10 QUESTIONS - Dolphins vs Patriots Part 1
DophinDigest.com Editor Alain Poupart is this week's guest on 10 questions about the Dolphins.
10) The Dolphins suffered a setback against the Jaguars last Sunday. What went wrong for Miami, and how has that impacted the teams outlook for the playoffs?
Alain Poupart: The two big issues the Dolphins had against Jacksonville was that their run defense didn't play well enough to put the Jags in obvious passing situations, and that kind of exposed what is still a marginal secondary. The other issue was the two crucial interceptions thrown by Joey Harrington, one when the Dolphins had a third-and-goal with a 7-3 lead, the other right before halftime that helped turn a 10-7 Jacksonville lead into a 17-7 cushion.
9) Last we saw of Joey Harrington he was playing solid football in a close contest in Foxborough. Were it not for an errant throw late in the game, Harrington would have had a very solid day. And possibly pulled off an upset. How consistent has Harringtons play been? And is he playing well enough to keep Daunte Culpepper on the bench if Culpepper were healthy?
Poupart: That's just it. If you read the answer to question 1 and question 2 itself, the common them is "with the exception of an errant throw." Unfortunately, that's always the story with Harrington. Overall, he has played fairly well. He's got a nice arm, gets rid of the ball quickly and will get on a roll where he's thrown the ball very accurately. But every single, solitary game, he will make one or two bad mistakes where he's throwing to force something that's not there and it winds up costing the Dolphins badly.
As for the second part of the question, I believe the Dolphins have too much invested in Daunte Culpepper not to give him every shot to see if he can regain his Pro Bowl form.
8) With Ronnie Brown out for this game, who will run the football for the Dolphins? Whats the biggest difference with Brown not available?
Poupart: Sammy Morris will start at running back, with Travis Minor also getting carries. The biggest difference with Brown on the inactive list is that the Dolphins can't pound the ball because neither Morris nor Minor is physical enough to wear down a defense. Morris is an underrated back who can spring a big run here and there, but the Dolphins aren't likely to be able to control the clock with him.
7) Jason Taylor continues to receive a great deal of credit for leading the Dolphins defense along with Zach Thomas. Who else is playing well on the Dolphins defense that the media may not be talking about?
Poupart: Taylor deserves every bit of recognition is getting because he has been playing lights out ever since the Dolphins returned from their bye and is putting together a season that might be good enough to make him NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Others having really good seasons on defense are tackle Vonnie Holliday and former Patriots nose tackle Keith Traylor. Traylor is the biggest reason the run defense has been good all season, and he had a rare off day last Sunday, which was a big reason Jacksonville had success on the ground.
6) How well has the offensive line played since the Patriots game in week 5? Have they been able to open holes for the ground game and protect Harrington when Miami needed to pass?
Poupart: The offensive line really starting improving with the Jets game on Oct. 15 after L.J. Shelton switched from left tackle to right guard and Damion McIntosh went from right guard to left tackle. Since the, the line has been pretty solid every week. It's not a dominant unit by any stretch of the imagination, but the Dolphins wouldn't have won four in a row without a solid contribution from that unit.
Look for part 2 where Alain addresses Nick Saban's coaching style, the Dolphins biggest surprises (positive/negative) for the season and what he expects from the Dolphins as they finish the season. Alain also offers a prediction for the game, and gives his top 5 teams in the NFL right now.