Remember when the preseason games was about your team and your agenda? Remember when the Dolphins didn't really game plan for opponents in the preseason, save perhaps the third preseason game that was the rehearsal for regular season?
Those days are gone.
Joe Philbin's Dolphins prep for their opponents. They put in plays for the Atlanta Falcons last week. And today they were putting in plays on offense and running scout team plays for the defense in anticipation of playing Tampa Bay on Saturday evening.
"We devoted a lot of time in the practice today to Tampa Bay and our preparation for the game," Philbin said. "The first three practices of the week were really focused on our own improvement, our own football team. But, we’ve got our game plan in and guys are excited about playing. They’re a good football team. They played well the other night. Their defense looked extremely good and we’re going to have to play well in Tampa."
I suppose it is a good thing the Dolphins are preparing for their opponent. They're bound to look, well, more prepared as a result.
But that means fans have to adjust the way they view their team's preseason performances -- especially if the other team isn't prepping for the Dolphins.
If the Dolphins prep, which they have, and look really good, we have to understand that's perhaps a result of that preparation. But if they prep and lay an egg ... well then, that's more worrisome than the team that looked off in part because it had no preparation.
It's a perspective thing.
Even in the days when Philbin says the team was worried about itself, that work should have an affect on Saturday night's second preseason game. The Dolphins, you see, have been quite concerned about their tackling. And so tackling has been a focus in practice this week.
“We’ve spent a lot of time on that this week," Philbin said. "That’s a big part of what we’re looking (to do). We want to see our team tackle better and we want to get off the field better on third down."
Last week the first team offense looked sharp and things could get better with Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline playing this week after taking last week off. Coach, however, want better work from the reserves and are eager to see Matt Moore perform for the first time this preseason.
"Offensively, it’s really consistency," Philbin said. "Again, our first group only had one drive and it was a good drive. But they didn’t play a ton of football. So we’re going to get them on the field a little bit more and we’re looking to see consistent production out of our offense. Obviously, we sputtered after that. We only scored, what three points the rest of the game. So we’ve got to be more productive and have more explosive plays on offense."
Other stuff: Philbin met with running back Knowshon Moreno Wednesday to discuss what he expects of the running back the remainder of preseason and get a feel for where Moreno feels he is physically after missing the first three weeks of training camp. Philbin says Moreno is looking like his old self in the run game but still isn't quite there in the pass game, which is interesting, considering the pass game is what Moreno is known for, particularly his blocking.
TE Michael Egnew missed the preseason opener while nursing a concussion. He has been practicing and is expected to play against Tampa Bay.