Behind Enemy Lines: Dolphins Part II

Dolphin Digest editor Alain Poupart shares some key insights with us on how the Dolphins are doing. In Part 2 we find out about: the impact of losing Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor; the role Ted Ginn will play; which draft picks are playing well and much more... including Poupart's brutally honest assessment of the team.

Questions & Answers with Dolphins Insider Alain Poupart Part 2
(Continued from Part 1)



What kind of impact has the departures of Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas had on the team?


Alain Poupart: Parcells and Co. may not like to admit it, but obviously a big one. A healthy Taylor at outside linebacker would give the Dolphins a much-needed pass-rushing threat from the outside because Matt Roth and Porter so far aren't cutting it. As for Thomas, maybe he did slow down a little the last couple of years, but he still at this stage is a better player than his replacement, Channing Crowder. And those two clearly were the leaders on defense, which is another aspect that's missing, although maybe the new regime wanted a clean slate there and Thomas and Taylor represented too much the old Dolphins.


Give us a quick scouting report on the Dolphins offense. Obviously the backs are talented, but is there enough talent elsewhere to get it on track?


AP: Not right now. As mentioned before, the wide receiver corps is frighteningly inept. Even Seattle, which has lost about 13 players to injuries, might have better receivers. Here's how bad it is: The two best receivers on the roster probably are Greg Camarillo and Davone Bess. Now, those two entered the NFL as undrafted free agents and the reason is that neither has speed. So while they do a good job, if those two guys are your best, you're in trouble. Former first-round pick Ted Ginn Jr. has been a non-factor so far and wasn't even part of the three-wideout packages the Dolphins used against Arizona last Sunday. Former third-round pick Derek Hagan has been inconsistent since the day he joined the team and that hasn't changed. And free agent pick-up Ernest Wilford, who everyone assumed would arrive and be, at worst, the second receiver on the team, was inactive for the opener. Ouch!


Bill Parcells likes to build through the Draft, much like the Patriots. What are the biggest hits /misses in the Dolphins drafts of the past few years, and has Bill Parcells drafted any players you think will be future stars?


Jason Allen tries to work the crowd as the Dolphins inch closer to 1-15 after losing this one to Buffalo. (Getty)

AP: Dolphins draft misses? We don't have enough space to properly do this justice, plus I only have a couple of hours to answer these questions. Seriously, we'll give you a few: 2003, the Dolphins badly need a wide receiver and Anquan Boldin is sitting there for the taking in the second round, but the Dolphins instead take LB Eddie Moore, who's now out of the league; 2001, the Dolphins have Jay Fiedler as their quarterback but have a chance to pick up Drew Brees with the 26th pick in the first round, but instead they go with CB Jamar Fletcher; 2006, the Dolphins go for safety Jason Allen at No. 16, and watch San Diego take Antonio Cromartie three picks later; finally there was the Ginn pick last year, he was the No. 9 overall pick, yet just one year later is no factor on offense and has been replaced as the punt and kickoff returner by Bess. On the flip side, of the nine picks this year, I really think the future is bright for Jake Long (1st round), Henne (2nd), Langford (3rd) and guard Donald Thomas, a sixth-round pick who earned the starting job in camp before sustaining a season-ending foot injury in the opener.


Why will/won't we see a repeat performance by Randy Moss in this game similar to the first matchup of 2007 between these teams when Moss had 122 yards and 2 TDs?


AP: It could be ugly again because the Dolphins still don't have anybody who can cover Moss. The obvious difference here is Matt Cassel instead of Tom Brady. But both Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald caught passes for more than 140 yards last Sunday, so thinking Moss won't put up big numbers would be foolish.


Who will win on Sunday and why?


AP: Is that a trick question? It's a sad scenario that's played out too often in Miami in recent years, where there appears to be little chance of the Dolphins winning the game. I'm suspecting the Dolphins defense will play better after last Sunday's debacle at Arizona, but I have a hard time picturing the Dolphins doing anything offensively. So I think they can keep it close for a while, but just don't have the offensive firepower to pull off the upset. I'd say something like 17-6, Patriots.


Alain has seen a lot of ups and downs in the NFL since he started. That's one reason why we wanted to get his take on these general NFL questions


Top 3 teams in the NFL from what you've seen so far?


AP: Well, it ain't the Dolphins, that's for sure. I think Dallas clearly is the best team in the league because they have the most balance. After the Brady injury, I think there's a big drop-off behind the Cowboys. In the AFC, Pittsburgh looks like the most complete team, although Roethlisberger's shoulder injury could be problematic. Since you asked me for a third team, I'd tell you to keep an eye on Carolina, which won its first two games without Steve Smith and is playing good defense.


Are you surprised at how injuries have impacted the season?


AP: Only in the sense that there have been more than usual, and to bigger players. Injuries have totally shifted the power of balance in the AFC, and it's not just Brady, but Shawne Merriman in San Diego, Jeff Saturday in Indianapolis, the three offensive linemen in Jacksonville and whoever else I'm forgetting. The Patriots, Colts, Jaguars and Chargers were the last four teams standing in the playoffs last season, and now they've all dropped a notch because of injuries.


Who do you expect to win the AFC East and why?


AP: You just want a plug for your Patriots, don't you? [no, not really] No offense,[none taken] but I'm just a little bit sick and tired of watching the Pats take this division and I sadly think they'll do it again. The simple reason is that the gap between them and everybody else was so big that not even the injury to Brady could make a difference. Now, if somebody else goes down, it's a different story. But at this time, I still see them as the class of the division, even though Buffalo and the Jets are vastly improved. Where the Brady injury will make a difference will be in the playoffs, but I'm thinking it will be six in a row for the Pats as division champs. Hope I'm wrong, though.


Even after this happened, the Pats are Still projected to win...(AP)


If you missed part 1 of this Q&A, you can read it here


Alain Poupart is the associate editor of Dolphin Digest. He has covered the Dolphins since 1983.


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