According to the Sun-Sentinel, a source close the team has confirmed that Chad Henne will likely start Sunday against the Raiders. While this offense may miss Thigpen’s mobility given the struggles and health of the offensive line, let’s not forget that Henne was in the midst of one of his better performances of the season before he went down against the Titans. If these reports are indeed accurate, Henne will have a lot on his plate in Oakland facing one of the league’s top rated pass defenses with no Brandon Marshall, but his elite arm strength alone should give the Dolphins a better chance to consistently move the football.no comments
Doubtful: WR Brandon Marshall (hamstring)
Questionable: C Joe Berger (knee), QB Chad Henne (knee), LB Karlos Dansby (toe), WR Roberto Wallace (knee)
Probable: LT Jake Long (shoulder), RT Vernon Carey (knee), FS Chris Clemons (groin), S Reshad Jones (shin), S Tyrone Culver (ankle) no comments
Once you realize how unlikely a Dolphins’ playoff run truly is, it’s pretty obvious that the only hope fans can be clinging to is the idea of the Dolphins winning their final six games of the season. A long shot to say the least for a reeling team that appears closer to completely falling apart than coming together for a miraculous late season push.
Even more discouraging is the fact that the Dolphins have already lost control of their own destiny. Winning out doesn’t even guarantee them a playoff berth because if the Jets, Pats, Steelers, and Ravens all finish out 4-2 or better the Dolphins will be eliminated regardless of how they finish the year. In the event the Dolphins do improbably run the table, though, either the Jets or Patriots will have at least two loses considering the Dolphins still play both and both still play each other.
So if the Dolphins can indeed do the unthinkable, I’m confident they will find a spot in the playoffs. I’m just not so confident that they are even capable of pulling off that type of feat at this point, though.
But there are some winnable games on the schedule. They may be injury depleted and incapable of running the football, but their defense is playing well enough to beat the inconsistent Raiders and Browns these next two games and the bottom feeding Bills and Lions in Weeks 15 and 16.
That still leaves the two road hurdles in New York and New England. They may be arguably the two best teams in the league, but both appear as beatable as 8-2 teams can be, with the Jets getting lucky last minute wins against non-playoff caliber teams and the Patriots fielding one of the league’s worst defenses statistically.
But then again, we are just looking at these games individually. All are winnable, but on the same token, all are losable. And that’s asking an awful lot to have every single one of those games go the Dolphins way. They have nobody to blame but themselves for being in this situation, though. And we really have no choice at this point, but to try to conceive how exactly they are going to get themselves out of it and into the playoffs.
1. Find a way to become an average running team: The good ol’ days of Ronnie and Ricky being one of the league’s most dynamic running back duo’s is over, and there’s no way they’re coming back. The currently assembled offensive line just isn’t good enough, and honestly, Ronnie and Ricky just don’t have the same spring in their step as they did just a short year ago. With that said, this Dolphins’ offense desperately needs to find a way to run the football averagely. Like those offenses that don’t run it particularly well, but have enough success here and there to prevent becoming completely one-dimensional. Getting pass happy is especially risky when a third-string quarterback is under center. Hopefully Chad Henne returns this Sunday, but with no Brandon Marshall this pass-first attack isn’t capable of much without a go-to threat.
2. Get out of their own way: Even when it looked like the Dolphins were beginning to get a little momentum going offensively last Thursday night, they quickly put a halt to it with stupid mistakes. Brandon Marshall’s fifteen yard penalty for flipping the ball to Jay Cutler on the sideline and his two drops immediately comes to mind. But Tyler Thigpen fumbling the attempted handoff to Brian Hartline on the would-be end around on the game’s opening drive was surely a game-altering momentum killer. In a season hanging by a thread, one dumb mistake is all it could take to end the Dolphins already slim playoff hopes.
3. Create more turnovers: The Dolphins’ defense is quietly putting together a very solid season. Statistically, they have surpassed expectations as they currently rank 6th in total defense and 5th against the pass. In the likely event that the offense continues to struggle, though, the defense is going to have to manufacture some points. The best way to do that is create turnovers that either put the offense in great position to score, or get returned for touchdowns themselves. Currently, the Dolphin’ defense only ranks 25th in interceptions and are tied for the second fewest fumble recoveries.
4. Live up to their potential against the run: Perhaps the only thing standing in the way of the Dolphins’ defense taking the next step and emerging as one of the league’s elite units is their ability to stop the run. They currently rank 20th in that category, even though that ranking slightly blows things out of proportion. They actually rank 8th in yards surrendered per carry, giving up only 3.9 yards per rush. In my opinion, though, they have the potential to completely shut down most opposing running games. They have flashed brief spurts of dominating against the run, but usually are a few missed tackles and over-pursued angles away from doing so consistently throughout the game.
5. Get a little luck: The Dolphins obviously don’t have much control over this one, but getting some luck is probably essential if they aren’t going to lose another game. Luck is something they haven’t had much of lately with all the injuries that have plagued this team. Either the injury bug truly is contagious, or the Dolphins are the league’s most unlucky team this season. Either way, the Dolphins need to get healthy and stay healthy. They just don’t have enough depth on the offensive side of the ball to hold up when so many guys have gone down. Outside of injuries, the Dolphins need to catch on to whatever the Jets have been doing lately. And what I mean by that is have the ball bounce their way every time late in games and benefit from opponents just refusing to close them out. Okay, maybe I exaggerate a little bit, but seriously.
On that note, have a Happy Thanksgiving! I know one thing, that turkey would sure taste a lot better if the Lions and Bengals can find a way to upset the Pats and Jets.no comments
Reports stemming from this morning’s practice have mostly been positive. Joe Berger was back working as the starting center, Karlos Dansby returned despite his injured elbow, Jake Long continued to work as the starting left tackle, and Chad Henne reportedly split reps with Tyler Thigpen on the first-team offense.
However, Brandon Marshall has still yet to practice since injuring his hamstring versus the Bears. We should know more about the extent of his injury when the Dolphins release their injury report later on today, but some are beginning to speculate that Marshall could miss more than just this Sunday’s game. no comments
I don’t think that Dolphins fans envisioned that the season would be hanging by a thread ten games in. Even those analyst that weren’t giving the Dolphins much of a chance to sneak into the playoffs, at least thought they would probably be right in the thick of things right up until the last couple weeks. But here we are. Ten games into the 2010 season, and this Dolphins team can’t realistically afford to lose another game.
You could easily use the excuse that the injuries the Dolphins suffered these past couple weeks are just too much to overcome, pack it up, and say “we’ll get em’ next year,” but only the Dolphins are to blame for letting their season become vulnerable to the injury bug. If they hadn’t missed so many opportunities at home early on in the season, more specifically the Jets and Patriots’ games in Weeks 3 and 4, they might have been able to withstand all the adversity that has hit the health of this team.
But as it is, the Dolphins are left with one option: run the table, finish 11-5, and get a little bit of help in order to squeeze into the playoffs in the loaded AFC. Because unfortunately for the Dolphins, most of the league’s elite teams just so happen to reside in the conference.
Even If they do actually pull this off and finish out the season 6-0, it’s going to take the 8-2 Jets or 8-2 Patriots to finish at least 3-3 and hope the Dolphins get the edge in the tie-breaker or the 7-3 Steelers or 7-3 Ravens finishing 3-3 (remember both have already beaten Miami). And that’s also assuming that one of the 5-5 teams from the AFC West or 6-4 teams from the AFC South don’t snag that last wild card spot.
So as you can see, even if it doesn’t officially eliminate them mathematically, one loss is all it’s going to take to end the Dolphins’ playoff hopes.
Is running the table even possible for these injury depleted, uninspired Dolphins, though? If you have asked me a few weeks ago if these final six games were all winnable, I would have responded “absolutely.”
No, these games won’t be as easy as they once appeared on paper, as teams like the Raiders and Browns have played very well in stretches, and other teams like the Bills and Lions are suddenly very dangerous offensively, but they were still lining up to be games in which the Dolphins would have likely been the favorite in.
Of course, I’m leaving out the oh-so -important divisional road games against the Jets and Pats. Games which were very winnable a couple weeks ago, but now seem like complete long shots.
The injuries at the quarterback position and along the offensive line are obviously the main reason for such of drastic change of circumstances. With the banged up offensive line, the Dolphins went from a poor running team, to arguably the worst running team in the league.
There isn’t a team in the NFL that the Dolphins can run on right now if Thursday night was a sign of things to come. Even the healthy version of this year’s O-line didn’t create much push and didn’t pull well enough to get to the second level of the defense, but whatever we saw line up across from the Bears on Thursday night left us all completely void of any hope for this offense.
The strength of the Dolphins’ offensive line has been their ability to protect the quarterback. But giving up six sacks to a team who recorded fewer sacks per play than any team in the league entering Week 11 is more than a cause for concern; it’s a cause for panic.
If this offense can’t run the football, or give the quarterback sufficient time to throw to a slow group of receivers, we are going to see a few more of those lackluster zero to one score offensive performances before it’s all said and done.
Although, Tyler Thipgen gives this offense some mobility, which in theory should offset some of this O-line’s sudden protection issues, he just takes too many risks and just doesn’t have the arm strength to bail out his poor decision making.
That’s why fans should be hoping that Chad Henne is healthy enough to start against the Raiders on Sunday. In my opinion, his struggles have been overblown. You would like his touchdowns to be higher than his interceptions, but the guy hasn’t done so bad considering he’s been leading a one-dimensional offense for weeks and is the victim of poor play-calling more often than not.
If you are looking for any reason at all to believe this team is capable of pulling off a miracle playoff run, look no further than this defense. The Dolphins have very quietly emerged as the sixth best total defense in football, led by the league’s fifth best pass defense. The running game continues to leak some thanks to poor tackling and over-pursuit, but they certainly have the pieces to bring it together.
This defense is young and continues to get better and better each and every week. But if this team wants to make the playoffs, Mike Nolan’s unit is likely going to need to grow up overnight. They are still a long way from becoming a dominate defense. They are good defense, yes, but they’ve yet to play complete football or showcase the ability to take over games.
It’s going to take some forced turnovers and maybe a few returns for scores for this team to create the fire power they need to put enough points on the board.
But then again, when your playing the “if” game this early into the second-half of the season, it’s probably already too late. Whether it be the blown opportunities within the division on prime time, the blown call against the Steelers, or the recent plague of injuries, 2010 is quickly becoming the season that could have been.no comments