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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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Great blog Mando.
It’s been nagging at me for sure, that it seams as though it takes an injury at a position to see what we’ve been missing.
Maybe thats the way it is with all teams - but with this regime it seams most egregious considering we're fighting to get back to 500.

New Jersey Governor Elliot Spitzer made a horrible mistake in sleeping with that prostitute. But it was not as great a mistake as Tony Sparano going for the 2-pt. conversion when the Dolphins were up by 11.

If Sparano would simply say, "I blew it," I would let it go. Until that day comes, I will stand watch as the Dolphins' loyal mathematician. Stupidity of that magnitude is dangerous.

Two things
1. We barely beat the bucs, so we didn't play that great without porter

2. Porter commands more attention so guys like Taylor have a bit easier time. So it's not an apples to apples comparison.

Sperry was a very intimidating figure out there. seemed to be like a man amongst boys. not anointing him but his hands seemed huge compared to other players and after the td a few dolphins players jumped on him and he did not budge like nats were hitting him. would like to see him in the open filed s with a db trying to tackle him. and yes he may be like some of these quarterback and other pplayers that never get drafted yet become all pro

Nathaniel Dodsworth - That was not a terrible decision...let it go! There are more things to be worried about on this time like RONNIE'S INJURY

Nathaniel, the chart says go for 2...Get over it...Not even in the top 5 stupidest things they've done....

and whoever just presumed that JP gets more attention than JT is smoking crack...

Why don't they put pat white into motion in the wildcat with Ronnie and Rickey in the backfield?

Please play, Ronnie Brown

The problem is not the replacements or the starters. The problem is coaching allowing players’ ego to get in the way of what is best for the team. I saw Zack Thomas many times play hurt and stink on the field so the same can be said for Joey.

After all he did have the same stats this week as last week, right?

Good point Rockmeister

Please play, Ronnie Brown

With the season on the line, please play, Ronnie Brown

Is there a reason why nobody has addressed our lack of " special teams"?

Nathaniel , New jersey has had it's share of political problems but Gov, Eilliot spitzer wasn't one them. He was New yorks problem. LOL

"We don't know how long Brown will be sidelined. He was on crutches in the locker room but said X-rays were negative." --ESPN's Tim Graham

Spitzer was only trying to help the economy, his mistake was getting caught. Thurday nights game is going to be very tough as Carolina is playing much better and Delhomme hasn't been turning the ball over. May not see much of Wake this week are they can flat out run the ball. Go Fins.

Rockmeister. Zach Thomas was NEVER ineffective. Hence all the 100+ tackles a season. A limping Thomas would be more productive than all of our ILB's combined! That brings me to my next point. I think he should take up broadcasting. I believe he could break down the game like no other...And finally it's ZACH, ZACH, ZACH! There's no K, never was

Much props to Charlie Anderson and Cam Wake. I didn't know Anderson had that kind fo game he played very good yesterday. Cam Wake did the same thing yesterday that he has done when given the chance to play. Taylor also played good yesterday.

Porter - Aged in dog years from last year. He had a career year last year and was a key reason we turned around from being a laughing stock back to respectability. He got old over night on us and thanks Joey but you're finished. He has been invisible all year and I loved the news that he was inactive. If you aren't performing no matter who you are you need to sit or see less and less playing time. I think this year the coaching staff has had too long of a leash for supposedly big name players or at least big pay checks.

We need a tweet on Ronnies MRI results.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Meet WildPat White.

I don't have a problem with the decision to go for 2-- if it works it's great and if it doesn't you get 2nd guessed. I don't have a problem with Joey shooting off his mouth (when he backs it up) or even having a slump--Brian Cox was the same way. I don't have a problem with Ted Ginn Jr going for the big play, although it would be nice if he made the catch now and again--he has a confidence problem right now and as fans we should support him instead of exacerbating his difficulties by demanding his head on a platter every other play. But I do wonder about the wisdom (or lack thereof) of calling a pass play at the end of the game like that--get a 1st down and run out the clock. I also would like to see Cameron Wake get a whole lot more playing time--especially like last week against Brady who killed us with his passing game. This was an interesting blog, Armando, but I can't agree with the stats you used to support your conclusions at this point--it was one game and it was against the Bucs; that likely skews the stats. Let's wait and see, but for now the question is out there.

BTW...why isn't Pennington on the sidelines? Isn't the point of having the veteran QB to be there to guide the young'uns with insight and experience? Is he not still on our payroll? Get his butt out there on the sidelines! Get him talking to the other QBs when they're on defense. Only his body is injured-- not his mind or his mentoring/leadership skills. Let's get our moneys worth, guys.

just saw sparanos news conference he said he wont have anything to say about ronnie till he knows more about his condition probably tonight or tommorow morning because he doesnt know right now.

Guys I'm still very posative in this team finnishing strong but I can't help but to say if ronnie brown is done 4 the year this season is over even with ricky playing like he has

I think I remember some of the talking heads at ESPN saying that Thigpen could be a weapon in the Wildcat. I'm not the biggest fan of the Wildcat but if they are going to use it - they may as well try him - White just isn't the answer - at least not right now.
I think they are slowly building into a Parcells type team - strong arm QB - good O-line/running game - no good receivers - name me one good receiver Parcells coached with the Giants or the Jets?

So browns status depends on our team getting to the playoffs with a slim chance

Playoffs? Playoffs?! So we can be humiliated?

pat white is garbage

Marc, not sure what games you are watching this year but losses to arguably the 2 best teams in the AFC, Dolts and Patsies were not considered humiliating.

I said we should have traded Joey Porter before the trade deadline and everyone thought I was crazy.

I'm not sure what games you've been watching Jim this team looks like crap even in the wins. We've had maybe one convincing win out of 9

I honestly think our OLB depth is just that good. Sperry was originally a Charger and, as we know, they have a good history of finding undrafted talent at TE and WR. And yes, I do think we need to try Turner at WR, if nothing else I believe he makes that sideline catch.

Spitzer's problem was not sleeping with the prostitute, Spitzer's problem was not paying cash!

Let's face facts here. While neither the bucs nor ravens existed when we won a sb they have both since gotten a championship more recently than we have made it to the big show.

thanks marc

Marc, true we don't have convincing wins but I didn't like your choice of the word humiliated. I would rather make the playoffs and be 14 point dogs rather than watching some other team get hot and make a run. If we make the playoffs and lose at least our young guys would get the experience under their belt when we become a serious contender. No big task ahead for the Fins, they just need to win out ;)

I can not believe I typed "New Jersey." My mistakenly typing New Jersey rather than New York in reference to disgraced Governor Spitzer is a WORSE error than Tony Sparano going for 2 points when the Dolphins were up by 11. And, by the way, the chart most assuredly does NOT say to go for 2 when you're up by 11. I guarantee you it does not.

In terms of Anthony fasano, I don't think he has been performing for a while. In the last few games Joey haynos has outpreformed anthony in many aspects and has had a touchdown in like two of the last three games. As far as I have seen, he can catch better than anthony.

Where's my $ Nataniel? While you might be clever with analogies, your football IQ isn't up to par. Stick to what you know.

That's almost as stupid as jdizzle saying that kicking FG's is not like Madden, if you miss you can kick again, LMAO!!!!


I have not read all these posts, so forgive me if I am repeating what others have already said.
Come on, Armando!! You can't seriously be comparing the starters' production to the back ups when the back ups are versus the anemic Tampa bay team!?!?
Granted the output from both porter and Fasano has been disappointing and Inexcusable, but I was looking forward to seeing the starters in there so they could put a whooping on the hapless bucs. As it is the back ups barely made it out of there alive.
If anything, all the back ups did was con fuse the issue for a few witless fans like yourself. I am sure the coaches know that porter and probably fasano would have wreaked havoc on those bucs.

Marc, what is so difficult to understand about the following?

If you are up by 11, you are up by only 1 TD and 1 FG (provided your opponent successfully goes for 2 points). But if you're up by 12, your opponent must get TWO TDs. Therefore, if you're up by 11, there is no appreciable difference in going for 1 point or 2 points. Either way, you force your opponent to score 2 TDs. Therefore, WHY IN GOD'S NAME would you risk getting no points by going for 2? It makes ZERO sense.

Smarten up. (And change the "c" in your name to "k". It's creeping everyone out.)

nathaniel if you up 13 instead of 12 the other team have to score 2 tds to win but 1 td and 2 fg does not win. Why you can't understand this? Does math have different rules in Canada like your version of football?

I wish the Sporano would bring back the mindset of last year: everyone needs to earn their spot each week. Nothing is given or entitled. That mantra motivated the team to its great performance last year. For the past nine games, we've consistently seen inconsistencies. I wondered what kind of game we could have had against the Pats and Saints if Wake/Anderson were in the front line instead of Porter. I'm glad Ginn lost his starter WR job. Let him earn it back - if he's good enough. Let Porter earn his starter role back too - if he's good enough.

Yeah Nathaniel...Think I'll stick to "The Chart"...You stick to writing about random things...I was born with the "C", therfore, it stays...Apologies to those offended.

Charlie played complete game at LB Roth looked tough against run Sperry ran good routes and showed good hands. As bad as G-BRIL is against pass I will be first to give him props for his hard hits on the ball carrier.

Probably be jumped on for this but Ronnie getting hurt might accelerate the Phins becoming the team we all hope they can be (I do want him back ASAP). Now with that being said, the wildcat is more than likely dead in the water until Brown returns.

I think now we will be forced to play a more conventional offense lead by Henne followed by a still dangerous running attack Lead by Ricky with a dash of Polite. My point is that now we can run some play action combined with a little boot leg peppered in. If Henne is as good as I think he is we will be happy to get a preview of what he can do When he is allowed to get into a rhythm.
Don’t know about you all but I would like to see What our QB and RBs can do in a conventional play action scheme.

Agree with your argument that the backups played well and the vets did not. I think quality of opponent was not discussed. Olines that Porter played against were killer O lines, Jets, Pats, NO, Indy. Don't know what Tampa O line is like? Otherwise I say let the new guys play, a lot!

Hey I think we all need a reality check. That bad team you are all yelling bout. Am I out of it or did they just beat the Packers. Just a thought.Thanks Coach for letting the mouth know you sre still the man runnimg the team.I really think we have to wait until the end of the season to see how bad they are. I think we were lucky to get out of there with awin.Go Dolphins. Fan all the way.

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