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News » Miami Dolphins Strategy and Personnel 2008-09-30

Miami Dolphins Strategy and Personnel 2008-09-30

Miami Dolphins Strategy and Personnel 2008-09-30

--TE Anthony Fasano has become Chad Pennington's go-to-guy with 11 catches. He has already posted career highs with two touchdowns and 150 receiving yards after just three games. He is three shy of his career high of 14 catches set in each of his first two seasons.

"He's playing the best football I've seen him play, so that's a plus," said GM Jeff Ireland, who was with Fasano in Dallas as well and drafted him with Bill Parcells. "So he's gotten better since the last time I saw him. I think he can get better and improve in certain areas in pass protection and run blocking. He's got to get quicker out of his routes. He can do all of those things, but he's playing pretty good football right now, and I'm proud of him."

--OG Evan Mathis is ready to take over the starting right guard spot if starter Ike Ndukwe falters. Mathis, a four-year veteran, played for offensive line coach Mike Maser and offensive coordinator Dan Henning at Carolina. However, the Dolphins ground game improved against the Patriots, so Ndukwe will retain his job -- at least this week.

--RB Ronnie Brown is tied for the NFL lead with five touchdowns, and that doesn't count his TD pass against the Patriots.

--FB Casey Cramer replaced the released Boomer Grigsby and is presently the only fullback on the roster. Cramer is familiar with the offense from his days in Carolina playing under offensive coordinator Dan Henning, but thus far he has been sparingly used as a lead blocker in the two games he's played. Cramer also played tight end at Dartmouth.

--WR Ted Ginn Jr. finally made some plays against the Patriots with five catches for 49 yards. However, he still needs to prove he could be a downfield threat. He has also been stripped of his kick return chores by undrafted rookie Davone Bess.


PASSING OFFENSE: B- -- Chad Pennington is coming off one of the most accurate games of his nine-year career, when he completed 17 of 20 against the Patriots, a career-best 85 percent. More important, he showed that he could direct the young offense to victories against quality opponents if the Dolphins could establish a running attack. He has just one pick in three games, but only two TD passes for an 87.9 rating.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- They went from an "F" to a "B" in just one game as Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams combined for 211 yards, including Brown's franchise-record four-rushing-TD performance against the Pats. The young O-line with rookie LT Jake Long and first-time starter RG Ike Ndukwe dominated a veteran Patriots line. However, the Dolphins were aided by the trick wing-T formation in which Brown took the direct shotgun snaps and the left side of the line shifted to the right side to create an unbalanced line that New England never adjusted to.

PASS DEFENSE: C -- This unit also went from an "F" to a decent "C" in the New England rout as the strategy of using six defensive backs for most of the game worked, mostly because the front seven was able to put pressure on inexperienced QB Matt Cassel without blitzing. It also helped that the Dolphins DBs didn't respect Cassel's arm strength and were able to cheat in on WR Randy Moss. Still, Andre' Goodman has had two out of three bad games, and the free safety position has gone from a slumping Chris Crocker to Renaldo Hill.

RUSH DEFENSE: C -- This unit was ranked last in 2007, and it had a bad opening game against the Jets and Thomas Jones (101 yards), but it's still ranked 10th, allowing 90.7 yards a game. However, that's misleading because the Dolphins weren't really tested in Game 2 against the Cardinals, who really didn't need Edgerrin James with QB Kurt Warner completing passes at will. Miami did stuff Patriots RB Sammy Morris, but he's their third-stringer, as both Laurence Maroney (out) and LaMont Jordan were nicked up. SS Yeremiah Bell and MLB Channing Crowder have been solid in run support with 24 and 23 tackles respectively, and the gap-closing techniques of NT Jason Ferguson have been effective.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- Although rookie K Dan Carpenter hasn't really been tested yet and P Brandon Fields has recovered after a poor season opener, the coverage units have been scorched. The Dolphins have given up an average 31.7 yards per kickoff return, including an 81-yarder to Patriots DB Ellis Hobbs, and opposing punt returners have averaged 12.9 yards.

COACHING: C-plus -- This newly formed group recovered from a tough start that featured time-management errors and silly pre-snap penalties. But coach Tony Sparano had his young team ready to whip the mighty Patriots, in which offensive coordinator Dan Henning and quarterbacks coach David Lee put in the "Wildcat." The college formation embarrassed so-called defensive coaching genius Bill Belichick. Defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni's beleaguered secondary recouped against the Brady-less Pats, but the Chargers' high-powered offense will be a true litmus test.

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

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Reagan Mauia Name: Reagan Mauia
Position: RB
Age: 24
Experience: 2 years
College: Hawaii
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