|Another 0-1 start for Dolphins despite new coach, quarterback|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 10 September 2007 23:14|
Same old Miami Dolphins.
Following months of turnover and housecleaning, the Dolphins' season-opening loss suggests they remain the same team that has been sputtering on offense and folding on defense for much of the past five years.
A 16-13 overtime loss at Washington didn't eliminate the Dolphins from the playoff race. But it hardly stamped them as Super Bowl contenders.
For the fourth time in five years the Dolphins are 0-1, and with the Dallas Cowboys looming in the home opener Sunday, new coach Cam Cameron confronts many of the same problems that confounded predecessors Nick Saban and Dave Wannstedt.
``There are a number of areas we can improve in,'' Cameron said Monday.
On offense, the high-powered playbook he brought from San Diego produced one touchdown. The running game was woeful, receivers dropped five passes, and back-to-back false-start penalties exemplified the ineptitude.
``Offensively, our execution is what got us,'' Cameron said. ``It starts with mental mistakes. We call them TIW's - team-inflicted wounds. The only way to score touchdowns is to be penalty-free and error-free.''
On defense, the Dolphins made two interceptions but gave up 191 yards rushing and continued a pattern of fading at the finish, allowing Washington to drive 58 yards following the overtime kickoff for the deciding field goal.
``We didn't get the job done,'' Cameron said. ``We didn't finish the game.''
There was more bad news for the defense Monday: Safety Yeremiah Bell will miss the rest of the season after tearing his left Achilles' tendon in the third quarter.
Also distressing was the performance of the newcomers counted on to provide an upgrade, starting with Cameron. He mismanaged the clock at the end of the first half, a potentially costly mistake that he overcame with a gamble on the final play, going for a touchdown - and getting it - instead of settling for a field goal.
Cameron described clock management as ``a collective effort.''
``If we don't score there,'' he said, ``then it might have been a real issue. The bottom line is you find a way to score. Sometimes it's not always pretty.''
Also questioned was Cameron's decision to limit the workload for $32 million free-agent acquisition Joey Porter. The move left the linebacker frustrated as he watched much of Washington's winning drive from sideline.
``I feel like you ought to have your best players on the field at all times,'' Porter said.
Because Porter missed all four exhibition games recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, the Dolphins decided to use him only in certain packages, Cameron said. In overtime, with Miami expecting Washington to throw, Porter wasn't on the field much.
``The plan was sound,'' Cameron said. ``It didn't work the way we wanted it to.''
Porter finished with only three tackles, although two were for losses.
New running back Jesse Chatman shared time with starter Ronnie Brown and totaled 15 yards in seven carries. Brown was only slightly better, with 32 yards in 11 carries.
``I'm going to put it on me and Ronnie,'' Chatman said. ``There's nowhere else to go but up.''
New tight end David Martin made only one catch and dropped a third-down pass with the score tied in the fourth quarter.
``You've got to catch the ball on third down,'' Cameron said.
A rookie class touted as the Dolphins' best in years made little impact. Top draft pick Ted Ginn Jr. didn't catch a pass and failed to break a long gain on seven returns. A punt by rookie Brandon Fields barely got off the ground, and third-round pick Lorenzo Booker wasn't even active.
New quarterback Trent Green played well for most of the game, but he rarely threw downfield, and his final pass should have been intercepted to give the Redskins the victory in regulation.
Instead, the decisive field goal came six minutes later. In the wake of his first defeat as an NFL head coach, Cameron said his message to the team was to quickly put the game in the past.
``You'd better move on,'' he said, ``because you're always staring at another good team.''
This week it's the Cowboys, who opened the season Sunday with a 45-35 win over the New York Giants.