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75 posts from October 2009

October 06, 2009

Orange you glad you root for the Dolphins?

The Dolphins will be wearing their, um, different orange uniforms against the Jets on Monday Night Football.

They will don the orange jersey and socks and white pants, according to the team. It will be the first time since 2004 (what a year) since the team pulls the orange out of mothballs, and only the third time in history.Orange uni

Of course, this decision means the Dolphins will win the game by one point. The other two times the Dolphins wore orange in primetime was in a 24-23 victory over Washinton in 2003 and then again in a 29-28 victory over New England in 2004.

When Nick Saban came to town in 2005 he pretty much killed the orange uni idea.

I'm not a big fan of the orange uniform. Fact is, I'm a pretty traditional guy. I like the old fight song. I like the traditional white or aqua uniforms. I like the current helmet.

Jimmy Buffett's fins left, fins right song? Nope.

T-Pain's version of the fight song? Nope.

The orange uniform? What is this, halloween?

To me, one of the special things this franchise can boast about is its history. This is the only franchise that ever put a perfect team on the field. This is the franchise that sent Don Shula to a historic victories total. This is the franchise that Dan Marino raised to passing renown.

Orange uniforms? Recall Miami's record in 2004 and that should tell you what I think of that idea.

How would Vincent Jackson look in Miami?

When I sat down in front of the keyboard this evening, I had every intention of discussing either Cameron Wake's improvement, or the dominance of the Dolphins' running game, or a couple of other subjects I have planned for this space in the coming days.

And then I remembered it has been at least a couple of minutes since I complained about Miami's receiver crops. So, that's the direction I'm going because I know some Dolphins decision-makers read this blog.

And maybe, just maybe, if you and I beg enough for the eventual addition of talent to that WR corps, the folks that make the decisions will do something to improve the situation -- just so you and I will finally shut our no-football-knowing mouths about it.

Here's the deal as I see it: Dolphins management has done a satisfactory, but unspectacular job of collecting receiver talent. The focus has been on the offensive and defensive lines and Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland have done a magnificent job of making the Dolphins not only solid, but bordering on elite along the two lines of scrimmage.

You must remember Miami has the best running game in the NFL and is No. 2 against the run league wide. So the job of building the foundation is accomplished.

Now can we make it possible so the offense can pass the ball even a little bit?

Soon -- as in now if they can swing some trade before the deadline, or next offseason at the latest -- Parcells and Ireland absolutely must add a difference-making receiver. Why? The Dolphins sorely, dearly, painfully lack one. (Have you read that here before?)

Parcells and Ireland have tried to address the WR position in their first two seasons. Ernest Wilford was a strikeout. Davone Bess was a stand up triple considering he came as an undrafted rookie. Rookies Brian Hartline and Patrick Turner are too new to judge.

Meanwhile, Greg Camarillo and Ted Ginn Jr. were already on the roster when Ireland and Parcells began remaking the team in their images.

Regardless of all that, not one of the players I just mentioned is elite.

So Miami's receiver corps is bottom third in the NFL -- somewhere between No. 20 and No. 28 or so. And one elite receiver would raise that level to anywhere between No. 10 and No. 19. And that's really what you need to compete for championships if you're running the ball as well as Miami does and stop the run as Miami is doing.

So what can the Dolphins do?

One name I will throw out now and will continue to repeat until free agency begins in 2010: Vincent Jackson.

Heard of him? Last you saw him, he was catching that deep ball over Will Allen and Yeremiah Bell in San Diego. Before that, he caught another deep ball over Sean Smith and Gibril Wilson. And before that he caught 59 passes for 1,098 yards last season for a whopping 18.6 yard per catch average.

He's on a similar pace this year with 20 receptions for 373 yards and two touchdowns. Divide the 20 into 37 and, yeah, he's averaging 18.7 yards per catch this year. He's also on pace for a 1,400-yard season.

For perspective, the Dolphins currently do not have any wide receiver averaging more than 9.9 yards per catch.

Anyway, Jackson will be available next offseason. If the NFL and the players come to a collective bargaining agreement, Jackson will be an unrestricted free agent. If the union and the league don't come to a new agreement and the 2010 season is uncapped, Jackson will be a restricted free agent in the offseason.

Why do I know Jackson will be available? Well, San Diego GM A.J. Smith has said he won't sign Jackson to an extension until after the season. Guess what? After the season, all bets are off and anything becomes possible.

Now, I am not yelling at the top of my lungs for the Dolphins to consider this even when it doesn't make sense. This is not a request to add a problem child like Brandon Marshall or Chad Johnson or Terrell Owens. Jackson did have one DUI arrest last January that has yet to be adjudicated, but his record is otherwise clean.

Meanwhile he is catching 73 percent of his targetted passes. He is 6-5 and 230 pounds. He runs the 40 in the low 4.4s and actually ran a 4.38 when he was coming out of Northern Colorado five seasons ago. He is 26 years old. Let me repeat, he's 26.

He plays hurt as he did last week when he caught four passes for 56 yards -- his worst outing of the season -- while playing with a bruised knee versus Pittsburgh. And as for his toughness?

Well, let's just say after the game, Pittsburgh's James Farrior said something to Jackson and the two had to be separated by teammates. After the game! And Farrior is a linebacker. That is a departure from having receivers that head for the nearest sideline to avoid contact.

I recognize restricted free agents don't often switch teams because you have to give up a draft pick for them. Guess what? I'd give up a first-round pick for Jackson. He was, after all, drafted in the second round in 2005 and is now on the brink of being an elite player.

I also recognize 2010 free agency is a long way off. That's fine. More time for me to remind everyone Vincent Jackson would look mighty good in a Dolphins uniform.

October 05, 2009

What's happening at this hour in Dolphinsland

The Dolphins are about to go into team meetings and coach Tony Sparano has already spoken to the press. This is what's happening:

Defensive end Philip Merling is walking around the team facility with a protective boot on his left leg. He has an ankle injury, according to coach Tony Sparano. The coach did not want to say whether the injury is serious or not.

It looks quite serious but Merling said it is not.

"It looks worse than it is," Merling told The Herald's David J. Neal.

Merling said he would be back practicing later this week. Joey Porter, who missed Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, was also in the locker room today and didn't seem to be walking with a limp. He did not speak to the media.

Sparano is obviously in a better mood now that Miami is no longer winless. He talked about being pleased he was with the two points of emphasis last week. The Dolphins emphasized turnovers and third-down conversions.

On third down, the Bills offense converted only 1 of 11 chances (9 percent), while the Miami offense coverted 9 of 17 chances (53 percent). Obviously, the Dolphins won the turnover battle, 3-0.

The coach isn't too pleased with the fact Chad Henne was sacked six times. Sparano is concerned because the Bills got those sacks without really blitzing very often.

"They had three sack against the interior line," Sparano said. "We gave up one sack that the quarterback has to get rid of the ball, and we had another sack where a guy [Ryan Denney] jumped over a guy [Ronnie Brown]." 

The Jets come with blitz, after blitz, after blitz. Sparano said the Dolphins must prepare for that. Left guard Justin Smiley said he watched tape of last year's Baltimore playoff game the other day and expects to see practically the same stuff against the Jets -- including some players such as Bart Scott and Marques Douglas.

The Miami offensive line is interesting this week in that it must contend with Rex Ryan's defensive lab experiments. But it is also interesting in that Nate Garner seems to be making inroads at the guard spot.

Garner took some snaps at right guard Sunday in place of Donald Thomas. Sparano explained that Thomas has taken a lot of snaps at the position in trying to get caught up from the injuries he's had and Garner has earned some snaps.

"I thought Garner did a good job," Sparano said.

Notice that Garner has apparently passed Shawn Murphy, who was starting at right guard to start preseason. Murphy was inactive Sunday.

The Dolphins rushed for 250 yards.They are today the No. 1 rushing team in the NFL. But, again, six sacks is six sacks.

"It's a good game at running the ball and beating up the other guy," right tackle Vernon Carey said. "But we have to be better with our protection. It wasn't the best game we had. It was a little dirty. So we have to clean up some things."

Fall in for the fallout from the Buffalo victory

The picture said it all. While a cluster of reporters gathered around Dolphins rookie receiver Brian Hartline Sunday afternoon, Ted Ginn dressed quickly and quietly a couple of locker stalls over.

Hartline, rewarded with extra snaps for his recent play, was talking about his first professional TD grab and what he'll do with the football.

"It kind of felt like a little bit of a load off my back," Hartline said of the score. "You kind of feel like you belong a little more, and again, I'm eager to get the ball rolling again and hopefully there is more to come."

Ginn, meanwhile, spoke with a reporter about trying to continue improving even as his playing time is diminishing. Although Ginn started the game as he usually does, his snaps were cut considerably after an inconsistent performance the first three games. He finished this game with one reception for four yards.

"That was just a rotation, to be honest with you," coach Tony Sparano said. "We were going to rotate those guys around a little bit. Teddy's [snaps] in the last couple of weeks have been really high. We thought maybe keeping Teddy a little bit pressured, getting those guys in and out of there, trying to even the numbers a little bit, might create a little more energy at go-to time or any of those situations."

I have no real idea what that means in English. Or Spanish. Or Italian. But in coaching, I think it means Ginn is looking at fewer snaps because Hartline produced. And Ginn has not.

"I will have to look at the film to see how that panned out," Sparano said in fluent Swahili. "There were a couple of situations in man-to-man that we did not win out there. I've got to take a look at that, we've got to be be able to do those things."

Full disclosure: Sparano did not really speak in Swahili. But it's late and I felt like writing that to celebrate a victory, so whatever. It's my blog, I can write whatever I want.

Speaking of which, last week I laid out how poorly cornerback Will Allen played at San Diego. Sunday he played very well. As Howard Cosell would say, we just call 'em as we see 'em. This week we see 'em with a thumbs up for Allen, who had two interceptions.

"On the first one, he ran a good route, but I made a good break on the ball," Allen said in English. "I saw the ball and made a play on it. It was pretty much the same thing for the second one.

"It's the best performance [the defense] put out this year. We had one bad drive where they took the ball down and they scored. Other than that, I felt that it was our most complete effort."

As I point out in my column in Monday's Herald, that effort came without Chad Pennington or Joey Porter. That's not too shabby considering the team's two MVPs from a year ago didn't play for the Dolphins.

Rookie Cameron Wake filled the Porter void quite nicely, thanks. He only had three sacks in his second NFL game.

"I have been waiting a long time," Wake said of that first sack. "This is a long road to finally get there and get my fist sack in the NFL. It was tough at times, but finally to get out there and get it done and at the same time get a win, you can't ask for much more."

Actually, you can Cameron. You can ask for more playing time.

The Miami coaching staff has been trying to improve Wake's run-stopping so that he can be in the game on more snaps. That remains a work in progress in that regard.

Note to the coaching staff from the dorky journalist: Wake seems to be a sack machine in the NFL, also. Get him snaps in passing situations and let somebody else play the early downs -- which is more or less what happened Sunday with Charlie Anderson.

The Dolphins finished the game with six sacks. That's good.

The Dolphins also gave up six sacks. That's bad.

A couple of those sacks were, no-doubt, a combination of coverage sacks mixed in with a young QB holding the ball a bit too long. Miami's young QB, Chad Henne, also had three fumbles. He's got to hold the ball higher when he's in the pocket, particularly with the hard-charging Jets coming up next.

But Henne played well enough to win. That's the bottom line with a quarterback. He wasn't spectacular, but the Dolphins won.

That got him lots of praise in the Miami locker room.

"I loved his look during the game," Sparano said. "It was tremendous. Really communicated clearly, very well on the sideline, very good with receivers, excellent with [QB coach] David Lee. I thought he had a good grasp of what they were doing to him, which is all positive. There are a lot of things that Chad has to learn on that film, a couple of things we'll need to clean up, for sure, but for the most part I was pleased with what he did today."

Some Bills also tipped their helmets to Henne. Not linebacker Nic Harris.

"He's just another guy," Harris said. "He's another quarterback. Another guy we have to face week in and a week out."

October 04, 2009

Dolphins in the win column, beat Bills 38-10

The Dolphins are no longer winless.

They just demolished the Bills, 38-10, to improve their record to 1-3.

The formula for this victory was simple: Everybody played great!

Ronnie Brown rushed for 115 yards. Ricky Williams rushed for 85 yards. Both averaged over 5-yards per carry.

Chad Henne made his debut NFL start and did what great QBs do -- he got his team in the end zone and got his team a W. Henne completed 14 of 22 passes for 115 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions..

The Dolphins defense, throttled the past two games, showed up bigtime today. Miami had six sacks, including three by Cameron Wake and two by Jason Taylor.

Rookie Vontae Davis returned an interception 23 yards for a TD. Will Allen, who struggled last week, recovered superbly this week. He made his first interception of the year. And he made his second interception of the year.

So what do you think? Are the Dolphins back? Are the problems more or less solved?

Or was this game a product of playing a bad team?

Dolphins pounding Bills 31-3 to start 4th quarter

This is a woodshed butt-whipping.

The Dolphins are dominating on the ground. They are dominating with turnovers. They are dominating in time of possession.

And they're dominating on the scoreboard.

The Bills once came back from this kind of deficit but that was back in 1992-93 against the Houston Oilers in the playoffs. Unlikely we'll see a repeat today.

Join me in the comments section to see.

Dolphins in command 17-3 going into 3rd Q

The Dolphins took control of this game in the second quarter with touchdowns by both the offense and defense.

Rookie cornerback Vontae Davis got the Dolphins in the end zone first when he intercepted a Trent Edwards pass on the left sideline and returned it 23 yards for a TD.

The Miami offense, under the direction of Chad Henne, also gave Miami a score when Ronnie Brown bulled over from the 1 yard line on a gutsy fourth-down call.

The Dolphins lead 17-3. Last week, coach Tony Sparano was unhappy his team could not finish in the second half.

Join me in the comments section to see if this team can finish against the Bills.

Taylor out, Bills-Dolphins tied

The Chad Henne era has begun. Unfortunately the first quarter of that era included no points for the Dolphins.

That's the downside.

The upside is the Dolphins are facing a quarterback in Trent Edwards who is having accuracy issues. So the Bills haven't gotten any points, either.

The only problem is Jason Taylor, Miami's best pass rush threat just went out of the game. He has a shoulder injury and his return is questionable.

Porter out, live blog of Bills game in

The inactives are out and so is Joey Porter.

He is among the inactives for today's game. Charlie Anderson will start in his place at weakside outside linebacker.

The remainder of the inactives are Chris Clemons, Shawn Murphy, Andrew Gardner, Lionel Dotson, APatrick turner and John Nalbone. Tyler Thigpen is listed as the No. 3 QB.

The problems, the prediction, the live blog

I do not think this Dolphins' season is lost and that's a primary point in this column I write for Sunday's Miami Herald. But in that same column I outline the players that must improve their play, immediately if not sooner, if the Dolphins are to salvage 2009.

Quick aside: Judging from a previous post this week, it seems many of you are not happy with the way inside linebacker Channing Crowder is playing this year.

So I figured I would ask Crowder, on your behalf, how he thinks he's playing.

"Bad," he said. "I don't ever say I'm playing good, no matter what I do. Seriously. I only have about 12 tackles this season. Stopping the run is my forte and nobody's really running the ball against us, so."

It is difficult for a run-stuffing linebacker to collect gaudy stats when teams are throwing the ball over the top of the defense.

And my column also makes the point that Miami's problems are almost exclusive to the passing game. The offense cannot throw the ball. The defense cannot stop the pass.

And nobody on the Dolphins is arguing differently.

"They're going up top," Crowder agreed. "Reggie [Torber] always says there's no defense for that. There's no defense for over the top. You have a guy running straight down the field full speed, you better have somebody back there running with him. My whole thing is stopping the run. I'm a big run-stopper and they're not running the ball. So they're taking me out of my game.

"Where my mind's at is that I have to tighten up in the coverage and the blitz packages I'm in so that I can be a productive player. Because you and I know if a team tries to line up and run the ball straight at us, we're going knock the [crap] right out of you. We've been doing it for years. Our defense is set up for that with the big nose, the big ends, the 260-pound linebackers. We're set up to stop the run.

"That's why teams are opening it up, going four-wide and even running the ball out of that set. But whatever set-up teams come at us, I have to be a more productive player."

Crowder is not alone. The column gives you a rundown of which players involved in the passing game on either side of the ball also must be more productive.

And I also hereby remind you there will be a live blog of today's game versus Buffalo. So check back here this afternoon for inactives and any other news prior to kickoffs.

October 03, 2009

Vegas not putting stock in Henne, Dolphins

True story: The one time I have been in Las Vegas I bet a grand total of $10 and that was on a slot machine. And yes, I lost it all. So you must be getting the idea that I do not gamble. Nor do I pay attention to odds for NFL games.


But I did pay attention to this week's Dolphins game against the Bills because the locals are trotting out a new quarterback and I was interested to see what the so-called experts thought about the situation.

If you're a Dolphins fan, the answer isn't good.

According to sportsbetting.com the Dolphins were expected to be a favorite Sunday primarily because they are getting the typical 3-point advantage of being at home. Except that even with that advantage, Miami is a 2 1/2-point underdog to the Bills. And according to an unsolicited email I got from sportsbetting.com, 63 percent of the action on the game through Friday is on the Bills.

Obviously the betting public is thinking the Bills will win.

And I get the feeling the reason they're thinking that is that Chad Henne is taking over for Chad Pennington as Miami's quarterback. Why?

Well, the folks at Bodog.com aren't expecting Henne to exactly light it up against a Bills secondary diminished by the loss of starters Leodis McKelvin and Donte Whitner. According to Bodog, the over-under on Henne's total passing yardage for Sunday is 185.5.

Now, before you get all riled up with the bookies because they're disrespecting Henne, understand that they actually expect Henne to do better than what Pennington had done in the first three games. In those first three games, Pennington threw for 176 yards against Atlanta, 183 yards against Indianapolis, and 54 yards in about one half of play against San Diego.

So 185.5 yards would actually be an upgrade for the Dolphins. Hard to believe, isn't it. It sounds like a pittance to me.

The interesting thing is that Vegas is putting higher expectations on Tampa Bay rookie starter Josh Johnson, who is making his first NFL start Sunday. The over-under on his total yards versus Washington is 190.5, according to Bodog.com.

So here's the question: If you were betting, would you play the over or the under on Henne's yards? Come to think of it, tell me what your expectations are for Henne this Sunday. I'd love to know if you expect a feast or a famine for the newly triggered Miami passing game.

October 02, 2009

Will offense's new leader please stand up

There was never a question who was in charge of the Dolphins offensive huddle the last 20 games.

From the first moment he trotted on the field for the Dolphins in September 2008 until the moment he came off writhing in pain, holding his dislocated right shoulder last Sunday, Chad Pennington was in charge.

Pennington was the leader.

But he won't be in that huddle Sunday. The truth is, even though he hopes to be back in South Florida after undergoing surgery, it's possible he won't be at the game at all. (He wants to be, but no guarantees.)

So who fills the vacuum? Who captains Miami's offense? Who leads now?

Nobody knows. Not even coach Tony Sparano.

“We’ll see, I really don’t know," the coach said Thursday. "I can’t answer the question. I don’t think it’s just somebody you can pick, and say, ‘Hey you’re the guy.’ I really don’t. I think if you look at what’s been done there, little by little, there are some guys on the interior that are getting better. I think that group can take over leadership.

"I think a line can take over leadership. When I was in Dallas, you want a practice changed, you wanted a game changed, the line took over leadership, that group was able to do that. I don’t know if we’re there yet with our offensive line. I think that as these games go by, we’ll see who really wants the bull’s-eye on their back during the next couple weeks.”

The Dolphins offensive line as the leaders of the offense?

Talk about leadership by committee. One could see one or two guys on the line having the prestige to lead. But all five guys? Donald Thomas, who has played all of four NFL games? Jake Grove, whose been on the team all of three games?

Justin Smiley? Maybe. Jake Long? Maybe. Vernon Carey? Maybe.

But even Smiley doesn't see only one offensive lineman stepping forward.

"I don't think that it's one guy right now," Smiley said. "I think we're going to have to band together. And as an offensive line, we have to carry it. We have to carry this team. We're all pretty vocal, especially as offensive linemen. I really respect someone that does it, and doesn't do a lot of talking. But when he does talk, you have to listen to it, you know?

"We don't have anybody that does talk and doesn't back it up. I've been around that. I've been around it in college or around the league."

Seems to me there should be two leading candidates to lead the offense -- Ronnie Brown and Chad Henne. And seeing that Henne is making his first NFL start, it would be logical if the player already carrying the running game on his back would also shoulder the leadership burden.

It doesn't have to be a forever thing for Brown. Eventually, if Henne is the quarterback everyone on the Dolphins roster and offensive coordinator Dan Henning are predicting he'll be, he will take over as leader.

And what type of leader would Henne be?

"He has great demeanor for the position. He has tools for the position. He has background," Henning said. "He leads differently than Chad. Chad is more like a benevolent despot and I think Henne is going to be a dictator. He's a lot stronger than people give him credit for because he's quiet. But he is strong because he knows what he wants. And I think he'll be fine."

October 01, 2009

Crowder: Dolphins (still) East team to beat?

The Dolphins are 0-3 and the standings confirm they are the worst team in the AFC East today.

But the season doesn't end today. And today doesn't erase what happened in 2008. So, as the team begins its AFC East schedule on Sunday versus Buffalo, at least one Miami player still thinks the Dolphins are the team to beat in the division.

Ask linebacker Channing Crowder how he sees the division and he responds his opinion hasn't changed from the offseason when he said the Dolphins were the team to beat

"Same way," Crowder said Thursday. "When [Tom] Brady came back, everybody crowned the Patriots the champion. And then the Jets came and they're playing good ball and Rex Ryan crowned them the champions. We're the division champions right now from last season. Everybody thinks they're good. The Bill are playing good ball, they went to the wall with the Patriots. So it's a wide open division right now.

"Everybody's on the Jets, riding the Jets' bandwagon. In the beginning everybody thought Brady was going to come back and take them to the Patriots they were pre-[injury]. So everybody has their guess and their opinions of the AFC East.

"We want our piece of the pie. We want our bite of the apple. We have to start this week with the Bills."

The Dolphins are already three games behind the Jets in the division race. They are two games behind New England and one game behind Buffalo. Miami is the only winless team in the division.

But the Dolphins have an opportunity to make up ground. They play AFC East teams in four of their next five games, including the home-and-home with New York.

Henning still thinks Henne good as Flacco, Ryan

A few days go I made the point that offensive coordinator Dan Henning's contention last October that Chad Henne would be just as good as Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco isn't really fair because Henne doesn't have the weapons the other two have.

I asked Henning about that today. And he pretty much dismissed the notion that a quarterback's effectiveness is tied to the weapons at his disposal.

"If we sent him there and they came here ..." Henning said. "I don't think you evaluate guys based on the weapons they have. I think Chad Henne can be just as good a quarterback as those two guys. I stood here last year. You have the date I said that?"

That was October 16, 2008.

"Well mark it down, because I say the same thing today," Henning said. "That's the way I feel about Chad Henne."

Henning is strongly in Henne's corner -- of course -- and the metaphors are proof of that.

"I'm excited for Chad Henne and Pat White," Henning said. "I felt like coming into the season we had as good a three-pronged quarterback situation as we could have. And I feel like Henne has progressed. He has great demeanor for the position. He has tools for the position. He has background. he leads differently than Chad. Chad is more like a benevolent despot and Henne is going to be a dictator. He's a lot stronger than people will give him credit for because he's quiet."

"I believe strongly that Chad Henne won't be the reason we don't win around here. I think he's prepared and I think he'll do well."

Henning acknowleged the Dolphins are struggling to score touchdowns when they're in the red zone but didn't want to explain the reasons why. He doesn't argue that Miami isn't getting the deep ball, which is the reason the yards per attempt are at 5.37 now when they were 7.66 last season. But Henning said it would be wrong to look strictly at the QB position for the reason Miami has an anemic deep passing game. 

"It isn't just the QB, it isn't just the receiver, it isn't just the protection," Henning said. "It's everything. It's not easy to do."

Other notes:

Linebacker Joey Porter (hamstring) missed practiced for the second consecutive day. He was the only Dolphins player who did not practice.

The Bills had six players sit out.  T Demetrius Bell (groin), DT John McCargo (calf), CB Leodis McKelvin (fibula), LB Paul Posluszny (forearm), S Bryan Scott (ankle) and S Donte Whitner (thumb). DT Kyle Williams (groin) was limited. 

Nose tackle Paul Soliai said his family has "lost" 12 people in this week's pacific island tsunami. He said his wife has lost 10 relatives in Somoa while he's lost 2. It's not clear if by "lost" Soliai meant they were literally unaccounted for, or if he meant they had died.

Oh, almost forgot, Allen played terrible Sunday

The blur of following the Chad Pennington injury, the Chad Henne promotion, a cross-country flight back to South Florida, the Tyler Thigpen trade, jet lag, and my Corvette going in for service got me a little sideways this week -- so much that I almost forgot something that must be shared with you.

Will Allen played terribly against San Diego last week.

It has been a popular pasttime among fans and radio pundits to rip Gibril Wilson for his struggles, but the depth of Miami's secondary struggles also has extended to the cornerback position. And, ironically, in a season the Dolphins drafted Vontae Davis and Sean Smith and are playing both rookies extensively, it is Allen, the veteran, that got picked on most last Sunday.

And it was Allen that didn't exactly step up to the challenge of getting picked on most.

San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers went after Allen no less than ten times in the last game.

And by the end of that workout, Allen was plain wore out as they say in Tennessee.

He gave up a 55-yard pass to Vincent Jackson on which he had help over the top but still couldn't make the play. He gave up another 15-yard completion to Jackson. He gave up an 8-yard completion to Jackson along the sideline. He played so far off Legadu Naanee on one play that Rivers simply took the center snap and tossed it to Naanee standing alone along the line of scrimmage and the play gained five yards. Allen had also fell down on a slant route thus giving up a 30-yard gain to Jackson. He was called for a personal foul horse collar tackle, which resulted in a first down. He was also called for a pass interference that turned a third down into another first down.

On the bright side, Allen had four passes defensed, including two in the end zone.

But when any cornerback costs his team 127 yards (including the two penalties) and six first downs (including the two penalties), it has not been a very good day.

And all this is particularly important when the next opponent is the Buffalo Bills. The Bills, you see, have two good receivers in Terrell Owens and Lee Evans.

One would have to be very naive to believe the Bills saw tape of the San Diego game and are thinking Will Allen should not be challenged time and time and time again this Sunday.

Last week he was. And he didn't answer the challenge.