REPORT CARD

Here's a look at how every unit performed in the 23-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

QUARTERBACK — For those who thought Brian Griese would make a huge difference for the Dolphins offense, Sunday was a sobering experience. Griese wasn't particularly impressive, especially in the first half. He wasn't helped by another poor performance by the offensive line, but he also missed a lot of throws, didn't get rid of the ball quickly enough at times, and also threw a couple of passes that could have gotten his receivers killed. He did make some plays in the second half, but overall it wasn't a great effort. Grade: C-

RUNNING BACKS — It was another tough day for Ricky Williams, and at this point it's difficult to make out exactly how much the line is to blame and how much he is to blame. The truth is he doesn't have any holes to run through, but he also looks very hesitant, a lot more so than his patient running style dictates he should be. Travis Minor got one carry and gained 11 yards. Maybe the Dolphins need to use him more because he always gets nice yardage when he runs. Rob Konrad caught a couple of passes out of the backfield, but this position didn't make much of an impact. Grade: C-

RECEIVERS — The big story here was the play of the tight ends. Randy McMichael had another big game, and rookie Donald Lee also was a factor in the passing game. Among the wide receivers, Chris Chambers was the only one to catch a pass as James McKnight and Derrius Thompson were shut out. There were no obvious drops, but it appeared the wideouts had problems getting open at times. Grade: C+

OFFENSIVE LINE — Awful. Simply awful. This has become a major crisis here. The Dolphins offense will not improve until this unit starts playing better. Again, no holes in the running game and way too much pressure allowed on the quarterback. The focus on Sunday will be on rookie left tackle Wade Smith, who looked badly overmatched while allowing four sacks, including three to Dwight Freeney. Smith flat-out could not handle Freeney's speed and you wonder why the Dolphins didn't help out Smith on every single passing play. It was that embarrassing for Smith. The rest of the line, unfortunately, wasn't that much better. Grade: F

DEFENSIVE LINE — The Dolphins got four sacks on Peyton Manning, two by Adewale Ogunleye and one each by Jay Williams and Jason Taylor, so it's difficult to complain too much about the pass rush. The Dolphins, however, missed Larry Chester in the run defense and as a result had their poorest showing of the season in that department. But overall it wasn't a bad performance. Grade: B-

LINEBACKERS — Zach Thomas was everywhere for the Dolphins and he made several big plays. Junior Seau wasn't much of a factor and he took a silly offside penalty when he tried to fake a blitz. Morlon Greenwood got little playing with the Dolphins in the nickel a lot of the time and he didn't do anything to distinguish himself. Grade: B-

DEFENSIVE BACKS — The Colts passing game is among the best in the league and the Dolphins had their hands full with it. Brock Marion looked bad when he let Troy Walters run right by him on Indy's last touchdown in the fourth quarter. Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain had good coverage most of the day, but their tackling wasn't impressive. Starting strong safety Sammy Knight was invisible all day. Nickel back Terrell Buckley was the star of this group with a fumble recovery and a late interception that gave the Dolphins a chance to win. Grade: B

SPECIAL TEAMS — The Dolphins' decision to bench Charlie Rogers hasn't made much of a difference when it comes to the kickoff returns because Travis Minor didn't do much in that department. Sam Simmons had one nice punt return, and he looks like he's capable of breaking a long one at some point. The kick coverage was good, except for a 26-yard Indy punt return in the fourth quarter. Matt Turk had a nice day punting the ball. The special teams basically weren't a factor in deciding the outcome of this game. Grade: C


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