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News » Miami Dolphins Inside Slant 2008-10-30

Miami Dolphins Inside Slant 2008-10-30

Miami Dolphins Inside Slant 2008-10-30
Although Chad Pennington is coming off one of the best passing games of his nine-year career, good enough to earn him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, Dolphins coach Tony Sparano wants to get back to his roots -- and run the ball against the defenseless Denver Broncos.

"We've got to finish blocks inside. And I think, more importantly, have to stay the course. When you play against this defense, they move so much. They slant and they angle, they move and they run and they so some things like that. So, they're going to make some tackles for losses. They're going to make some plays in the backfield. You can't let that discourage you," Sparano said.

"You certainly can't let the minus plays in some of those situations discourage you or else you're not going to run the ball. You're going to look at it and say, 'Ah, we can't do this,' and somewhere in there, there might be a big play out of that thing."

The Broncos are ranked 30th against the rush, giving up an average of 154.6 yards per game, while Miami is ranked 21st, gaining 103.3 yards per game. The Ravens stuffed Miami's Wildcat and overall held Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown to 43 yards on 17 carries. The Buffalo Bills stacked eight and nine in the box to hold the Brown-Williams combo to 59 yards on 21 carries, but were blistered by Pennington's aerial attack. With both Baileys out, Boss and Champ, the Broncos' porous defense gets weaker in both the run defense and secondary.

"For the most part, it's just the way that people have been defending us," said Brown, who gained 238 yards against New England and San Diego before dropping off the last three games. "We haven't been able to run like we wanted to. The only good thing about that is it shows what we're capable of doing in the passing game; Ted Ginn had a good game. I think that was a good sign and hopefully we can get the running game on the right track."

If the Broncos switch to the 4-3 Sunday because of the injury to Bailey, then the Dolphins could take advantage of a defense that's switching in midstream. In their last loss to the Patriots, the Broncos were gashed for 10 runs of 10 yards or more and allowed 257 rushing yards on 6.8 yards per carry. Conversely, the Dolphins allowed just 78 yards in their 38-13 rout of New England in Foxboro.

The Dolphins' run defense has also taken some hits of late with their last three opponents -- Houston, Baltimore and Buffalo -- all gaining more than 100 rushing yards. They totaled 372 yards for an average of 124 yards per game. That could partly be attributed to the oblique injury sustained by nose tackle Jason Ferguson early in the loss to the Ravens, but mostly to shoddy tackling. Perhaps, rookie d-linemen Phillip Merling and Kendall Langford are hitting that proverbial rookie wall.

Defensively, the Dolphins have already played the Texans so they've had a taste of defending the zone blocking in the running game, which Houston coach Gary Kubiak garnered from his years playing and coaching for Mike Shanahan. Miami gave up 114 rushing yards on 4.2 yards per attempt in a heartbreaking 29-28 loss.

"Here's a team that I remember when they were winning Super Bowls and going to the playoffs it was because of the run game. They had that zone blocking where they cut you and try to get you on the ground. It's a big game for us up front; our front three have to play really well -- as well as our linebackers. We've got to stop the run and then the play-action pass. When they get the zone run game going, then they get the boots and the nakeds off of that. When they can get all of that going, that's when you really have trouble with this offense. ... So defensively, for us, it starts with the run and after that just relentless effort to the quarterback," said defensive end Vonnie Holliday.

SERIES HISTORY: 15th regular-season meeting. Dolphins lead Denver 10-3-1, including seven of the last eight meetings. Miami is 7-0 at home against Denver, and 3-3-1 in the Mile High city. Denver is 1-0 in the postseason, beating Miami 38-3 at Mile High Stadium on Jan. 9, 1999 in which RB Terrell Davis rushed for 199 yards and two TDs. The Dolphins rushed for 14 yards on 13 carries. Hall of Fame QB John Elway and the Broncos went on to win their second straight Super Bowl at then Pro Player Stadium, before he retired.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 30, 2008

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Trey Darilek Name: Trey Darilek
Position: C
Age: 27
Experience: 4 years
College: UTEP
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