REPORT CARD

Here's a breakdown of how every unit on the Dolphins performed in the 49-21 season-opening victory over the Detroit Lions.

QUARTERBACKS — Jay Fiedler was very efficient in running the Dolphins offense, and that's all that was needed on this day. He finished with a modest 207 yards, but had three touchdowns and no interceptions. He made one ill-advised throw in the first half, but got away with it. Ray Lucas came in during the fourth quarter but didn't throw a pass. Grade: B+

RUNNING BACKS — So that's why the Dolphins got Ricky Williams. He looked tremendous in finishing with 111 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns and a long of 37. Rob Konrad, as expected, was a factor in the running game. Travis Minor racked up some pretty good numbers in mop-up duty. Grade: A-

RECEIVERS — As he often did in the preseason, rookie tight end Randy McMichael stole the show. He caught four passes for 73 yards and made a spectacular catch over the middle when he reached for an overthrown pass and brought it in with one hand. Chris Chambers, Oronde Gadsden and Dedric Ward all caught passes for the Dolphins and there were no drops. Grade: A

OFFENSIVE LINE — The Dolphins rushed for 182 yards with a 4.4 average and didn't allow a sack, so it's difficult to find fault with this unit. Sure, Fiedler was pressured at times, Mark Dixon and Jamie Nails were both clearly beaten once, but let's not get picky here. Nails did some tremendous run blocking all day and all in all it was a tremendous effort up front. Grade: A

DEFENSIVE LINE — The Lions offense didn't do a lot of damage, and it started up front. The Dolphins wound up with three sacks of quarterback Mike McMahon and they also shut down the Detroit passing game. No player really stood out on the defensive line, but that doesn't mean the unit didn't play well. Grade: B+

LINEBACKERS — It was the same old story for the linebacking corps. Zach Thomas made a lot of plays, Derrick Rodgers and Morlon Greenwood made a couple, but both outside linebackers also had their miscues. Rodgers, for example, was beaten badly on an out-and-up move by Lamont Warren for a Detroit touchdown pass. Grade: C+

DEFENSIVE BACKS — Detroit wideout Az-Zahir Hakim wound up with nine catches for 97 yards, but he didn't do a lot of real damage against the Dolphins secondary. Brock Marion anticipated Mike McMahon's pass to the right side early in the third quarter and came up with an interception that set up a touchdown. Arturo Freeman also had a very strong performance in his first as the Dolphins' full-time starting strong safety. Patrick Surtain again showed why he's a Pro Bowl-worthy cornerback. Jamar Fletcher got a lot of playing time after Sam Madison was hurt and did a decent job, although he didn't tackle well and also dropped a potential interception. Grade: B+

SPECIAL TEAMS — If there was any disappointment on this day, it was the play of punt returner Albert Johnson. The newcomer had a rough outing, the problems beginning in the first half when he fumbled on a return, only to be saved by Freeman recovering the loose ball. He also made two fair catches in the second half with plenty of space in front of them, one of them at his own 6-yard line. Olindo Mare did a decent, but not great, job on kickoffs, while Mark Royals averaged an impressive 47.8 yards on five punts. But that number looked better than his performance because he had one very low punt that was returned for 13 yards and he also punt one punt in the end zone from the Lions 46-yard line. Grade: C-


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