Dan's conversation with Dolphin expert Alain

Q)How is the Dolphins line playing, and how have the loss of two starting guards to injuries (Donald Thomas and Justin Smiley) impacted the unit?

Alain)The Dolphins offensive line has been functional all season. Nobody would ever call it a dominant line, but the coaching staff does enough things with the play-calling and formations to mask its shortcomings. The losses of Thomas and Smiley indeed were big because both are very good run blockers, but overall it's been a workmanlike performance by this group.

Q)How are the Dolphins using their two featured backs - Ronnie and Ricky - what is the pattern like, how do their styles differ and who is having the better season?

Alain)The Dolphins have mixed and matched with Ronnie and Ricky all year, generally with very good results. The two have been used in a rotation system and they've also been on the field at the same time, most often in the Wildcat formation. In terms of styles, Brown generally likes to go hard quickly when he sees a whole and he welcomes contact and likes to move the pile. Williams runs with his eyes, meaning he quickly looks for where the hole is and then runs through it. As for effectiveness, you'd probably have to say Brown has had a slightly better year because he's scored so many more touchdowns, but it's not like he's blown away what Williams has done. It's really a very good situation the Dolphins have at running back, especially when you throw Patrick Cobbs into the mix.

Q)How big a loss was wide receiver Greg Camarillo, or have the Dolphins not missed a beat without him?

Alain)Camarillo had emerged as the Dolphins' go-to wide receiver, and it's clear they've missed him. But the loss has been softened by the emergence of rookie free agent Davone Bess, who is exactly the same type of receiver minus the height. More than anything, what Camarillo's absence has done is expose the Dolphins' lack of depth at wide receiver.

Q)The Jets have had issues covering tight ends this year, so how big a pain are Tony Fasano and David Martin going to be to them?

A)One would think they would be major pains. If you recall, it was Fasano and Martin who scored Miami ‘s two touchdowns when the Jets played in Miami in September. Fasano is coming off a huge game at Kansas City last Sunday and Martin has caught a TD pass each of the last two weeks, so they're clearly major factors in the passing game. The Jets better cover them or Chad Pennington will be throwing to them all day.

Q)What is Chad Pennington done particulary well this year, and has there been any part of his game that needs a little improvement?

A)Everything and nothing. Really, the man has been nothing short of sensational. He's been a tremendous leader, holding meetings with his receivers and linemen outside of team functions, has given his team confidence, has been incredibly accurate with great touch and has avoided mistakes. His passer rating is second-best in the AFC behind that of Philip Rivers, and how he wasn't picked for the Pro Bowl is beyond me. He deserves MVP consideration, that's how important he's been. As for shortcomings, sure, he could thrown more bombs, but then again he doesn't have the wide receivers to do that.


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