Final Game 12 Observations

Tuesday is the off day in the NFL, the day before preparations begin for the next game. It's also an opportunity to take a final look back at the most recent game, in this case the Dolphins' 16-12 victory over the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome.

-- Yep, it was an ugly game, no need to keep repeating it. The Dolphins are not the New York Giants, they're just not good enough to dominate inferior opponents just because they're supposed to. Be happy with what we've got this season.

-- Tony Sparano has done a wonderful job this season, but he's still going to have a hard time getting the nod for NFL Coach of the Year honors. That's because of the jobs being done in Atlanta by first-year coach Mike Smith and in Baltimore by first-year coach John Harbaugh.

-- So why did the Dolphins struggle against the Rams? For one thing, having Steven Jackson in the lineup makes the Rams a totally different, much better, team. We can thank St. Louis coach Jim Haslett for giving Jackson only one carry in the fourth quarter despite Jackson saying he felt fine physically.

-- Really, the difference in this game was at quarterback. Had this been the Marc Bulger of four, five years ago, the Dolphins would have lost that game. But Bulger has become a bad quarterback who makes bad decisions, and he pretty much handed the Dolphins the victory with his interceptions and his inability to make plays in the red zone.

-- Still, it was a little bit alarming to watch the Dolphins struggle so much with Jackson, especially considering they'll face Marshawn Lynch next weekend.

-- The pass rush also has disappeared in the last two games, primarily because Joey Porter isn't getting to the quarterback. And sadly, this season it's been a case of Porter gets to the quarterback or nobody gets there.

-- The 3-4 system demands pass-rushing excellence from both outside linebacker spots. We've said it before and we'll say it again. What's the best defense in the league? Pittsburgh. Why are they so good? Because they have a stud nose tackle to help clog up the run and because they apply so much pressure in passing situations. Why do they apply to so much pressure? Because both outside linebackers, James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley are relentless. End of story.

-- Yes, Matt Roth has contributed in the run defense, but he hasn't produced enough in the pass rush. Then again, that can be said of the defensive linemen as well.

-- Turning over to the offense, this was not a scintillating effort. The running game continues to be sluggish, and maybe the loss of Justin Smiley early in the game contributed to that. The Dolphins, regardless of how they do it, will need to run the ball better down the stretch or you can forget about making a push for the playoffs.

-- That was some contribution by Ernest Wilford now that he finally was active, wasn't it? What was the total? Oh yeah, zero catches. Nice pick on the defensive back covering Davone Bess on the play that gained 37 yards, though. Yes, it should have been offensive pass interference, but it's not a penalty if it doesn't get called.

-- On the subject of wide receivers, you had to love the way Bess responded in his first game replacing Greg Camarillo. As he has shown since he first joined the Dolphins, Bess got open and caught the ball. Yes, he let a catchable ball get through him in the end zone, but it wasn't one that would be classified a drop.

-- What was a drop was Ginn failing to catch that pass near the sideline on third down. It continues a pattern for Ginn where he takes a step forward, then a step back, then a step forward, then a step back.

-- Have to say we're less than impressed with Ginn as a kick returner lately. He seems more hesitant to absorb contact than ever and looks to cut everything outside inside of shooting through a hole up the middle. Look at his numbers as a returner. Not good.

-- Then again, outside of Dan Carpenter making all his field goals, it was another ho-hum day on special teams at St. Louis. There was Ginn's mediocre kick returning, there was a holding penalty on a kickoff return and Brandon Fields' mediocre effort when he pooch-kicked in an effort to pin the Rams deep but his punt was fair-caught at the 20.

-- OK, enough complaining. The Dolphins won and now it's on to Toronto to face the Bills. Now, that's a team with some problems.


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