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Are the Dolphins backups that good?

It is the proverbial two-edged sword that the Dolphins now wield with the handful of players that sat out Sunday's victory over Tampa Bay and those players that took their place.

Obviously the Dolphins won the game, so the replacements were good enough to help Miami to victory. But because the Dolphins won the game, one has to wonder about the players who sat.

Here's the thing that is frying my brain right now: Were Miami's replacements that good? Or were the players being replaced not as good as we thought and thus easily substituted for?

Let's take it position by position:

At outside linebacker, Joey Porter was benched for reasons the Dolphins don't want to divulge. But in keeping those reasons and Porter under wraps, something very interesting became quite public. Porter can seemingly be easily replaced.

Either that, or the Dolphins have amazing depth at OLB.

Think about it. Porter has not had a full sack since September. He's been missing practice time. He was invisible in last week's game at New England. So he gets deactivated and, voila, Charlie Anderson and Cameron Wake not only pick up the slack, but play much better than Porter has recently.

Anderson had five tackles -- almost half as many as Porter has contributed the entire season -- and added a sack and two forced fumbles.

"I was able to get back there and I knew the guy was tough to take down, but he can't go anywhere without the ball," Anderson said. "A couple of guys were like, 'Hey go for the ball,' The second time I was able to do that."

And he did. So do you think Anderson is a super sub? Or do you think Porter has been playing so poorly that this is the type of production the weakside outside linebacker position should be delivering regardless of who is playing there?

Oh, by the way, with Porter out, Cameron Wake also got a few extra pass-rush opportunities than usual. He turned in a sack, bringing his total to four, and had two tackles -- again better than what Porter has been giving.

At the tight end spot, the Dolphins played without starter Anthony Fasano because he is troubled by a hip injury. To cover the void, the Dolphins moved Joey Haynos to the starting job and used rookie Kory Sperry in double-tight end alignments.

Well, in his first NFL outing, the rookie tight end caught three passes for 31 yards, including a touchdown. In other words, Sperry now has as many TD catches as Fasano has had this season. So did the Dolphins miss Fasano on Sunday?

That would be a no.

Is it because Sperry is really good, a diamond found in the practice squad rough? Or is it because Fasano just hasn't been producing up to par to the point a rookie could match the veteran's typical production with little problem?


By the way, Sperry was brought up from the practice squad because he has been consistently out-performing fellow rookie John Nalbone in practice. Nalbone was a Miami fifth-round selection. Sperry was not drafted out of Colorado State. So much for all the draft experts out there.

Anyway, the Dolphins were also without LG Justin Smiley on Sunday. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Nate Garner. I'm not going to try to fool you and say Garner played well or as well as Smiley might. I have no idea.

I do know the Dolphins didn't give up any sacks. I do know they rushed for 199 yards. So obviously the offensive line -- including Garner -- was doing something right.

The greater point is this: If the Dolphins can manage to get such good production from their backups, they are a team that either enjoys great depth, as I said before. Or they are a team with some starters that aren't much better than their backups.

One is very good. The other possibility is troubling.

Only the coaching staff knows the true answer. And I'm sure the answer is different in each individual case.

But if the Dolphins have reserves that can deliver pretty well on Sunday, perhaps using those players might be a good idea in the future. Maybe applying the thought to other positions might be worthwhile.

Perhaps Tyler Thigpen might get better results in the spread formation than Pat White. Perhaps giving Patrick Turner some snaps with the offense (he was limited to special teams duty far as I saw on Sunday) might actually surprise people with production.

The old adage is the starter starts because he's better than the backup. Perhaps with the Dolphins that isn't always true.


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One thing is for sure: the poster who misleadingly calls himself "NJ PHIN FAN," among other names he uses to talk to himself, has been 100% wrong in all his evaluations of Dolphin Players. He trashed Charlie Anderson. Wrong. He lobbied for Nalbone over Sperry. Wrong. These are but minor, recent examples of the posters wrong-headedness. When does the pain stop? When does he apologize to us all?

The Patriots held Freeney to no sacks or tackles. So they did something right against Porter also. He is not 100% right now, but is an important part of this team. I do think how ever they should rotate the OLB's more, instead of rotating the recievers on every other play. We have 5 guys that rush the passer in (Porter, Taylor, Wake, Roth, and Anderson). They get caught up in the 4th quarter on just leaving there best guys out there. But all this guys rush differently and they will have fresh legs. But Porter is important and when healthy is dangerous. So glad to get the W, but no more conservative play calling. Put more points on the board so when your rookies make mistakes(Sean Smith stopping and jumping to early for the interception and Chad Henne throwing the interception) would not hurt us if we put more TD's on the board. Lets get another W on the road this week GO DOLPHINS.

Some very questionable play calling during the game. Henne was playing well from the beginning, and the coaches decide to call on Pat White for some bulls**t plays for loss. Now the responsibility falls on Henne for having to pass on 3rd and long, all the time. Every game is the same. They are so predictable. First down run, second down screen, third and long. First down pass, Wildcat, wildcat. You know?, I hope Brown is not seriously injured, but on the positive side, this is a nice chance for the wildcat to start fading down. I really hope so. Let your quarterback play a normal game. Every time he gets on a groove, they take the ball away from him. Sickening.

Then, after the "interception" from the Bucs, the Dolphins get the ball and run it to the Bucs 4 yard with 1:30 to go and they called a timeout???? Come on dude! You wanna give the other team a chance to play? S**t man! They're lucky they got it back quick. Even worse was the decision to kick a field goal with 10 seconds left in the clock without giving your QB the confidence to throw one more pass. Pathetic coaching in the first half from Sparano.

Gotta agree with evrything you said there Gian, can't wait to see the end of this Pistol crap, don't mind the occasional Wildcat but not when it disrupts the QB

Odds are with no have Ronnie Brown for wildcat, you will see much more of Pat White on thursday night. Ricky will probably take a few snaps too, but Pat White is gonna be the trigger man.

carlito from golfito - news from Yahoo Sports since Brown is on my fantasy team:

RB Ronnie Brown probably won't be able to play Thursday at Carolina, but for now it looks as though the Dolphins dodged a bullet with the injury to Brown's right ankle rather than his surgically repaired right knee. The Dolphins' leading rusher left the locker room on crutches after Sunday's 25-23 win over Tampa Bay, but Brown was not wearing a protective boot and suggested X-rays were negative. "I don't feel like it's too bad," Brown said. "Hopefully everything works out. I feel OK."

Thanks canfin
I have confidence in Ricky, he's averaging 5.3 yards per carry and looks as good as he has at any point of his career (beside 2002 he had more power and teams were scared to face him) but his state of mind is the best it's ever been.
But we def. need Ronnie if we're making a run at this thing! Ronnie and Ricky are on their way to a 1,000 + yard season and if our league worst 4th qtr Defensive play doesn't step it up real quick it will be a real shame.
Ronnie and Ricky are great!

Lets put something in perspective here....
As bad of a start as we got off to, had we beaten the Pats last week - we would be in 1st place of the AFC East.

We have significant improvements to make on the Defenisive side of the ball along with our passing game. Lets do what we have to do to make a run and BELIEVE in our Fins!

Jamillion - We would not be in first. If we would of beat the Pats last week we would of been 2 games out of first. Then, after this week 1 game out of first. GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT!

Dan please Let Chad get in a groove and stay there.... Stick with the kid. Don't impede his progress for next 2 years when it will really count...

I think we going to be hearing "Henne to Sperry" alot more this year

forget the pistol, hate it. i like that V three back set much better. plus it keeps ginny off the feild.

Carlito I hope you're wrong and we don't see Pat White on Thursday, what a wasted draft pick!!!
Let Henne play all game like the starting QB should!!!

Hey Sporano! You are so lucky the Bucs didn't expose your poor clock management skills & run back the kickoff return to win the game since u were nice enough to leave them an extra 10 seconds to try & win the game. I'm starting to get a little concerned about our coach because even in a game of Madden I would not give my opponent the opportunity to score & win at the end of the game. Hmmmmmmmm

Ted Ginn Jr makes me puke, Kuchenberg was right, an embarrassment and a coward, he's the leagues leading KO returner because of 1 game and he headed for the sideline both times then!!!!

Initially, I also disagreed with the timeout with less than 2minutes remaing. But look at it this way; unlike Belichick - Sparano had confidence that the D would get the ball back for the Offense to score more before the half.

Thats why they passed and got the TD rather than run to kill the clock. The Bucs went three and out and we were able to produce 10 points under 2 minutes, that was actually good clock management. The only thing is you DEF. have to take a shot at the endzone with 10 seconds left, then kick the FG.
It's actually the only time all year we managed the clock correctly under 2minutes in both halfs and it was the diff. in a poorly played game


After the Carolina game if everybody is talking how good Sporano do by bring Dolphins back to .500, I don't want to hear you say anything nice about coach... Don't be that guy

Go Dolphins!

Sporano, good job!

Cameron Wake has 5 sacks : 3 against Jets ( 2.5) , 1 New England and 1 Tampa Bay

Phinatic, I originally thought as you did why not run the clock down first but as someone pointed out u gotta allow for a botched snap and time to kick again, even our D and ST should be able to stop the Bucs scoring in 10 seconds!

Indiana Dolfan,
May-be facts travel slower up there.

Lets say we beat the Pats and the win yesterday makes us 5-4 with a 4-0 division record.
Then the Pats lose to us and the colts, that makes them 5-4 with a 1-2 division record.

Get your facts straight buddy and don't call yourself a fan if you don't believe

Jamil - Sorry I miscalculated. Totally my fault. Go Phins!

2 games out of division and 2 games out of wildcard!! We need to step up! Our destiny is back in our hands!

Hey CanFin, you dont have to agree with everything our team does to be a fan. If you can't see that Sparano has made some questionable calls then your either not football smart or just an idiot. If the Bucs would have pulled off a miracle & scored (ala Titans vs Bills) I'm sure you'd be singing a different song Mon. Morning.

Incorrect.... the Buc's are just as good as the pathetic hapless freefalling wets. They suck!!
LMAO @ Wrecks Cryin!!

Sorry CanFin , I meant to adress last comment to Carlito not you.

Hey Carlito, you dont have to agree with everything our team does to be a fan. If you can't see that Sparano has made some questionable calls then your either not football smart or just an idiot. If the Bucs would have pulled off a miracle & scored (ala Titans vs Bills) I'm sure you'd be singing a different song Mon. Morning.

Its all good Indiana Dolfan.
Its great to have support up there and all around the nation!

We still have a lot of improvements to make though, and its frustrating that a couple of plays here and there would have put us in a much better position.

Also, we have the least toughest schedule remaining out in the AFC east, strength of schedule - Fins - .508, Pats - 5.40, bills and jets - 5.56

But we DEF can't play like we played yesterday, we have to step it up big time!

This is too funny everyone is getting on Joey Porter but no one comments on Jason Taylor just cause everyone in Miami has a love affair with this guy.... he sucks, he is slow, he over runs the QB every single time (if and when he gets there).... he should be out too.....and I know you are going to tell me all about his stats and blah blah blah but that was several years ago, today, what really matters!! is that he is mediocre at best...... put Anderson and Wake when they are in there the pass rush is so much faster, not that it was the NY sack exchange but at least they get close to the QB and put some pressure on him.

I thought JT had a heckuva game yesterday.....Pats game, not so much.

How can JT be slow and over run the QB.....
Enough said, no creditbility to your non sense comment

can someone in the orginiztion please get camarillo and sperry different jersey numbers to wear please? thank you.

No worries Phinatic, I was just getting a heated reply all ready then....;)

There are questionable calls every game, usually to do with clock management but effectively benching your starting QB at random intervals is another one!!

Playing a bad team probably exlains a lot of it. I'm not buying Anderson as some super pass rusher all of a sudden. Would like to see more of Wake.

If the back ups are that good does it stand to reason the coaching is that bad since they can't seem to understand this?

Kory Kalani Kahauaele Sperry

To give everyone a good laugh, you all know I am from Indiana from my name and actually live in Indianapolis. One of my friends at the game last night called me to let me know a Pats fan got knocked out after the game. The Pats was bumping into cheering Colts fans, but obviously bumped into the wrong person. The Colts guy turned around pushed him and punched him, leaving him with a bloody nose!! HaHa All fans should know when your team loses and you are on the road, don't try to talk smack or fights, because YOU ARE OUTNUMBERED!! LOL

It was inconsistent. It was ugly. It was much closer than it really had a right to be. But the Dolphins won. - Taken from the "Grading the Dolphins" article. It's over, good result, bad delivery, let it go.

The Panthers are at par pretty much with the Dolphins in talent so it will be a tough game. But we do match up well. They can't pass well and run well. They have trouble stopping the run and defend the pass well. They line up right into our strengths.

Are the back ups better than the starters? Well, considering they played one of the worst teams in the NFL and barely won, it's difficult to say. As for Anderson and Wake playing better than Porter, it could be desire. it could also be the opponnent didn't have enough tape to study on players like Anderson and Sperry. Considering they still gave up more points than they scored in the fourth quarter, I'd say they were just a lucky team yesterday. I never heard of Sperry until yesterday. Anderson is a special teams player. So it seems a combination of desire and lack of film to study are your answers.
Jason Taylor explained this team as well as one could ask. He said they lack killer instinct. I agree. People attack Bellicek for his running up the score. He made a critical call yesterday, and in being villified by everyone. Had they made that play, he'd be a genius. At least he had the nerve to try. He knew his defense was faultering. They play this game for 60 minutes, not 30. You don't score 30 points in the first half and set it on cruise control in the second half. The results will look very similar to this Miami team.

Some observations:

1. For those complaining that Henne was passing on that third down play, it was third and seven. I'm not saying that was a great call, I'm just pointing out the Dolphins were trying to maintain possession and running the ball wasn't likely to achieve the desired result. Henne blew it on that play by never looking anyone off and then throwing the ball directly to Tampa's linebacker. Fortunately, he redeemed himself on the next drive. But, think about it, if Henne completes the pass for a first down, how many of us would be questioning the play call? I daresay, no one.

2. For the one guy who was bashing Crowder (and I'm not a Crowder fan by any means), please note that Crowder led the team in tackles (nine) and had a sack yesterday. He played well.

3. I have to agree with others that the pistol formation doesn't seem to be producing positive results overall. If White could actually throw the ball, it would be different; but, all this formation seems to be doing is interrupting Henne's rhythm.

4. If the Dolphins don't turn the ball over twice in the second half, this game has an entirely different feel. Dolphins were driving when Brown fumbled (carelessly, I might add). If the Phins score on that drive, the game is at least 22 - 6 at that point and pretty much in the bag.

5. Thursday's game will require the Phins to play mistake-free football to win. Atlanta could have won against Carolina yesterday, but made too many unforced errors. If the Phins play error-free, then they have a good chance.

6. The upcoming contest will give everyone an opportunity to see how Miami does running a pretty much conventional offense. With Brown out, we'll see very little Wildcat, if any. I still believe the Phins can run it down their throats, however.

7. Why not give Turner a shot? Heck, he just might surprise somebody, namely the other team!

8. Finally, to Armando's point, I think it's the latter. We've seen enough of the problem starters to know what we've got is not a lot. It's time to give the hungry backups some opportunities.

The article asks if the back-ups are better than the starters. Didn't those same back-ups almost contribute to a loss against a bottom 3 team? Come on Mando, come on ...

Will the real M Dolphins please stand up this Thursday!

im happy we won but sparano is so afraid to lose its ridiculous! will the fins ever hire a coach that coaches to win? this guy obviously coaches not to lose

I'll say it again' JT was never known for his run stopping...
That was always Zachs mess to clean up. Same with Porter. Wake appears to be of that same speed rusher mold, however he's a little younger. Seems 3 of the same...I do think wake should be given more chances though

also I'll repeat these young dlinemen do not have me sold. Haven't heard merling or langfords name recently. I like what I've seen from Henne but he needs a chance to play straight up for a fair evaluatation...

Mando, most people got it right here...we played one of the worse teams on our schedule so it's impossible to judge the backups in this position..

sperry had on #85 which is not camarillo's number.

camarillo is # 83

i for one am pleased with the field goal vs tring for the TD. what if that were a sack or an INT? we would have lost.

my point was that no one should be wearing number 83 or 85 thats all

Some great points Mando. One thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the fact that we played a sub-par team. I'd like to see how some of those back-up players fare against better competition before seriously considering replacing our current starters.

Please let us know if/when you find out specifically why Porter got benched. If anyone can find out what happened, it's you.

I got nothing to add. But I'm writing stuff anyway. What else is new?


just as long as no one wears 13 i don't care what # they wear :-)

Porter is a tired old player. And what's worse is he's a tired old declining player. And even worse than that, he's a tired, old, declining player with a bad attitude.

Bye-bye JP. Had enough of your sh it.

You've gotta admit that the offensive playbook for this year was centered around the thought that Pennington was going to be at the helm, hence the conservative passes and plenty of wildcat. Now that Henne, clearly with a stronger arm, is at QB you see some additions to the playbook which are only disrupting the passing balance.
Unfortunately for Henne, he is still going to see a lot of his much important "learning time" obstructed by the pistol, wildcat or call it as you may. I have no doubt that it could be critical for his development and most importantly his confidence to guide this team.
Now, Sparano had said before about the Wildcat: "If I take it away from them, it is as if I would take candy away from a child". Well coach, you gotta ask yourself a question. Who's candy is more important? Your RB's or your QB's? Because make no mistake, the wildcat does not satisfy a QB's sweet tooth.


Can you give us a Ronnie's injury update???

belicheats press conference on espn right now, man what a complete d..k this guy is!

guys i don't know if u guys agree,but i thinks its about that time to open up the play book for henne. I want to see if henne could be brilliant. and plus if we keep playing conservative we won't make the playoff period!!!! we need to see if his the real deal. either he swimns or sinks, and if he makes it, guys we could be pretty good contenders. but i also understand that he needs help in the receiving corp,boy we need in upgrade there!!!

I agree with most, the Bucs aren't exactly world beaters and 2nd stringers have a tendency to overachieve....after all, they want to start. But then again, the talent evaluation hasn't been all that great either.

But who knows, maybe there's a keeper in there somewhere.

Wake needs to play.
In today's NFL, pressuring the QB is more important than stopping the run. Colts are weak against the run but are still unbeaten largely because Freeney and Mathis harass QBs every game. All the top teams have QBs that will light you up unless you pressure them. Play Wake and bring in somebody else on obvious RUNNING downs. I'd rather give up 8 yard runs than 60 yards bombs any day.
Call up Sparano Mando and tell him to PLAY WAKE!!!

after watching our fins this year and watching other teams as well i have this wish list for the offseason. trade something to arizona for bouldin hes way better than whats here whether you like him or not and then draft tight end gresham from oklahoma first then wide recievers and middle linebackers with the next six picks i think well be well on our way after that

Armando, your article only gives two options: Option 1, that back ups are as good or better than the starters or, Option 2, the starters just aren't very good. But, there is a 3rd option:
The Bucs starters in those particular positions you mentioned (LB,OL,TE)aren't that good against our back ups. The game is about match ups. Would Porter, or Fasano or Smiley have had even better games against the Bucs then their respective back ups? We will never know. But we should trust the coaches that they see what is going on in practice and are making the right decisions with starters.

Bench Porter for Anderson & Wake......bench Fasano for Sperry...take Ginn out as a WR and lets see what Turner can do.....who knows what White is ever going to do? Try him at WR a few times or bring him in for a end around, reverse play...heck let him try running back some punts!.. No need to put Thigpen into the mix, he's the back up! Drop the wildcat or use it on rare ocassions! Leave Henne in all the time, run Ricky and Ronnie behind Polite and toss the ball downfield! Enough of the Pistol and Wildcat....we have a strong fullback and great running backs and a good QB! Lets play ball!

i rey maualuga is playing lights out for cincy and i know i and tons of other fin fans wanted him here but we got pat white instead thanks again .another costly mistake by the trifecta

the only problem with that is maualuga was taken 6 spots in front of the phins in the 2nd round. There were no ILBs taken after the phins selection. I agree, white was a stupid pick. we had more pressing needs to waste that pick on a luxury

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