Final Game 1 Observations

The Dolphins' victory at Buffalo might not have been pretty, but it starts to look better when you consider that only four road teams won in Week 1 and only two road teams — Arizona was the other — won the six intradivision battles on the schedules. Before we start focusing on Minnesota, we take one last look at the 15-10 victory over the Bills.

-- We'll start with the defense, which clearly was the better unit on Sunday. And we might as well start with the pass rush, which was effective after we didn't see much of it in the preseason. Then again, we said all along that the Dolphins weren't going to get much done in that department in the preseason because they were playing everything straight.

-- While three different players each got one sack, it's clear that Cameron Wake is going to be the stud when it comes to getting pressure on the quarterback. Barring injuries, pencil him in for about a dozen sacks. He will more than adequately replace Joey Porter, and the bonus is we don't have to listen to him yap every week.

-- Where was Sean Smith? He went from starting cornerback one opening day to not even appearing in the game, the only non-quarterback on either team to suit up Sunday but not play. Coach Tony Sparano said Monday it had more to do with Jason Allen playing well and not wanting to take him out, but still ... Man, talk about a big fall.

-- That said, Allen did look good in coverage against the Bills. Still concerned, though, about how he'll hold up against better receivers.

-- Because, let's face it, that was an atrocious offense the Dolphins were facing. Trent Edwards is a really, really mediocre quarterback, that offensive line has no tackles, and the receiving corps is marginal once you get past Lee Evans, who will be a non-factor as long as Edwards continues to refuse to throw downfield.

-- Bad offense or not, Karlos Dansby still looked good. That first-series blitz was a thing of beauty. And it's really impressive to watch Dansby in coverage. That guy can move.

-- The only complaints on defense, really, were the blown coverage on the Buffalo touchdowns — not sure whether it was Tyrone Culver or Benny Sapp at fault on that one — and the two dropped interceptions. The culprits there were Sapp and Allen, who each could have had a touchdown by merely hanging on to a ball thrown right in their hands.

-- On offense, things weren't so good. We're not going to harp on Chad Henne's performance because while he wasn't great, he didn't commit a turnover and he was hurt by some dropped passes.

-- One of those was by Brandon Marshall on a play where Henne deserves as much blame because he threw the ball too late after Marshall broke free deep and it also was underthrown.

-- Marshall, as a whole, was tremendous in a variety of ways. There was the yards after the catch and also his blocking, which is the best we've seen from a Dolphins wide receiver in a long, long time.

-- Kudos also to Davone Bess, who easily is the second-best wide receiver on this team. We've said it before and we'll say it again, if this guy was a bit taller and a bit faster, he'd be a Hall of Famer. Talk about a knack for getting open.

-- On the flip side, it's probably time to be very worried about Brian Hartline, who has been downright brutal since the start of the preseason. The guy is dropping passes all over the place, and that won't do from a starter. He showed great promise as a rookie last year, and it's tough to figure out what has happened to him.

-- Marlon Moore also dropped a pass on Sunday, which isn't what you want to see from a guy who made the team as an undrafted rookie. The leash for a guy like that probably ain't very long.

-- As it stands now, the wide receiver corps, which was looking really good early in camp with Marshall, Bess, Hartline and Greg Camarillo now is looking very suspect again because there's nobody reliable behind Marshall and Bess.

-- Finally, we end this by wondering exactly why it was that the Dolphins needed to call a timeout with 21 seconds left in the first half after an 8-yard completion to Anthony Fasano left them with a fourth-and-5 and a field goal attempt? As it turned out, Dan Carpenter missed the 46-yard attempt, Buffalo took over at its 36 and a 19-yard completion put the Bills in position to try a 63-yard field goal with 1 second left in the half. Now, it's entirely possible the Bills would have called a timeout themselves had the Dolphins not rushed to do it after Fasano was tackled, but it doesn't change the fact there was no reason for the Dolphins not to let the clock run down to 3 or 4 seconds before calling the timeout.


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