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The view from the pressbox on Fins-Panthers

It was by every definition a good outing for the Dolphins Friday night. The detractors might point to the Carolina Panthers being the NFL's worst team a year ago or scratching 16 players from this game, or starting a rookie quarterback.

I would point to a 20-10 victory in which the first team offense and defense looked good.

Great? No.

Good? Absolutely.

You cannot blame the Dolphins for the opponent's flaws.

"Yeah, this is just a chekpoint for us," Brandon Marshall said after making his preseason debut. "Every week you want to get better, we want to grow as an offense, we want to gel a little more as a team. We know our goal and we know where we want to be every week. We know where we want to be at the end of the season. It's important for us to not hang off the rafters when we win and not put our head in the dumpster when we lose. That pertains to every play, not just the game."

Fair perspective. It also brings up the fact that because coordinator Brian Daboll's offense is still so new to this group, you won't see their best work until "the end of the season," as Marshall said.

That means the Dolphins have to be good on offense early and rise to a higher level later on. It could happen.

The Dolphins showed improvement on several fronts:

The line blocking looked better than it did a week ago against Atlanta in that, hey, there were some holes this week when the first teamers were in the game! And Reggie Bush used them to his benefit.

Bush rushed eight times for 48 yards. He also caught two passes for 33 yards, a stellar 16.5 yard per catch average. As I wrote in my column for today's Miami Herald, Bush's Dolphins debut was not only successful but a thing that captured the imagination of fans starved for a playmaker. Please do a brother a favor and check out the column as that is how I feed my family and we ain't had no breakfast this morning yet.

One thing that did not make the final cut of the column that I will say here: Bush proved something last night. He proved all his work -- both during practice and afterward -- is paying off. He proved his got not only speed but defense-deflating toughness, which is a great combination.

What else does he have to prove?

I say the Dolphins should give him the rest of the preseason off. See you Sept. 12 against the Patriots.

Why?

I remind you Bush is Miami's most dynamic playmaker in that he doesn't rely on others as heavily to get his as does, say, Marshall. He has a history of getting hurt. The Dolphins are going to use him plenty during the season. Why waste a proven vet in preseason?

I also remind you that this preseason alone, running backs Ryan Williams, Mikel LeShoure, Ben Tate and Montario Hardesty have already suffered season-ending injuries. Why expose Bush to that in meaningless games? Why expose him to pulled groins, or tweaked ankles, or strained hamstrings in inconsequential games?

He gets plenty of carries in practice. He's involved in plenty of collisions in those. He then works overtime after practically every single practice. He's in great shape. He's not a rookie who has to adjust to the speed of the game. Lather him up, to use a Tony Sparano term, in practice where you can control the violence a bit. But in more preseason games?

Why risk him?

(Rant over).

The offensive line had a nice night last night except for the four penalties -- three of them on Lydon Murtha. Those can be drive killers and must be eliminated. Those are about discipline and being in the moment mentally. Not acceptable.

Chad Henne was good last night. That is the truth and that is what I will always try to give you. I'm not going to gush and tell you he was great because he wasn't. He was good. He completed 15 of 24 passes for 194 yards without a TD or INT.

The good: He got Brandon Marshall involved early and often. He kept plays alive both with his patience and shuffling in the pocket and with his feet, running downfield for a total of 20 yards. That part was outstanding. His accuracy was good on short to medium range passes. His shining moment, I thought, was on the play where protection broke down, the snap from center was high, he tipped it, caught it, he moved around, kept his eyes downfield, and found Anthony Fasano for a 38-yard completion. That kind of play from a quarterback can feel like a dagger to the heart of the defense. Excellent.

The not-good: He threw a first-quarter pass to Brian Hartline who had man coverage down the sideline that was inaccurate in that it was overthrown and out of bounds, but in so doing he missed an uncovered Brandon Marshall who lined up in the slot and was covered by NOBODY. If Henne had looked for Marshall, who was lined up inside of Hartline, that play would have gone for a 25-yard gain and possibly more. He missed a wide open Hartline in the second quarter on a post pattern around the goal line and threw instead to Daniel Thomas out of bounds on a pass that was almost intercepted. He missed Clyde Gates streaking wide open downfield for what might have been the play of the night -- a 63-yard bomb behind double coverage. (Great job by Gates blowing the top of the secondary on that one, but he can't throw the ball to himself, too.)

Nonetheless, Henne showed progress. That's important.

“I mean, obviously, we moved the ball pretty well down there, got some big plays in certain situations," Henne said. "I have to watch the film, there’s some mistakes out there we’ll correct them. It’s good to get a win at home and start a run that way and winning at home that’s pretty important to us right now.

"Definitely gives you confidence, especially at home. Previous years we haven’t won a lot of games at home and get off to a start path, we’re trying to build a tradition here where this is our home field and we want to take advantage and play well here and it’s a good step for that.”

It would be nice if Henne got some more help from his tight end. Fasano caught two passes but dropped another one right in his hands, same as he did last week. If Fasano is going to catch only 66 percent of the passes that hit him in the hands, that is not good. He's got to do some work on the jugs, something I've not seen him do.

Defensively, the Dolphins forced Carolina to punt seven times. That's good.

The Dolphins limited the Panthers to 25 percent conversion rate on third down. That's good.

Carolina only had 68 net rushing yards. That's great!

Miami's leading tacklers were inside linebackers Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby, who each had four tackles. That suggests the Dolphins didn't allow runners to reach the secondary and force, say, Yeremiah Bell, Miami's leading tackler the past couple of years, to make the tackle. It also suggests the Dolphins didn't need to bring Bell down into the tackle box to help against the run. Bell had only one tackle.

Yes, safety Reshad Jones also had four tackles, but he played primarily with the second team. Burnett and Dansby were done for the night by that time.

“The defense, that’s understandable we had to have a better performance than we did last week," Dansby said. "We were in front of the home crowd so were just trying to build something here, win our home games and just hit on all cylinders. We did that tonight we had fun and we were flying around because people were saying we were playing uninspired football, we saw the quotes...we saw everybody was talking about so we tried to give you a show today.”

Oh, the corners were dominant. Vontae Davis and Sean Smith locked down Carolina's WRs. No, Steve Smith did not play. Not their fault. They did work against the Carolina receivers they faced. 

Overall, we saw a team get better. The Dolphins made progress from their first preseason game to their second. If they continue to get better every week, things are going to be good in 2011. I hope.

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DB-
I noticed you're copying ALoco with all caps now. What gives?

White Lightning (aka Hartline) is going to strike hard and often this season.

Gonna get drunk man, I'm gonna get high. Give me one Scotch (Marshall), one Bourbon (Bess), one moonshine. Keep the beer (Fasano would just drop it anyway).

Its about time Henne started showing off that cannon of an arm, great to see it.

With Pouncey seeming to get more comfortable playing the center position and as his play improves. Less pressure up the middle means Henne will have more time to step up in the pocket on pass plays.

No passer, no matter how hof bound, can perform great with consistent pressure coming from the middle of his oline. Barring major injury I believe this current oline will begin to hit its stride around gm 4 and forward.

Pouncey's still sort of a work in progress in shotgun snaps. But other than that he's making great strides with each practice and preseason game. Should he continue this trend he'll at least be in the pro bowl conversation for afc centers.

We havent even been able to have a center in pro bowl conversation since Dwight Stephenson. Im really becoming impressed with this kid Pouncey.

I'm not sure if there are any FA TE's left to nab. Maybe a trade for one of our many DL? A reliable TE combined with all the other weapon...wow!

fins72,

ALL CAPS are just to make sure the a-holes and lameasses out there dont miss those posts! LOL...

fins72,

Im just hoping Clay is up to full speed in the offense by game 4. Then Fasano can become primarily used as a blocker instead of a reciever.

Remember, Clay comes in as a raw rookie and has to learn 3 different offensive positions as a H'back. Coupled with the much shortened offseason due to the cba lockout. Im giving him up to game 4 to become fully up to speed on all 3 positions he needs to learn to master.

For Charles Clay, coming in as a rookie and learning to be proficient at 3 different positions is a feat in itself even if it wasnt a cba shortened offseason.

Once Clay gets up to full speed I expect Fasano to become less and lesser of a passing target. He's still a great blocking TE which may be his only saving grace as a Dolphin for right now.

NOTICE HOW DB CRITICIZES ARMANDO BUT THEN STEALS ALL OF ARMANDOS POSTS AND WRITES THEM AS THOUGH THEY WERE HIS IDEAS. HE WAITS A WEEK UNTIL HE THINKS THE BLOGGERS DON'T REMEMBER ARMANDOS PAST BLOGS AND THEN ACTS LIKE HE IS SPOUTING HIS OPINION.

DB-
You're right about Clay. I think everybody keeps forgetting about him, because he was a 6th rd'er. He may help in the pass game a lot as he learns the playbook. 3 positions to learn for a rookie is amazing.

Barring serious injury look for the Dolphins offense to become a force to be reckoned with in the 2nd half of the season. By then they'll be even more familiar with the new offense and Im already liking the way DaBoll calls plays.

WFT,

Go way back to some of my previous posts and dates. Then compare them with the dates Armando made these blogs idiot. You'll find I said many of these things well before Armando mentioned them lameass!

Get off of your lazyass and actually thorughly research. You'll find Armando actually plagurized me you baffling idiot!!!LOL.....

YES SIR, by the 2nd half of the season, the new offense could be humming along nicely.

Reggie Bush is going to be a blast to watch, right?

I HEAR PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT MONEY.

DOES THAT MAKE YOU WHO YOU ARE?

DB

CALL ME IDIOT AND ANY OTHER NAME.

FACT: ALL YOUR BUSH COMMENTS ABOUT THE DEFENSE NEEDING TO ACCOUNT FROM HIM CAME ONE WEEK AFTER ARMANDO WROTE THEM HERE. I WON'T BOTHER DIGGING UP ALL THE OTHER EXAMPLES SINCE WE BOTH KNOW THAT YOU DO IT.

WFT,

Anyone here knows almost anything positive Armando blogs I've mentioned most well before he ever blogged them. It's your lazy dumbass who sits behing the 8-ball.

Story of your life, isnt it? Your never in front of anything except for gross mediocrity itself! LOL....

Check out this report on NFL.com about Reggie Bush:

» Reggie Bush will be a difference maker in Miami. The sixth-year pro put on an exceptional display of skill during his debut performance with the Dolphins. Bush tallied 81 total yards on 10 touches, and flashed the speed, quickness and burst of an explosive weapon out of the backfield. As a runner, he attacked the line of scrimmage quickly and displayed nifty footwork slipping through cracks. His ability to elude defenders in the hole is exceptional, and he showed toughness while finishing his runs with authority. The Dolphins took advantage of Bush in the passing game by frequently aligning him as a slot receiver in their spread and empty formations. Given the middle of the field to work with, Bush had his way with Panthers defenders on option routes, providing quarterback Chad Henne a high-percentage target on third downs. Although it is tough to accurately gauge the Dolphins' plans for Bush based on one preseason appearance, it is obvious that his combination of skills will make Miami's offense more explosive in 2011.

WFT,

Lazyass, click on blue, go threw all of my comments. Then compare dates to when I said certain things compared to what Armando later blog.

I warn you that if you lie I will go threw them myself and and expose you for the full idiot you are for all to see!!! LOL...

The same page at NFL.com has a video of one of Reggie's runs last night...WOW! I promise there are not many backs in the history of the NFL who could have made this run.

If he stays healthy, we have ourselves a SERIOUS threat at RB. Rejoice Fins fans!

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d8219a2b2/article/beck-shows-command-of-skins-system-browns-mccoy-sharp?module=HP11_cp


Lots of positives from yesterday's game. Offense looked good. Defense looked good. Good to see some really progress.
Henne is progressing nicely. He showed he's gaining a solid command of the offense. He displayed some excelllent pocket presencce and was making tidecions with authority. I don't understand those who blasted him last week. Go back and watch the film. He was actually pretty good. Considering it was first game in a new offense, operating under a compressed off-season, having some brutal drops, not having his number one, and an o-line thta looked awful, he did very well. again, very good decion making, which you can't unerestimate in importance for a qb.
Yesterday, he was getting better results because he had all his tools and the o-line started to gel (can only get better when Long, the best LT in the game, returns). he missed one deep ball (the other one to Hilliard was a greta and smart play) and made one bad decision.
I'm not knocking Matt Moore at all but what I saw from many in the media last week was borderline funny. All the talk that Moore was really impressive, that players in he locker room wanted a change, that there was a chance he would start was laughable. Moore was ok but nothing even close to challenging Henne. the media was just stirring up controversy, trying to appease those in dolphinland who want a change at qb. And those who think Moore deserves to start ahead of Henne are just continuing a long history of unreasoble expectations by dolfans. fans need to understand that qb development takes time-i was preaching it with beck when he was here. Henne looked very good. If he continues developing at this rate, we have an excellent chance of making playoffs and making some noise.
o-line looked much better. there were a few penalties but i liked what saw from murtha and pouncey especially. Pouncey has great awareness and moves well. murtha has some speed to and was able to get to second level-carey and incognito are very slow but won't be asked to do too much pulling.
Rbs looked good. Bush is clearly a force-not sure he can carry load though. Thomas looked good, especially after he got a few carries under his belt. he made a big mistake at goal-line but redeemed himself with some nice runs.
Wideouts looked good. Bess is an amaziing route runner-real student. He always finds space. Marshall seems quicker this year. He just looks more dangerous. Hartline is sneaky quick. I was a little concerned with a bobble, where he almost lost it-he had too many of those last year.TEs need to step it up, including Fasano. If he does, this o could be very dangerous.
As for the defense, they looked like they tightened up quite a bit since the Atlanta game. Again, hard to compare last week to thi week, but there were some positive signs. Burnett and Dansby look like they are getting more comfortable with each other. Depth on d-line is really showing itself. i thought Edds had another solid game, although he did whiff badly on one tackle attempt. but good to see we have a little insurance/depth at ilb, which i think is a little light.
CB is also deep this season but i do have to say Sean Smith continues to trouble me with his inability to tackle. It was a huge problem last year and he just doesn't seem to want to get his nose dirty> he needs to learn from his partner, VD, who became one of my favourite fins last year-i love his compete. jones looked a lot better yesterday. against ATL, he looked lost.
All in all, this was a good game for the fins. They accomplished a lot. it's only one step in the process, but we moved forward this week. We'll see if it continues in Tampa.

Hardesty & Tate suffered season-ending injuries in the preseason LAST year, not this year. But yes, point taken.

Actually my brother Seminole prefers his boyfriends tube steak sausage

Phinfreak Henne did ok not great, and apparently still stares at receivers and don't see guys open when the play is call to go elsewhere, that means he doesn't anticipate throws, like the great ones, if they play is call to a slot receiver and you have one on one on the outside than chance throw to that particular receiver... And that's the issue he has, and Henne needs more practice time throwing the long ball with accuracy!! Can he become better in those areas...I just don't know who knows not even the PHINS know!

Ray,
Reading the field is not his strenght, and I agree that the great ones do this well. But he is improving-he went through his progressions better this week than I've seen him do before. His pocket presence was very good though.

hey mando, quit micromanaging every god damn play numbnuts! It makes you look childish.

Mando, Correct, one cannot use Carolina's record against the Dolphins but u can use it as a yard stick and that doesnt boad well for the Dolphins. Henne should have carved up Carolina for 4 TDs, but he missed two deep which is his MO. And that will be the crux of the Dolphin offense, almost but not good enough.

so armamdo, if the pre season is meaningless, as you say when speaking of sitting Bush, why do you take the time to say the team looked so bad last week? it's meaningless right?

Tate and Hardesty haven't suffered season ending injuries. That was last preseason.

Haters take it back while there's still time. I told you Henne will have a breakout year, and I am right.

cut fasano before he costs us a game or 2 which could be the difference between 10 or 8 wins and playoffs.

and he's not even working on his catching? I caught better than him when I was 14 years old.

gawd seminole sam is a moron

THE DOLPHINS, LOL! U WIN ONE PRESEASON GAME BECAUSE THE OTHER TEAM ISNT EVEN TRYING AND THIS WRITER ACTS LIKE WE SHOULD START GIVING OUT TROPHIES NOW, DAMN IT MAN! YOU HAVE CHAD HENNEENNENENENNE NOW ! JUST THINK YOU COULDNT WIN A SUPERBOWL WITH DAN THE MAN MARINO BUT BECAUSE YOU HAVE BOOBOO PRONE RB IN THE LINEUP AND A MAN THAT DOESNT KNOW IF HIS WIFE STAB HIM OR NOT AND NOW EVERYTHINGS BETTER! ALL IM SAYING IS JUST LIKE I TELL OTHER EAGLES FANS DONT START GETTIN EXCITED OVER A NAME OR A PRESEASON WIN!!!! SEE U IN THE SUPERBOWL, NOT!!! MAYBE IN 2060!! HAHA LOL BY THE WAY THE SUCKY PANTHERS HAVE A BETTER CHANCE OF THE PLAYOFFS THAN THE FINS!!

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