ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

Coach Dave Wannstedt was happy with the effort of the Dolphins in their 27-9 victory over the Chicago Bears, but there still were a couple of things that left him very unhappy.

One is glaring, that being the three turnovers against the Bears — fumbles by wide receiver James McKnight and running back Ricky Williams that killed scoring drives, and an interception by Jay Fiedler that led to a Bears field goal in the third quarter.

Something else that wasn't so obvious, but bothered Wannstedt almost as much, was a string of penalties on special teams.

On three of Chicago's first four punts of the game, the Dolphins were called for penalties, none more costly than Jamar Fletcher's holding call after the first possession of the game.

Robert Baker had returned the punt all the way to the Chicago 15-yard line, but with the holding occurring while the punt was in the air, the ball was moved all the way back to the Dolphins 32. That's a difference of 53 yards.

On Chicago's second punts, it was Brock Marion called for an illegal block above the waist. That penalty forced the Dolphins to begin a drive from their own 11.

Finally, Trent Gamble joined the penalty parade when he was called for another illegal block above the waist in the second quarter. That call pushed the Dolphins back to their 13.

"We had some critical penalties," Wannstedt said Tuesday. "It was the first time in a few weeks that we've had some penalties on special teams that have really hurt us.

"The penalties are things that we can clean up. The effort from our team is what I would have hoped for. These guys came out ready to play and they played hard."

But the bottom line is that the Dolphins, great effort or not, can't afford too many mistakes this Sunday when they play host to the red-hot Oakland Raiders.

"As a team we did not play good enough and that was the message that I had to the players," Wannstedt said right after the Chicago game. "A heck of a win, but we have got to be a lot better than that. We turned the ball over twice inside the 10-yard line in the first half. That is not going to get it done this week against Oakland.

"We have to get a lot better between now and next Sunday. Nice win and we know how tough it is to get wins. Don't underestimate what I am saying and what I told the players. We have got to get a lot better if we want to get to where we all expect to be."


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