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2 posts from September 13, 2013

September 13, 2013

Friday afternoon buffet of factoids and thoughts

The weekend is almost here and there are still interesting things happening at practice while the folks at ProFootballFocus.com continue to feed me more material so that I can, in turn, feed you.

Here goes:

First, Colts starting running back Vick Ballard is out for the rest of the season after he suffered a knee injury in practice on Thursday. Coach Chuck Pagano said the injury was non-contact in nature in that Ballard put his foot in the ground and the knee gave out. Colts owner Jim Irsay said the team has placed Ballard on injured reserve.

That means the Colts are obviously lessened. Donald Brown and Ahmad Bradshaw are now asked to carry the load for Indianapolis. Kerwynn Williams will also be promoted from practice squad.

As to the Dolphins:

Jamar Taylor continues to sit out practice with his hernia/groin issue. Obviously, as he has not practiced in two weeks, he's nowhere near ready to play. At best, I would guess he'll be ready just prior to or after the bye. At best.

Dimitri Patterson (groin) was at practice today and will play, as has been reported here previously.

[Update: Patterson was limited in practice all week and is listed as questions, but again, he'll play. Wille Davis (toe) was limited in practice the whole week but is listed today as out, along with Pat Devlin (ankle) and Taylor].

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said right guard Danny Watkins, signed a week ago, "has been in the building a lot" trying to learn the Miami system. That's a good thing. But there are currently no plans to have Watkins replace John Jerry in the starting lineup.

The folks at ProFootballFocus continue to send me more material to pass along to you.

Today's offerings:

QB Ryan Tannehill had the lowest accuracy percentage of any quarterback when under pressure in Week 1.

RB Lamar Miller had 0.0 "Elusive Rating" and didn’t force a missed tackle on any of his 10 rushes

Left tackle Jonathan Martin was 55th out of 65 tackles in Pass Blocking Efficiency in Week 1

Cameron Wake was second in Pass Rush Productivity for 4-3 DEs after leading the league in total pressures.

If you read this blog, you saw Ryan Tannehill answer the Mike Wallace situation of a week ago by promising he would not force the football to the $60 million receiver no matter how much folks want the two becoming a great pitch and catch combination.

Philbin today seemed to give his quarterback some cover on the topic when he said Tannehill's "decision-making was good" in a game he only threw to Wallace five times.

"I thought the ball was going to the right spot throughout the course of the game," Philbin said.

That's interesting because if the quarterback is doing the right thing and making good decisions and that yields only five targets of Mike Wallace, something is amiss in the Dolphins scheme that so easily allows an opposing defense to eliminate the team's deep threat.

This will require more attention going forward.

Finally, the NFL tells me defensive tackle Randy Starks will not be fined by the league for his one-finger salute of the Miami sideline during last Sunday's game at Cleveland. The league says it is a team matter and thus the Dolphins are free to fine or not fine Starks as they deem correct.


Patriots play Jets and Dolphins win

If you watched the New England Patriots beat the New York Jets, 13-10, on Thursday night you know the Patriots are atop the AFC East with a 2-0 record.

And you also know that you're not impressed.

Simply, everyone expected the Jets to be a sub-par team struggling through the 2013 season with a rookie quarterback. And Geno Smith's three interceptions, 27.6 quarterback rating and numerous poor throws did nothing to change that expectation.

But did we all really, truly expect the Patriots to look so bad?

Did we expect the New England offense that has been something of a machine the past decade to seem so, so, putrid?

Consider that Tom Brady completed only 19 of 39 passes for 189 yards. It was the first game he was under 50 percent completion rate since 2009. But it wasn't so much his statistics that tell the story, rather the total inability of the Patriots to put a competent receiver on the field.

I mean, when Julian Edelman is your star, your personnel department (Bill Belichick) should be ashamed. And, indeed, Edelman led the Patriots with 13 receptions for 78 yards. Modest, at best. And yet, he was the offensive star for the Patriots.

Rookies Aaron Dobson (four drops) and Kenbrell Tompkins (two receptions on seven targets) have a lot of growing up to do. They've got much work to do to be merely average.

As I tweeted to my Twitter followers, when Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline said in the spring that Miami has the best wide receiver corps in the AFC East, he was absolutely right.

And this:

While both the Jets and the Patriots will likely do some growing and improving, neither seems scary. Neither seems impressive. The Dolphins look as good or better than both those teams right now.

The AFC East is wide open.

(Peanut Gallery: But Mando, Rob Gronkowski is coming back in a week or two and Danny Amendola will be back in two to six weeks, according to the NFL Network).

Yes, gallery, you are correct. But both of those players are walking injury reports. I would not be surprised if Amendola tweaked a hamstring while watching the game on his couch Thursday night.

Look, you know I'm a straight shooter. I tell you what I think even when it's not what you want to hear. So hear this: The Patriots are not elite anymore. Brady is still great. But he has no weapons right now.

The Patriots continue to have an oppotunistic defense and the offensive line still protects Brady quite well. But there is no running game to speak of, the defense still doesn't have a premier pass rusher, and again, Brady has no playmaker to throw the football to right now.

They can be had.

The Jets?

I will say the New York front seven seems solid. Their offensive line is solid.

But Smith is over his head right now. Their receiver corps counts on Clyde Gates (yes that Clyde Gates) to make plays and that's the same guy NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin said he'd cut on the spot right after this game. New York's special teams, so long a strength with assistant Mike Westhoff at the helm, also seems disorganized right now.

Yes, the Dolphins fan suddenly has to be encouraged.

Yes, the Dolphins look as good or better than either of these teams right now.