Preseason Opener Observations

As always, the final score is irrelevant when it comes to preseason games. So what do we take out of the Dolphins' 31-26 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the preseason opener Saturday night?

The biggest storylines already have been covered, from the relief of seeing Daunte Culpepper in uniform (even though he was on the field for only six plays) to the concern about a secondary that gave up four touchdown passes of 50 yards or longer.

So let's look beyond the obvious.

The most troublesome aspect of the secondary's problems was that Jason Allen was involved on a couple of the long touchdown passes allowed.

On the 50-yard pass to Matt   Jones, Will Allen was beaten inside, but Jason Allen was nowhere to be found to provide deep help in the middle of the field.

On Maurice Jones-Drew's long touchdown reception, Allen had a shot to knock him out of bounds at about the 20-yard line, but he had a bad angle and easily was faked out.

In Allen's defense, he only showed up a few days earlier so we shouldn't have expected too much right from the start. But this is a guy the Dolphins are counting on, so hopefully he can pick it up in the next game.

Offensively, it also was disappointing to see Derek Hagan struggle. It also indicated that perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to expect him to make a major impact as a rookie.

Those hopes were raised by Hagan's tremendous work in practice, but against Jacksonville he was shut out and also was called for an offensive pass interference on a fade pattern from the 2 that fell incomplete anyway.

Hagan may yet become a major contributor this season, but we can't lose sight of the fact he's still a rookie, and rookie wideouts seldom put up big numbers.

The most impressive rookie for the Dolphins Saturday night easily was defensive tackle Frederick Evans, who had a sack, had a stop for a loss on a running play and another stop for no gain.

Word is the Dolphins could add Dan Wilkinson to spell Keith Traylor at nose tackle, but Evans could be tough to keep off the field if he keeps performing the way he has.

In case you're wondering about how Ronnie Brown looked (because there has been little mention of him), he didn't break off any long runs, but he also made something out of every one of his runs and he looks a lot more decisive than he did last year.

Bottom line, there indeed is good reason to think the guy will be a stud this season.


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