Final Game 6 Observations

The Dolphins had the day off on Tuesday, but there's still a lot of buzz about Sunday's 46-34 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Before we start thinking about the New York Jets, let's take one final look at what happened two days ago.

-- We have to start, of course, with that really, really bad timeout at the end of the first half. It was bad. It cost the Dolphins four points. It didn't cost them the game. End of story.

-- Remember that the Dolphins still led 34-24 entering the fourth quarter. But that lead was cut to seven absurdly quickly after the Dolphins let a 22-yard completion to Jeremy Shockey turn into a 66-yard gain because Vontae Davis missed a tackle near midfield and because Gibril Wilson could do nothing but run side by side with Shockey while the big tight end kept him a bay with a hand in his face.

-- Drew Brees made an interesting comment after the game when he said he thought the Saints were the better conditioned team. Well, here's one possible explanation why the Dolphins defense couldn't hold up in the fourth quarter: The Dolphins' first seven possessions of the second half all lasted exactly three offensive plays.

There were four three-and-outs, a three-play drive that ended with a field goal after Jason Taylor's second sack and strip caused a turnover, the three-play drive that featured the 67-yard pass to Brian Hartline followed by Ricky Williams' touchdown run, and finally the first drive of the half that ended when Ted Ginn Jr. let Chad Henne's perfectly thrown pass bounce off him and into the hands of Darren Sharper for a Saints touchdown.

The time of possession on those seven drives: 1:04, 1:27, 1:50, 1:18, 1:06, 0:31 and 0:34. And you wonder why the Dolphins defense ran out of gas.

-- There's been a lot of criticism about the Dolphins abandoning the running game in the second half, and there's clearly some merit to that. But it also must be pointed out that the Saints started selling out against the run and the results weren't good when the Dolphins did try to run.

A couple of glaring examples:

On their possession of the second half, the Dolphins ran the Wildcat on two straight plays after having a second-and-4, but Ronnie Brown could only gain 2 yards and then 1 yard, forcing a Dolphins punt.

After the Taylor-produced turnover, Ricky Williams gained 4 yards on first down to the 11-yard line and the Dolphins went to the Wildcat on second down, but Ronnie Brown lost 4 yards.

So, yes, the Dolphins maybe should have run the ball more, but the bottom line is they averaged barely over 2 yards on the eight carries they did attempt.

-- No, a bigger problem on offense was the dropped passes. Ginn had two, maybe three depending on how harshly you want to judge him; Anthony Fasano had a clear drop of a very nice pass by Ronnie Brown out of the Wildcat; and Ricky Williams dropped a short pass on the last drive of the game. That's bad.

-- Speaking of Fasano, here's a player who is costing himself a lot of money this season. See, he's scheduled to become a free agent next spring and he's not exactly been lighting it up in 2009. In fact, he has been a non-factor most of the time, has dropped a couple of balls and, of course, had the two fumbles in the opener at Atlanta.

-- If it weren't for Ginn, Fasano would get the nod as the most disappointing player this season.

-- Then again, Ginn really shouldn't be considered a huge disapointment because he's basically the same receiver he's been his first two years. It's just that some folks actually thought he'd make a big jump this season because he seemingly ran good routes in practice and because his coaches and teammates were talking him up all spring and summer.

-- What shouldn't be lost in the loss to New Orleans was the performance of Jason Taylor, who continues to badly outplay fellow outside linebacker Joey Porter. Sure, Porter has been bothered by a hamstring injury for a few weeks, but that doesn't change the fact he's not been anywhere near the impact player he was last year.

-- With that in mind, why didn't we see more of Cameron Wake on defense against the Saints? Especially in the second half when the defense kept having to go back on the field. Just saying.

-- Center Jake Grove has been a major upgrade over the departed Samson Satele, but what's with the false-start penalties when his left arm keeps twitching?


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