By now you know Joe Philbin was asked what he's looking for tonight as the Dolphins play the Jacksonville Jaguars in their second preseason game. "Fast start," he said.
That was it.
I sort of get it. Last week in the preseason opener against Dallas, the Dolphins got off to anything but a fast start. The starting defense gave up some yardage that flipped the field on the opening drive and then the offense, starting from their 9 yard line, fumbled on their first play.
The Cowboys then converted the turnover into a touchdown.
And that was after the Dolphins defense picked up a pass interference penalty in the end zone. And it soon became 17-0.
So, yes, the Dolphins don't want to make a habit of starting that slow anytime, not even in the preseason.
But as Philbin says he's looking for a fast start, I'm looking for more.
How about flipping the turnover margin? The Dolphins have invested a lot of time and energy and focus on winning the turnover battle every game this season. They preach ball security to the offense. They preach stripping and intercepting and taking the ball away to the defense. They even have footballs hanging in every defensive meeting room hanging from walls and alike so that players punch at them and get used to snatching them.
Well, last week, the Dolphins lost the turnover margin to Dallas. And two of those -- the Lamar fumble and an interception by Matt Moore that was returned 75 yards for a score -- led to points for Dallas.
So the focus the team has put on turnovers needs to start paying dividends.
From a team perspective I also would like better tackling. The tackling was bad last week. It was, as noted earlier on this blog, so bad that Dallas gained 93 rushing yards after contact on the Dolphins. That's got to get cleaned up before the season.
And then there is the rush defense. Last week the Cowboys gained 170 rushing yards. No, Randy Starks didn't play. Neither did Jared Odrick or Olivier Vernon or Dannell Ellerbe. I expect all of those except Starks to play today. With Maurice Jones-Drew not playing tonight for Jacksonville, the situation is set for the Dolphins to improve their defense against the run.
[BLOG NOTE: Check back later for the live blog and I'll update you on the status of Mike Wallace for the game.]