Final Game 1 Observations

Tuesday is the one day off for every team in the NFL; for us, it's the day we take a final look at the most recent game before we start focusing on the upcoming opponent. So here are some final thoughts about the 16-13 overtime loss at Washington.

Green light: All things considered, Trent Green was more than good enough at quarterback. Yes, he did make a bad decision on his intentional grounding penalty and he avoided disaster when his horrible pass late in the game was dropped by Washington CB Fred Smoot, but he was pretty accurate all game and would have put up much better numbers had it not been for dropped passes.

Playing catch: Speaking of dropped passes, man, oh man, is this going to stop at some point? Really now, the Dolphins receiving corps isn't NEARLY explosive enough to make up for dropped passes. It's not like Steve Smith or Chad Johnson dropping a pass, because those guys will come back and go 80 yards with their next catch. The Dolphins don't have much explosiveness on offense, and therefore need to be methodical and error-free on offense. That means, quit dropping passes.

Building blocks: One reason the Dolphins haven't thrown downfield very often in recent years has been shaky pass protection, and it remains to be seen whether that will change this year. The Dolphins went deep once against Washington, and the result was an incomplete pass to Chris Chambers. But it's not a major deal if the Dolphins can't connect on a deep pass; just attempting three or four bombs every game probably will make opposing safeties back off the line of scrimmage, which in turn will make it easier for the Dolphins to run the ball. The Dolphins absolutely couldn't do anything on the ground against the Redskins, and a reason was that Redskins safety LaRon Landry spent the entire game near the line of scrimmage. The run blocking obviously needs to be better, but the question of whether it will get better is a legitimate one.

Zach attack: It was very noble of Zach Thomas to accept blame for the Redskins' conversion on third-and-7 in overtime, and the replays indicated showed Thomas giving up way too much cushion to tight end Chris Cooley, but the big problem in overtime clearly was the lack of of run defense. Whether the issue was the defense being tired or the Redskins using a three-wideout alignment to take advantage of a nickel defense, it was nothing short of unacceptable. We also don't like the fact that Joey Porter spent most of the overtime on the sideline; he's too much of a playmaker to not be in the game on every down. The Dolphins are paying him like a difference-maker; use him like one.

Not a great be-ginn-ing: Ted Ginn Jr. did have a nice 34-yard kickoff return against the Redskins, but he still looks very, very tentative from this vantage point, and that's very troubling at this point. The way Ginn is running right now, he just can't make any use of his great speed and looks like a very average returner unless there is a great big hole already in front of him.

Parting shot: The point was made after the game that the Dolphins are exactly in the same boat as 16 other teams in the league, what with their 0-1 record. But that's just not accurate. The Dolphins being 0-1 isn't even in the same league as the Eagles being 0-1 or the Baltimore Ravens being 0-1, because those teams are established and have the foundation for major success already in place. The Dolphins don't have that. They are a rebuilding team that needs to establish a winning culture, which comes from being able to pull games like the one the Dolphins lost at Washington. No, we're not ready to pull the plug on the season just because the Dolphins lost their opener, but don't make it sound like everybody is just rosy, either.


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Alain Poupart is the Associate Editor of Dolphin Digest and DolphinDigest.com. To read him every day, visit DolphinDigest.com and become a Miami Dolphins insider.