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Week 12: Dolphins at Broncos
KNOWSHON MORENO IS A BEAST
Sure, it was just one game, but what we saw in the Patriots game and in his preseason game is that Knowshon Moreno is going to be a monster for the Dolphins this season.
Entering 2014, just about every NFL Analyst ballyhooed Bill Belichick's defense as being the best that he's had in many years and expected big things. What we witnessed was Moreno running over Patriot defenders very reminiscent of the 2002 version of Ricky Williams that averaged 4.8 ypc.
Not only did Moreno run for 134 yards at a 5.6 ypc clip, but you could see the impact that he was making on his teammates. Mike Wallace started to invite contact trying to pound for extra yards after the catch, and you could see Lamar Miller turn up his game in the second half running harder than we've ever seen him run before.
The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson reported that Moreno's teammates were also fired up by his sideline behavior as he worked the crowd.
Want to amuse Dolphins players? Just ask them about Knowshon Moreno’s strange behavior during games. (Hey, whatever works.)
Let Ryan Tannehill explain it: “When it’s a TV timeout and we’re all sitting in the huddle talking with each other and he’s five yards away, flexing and looking into the crowd, it’s different,” Tannehill said today. “I’ve never been around anyone that does that. It’s kind of fun. I look at him and I’m like, ‘Guys, do you see this guy?’ They’re like, ‘Yeah, he’s out there.’ He’s kind of off on his own, talking to himself, staring off into the crowd, but he’s intense. He’s focused on what he has to do, he runs hard and I love it. I love being in the huddle with him.”
If he continues to play this hard you have to understand why Moreno never seems to last a full season in the NFL. He just plays too darn physical, and you can't take that away from him. He is who he is, and we fans love it!
DION JORDON COULD BE REINSTATED
Jordan could be immediately reinstated once the new drug policy is approved by the NFLPA and the NFL. Something does need to be done as players are looking for an edge to play better but there are so many rules in place that it is easy to fail a drug test. I will be interested to see what the rule will be for amphetamines as the use of Adderol will give a player a 4 week unpaid vacation. While Adderol is needed for ADHD, players are using it to enhance their play by helping them focus better and react faster to plays. That's where it gets complicated.
So, let's hope that both Dion Jordan and Rashad Jones can be reinstated. I still have high hopes for Jordan despite his lackluster effect during the perseason. He has worked hard off the field, so, that should translate on the field.
PHILILP WHEELER, WHERE DID YOU GO?
After former GM Jeff Ireland signed Phillip Wheeler to that big contract last year, a lot was expected of him. After seeing Wheeler out of position much of last year, over-pursuing, whiffing on tackles ... what was Ireland thinking? Well, Pro Football Focus ranked him as the #1 pass rushing outside linebacker that they've ever ranked in their system and also rated him as having the 6th best game ever in their system. I think you can see what Ireland was thinking that he would provide: containment on the outside and an excellent blitzer on passing downs.
6. Philip Wheeler, 2012 – WK 3, PIT @ OAK: +7.2
Pass Rush: +0.8, Coverage: +5.9, Run Defense: +0.4, Penalties: +0.1
Rising from mere obscurity to a starring role on his team’s defense. That’s what happened to Wheeler in 2012 as he made a name for himself in Raider Nation. He made a series of big plays in coverage ranging from forcing fumbles, to a pass defense, and some tackles for short gains that eliminated any doubts about his ability to be an every down player.
With him being active for tomorrow's Bills game, I would expect to see him used in providing pressure in passing downs. Keep in mind that he looked good in the preseason at this role. Everything was back to 2013.
"Who was that masked man" digging into his bag of tricks and showing that he does have some imagination? I've been critical of Coyle's lack of imagination since last year, so, I have to give him an attaboy for opening up a can of imagination last week in the 2nd half. Some of it came out of necessity as he was without his 3 starting linebackers, but a lot of what you saw was that he was willing to coach up the young talent on the roster and come up with a plan of attack with the players that he has. That is something we did not see much of last year, and I think he feels the heat as does Head Coach Joe Philben.
Coaches can learn, and Coyle has finally taken the step from a new DC to a legit DC who can think outside the box and not do what he learned as an assistant. I am sure he would disagree with me, but we all saw the difference while we talked in our chat room last Sunday. I would encourage you to join us every game if you are not at the game because we give you places where you can stream it and some of the guys have good insight.
I CANNOT DEFEND RYAN TANNEHILL
I've been a staunch supporter of Ryan Tannehill since we drafted him, but I cannot defend his play last Sunday. He had a lot of time to throw the ball, but his passes were off the mark. Perhaps it was first game jitters. I did like his poise in the pocket as Lazer has worked hard on getting his mechanics corrected, but I need to see the accuracy that he has shown us the past two years on the short and medium throws. I do not understand why he cannot get a deep pass to Mike Wallace, but that needs to happen more than we see it failing.
I like Ryan Tannehill, but if I start feeling anxious when he drops back to pass then it means that I do not have confidence in him. I do expect him to improve this year as we saw Nick Foles do last year. This really is the year where the Dolphins will decide if he is indeed the future and worthy of a large longterm contract.
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Last week I wrote about watching the offensive line, and they performed well, better than what could have been hoped for. The offensive line will be tested again against what is a better front against the Bills, but with injuries to the linebackers they now become the more scrutinized unit.
Last week Elerbe was lost for the season, Misi was also injured and will miss a couple games, Wheeler was ruled out for the game, so the back ups had a go, and they were pretty good. This week Wheeler returns, but with a cast, so he may not get the start, so the Dolphins may be starting this game with three backups, and at the very least two.
As has been seen many times in the NFL, starting is different than coming off the bench. Many players play well coming off the bench, only to struggle once they are inserted as starters. How will these mostly young players perform this week, Wheeler will most likely be limited in his action so much will fall on the shoulders of these mostly young players.
Jason Trusnick, Chris McCain, Jelani Jenkins and Jonathan Freeny will be used heavily in this game, Jordan Tripp is still nursing an injury and won't play this week, and as I already pointed out, Wheeler is in a cast. Kelvin Sheppard was signed to fill a spot after the Elerbe injury, but it's unclear right now how much he'll actually play. Regardless, much will fall on some of these mostly young players, how will they respond in this game, they won't be home as they were last week, and they have a week to think about it, that can be tough on younger or inexperienced players.
Chris McCain flashed during the preseason, and kept right on flashing when his number was called last week, with a blocked punt and a sack, this young rookie could be a future starter and star for the Dolphins, but he'll have to continue where he left off last week. Jason Trusnik is the reason I put "mostly" in front of young players, because he's 30. An undrafted free agent by the Jets in 2007, then with the Browns until Miami picked him up in 2011. He has been a steady back up, but he has played like a back up, he looked as good as he ever has last week, will that continue. Jelani Jenkins was a 4th round pick in last years draft, he didn't do much last year but played well last week, can we expect that to continue. Jonathan Freeny has been a project for the Dolphins since 2011 when they signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers, which is about 10 minutes from where I grew up and lived most of my life. He has looked like he's finally paying dividends as a developmental player, will his play from last week continue.
It's a shame that Tripp is injured, like McCain, this rookie stood out in preseason, many Dolphin fans think he is a future starter for the Dolphins, he really seems to have linebacker instinct, a natural feel for the position wherever he lines up. I wonder if these two impressive young rookies are the future linebackers to star on this team, it almost seems to good to be true, but sometimes when it rains, it pours, we can hope.
So how will this group of players respond, all coming by different routes to the Miami Dolphins, will they have some hiccups, will they pick up where they left off last week, will they look lost out there, it's anyones guess right now. As fans all we can do is watch and hope, mistakes can be forgiven, especially from the rookie McCain, he is a rookie after all, but they're far from alone out there, they have a great defensive line in front of them, led by all world DE Cameron Wake, and a great set of tackles, so they will have those players to lean on. Many of us are really excited to see McCain out there again, is he going to continue to produce big plays, we'll all be watching these mostly young players this week, lets hope we get what we want, emerging stars at the linebacker position.