Saturday, August 22, 2009

Preseason Week 2: The Dolphins Vs. The Panthers

The Miami Dolphins are all set to play hosts to the Carolina Panthers later today. This is the second preseason game for both these teams and while the Panthers come into this meeting with a 24-17 loss against the Giants last week, the Dolphins' 12-9 victory against the Jaguars in the previous meeting could have them feeling quite confident.

While the game stood earlier at Miami -1.5, the Dolphins have since risen to being 3 point favorites. The over/under of this game stands at 33.5 total points. Odds of the Dolphins winning the Super bowl stand at 45:1.

The dolphins will be looking at keeping their winning momentum going, especially after having won the 2008 AFC East. They would also like to put their dismal 2007 season in the past. Being one up so far in this preseason, Steve Sparano, the team’s head coach, continues with his no nonsense approach, wherein waiting for a player to improve is just not an option.

This has been clearly evident in the case of Eric Green. Green, the 4 year veteran, has been unceremoniously axed, and rookies like Vonte Davis and Sean Smith are in line to serve as replacements. The Dolphins’ options for the position of the cornerback include Jason Allen, Nathan Jones, and Will Allen.

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This game will also go to show whether the Dolphins will have a good running game through the season, and whether that can lead to them having a better offense.

If the Panthers are to have any chance of winning this game, they will need their starters to run the ball against the Dolphins' starters. The Panthers’ defense does leave a lot to be desired, and they would be looking at bettering their 20th place in the last NFL season.

Miami coaches spent the entirety of last week emphasising running the ball, and doing it effectively. Blocking mistakes have been addressed, and these include mistakes made by the running backs as well as the receivers. Donald Thomas has been rightly promoted as the team’s starting guard. What remains to be seen though is how much improvement the offense will show.

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Also, while Sparano has been quite happy with Chad Henne’s performance against the Jaguars, Henne should expect to be under more pressure while playing the against Panthers defense. Sparano expects the pressure to turn up a notch, and has clearly said that he isn’t happy about the team’s inability to finish drives.

Speculations about Brian Hartland moving ahead of the regular No.3 receiver Greg Camarillo have also been doing rounds. If one assumes that the spots they earn are behind those of starters Davone Bess and Ted Ginn Jr., then the other 2 receiver spots would have James Robinson, Anthony Armstrong, Brandon London, and Patrick Turner in the fray.

This is also being viewed as Chris Williams’ chance to make amends. Despite his bad decision of fielding a punt within his 5, his returns against the Jaguars did impress coach Sparano.

While the Dolphins are favored to win this game, if they wish to succeed in the 2009 season, they will have to dig deep, become more dynamic, and run the football like they actually should.

Written By Rajiv Baniwal

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