Still a Long Way To Go

The Dolphins ended up having a great chance to win against the Jets, but Coach Tony Sparano wasn't going to fool himself into believing the Dolphins really deserved to win. On the contrary, he was quick to point out in his postgame press conference that his team got outplayed. Indeed, the Dolphins didn't look nearly as good as the Jets. They looked like a team that still needs a lot of work.

The Dolphins sadly were outplayed in a lot of different areas, some that were expected, some that weren't.

For example, we knew the Dolphins wide receiver corps was a little on the mediocre side, although few had reason to believe it would be such a non-factor against the Jets.

Sparano said after the game that the Jets' coverage dictated a lot of underneath throws and passes to the tight ends, but the unmistakable truth is the Dolphins have guys who don't know how to get open or just aren't fast enough to get open.

We also knew the Dolphins had issues at safety, and that was apparent on Sunday with both Renaldo Hill and Chris Crocker turning in poor performances.

What we didn't expect was for the Dolphins offensive line to get manhandled by the Jets' front line.

The offensive line, in fact, was supposed to be the strength of this team, yet it couldn't open up much running room for Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown and it didn't give Chad Pennington enough time on too many occasions.

Jake Long came into this season with a lot of promise and high expectations, but he had a tough time against the Jets and was flagged for two costly penalties.

Then there was the front seven, which also was expected to be more than competitive.

Well, it got pushed around a little too much against the Jets.

The only player among the defensive linemen and linebackers who really stood out was rookie defensive end Kendall Langford.

Joey Porter was very quiet outside of one sack, Matt Roth did have a big play when he forced a fumble by stripping Brett Favre from behind, but Channing Crowder didn't do much and neither did Akin Ayodele.

And too many times Jets running backs Thomas Jones and Leon Washington were running through large holes.

One reason for optimism was the presence of Pennington at quarterback, and he rebounded from a horrible start to finish with a respectable performance.

But he's a quarterback without a strong arm who needs for his receivers to get some separation. That's where the problems at wideout really come to light.

There were too many passes to Ginn where he simply couldn't get any separation from the defender. On the game-clinching interception, Ginn found himself stuck behind cornerback Darrelle Revis and never made an effort to get in front of Revis despite the fact the ball took a long time to get there.

The Dolphins did a good job of rebuilding their roster in a lot of areas, but failed to properly address the wide receiver spot.

The big free agent pick-up was Ernest Wilford, but he was inactive against the Jets. In retrospect, the Dolphins probably could have used his size in the red zone.

Either way, the Dolphins need help at receiver badly, and the same goes for safety. But those problems become that much more magnified if the offensive line and front seven don't play better than they did against the Jets.

All in all, the opener was very disappointing, and it wasn't just because the Dolphins lost. It's because it's clear they still have a long way to go.

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