Sobering Start

The most important thing everybody needs to remember following the Dolphins' 19-7 loss at Atlanta on opening day is that it wasn't only one game. There are 15 left, and there's plenty of time for Miami to improve. OK, now that that's out of the way, wow, that was one depressing afternoon at the Georgia Dome.

A lot is going to be made of the Dolphins committing four turnovers in this game and CBS analyst Dan Dierdorf was trying hard on Sunday to make it sound as though that was the difference in the game.

Uh ... no.

Not even close.

The truth, the sad truth, is the Falcons totally outclassed the Dolphins in this one. The Falcons clearly looked like a team that's got legitimate playoff aspirations in 2009 and we can't say the same for the Dolphins.

The Dolphins actually looked a lot more like the sorry 2007 version than the inspiring group from last season.

And, again, it wasn't about the turnovers. The turnovers were symptoms of what was wrong with the Dolphins, not the reason.

The reason is the offensive line got manhandled, and that includes everybody from Jake Long to Vernon Carey and all in between.

Another reason is the wide receiver group simply isn't good enough. Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo are easily the two best receivers on this team, but both lack the speed to make defenses fear the threat of beating them deep.

Ted Ginn Jr.? Yes, he's got tremendous speed, but until we see evidence to the contrary, he remains a work in progress. Dierdorf called him timid on Sunday; that might be a kind way to describe him.

The Dolphins trotted out the Wildcat on a couple of occasions against Atlanta, with moderate success, and the Dolphins are going to be in trouble if they're going to rely on that to move the ball.

Because of the make-up of the team, and because of Pennington's style, it is imperative the Dolphins win the battle at the line of scrimmage for them to have any success on offense. They didn't come close to doing that against Atlanta.

Remember, this was not a great Atlanta defense the Dolphins faced, and they sure looked that way on Sunday.

The special teams also were atrocious against Atlanta, starting with a very short kickoff by Dan Carpenter and followed by nothing on kickoff returns, whether it was Ginn or Patrick Cobbs doing the returning (personally, I'd rather Cobbs back there all the time).

The only good news, really, to come out of this game was the job of the run defense, which shut down Michael Turner.

It also was nice to see defensive end Phillip Merling follow up a disappointing training camp and preseason with a tremendous performance.

But, all in all, it was a brutal beginning for the Dolphins, and not because of the final score. The Dolphins on this day looked nothing like a playoff team, and the next two games on the schedule -- against the Colts and Chargers -- aren't going to make things any easier.


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