Behind Enemy Lines: Miami/Arizona, Part I

The Cardinals were 6-2 last year at home, they hope to continue that success in their home opener against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2, a team that saw major offseason changes after going 1-15 in 2007. They're new, but how improved? grills's Associate Editor, Alain Poupart, about the offensive changes in Part I of an exclusive four-part series.

Amberly Richardson: How did Jake Long look in his career opener?

Alain Poupart: Unfortunately for everyone in Miami, he did not look very impressive. He was flagged for two penalties, which is one more than he had all of last season at Michigan. The Dolphins also didn't run the ball well at all, so no one up front had a good day in that respect. It was, all in all, a very disappointing debut.

AR: Chad Pennington threw the ball 43 times in Week 1's 20-14 loss to Brett Favre and his Jets. Has Miami abandoned the run?

AP: Not in the least, but there were two problems in that game. One, the Dolphins just couldn't open any holes in the running game and averaged less than 3 yards per carry. Second, they played from behind the entire second half and therefore found themselves having to throw the ball. Because of the lack of talent at wide receiver, the Dolphins need to run the ball to be successful offensively on a consistent basis. So, no, they have not nor will they abandon the run.

AR: How big of a blow is the loss of starting right guard Donald Thomas for the season after the season opener?

AP: Huge, for two simple reasons. One, Thomas came out of nowhere as a sixth-round pick and emerged as a very run stopper who helped fill the one glaring hole on the offensive line. Two, while the Dolphins offensive line has a lot of talent, and it also has no depth. With Thomas gone, we're not even sure who will step in his place. It could be Ikechuku Ndukwe, rookie Shawn Murphy or waiver pick-up Andy Alleman. Any way it plays out, there probably will be some drop-off at the position.

AR: Remembering the draft, QB Chad Henne was visually upset with the position (second round, 26th overall) he was drafted. I see that he's the Dolphins No. 2 guy now. What's his situation like, will he play any time soon?

AP: He badly outplayed in camp both John Beck and Josh McCown, with whom he was competing for the starting job before Chad Pennington was signed. If something were to happen to Pennington, it would be Henne who would get the call and not John Beck, who still has a looooong way to go based on what we saw this summer.

AR: As the only two returning players on the offensive line, how big of a leadership role are Center Samson Satele and Vernon Carey playing?

AP: Maybe not as much as you would think. Satele is the one making the line calls and he's taken on a bit of a leadership role, but he's also only in his second year. As for Carey, he's been very good about helping out Long with pointers and things like that, but he's rather quiet by nature.

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