Dolphins Offense Has A Tough Task Ahead

The Miami Dolphins need to step it up on offense if they're going to have a chance to beat the Patriots. Although New England isn't writing their opponent off, they're ready to keep Miami at the bottom of the division.

Although the Dolphins' 30th-ranked secondary has been repeatedly torched in the first two games, it's their offensive offense that has been particularly disturbing.

And if the trend continues, look for impatient Dolphins coach Tony Sparano to make dramatic changes, including putting in rookie quarterback Chad Henne over Chad Pennington. But not yet.

Pennington, who has struggled mightily to get the ball to his wideouts, was just 10 of 20 for a pedestrian 112 yards, while getting sacked twice in a 31-10 loss to the Cardinals last Sunday.

The Dolphins are one of six teams in the NFL to not have a pass play for over 25 yards.

Pennington is just 2-6 against the Patriots, including a playoff loss in the 2006 season. He has completed 176 of 281 passes for 1,792 yards with nine touchdowns and nine interceptions against New England, Miami's undefeated opponent this Sunday in Foxboro.

"I think he's a really smart quarterback, very accurate, good decision maker and can manage a game and run the team exceptionally well," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday. "We still got to face him twice a year. It's certainly not something we're looking forward to."

The Dolphins, meanwhile, are looking forward to facing career backup Matt Cassel instead of perennial Pro Bowl quarterback Tom Brady, who for the first time in eight years won't be Miami's opposing quarterback.

"I don't really know how you take advantage of the Patriots. Those guys are solid. You have to go out and play sound football. You don't have to play the perfect game, but you have to play a pretty close to perfect game," said Miami defensive end Vonnie Holliday. "It's a big difference but at the same time, they've still got a lot of talent."

Cornerback Will Allen agreed.

"It would be hard to say they're not different. We all know that (Brady's) a big piece of that puzzle over there. But Cassel comes in and he plays well," Allen said.

Pennington is only averaging 5.76 yards a completion, which ranks 22nd among 32 starters. His career average is 7.1 yards per completion.

"Good. Don't," Sparano joked after a reporter prefaced his question by saying he wasn't trying to create a quarterback controversy. "I don't know if he could (have done just as well as a starter) or not. I have my quarterback. He's the guy that's playing."

Henne, a second-round pick out of Michigan, made his NFL debut in the fourth quarter Sunday with the Cardinals leading 31-3. He promptly directed an 18-play, 89-yard touchdown march in which he completed seven of 12 passes for 67 yards.

"It feels good," Henne said of his game-time experience. "We were in an up-tempo, two-minute (offense), and we made some plays, completed some balls. ... We'll see what happens."

"I think it's a big help. Just going in there getting them started, scoring a touchdown, getting some confidence building in there. It was a big plus."

Henne said that he is still taking leftover snaps in practice with Pennington receiving the bulk of them. He also said that Pennington continues to support and mentor him just as he has since joining the Dolphins five weeks ago.

"He's not going to change. He's a great player and a great person," Henne said. "I'm not the guy. Chad's going to play and he's going to play well."

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