About As Good As Could Be Expected

Sunday's game at Gillette Stadium had all the suspense of a preseason affair, but it wasn't because the Dolphins didn't play hard. They did play hard, and they also played fairly well given the personnel they put on the field. It's just that they were so mismatched that it didn't matter what they did, this game was going to be a stinker.

The difference in talent level, really, was startling.

We don't need to talk about the quarterback position about the difference between Tom Brady and Cleo Lemon. Or wide receiver, where the Pats line up Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte' Stallworth, and the Dolphins counter with Ted Ginn Jr., Derek Hagan and Marty Booker -- although we're liking the way Greg Camarillo is looking these days.

Anyway, the Dolphins entered this game with virtually no margin for error, yet they made plenty in the first half, such as a dropped pass by Ginn on the very first snap from scrimmage.

Lemon, meanwhile, showed tremendous indecision in the pocket throughout the game, and those seven sacks by New England were as much on him as on the offensive line.

That inability to make quick -- and good -- decisions also cost the Dolphins a touchdown in the third quarter when Lemon ran a naked bootleg on third-and-goal and tried to hit a well-covered David Martin in the end zone instead of running it in even though he had an easy path to pay dirt.

The on fourth down, the same play was called and Lemon took too wide a route around linebacker Mike Vrabel and then tried to sneak into the corner of the end zone instead of bulling his way in there, and the result was that he stepped out before reaching the pylon.

But this isn't about picking on Lemon, because there were other areas that showed the Dolphins' deficiencies.

For one thing, their tight end corps is screaming for an upgrade. Martin dropped two passes after being hit Sunday and Justin Peelle got smoked by Vrabel on a blitz and the led to a sack.

The offensive line again didn't have a good game, continuing a slide that began in the latter stages of the season. Right tackle L.J. Shelton was particularly ineffective, and his $3 million base salary for next season makes it less than certain he'll be back.

On defense, the Dolphins actually played pretty well up front, getting some pressure on Brady.

Jason Taylor was very active despite a bad foot and Joey Porter continued his late-season surge with a fourth-down sack that caused a fumble.

Jason Allen even had a good read on a deep Brady pass that he picked off in the end zone.

Really, it was the type of all-around effort that might have been good enough some of the really bad teams in the league -- you know, like Baltimore -- but it wasn't going to get it done against New England.

Not even close.

And the sad reality is that not even close also applies to the Dolphins' personnel if the goal is making the playoffs.

Bill Parcells is now in charge, and it will be his job to improve that. And it's not going to be an easy job.


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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.