Final Game 4 Observations

The Dolphins were back at practice on Wednesday afternoon and are scheduled to work again on Thursday and Friday before taking the weekend off for their bye. In the meantime, let's take a final look — however painful that might be — at the 41-14 loss to the New England Patriots on Monday night.

-- Guess the special teams would be a good place to start. Yikes! Can't be shocked about the firing of assistant coach John Bonamego in the aftermath of that debacle because, as they say, you can't fire all the players. This was a painful move for Tony Sparano, but one that said a lot about him in terms of making sure the team always come first.

-- The bigger problem for the Dolphins is the guys they have on those special teams. And look no further than the constant changes at the bottom of the roster. If those guys keep changing because they aren't good enough to hang on to a roster spot, why should they be good enough to produce on special teams?

-- Then again, and this goes back several years, somebody tell us why the Dolphins let Mike Westhoff go as special teams coach.

-- Among the culprits on special teams was linebacker Bobby Carpenter, the reclamation project who is getting an awful lot of playing time for someone who wasn't deemed good enough by either Dallas or St. Louis.

-- Also, wasn't newcomer Tim Dobbins supposed to make a big difference on special teams and also perhaps challenge Channing Crowder for a starting job at inside linebacker? Dobbins' pass defense actually is considered weak enough that he gives way to Carpenter in obvious passing situations. That doesn't seem like a winning proposition.

-- Along the defensive line, is it just me or is Randy Starks having a monumentally quiet season so far? Did anybody see him make a play against the Pats? Maybe there's something to his play being affected by going from defensive end to nose tackle in the offseason and back to defensive end after Jared Odrick was hurt.

-- I said back then the Dolphins were potentially creating two problem areas by removing a stud at defensive end and inserting an unproven commodity at nose tackle. Can anybody dispute that at this point?

-- Then again, maybe Jared Odrick will solidify the defensive end spot when he comes back from his leg injury.

-- Paul Soliai has made some plays at nose tackle since moving into the starting lineup, but he's not — and never has been — a down-in, down-out factor in the running game, like a Casey Hampton or a Vince Wilfork or even a Jason Ferguson.

-- In the secondary, the Dolphins held Tom Brady to a modest 153 yards passing on Monday night, but that might have been because the Pats were focusing on the running game, which had success, and maybe because New England was freezing out Randy Moss before dealing him to Minnesota. Either way, we're starting to feel a little nervous about the cornerback spot opposite Vontae Davis because Jason Allen has looked shaky the last two weeks and because Sean Smith just doesn't look like the same guy as last season.

-- OK, time for some good news. Davone Bess: For those Dolphins fans still lamenting the Wes Welker trade, look closely because Davone Bess is Wes Welker. Exact same player. Put Bess on the Patriots with Tom Brady and he'd have the same numbers. In fact, if the Jets were able to "out-Wildcat the Wildcat," two weeks ago as one announcer said, then the Dolphins managed to "out-Welker the Welker" on Monday night.

-- Brandon Marshall really is a tremendous player, even when he doesn't have 10 catches for 166 yards. It's really fun to watch the Dolphins have a dominant receiver like that. They really can't get him the ball enough.

-- Back to more bad news: Does the offensive line really dazzle anybody? Isn't it supposed to be the strength of the team after all the money invested? And one last question: Are the Dolphins really better off with Joe Berger and John Jerry than with Jake Grove and Justin Smiley?

-- And wouldn't Charles Grant be more of a factor at defensive end than, say, Robert Rose? Just wondering.

-- Guess there are a lot of questions when a team loses as badly as the Dolphins lost on Monday night.


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