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Dolphins to run on the Vikings? Bet on it

To run the football ... or to not run the football. That is the question facing every team that plays the Minnesota Vikings. That is the question facing the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

The Vikings pride themselves, among other things, on being one of the NFL's best run-stopping defenses. They were No. 2 against the run in 2009 and folks in Minnesota were upset about because they were No. 1 against the run in 2008.

And in 2007.

And in 2006.

No. 1 against the run.

The Vikes boast the Burly Wall of Kevin Williams and Pat Williams inside and have an athletic set of linebackers. Perhaps that is the reason the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints basically decided not to try running the ball against the Vikings in the NFL season-opener -- at least not in the first half.

The Saints decided it was best to soften up the Vikings in the first half by throwing 21 times and running just three times. It wasn't until the second half when the Vikings were seemingly expecting the pass that New Orleans began to run. The Saints finished with 36 passes and 25 runs.

The Dolphins, however, aren't that type of team.

They are a run-first team. If you have any doubt about that consider that offensive coordinator Dan Henning said this week his dream would be to never pass the football.

"You want the honest-to-God's truth?" he said to me. "I'd like to line up and run the ball every down and get in the end zone on every drive. We'd go to the Super Bowl and we'd win. Without ever throwing!"

He added, "of course it doesn't happen that way," but that is what he'd love to do.

So what do the run-first Dolphins do when they run headlong into the best run-stopping team in the NFL the last four seasons?

I spoke to one offensive player this week who told me the answer is simple. The Dolphins will run.

"They're a physical defense. We're a physical offense," the player told me. "Let's see who is more physical. We're going to do what we do."

This should not come as a surprise. Last year the Dolphins faced a couple of Top 10 run-stopping teams -- the Jets and Steelers. And they tried to run the football. The results were mixed.

In the first meeting with New York, Miami rushed 36 times for 151 yards and a 4.2 yard per carry average. In the second meeting, the Jets obviously adjusted. Miami rushed 23 times for 52 yards and a 2.3 yard average. The Jets were the No. 8 rush defense in 2009.

The Dolphins rushed 25 times for 99 yards against the Steelers for a 4.0 average per rush. The Steelers were the No. 3 defense against the run in 2009.

I recognized this is a new year. The Dolphins have two new guards and Joe Berger is settling in at center. I recognize Ronnie Brown is healthy. I recognize Ricky Williams is a year older. Miami also has a star wide receiver option outside in Brandon Marshall that it didn't have a year ago. So yes, the dynamics have changed.

But has the philosophy changed in Miami? Are the Dolphins going to abandon running the ball just because Minnesota is perhaps the NFL's best run defense?

Um, I wouldn't count on that.


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I'm a geek...

Whsitling past the Graveyard, Rearranging the Titanic's deck chairs...........

or sheer Genius & Rugged Strength??

.........We'll know Sunday after 4pm./

I hope Henne plays smart, don't hold the ball.

run the ball and play defense. If they stack the box you have to take advantage of 1 on 1 with marshall

players who has to earn their money in MIN;

HENNE needs just to show up to earn his 600,000

we had a big chance to sign M.VICK on the cheap .big mistake .

fins .... 6

I think this is either a mistake on the Dolphins part or a smoke screen. I don't think you can beat the Vikings running the ball. The defence needs to step up and cause problems for Favre but I think the Vikings secondary is susceptibe to giving up the big play. It's time for guys like Hartline and Fasano to step up. I'd like to see some deeper passes to Marshall in the climate controlled dome. If you can account for Allen you can move the football on the Vikings. To simply try to run all day is a mistake that will end up costing us the game.

1st O play should a pro set, play action fake. Then hit Marshall deep down the left sideline (and don't under throw him). That would be great to see.

We were not able to run on the Bills...Enough said.
Time for Henne and the WRs to step up vs a banged up MIN secondary.

R.brown and ricky ran for 137 yards in buffalo's game Yann .

If it worked for the Saints... Why not try.
They won, did't they?

The only way Miami wins is by throwing the football. Brown and Williams might do ok but the Vikings will contain them.It's all on Henne if we're to win tomorrow...

Pound the football!!! We have a huge physucal line, if we can move the chains, eat clock and score some TDs then Favre spends more time sitting on the bench. their offense cant hurt us sitting on the sidelines

you have to throw the ball in this league to win. these people are still thinking its 1990.

I highly recommend, if y'all haven't watched Tony Suprano in his two pressers this week to go to the dolphins website and check it out. The guy is an amazing coach... quite a character, and, no doubt, one of the smartest football guys around...

Watching the buffalo game over and over, and interpolating between the Suprano take and what I see, wow, the Dolphins, assuming they continue to improve as can be expected, are going to be a difficult team to deal with... very professional, very physical, very intelligent... any team thinking they're an easy win is in for a surprise... some of the physical plays were just plain incredible, and you can tell they're all having fun at it...

it's a pleasure to watch, and I really thank both coach and team for providing that to us this year...

this talk about marshal and chemistry with Henne just shows how desperate these guys are to say something... Henne is giving his all, he's young, he's talented, and he will grow. I found it quite fascinating how Suprano say's 'he's not the finished product'... yea, there were a lot of guys open, but who's in a rush to get down the field?

chunk yards are great, but the fun in the game is watching first down after first down, pounding, and many times outsmarting the other team... chewing up the clock... now that is fun football... I love the 21 play 80 yard 10 minute touchdown drive, personally...

we win if;

Long does his job.
harvey doesn't play
nolan confuse the hell out of favre.
if the over paid players do their job;
sapp.........his first game vs his old team.

ooB.........A G R EE 100 percent .

i like the article. but run first vs vikes wont cut it... lets be real here. because vikes are solid on runD, Henning needs to get his head out his A S S and play this game "passFirst".
im confident our defense will be great. and also a punt/kick return would be GREAT!!!

Good Article Mando! Should Be A Good Game!!!!!!!!!!!

i really want to see playcalling on offense showing some
ballz. stop playing these chicken plays.cohones punieta!!!

They need to come out and punch favre right in the fckin mouth.

i love seeing people calling for deep long balls and when the interceptions happened they cry Wolf .

Why didn't we think of writing this?

So I'm in the scrub rounds of my fantasy football draft and I decide to take Hartline. Across from Marshall, he is sure to have some monster games that might help during some weeks. What does he do in the first week?! Big Fat ZERO!

I still have faith...I'll give him one more week.

I think the coaches only give him one more week too...

first play....action fake to Fasano down the seam! Touchdown!

The Omar and Mike name is still hilarious!!

we will go nowhere this season w The RunFirst BS. Henne to Marshall!!! he has a arm, use it.

"You want the honest-to-God's truth?" he said to me. "I'd like to line up and run the ball every down and get in the end zone on every drive. We'd go to the Super Bowl and we'd win. Without ever throwing!"

Sigh. I don't even no where to begin. It's well documented that there are a lot of us who think Henning is too old school to call plays in the NFL and now we have the proof.

In my opinion Chad Hennes worst enemy is Dan Henning. Until we get someone who actually realizes the NFL has become a pass first league Henne will be handcuffed. He will be forced to hand the ball off and dink and dunk his way down the field on ridiculous 17 play drives that deplete the offensive lines energy insuring they're tired in the fourth qtr of every game. He will not gain valuable experience reading deep zone and man coverages as his progress is stalled in a 1953 style run first offense.

And the fans will wrongly blame Henne. We have a QB with one of the top arms in the league and Henning refuses to utilize it. This guy needs to go in the offseason.

last yr we didnt have marshall so the excuse was no #1 wr. we hve him now.
because we play one game only ill give Henning a break. but vs vikings were gonna need more than 15 points.

nyscott, i agree completely! unless he changes his gameplan vs vikings...
Henning, im the one calling u chickenSh% .
show me this wkend u were born with Ballz.
Now! not later!!!!

i bet after that game vs bills. Marshall was sure denvers offense had more nutz playcaling. sorry with the negatives, i just want to play like a powerhouse or close to it. we have the talent....

NY Scott,

Totally agree with your take on Henning. I'm hopeful with Parcells taking a back seat now that Ireland and Sparano will be free to bring in some bright young guy to run the offence and not be stuck with one of Parcells cronies.

I actually was surprised how much the Dolphins threw last game. I was expecting just about all run the first few series. We'll see Sunday.

I've seen Home naked and me likes what I see.

If the run is there definitely run the ball. IMO i think we will have a tough time moving the chains without employing some sort of trickery (wildcat , fake punts, etc).

back when JJ was running the CANES he always had one high risk gambling play during any game (fake field goal or something). You have to take a risk somewhere in the game. I suppose nowadays coaches are held accountable (by the media) when those gambles don't payoff.

this game along, with GB and Baltimore, will be tough games to win on the road. hopefully the DEF can scores some points.


if we win this game some people will get a heart attack .2-0 then jets comes .never happened in the last 12 years .

I agree Miami has to run the ball but Minnesota doesn't have a very good secondary. They have Winfield who is old and coming off knee surgery and Lito Sheppard who is past his prime too. Their safety position is on a week to week basis with Tyrell Johnson and Husain Abdullah. Now the Vikings are able to hide some of those weaknesses with a great pass rush but the opportunities are going to be there for Brandon Marshall to make a few plays and if he isn't open because he is doubled throw him the damn ball anyway. If he ain't open someone else will be. I like Bess a lot this week. He could have a big game.

As far as running it's going to be tough but I expect to see more Wildcat this week and I'd expect at least 25 running plays total.

I agree with some of you guys. We do have the ability to run it well, and we do run it well, but its time to pass the ball. Of course, I doubt any of us would like a Run N Gun offense like the Colts or the Saints... Our offense is just not built to work that way. What is it built for though? I say a more balanced pass attack. Sort of like the Ravens, Falcons and a perfect example, the early 2000's Patriots with young Tom Brady. What does an offense like this do? First off it keeps defenses honest, and it allows more flexible risk taking. Second of all, you are developing a young QB. Opening things up with a balanced run, and giving him his chances and confidence with balanced pass. You will see that successful elite QB's were built through balanced attacks (Tom Brady, Donovan McNabb, Tony Romo, yes even Peyton Manning). Some are still works in progress (Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco). While other QB's are just starting to gain there elite statuses. A perfect example would be Phillip Rivers, who run a balanced attack along with Ladanian Tomlinson. This allows him to learn and see things without putting to much weight on his shoulders. I think Miami is trying to run this kind of offense, but their not trusting Chad Henne yet. These early games will give him the chance to set Miami up to run the Balanced attack im talking about. Its exactly on the right time as well, I think they will be looking for a young explosive Running Back next year to go along with Chad Henne assuming he can develop to a decent 200Yard 2,TD man from game to game. I hope Dan Henning is trying to to implement this idea, our RB's are getting old and like I stated earlier we might be looking for another explosive Runningback next year. If you don't let Chad Henne progress, expect seeing the same questions and no answers for years to come. If he blossoms, we are set with a really nice offense for a couple of years, then we can make a transition to an Elite Passing attack 3 years down the road. Get it done tomorrow guys, this might be the game were you can elevate your selfs to contention status and boost Henne's confidence for further progress.

dreams come true . henne wins tomorrow .he gets a raise from 600,000 to lousy 3 million this year .30 percent of what the 50 million man makes .

I'm not going to go as far as saying the Vikings secondary is a bad one. In fact the jury is still out. They did a good job against Drew Brees and were only picked apart after the Saints started running the ball a little. They have guys playing out of position, and may get some players back this week. We have to try and run the ball. Even if we are getting a doughnut, and avereraging less then 3.5 a carry we will get lambasted if Henne has to throw 40 times. That is not our style of offense. Don't forget, we don't use the pass like some teams use the pass, as an extended run play. I'm not saying don't try and take a few shots down the field(deep on the first play would be sweet, or Marshall early, and often) but none of this is going to happen if don't try and pound it. This will no doubt be a contest of physical will. A gfame that turns into an offensive shootout favors them, a game that is a grinding low scorer favors us.

In reading the comments made by some of you, I've come to realize, I shouldn't read your comments...especially yours Yann, and your NYScott. You oviously don't know the Dolphins are a power football team. Power football is line up, sock you in the mouth, running football. The type that controls the clock. I love it. I'm with Dan Henning..Run all day long if it works. If it doesn't then Marshall earns his money. Until then, let him block. That's Dolphin Football....Coach Sporano, do your thing. Coach Nolan, make that D strong and lets count the wins

Marshall,Bess and Fasano have all been impressive now if Hartline can get it together the Min secondary would be in for a long day.

miami's run game and wildcat is great. and they should play smashmouth football.
like Darryl dunphy said
earlier. if its a grinding kindof game were favored and i agree. but if its a shootout were in big trouble... now i might be the only one here but that my friend is a BIG PROBLEM. and it needs to change tomorrow.
Reminder: we have Brandon Marshall!!!!!!
this really gets under my skin. we need to throw down the feild.followed by a completed catch that is. GoPhins! All day baby, all Day!

PS..... because of how our team is used, our D has to show up all day in order to win games because our offense isnt Built to score high points. our players are ready but the coaches have a different plan for them. if what im saying is true. then get ready for alot of nail biting games.

The Dolphins are going to throw the ball. This will be like that 2nd game against New England last year. They're just going to drop back and throw the ball.

There's no reason not to. Minnesota's great up front and weak in the secondary. If you don't have the flexibility to throw the ball against a team like the Vikings, then you're not going to win in the NFL. The Dolphins don't have a top 5 defense. They're going to have to score a lot of points in to win a few games this year. Minnesota figures to be one of those games.

I still ain't sold the doofins can beat anybody yet including the JRTS.
Run on the Vikings? don't make me laugh if you remember the last game they had -10 yds rushing for the game. I'm not sold on miami's awfulensive line with incognito and a rookie.
In fact thier entire team stinks from top to bottom.

i hate dan henning he is the worst OC we need to be a 50 run 50pass team this year becuz in the next few years when henne is developed and a star we will have to be a passing team becuz we would need the ball in his hands cuz he would so good.

thank god we have dan henning. he knkws the secret to the superbowl: run on every play if you can. just like the two sb teams last year. the colts and the saints. IDIOT.

mando how much to take henning out just name ur price ill pay it.

Inamounts- The Colts have Payton Manning so to compare the Phins to the Colts at this point is ludacrous. The Myth about the Saints is that they are a pure passing team, well perhaps, but look at their stats from last year,and the run to pass ratio was really close, and through the playoffs was even. Last week it wasn't untill the Saints started to run the ball that they were able to establish the pass(except the opening drive) We are a team looking for balance, we must try and run the ball to get that balance. It is not in this teams DNA to chuck it all over the field. Now, if Henne has to pass the ball 30-40 times we are screwed. This is not a recipe for victory, not for this game, in the environment in which they will be in tommorow. The argument that running the ball makes lineman tired in the fourth quarter is comical as well. Everyone is tired in the 4th quarter, but if you have played football, you have it drilled in your head that thats where games are won, and as a lineman you want to be running the ball in the 4th quarter, as a lineman you want to be running the ball because frankly it is easier than pass blocking.

There is a difference in approach here. Alot of you think the Dolphins should throw the ball more and abandon the running game. Some think they should continue running. I say, keep running. So what last years superbowl featured 2 passing teams. Check the history. Running teams have won more. There is nothing like power football. That's why Parcells has been so successful. If this were basketball, you who think Miami should pass more would be like..Vlade Divac or Greg Ostertag or Bol. Yes, you would win but Shaq will win more and smash you in the chops doing so. Miami is build for power. Ronnie and Ricky and our OL=power rushing. That's our strengh. I'm not saying don't throw, you have to in todays NFL but throwing more than running is a recipy for disaster. You arm chair quarterbacks and fair weather fans should get on-board instead of shouting out what you would do. Support the team and the coaching staff man, so far they're undefeated.

Even Henning can't change two basic truths about offensive football: 1) the run sets up the pass and the pass sets up the run 2)Always play a strength against a weakness. Running against a team with a good front seven but a weak secondary just isn't good football.

Also folks talk about the development of Chad Henne. You don't develop QB's by letting them throw the ball 40 time on the road, against a team that doesn't lose, or give up points in their crib. You ruin their development. Look at any great Qb, and those Qb's had teams that could run it early in those said careers. You cannot just go into this game and throw it around the park, and chalk it up to Hennes development. What happens next is we are drafting another qb down the road. Let this team be who it is, and if we evolve into a team that the pass becomes our strenght cool. But right now it's not, why force it?

Henning's idea of a pass play: Henne rolls out and completes a 3 yard pass. Takes forever to develope, giving the D time to cover (Henne's not exactly a speed merchant) which results in O YAC. But it must be his favorite pass play because he calls it all the time.

Why does everyone think that Minn has a weak secondary? They played a fired up New Orleans team on opening night very tough, you could argue that it was the front 4 that didn't get the job done in that game. Last year they only had 2 games where they gave up 300 yards through the air, and in one of those games the Packers gained a lot of those yards in the 4th quarter when the game was out of hand. Sure they have guys out of position, and some injuries. But I would hardly call their secondary weak.

Wow! most of you guys dont have a clue about whats going on with this team! for those of you who think we should just pass pass pass are not very bright at all! just becaused we have the BEAST shouldnt mean we need to pass more! henne is not ready to throw game in and game out and lead us to victory! henne has to many fixable flaws right now and until he straighten them out we should continue to do what we' ve been doing! yes playcalling leave us scratching our heads but throwing every down when the qb holds the ball to long will only have us playing catch up! i believe some game we should use the pass to set up the run but i dont think this is one of them! the vike dline is stout vs. the run and a handful on passing downs, we need to mix our offense up no matter down and distance! i syked to see our defense in action sunday! i expect blitzs up the middle and a few corner blitzs too! what im most interested in, is our run defense! we've shut down some top backs preseason and the bills game, now AP turn!30-10

Dolphins 30 Vikes 10

Actually, I think we do one thing pretty well that will work against min. we can dink and dunk. too bad we don't have camarillo for added support in this. I am not joking, as I think this will frustrate their game and open things up.

Amazing fans are so on Henne's back. He is first yr. starting QB. and he is a smart guy.. He listens to what he is told to do. And wins alot of games for us. People need to realize that and lay off him if they truly want a team this year that is stable and growing. Henne does not call the plays. Also, he really has had alot of drops. Best for us to support our team instead of ripping them apart!!

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