Now that we've had a day to digest what we saw Saturday night, it's time to get the evaluation under way and grade the Dolphins' performance. The dropped balls, the stagnation of the first-team offense, and the result of a downpour on the dirt in-field, made "ugly" about the only word you can use to describe the Dolphins' watered down 10-7 victory.
Still though, we saw some good signs from the new look defense, despite Mike Nolan not tipping his hand with any of the exotic blitz package he's been implementing in training camp. But let's get the hard part over with, and try to give a fair grade to the lackluster offense.
First-team: Out of all the times it could have rain Saturday, it just had to be for the duration of the first quarter, which just so happened to be when the Dolphins' starting offense took the field. We don't want to start making excuses for these guys, because that's not the mindset of a champion, but it's sort of a shame that our first look at this offense was in those less than ideal conditions.
Wet ball or not, though, Brandon Marshall has to make those two catches that hit him right square in the hands, and especially that second ball where there wasn't a defender within five yards of him. The same goes for Brian Hartline, who also dropped a ball that would have moved the chains, on a third down no less.
And wet footing or not, Vernon Carey can't kill the promising first drive with a holding penalty on a would have been first down run by Ronnie Brown. But unwanted penalties are a part of the preseason, and when you look at how sluggish the Chad Henne led group looked, these meaningless games do serve their purpose, after all.
Second-team/third-team: When Tyler Thigpen came in, the passing game finally got going a bit. The battle for the fifth and final receiver spot picked up some heat, when Patrick Turner, Roberto Wallace, and Marlon Moore all flashed some big-play potential. The running game was a non-factor after Ronnie was pulled out, though, as Lex Hilliard only managed 19 yards on 8 carries after a fantastic 09' preseason.
The second string O-line was awfully suspect as well. To go along with their lack of push for the running game, the pass protection was a huge fall-off from the first-team. So let's just hope the starting offensive line can stay healthy this season, especially at the tackles.