The Dolphins defense has been solid, even borderline dominant, during the first half of games this season. That, obviously has a lot to do with preparation and being motivated to get started quickly. It's good stuff.
But the same defense, the same group of guys playing basically the same style, have been on their heels a lot in the second half of games.
The Colts scored 14 of their 27 points in the second half, all in the fourth quarter.
The Chargers scored 20 of their 23 points in the second half, including 13 in the fourth quarter.
The Saints scored 36 points in the second half against Miami, with 22 of those coming in the fourth quarter.
The Jets on Sunday scored 22 of their 25 points in the second half.
The Dolphins this season have given up 17 points in the first quarter, 38 points in the second quarter, 43 points in the third quarter and 79 points in the fourth quarter.
Today I asked coach Tony Sparano why?
"I don't have an answer for you, Armando," he responded. "But it has been addressed. Our players are very aware. I wouldn't call it the last half. I would call it the fourth quarterish. But in those fourth quarters, we've obviously given up some scores and some drives in those situations. so we're aware of it.
"I'm not sure that a large of it doesn't have to do with what's going on the other side, too, the people you're playing and those guys starting to figure out what you're doing and start to settle themselves in a little bit, too."
I know many of you contend the Dolphins are nursing leads in the second half of some games and have become more conservative in those games. But Sparano says that isn't true. He contends the Dolphins are blitzing and pressing as much later in games as earlier.
"We're doing the same thing. Really are," Sparano said. "We're applying pressure, we're not changing our mind set. That's something I feel strongly about, that [defensive coordinator] Paul [Pasqualoni] feels strongly about -- that we do have to continue our pressure there. But the results have been what it is. We have to change it. We have to change it. And the only way you can change it is you have to identify there's a problem back there."
So how do the Dolphins solve the problem? Well, realizing that it exists is a good first step.
"You can go and wear these big goggles right now and think because you won a football the other day, there's no problem," Sparano said. "The good news is we won a football game and we did finish the game. But that being said, We identified clearly that one of those situations that have to be taken care of."
So what is the next step?
"Only way you can do that is through practice," the coach said. "We have to finish in practice and carry that over into the game. We made a small positive this week in that in the New Orleans game, as a team, we did not finish the ballgame. But this weekened the defense was out there that final drive and we forced them into fourth and whatever it was and made the play. That's a postive step and an important step on our part."
INJURY REPORT: Linebacker Channing Crowder, who missed last week's game with a shoulder injury, was back at practice today but was limited. Jason Ferguson (elbow) was also limited in practice.
REPORTER-PLAYER EXCHANGE OF THE DAY:
Reporter: "Which runback was better, Ted?"
Ted Ginn Jr.: "Both of them."
Reporter: "Both of them were better?"