Miami had resilience last week but how will they fare against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers at home?
Not much was expected from the Miami Dolphins this season
. They hadn't picked up a new quarterback and Chad Henne hasn't been progressing like the management and the fans had wanted
him to. The fans were his worst critic and that's tough for any quarterback to accept. The Dolphins had also lost running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams while in return they reacquired an aging Jason Taylor and Reggie Bush, who was considered to be a malcontent with the New Orleans Saints
and never lived up to the hype from his glory days at USC.
With all of the competition in the AFC East
with the Patriots and the Jets, Miami isn't expected to make the playoffs and might possibly be looking at double digits in losses. Time will tell, but the Dolphins got off on the right foot against one of the best teams in football in week 1 of the preseason
. Most teams would buckle under the pressure, being down 17-0 against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons, the Dolphins didn't. But let's remember folks, these games don't count this is only preseason.Quarterback battle
In week one, former Carolina quarterback Matt Moore gave a good accounting of himself. He went 11 for 18 for 123 yards with 2 TD and 1 INT. Chad Henne got the Dolphins their first score of the game but Moore actually turned the game around in the Dolphins favor. Of course, we have to take into account that the regular season starters are taken out early and the competition level isn't as high, but Moore showed that he's capable of filling in. Moore would like to forget last season. He threw for 857 yards, 5 TD and 10 INT in 6 games.
Chad Henne would like to forget about last season also. He got kicked around in his last two appearances against his foes in the AFC East (New England and New York Jets). Henne can be quite deceiving. He can put up the numbers at anytime with the best of them but that doesn't always equate to victories. Last season Henne threw for 3301 yards, 15 TD and 19 INT. This is a quarterback that has orchestrated some great drives but is also capable of getting picked off and giving the game away. Henne should play well against Carolina at home. Look for Henne to play slightly better than his first preseason game as he faces the Carolina Panthers
. (all dependent upon his amount of playing time)Reggie Bush, real deal?
Coach Sparano let the media know that game 1 was going to be more of a battle against themselves to see where they're at. Reggie Bush
and wide receiver Brandon Marshall both dressed but didn't play. Look to see Reggie Bush get some action here. He's shown glimpses of talent with New Orleans but he never lived up to the hype. He's had a rough offseason. His Heisman Trophy was almost taken away from him due to violations in college and his overall reputation has taken a hit by his former team. The question is can Reggie Bush be a legitimate running back in the NFL? He kind of reminds me of a "poor man's Marshall Faulk". He has great athletic ability but lacks the toughness that the hall of famer Faulk had. Bush is a double threat that can run and catch the ball. At 6 foot, 203 pounds, he's lacks the power of an Emmitt Smith of the past.
Bush had a very poor season last year and is prone to injury. In his career (60 career games), Bush has rushed for 2090 yards and 17 TD and caught for 2142 yards and 12 TD. The Dolphins have never really had a superstar running back and I think that Bush needs to focus more on his running. That's where Miami will need him. Star Brandon Marshall (1014 yards, 3 TD), Brian Hartline (615 yards, 1 TD in 12 games), and tight end Anthony Fasano (39 receptions, 528 yards, and 4 TD) are quite capable receivers with Henne at QB. Look for Reggie Bush to have a big season and as I've stated earlier, he should see the ball in this game.
Miami only produced 63 yards of rushing in the opening game led by Nic Grigsby with 7 rushes for 22 yards.Cam's the man!
Number 1 pick in this past year's NFL Draft, Cam Newton
has finally experienced an NFL game and did a fairly good job as a rookie. While his team defeated the New York Giants, 20-10, Newton showed that he belonged by going 8 for 19 for 134 yards. He was sacked twice but the process is called, "getting your feet wet". All highly touted quarterbacks have to do it. Troy Aikman had to do the same thing before he won 3 Super Bowl titles with the Dallas Cowboys. Newton got plenty of playing time and should see a lot more. Carolina is deep at QB with Jimmy Clausen and Derek Anderson. Both backups had good games in the preseason opener. This will only make Newton a better player, knowing that there are guys that want his job. Look for Cam Newton to show more accuracy in game 2 against Miami. The Dolphins are trying to find themselves defensively. They have a mere average team on the defensive end and that's being generous (Miami). This game will most likely be a shootout.Cam Newton to Steve Smith?
This is a combination that Carolina is eagerly awaiting. Smith has been sidelined with a dislocated finger since August 9th. He's listed as questionable for Thursday night's game. I know that starters will playing sparingly, but this is what people want to see. They're disinterested in players that probably won't make the team or barely see action. This is a warmup for the starters and a time for the team to gel. Occasionally a team will find a Dane Sanzenbacher, like the Chicago Bears did, that's undrafted and a legitimate player in the NFL, but that's rare.
Steve Smith has had 5, 1000 yard receiving seasons in the NFL. In his best year he had 1563 yards and 12 TD, the 2005-2006 season. He's a very small but strong receiver. I once recall him having a fight with a larger player in practice and getting the better end of it. His fighting days are over and Smith's production has decreased to an all-time low. In the 2010 season he only caught for 554 yards and 2 TD in 14 games. That's very unlike him and Smith is nearing the tail end of his prime. I'm expecting Smith to be motivated by Cam Newton joining the team. Look for Steve Smith's production to go back to where it was a couple of years ago. He's very talented and the connection of Newton to Smith should be an exciting one for the Carolina fans. It might be an unstoppable one against the Miami Dolphins.Working off the rust
Look for running backs DeAngelo Williams, Mike Goodson, and Jonathan Stewart to get a good deal of playing time. DeAngelo Williams only played in 6 games last season but this is a 2 time, 1000 yard rusher for the Panthers. He had a career high 18 rushing touchdowns in the 2008-2009 season. Williams has major skills. Aside from being a kickoff returner, Goodson was 2nd on the team in rushing last season with 452 yards and 3 TD. Jonathan Stewart was the team leader with 770 yards and 2 TD. This is a very good group of runners. One weakness is fumbles, but the Dolphins defense will see this trio throughout the game. Sidenote:
Carolina's leading tackler James Anderson (130 tackles, 4 sacks) saw action in the 1st preseason game and picked up 2 tackles. Unestablished linebacker Thomas Williams gave a great accounting for himself as he led the team with 7 tackles and 1 sack.
The books opened with the Dolphins as a 6 point favorite and the total opened at 34 but is now sitting at 33.What to expect?
As I've stated before, beware, this is the preseason. Both teams played well in their first game. The Panthers regular season running backs and quarterback saw a lot of time while the Dolphins regular starters didn't (as a whole). The game is being played in Miami and even if Reggie Bush and Brandon Marshall play, 6 points is a lot to give. Take the Panthers getting the points.Pick: Carolina +6