Matty I at the Phinsider who was good enough to answer some of my questions about the upcoming game. Here is the view from their end of the telescope.
Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown are both very talented runners, who are you expecting to get most of the carries this Sunday? Are they going to pull out the Wildcat regularly, or was that a gadget play that will only rarely be seen?
I think Ronnie Brown, after his performance last game, is set to receive the majority of the carries – though I will preface that by saying that the discrepancy won't likely be that large. But the fact is that Ronnie seems to be fully healthy despite tearing his ACL less than 11 months ago. And at this point in both of their careers, Brown is the better running back – at least in my eyes.
As far as the "Wildcat," I'm not sure how much they are going to use it from here on out. But I do think they will use it in the right situations. Tony Sparano even said following their last game that they've just "scratched the surface" of what they can do out of that formation. But also keep in mind that just the threat of using that formation is a competitive advantage for the Dolphins. Now teams have to spend at least a little time on game-planning to defend the formation.
The Jets got rid of Chad Pennington to pick up Favre; has Pennington been able to pick up the offense completely yet? Also does he look to be your QB of the future, or is he just keeping the seat warm for some future acquisition?
The addition of Chad Pennington has been huge for this franchise. He provides leadership on the field that this offense hasn't had in some time. Also, in recent seasons, whenever Miami's offense was put into a 3rd & long or similar "clear passing situation," I always felt like they were overmatched. No longer do I have that feeling with a smart quarterback like Pennington back there under center. Having a QB like Pennington legitimizes Miami's offense.
But perhaps his most important attribute is the fact that he is the perfect mentor for the Dolphins' likely QB of the future: Chad Henne. Henne was hand-picked by this Bill Parcells/Jeff Ireland regime and Pennington has really embraced the role as "caretaker QB" and mentor. And let's be honest; Pennington's a smart QB and Henne will be able to learn a lot from him.
Jake Long seemed to have a rough few games; but picked it up in game three helping to spring Brown. Is the sense that he was the right choice with the number one pick?
No question about it: Jake Long was the right pick at number one. He continues to improve every time we see him out there. His coaches and teammates have all raved about his potential since training camp. He has a terrific work ethic. Sure, he still has his struggles. And some so-called "experts" believe Jake will eventually be a right tackle rather than a left. But having seen every snap of Long's short career, there is no reason to think he won't develop into a top left tackle for years. With the right coaching, which this team has – remember, Tony Sparano is a former OL coach who had great success in Dallas and current OL coach Mike Maser has a proven track record in Carolina – I have absolutely no reservations on the decision to take Long first overall. And I think most Dolphin fans would agree.
What do the Dolphins need to accomplish to beat the Chargers?
That's a great question. Let's be honest here: the Chargers have much more talent than the Dolphins. But so did the Patriots. So it all comes down to execution.
I think the Dolphins have to get their running game going. They need to control the ball and keep San Diego's high-powered offense off of the field. Even though it's the Chargers' pass defense that has struggled more than their run defense, I'm not sure the Dolphins can afford to abandon the run too early.
Defensively, the Dolphins have got to get pressure on Philip Rivers. If they cannot, Miami's secondary is not good enough to defend all of the weapons Rivers has at his disposal.
Oh, and getting out to an early lead – or rather, not falling behind too early – is crucial. All us Dolphin fans are asking for is for the Dolphins to keep the game close into the fourth quarter.
It looks like the Cardinals really took apart the Dolphin secondary; was that a fluke or are there some question marks there?
That game was disastrous not just for the defense, but for the entire team. And Arizona's big, physical receivers are just the kind of receivers that give the Dolphins fits. The front 7 couldn't get any pressure on Kurt Warner and they paid the consequences.
But part of the problem that the secondary had that game was communication. Chris Crocker was the starting free safety for those first two games and communication among the secondary was an issue. But a change was made after that Cardinals' game and Renaldo Hill was inserted into the starting lineup at FS. Instantly, the secondary improved. Hill is the unquestioned quarterback of that secondary; making sure everyone is on the same page and making the last-second adjustments for that unit. It showed in week 3 when the Dolphins held Randy Moss and Wes Welker in check all game.
So while the secondary is improved and I don't foresee a performance like the one against Arizona, there are still question marks – and that worries every single Dolphins fan.