Relax About Ronnie

Ronnie Brown's 2006 season debut was rather disappointing if you focus on his final totals of 30 yards on 15 carries. But should there be cause for concern about the Dolphins' second-year running back?

When asked about Brown on Wednesday, Coach Nick Saban defended his running back, accusing the media of being too result-oriented.

While Saban shouldn't have generalized, he also somewhat has a point.

Just because Brown only rushed for 30 yards doesn't mean he had a bad game. On the contrary, Saban singled him out as one of the top players in the Pittsburgh game.

OK, a skeptic here will suggest that Saban did that only to instill confidence in his second-year back. We say, hogwash.

If you saw the Pittsburgh game, you saw Brown actually gain extra yardage on a couple of runs that otherwise would have gotten nothing or maybe even lost yardage.

That he didn't big numbers was more a reflection of the offensive line not opening holes against a very good Pittsburgh defense that stacks the line of scrimmage.

Look at the numbers. Very few opponents have success on the ground against the Steelers. That's been the case for a few years now.

It really shouldn't have come as a surprise that the Dolphins struggled in the running game in the opener; in fact, we suggested as much in our pre-game analysis.

The truth is Brown ran just fine.

Just ask cornerback Ike Taylor, whom Brown badly faked out with a quick outside-in move on his 8-yard run, the one that preceded his second touchdown, in the third quarter.

Brown also did a solid job picking up the blitz, which is more than we can say for fullback Darian Barnes on the play where Joey Porter sacked Daunte Culpepper in the first quarter.

Brown also had a nifty catch-and-run good for 13 yards to set up his first touchdown.

Look, the Dolphins offensive line is improved over last year and there will be games where Brown has a lot of room to run. Hopefully, that happens against a Buffalo defense that lacks a strong presence in the middle of the line.

If he has the holes and doesn't make much with them, then start worrying about Ronnie Brown.

For now, though, it's not only premature to panic, it's also unfair.

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