throws deep to the sideline receivers 8 times in the game.
2 Throws are wild.
2 throws are dropped.
1 is picked.
3 Are Caught.
Even if we lose 45-0, and Henne has a rating of 6 I'll be more satisfied than I have been the past 13 months.

My points exactly finally someone gets the real points cudos to you price master keep informing the uninformed! lol

wow black sheep. Greg Camarillo is an excellent receiver in the NFL? Back up. Excellent???? Really? What stats does he have that ranks him in the upper echelon to earn excellent status? I would say serviceable at best.

The Ginn family should be the 3rd receiver, Bess and Camario should start.

We should all start a new chant at LandShark Stadium. I propose the following:

Can't win with Ginn!
Can't win with Ginn!
Can't win with Ginn!

Let's be honest here. Speed kills, but it can be a two-edged sword... giving you false hope when it is not teamed with the other receiver factors outlined above. Even at Ohio State, TGJr was an "experiment" at receiver. Only Cam Cameron saw the potential in him to be that big threat (like Devin Hester). Unfortunately, Armando is right again, TGJr lacks the quickness that Devin has and does not attack straight ahead fast with a quick cut like him. TGJr's loping starts and cross-field returns were okay, but not decisive. They say it take 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, and TGJr has got a lot of "catching" up to do. Picture the play that Garcon from Indy made on Monday Night against the Phins. If it were Ginn, he would have caught that ball and after dodging that first defender, he would have fallen down after picking up 9 yards... then the announcer would have said "Oh, that was almost a big play..." like always with him. Give him hack to Cam - he'll figure out how to work with him at Baltimore....

Armando, great post. I like the way you break it all down. But you forgot about Reggie Wayne being an elite WR who also played for the U. Bess shows great heart,just runs sideways too much trying to pick up extra yardage. Ginn dosen't play with passion as other Ohio State WRs,C.Carter,T.Glenn,J.Galloway,S.Holmes or A.Gonzalez who was Ginn team mate in college.

The NFL front office has stacked everything against the Dolphins for them to win. The hardest schedule in the NFL, 3 sets of back to back road games, no 1PM games in Sep when it is the hottest and the rest of the Division has just the reverse influence factors. Hello the dolphins are predetermined to lose just like the way the old NWA and now WWE, it is all orchestrated for marketing purposes.

Everybody please stop picking on GINN this is nonsense any body who REALLY watches football knows that if you put ginn with brady, manning, brees, cutler. Practically any just DECENT QB who can throw the ball on a rope downfield he would instantly improve 75% But miateamsfan is right were not using him correctly so for us it wont matter until we get the heart to start running STANDARD base nfl offenses period....

Dolphinz4life, dont drink the kool-aid, Ted9where's the sideline)Ginn suckzzzz Big time..

The NFL knows that it has to appeal to the big market areas for TV revenue to earn the billions for
TV rights. Teams in New York, New England, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta have the upper hand in NFL influence. The games are not rigged but the opportunity for success is biased to say the least.

Atlanta????

with thigpen on the roster now (depth behind Henne) and nobody who can get behind the defense when is Pat White gonna get on the field and be productive ie start taking snaps at WR?

Atlanta is a big TV Market area they draw from north Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and of all of Georgia and maybe areas of TN. TV is the key here, the market in Miami area is tough, they have other things to do in NOV, DEC, and JAN, they can swim, boating, tennis everything, outdoors, rather than stay at home and watch TV for eight weeks out of the year.

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