Monday Observations

Yes, it was nice to see the Dolphins finally get a win on Sunday. But it also was disconcerting to see them struggling so much just to merely eke out a win against a really, really bad team. Bottom line: The Dolphins have a long, long way to go before we even start thinking about the playoffs or even contending for the playoffs. Here are more thoughts the day after this ugly affair.

-- Let's start with Daunte Culpepper because he's obviously been the focal point of this team. He played slightly better against Tennessee than he did against Buffalo, but he's still a mediocre quarterback right now.

It's more apparent each week that he's not there physically, and he still looks hesitant in the pocket.

-- That said, the offensive line needs to start doing a better job of protecting him. A couple of the seven sacks against Buffalo were Culpepper's fault, but that really wasn't the case against the Titans.

What was happening in that game were breakdowns or guys simply losing one-on-one battles.

We knew this offensive line didn't have great talent going in, but it can't afford mental mistakes on top of that or Culpepper will continue on his pace of sacks, which currently has him breaking the NFL record held by Houston's David Carr (76, in 2002).

-- The running game was decent against Tennessee. Not great, but decent. Ronnie Brown is a solid, solid running back.

-- He's not spectacular, at least not No. 2 overall pick spectacular, but he's very solid and he easily could wind up in the 1,200-yard range if the stays healthy.

The receivers have been quiet for the most part so far this season, but that's mostly due to the protection problems and Culpepper's struggles.

Randy McMichael, for one, is off to a tremendously slow start in terms of numbers, but other than the one drop he had against Buffalo, it's not really been his fault.

The passing game, mind you, is supposed to be the strength of this team on offense, but that hasn't come close to happening.

-- Defensively, it was good to see the linebackers finally have a productive game.

Zach Thomas, Channing Crowder and Donnie Spragan all had been very quiet in the first two games, but they all played well against Tennessee.

Spragan had a tremendous play that didn't show up in the stat sheet when he took away Kerry Collins' primary receiver with tight coverage on tight end Ben Troupe, which led to Collins holding on to the ball and eventually getting sacked by Keith Traylor.

-- Speaking of Traylor, he's off to a tremendous start this season, and we're not saying just because of the two sacks he had against the Titans.

He's also already made his share of big plays against the run. The addition of Dan Wilkinson to spell Traylor has really has been a benefit so far.

-- The secondary still is a weakness, and it's not because Travis Daniels has been injured. In fact, his replacement, Andre Goodman, probably has been the Dolphins' best defensive back so far this season.

But the truth is the Dolphins safeties have struggled in coverage, and even Daniels had a rough day against Tennessee.

Yes, he got the game-clinching interception, but that was just the result of a tipped ball. He was beaten on a couple of occasions and Coach Nick Saban admitted Monday that Daniels wasn't at this best.

-- Finally, we need to address Olindo Mare's short miss off the infield dirt. This should not be that shocking. Mare has made no secret of his dislike for the infield dirt, and it's almost like he's spooked by it.

It's not a tremendous deal, though, because the Dolphins are done playing with the infield dirt at Dolphin Stadium and Mare is kicking tremendously well otherwise.

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