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Cowboys vs. Dolphins: 5 Questions with The Phinsider

Matty I runs the SB Nation blog for the Miami Dolphins, The Phinsider. I sent him over 5 Questions about the upcoming game and he dutifully answered them. I've posted them below. Enjoy.

Blogging the Boys: The Dolphins struggled to run the ball last week. What's the problem there and can you get it fixed for this game?

The Phinsider: Well I hope they can get it fixed.  However, I don’t see how there could be that much of a change that quickly.  The problem, as it has been for quite some time now in Miami, is the offensive line.  They just can’t seem to open up any holes.  I’d say that on at least half of the rush attempts last week, the running back (whether it was Ronnie Brown or Jesse Chatman) was hit prior to the line of scrimmage.  I don’t think that great backs like LaDainian Tomlinson could do anything when put in those kinds of situations regularly.

So how did this happen?  It’s basically a product of having an entirely new offensive line. Only 3 starters were starters on this line last season and those 3 are playing different spots on the line now anyways.  Vernon Carey moved from RT to LT.  Rex Hadnot moved from center to RG.  And L.J. Shelton moved from RG to RT.  Then they bring in Chris Liwienski to play LG and start rookie Samson Satele at center.  So how can they not be expected to go through some growing pains?  One thing is for sure, and that’s I fully expect to see improvement each and every week thanks to the coaching of Hudson Houck, but I’m just not sure there will be enough improvement this week for the Dolphins to effectively run the ball against Dallas.

BTB: Trent Green brings a name and respectability to the Dolphins QB position. How has he looked so far? What's your take on his performance last week?

TP: I’m very pleased with him so far.  In camp, we heard all kinds of mixed reviews with some even going so far as to say that Trent’s arm seems "done."  And even in the preseason, he was showing some signs of age.  But, just like many veterans, he turned it on once the regular season began and, against a very good Redskin secondary, was able to lead an efficient Dolphins offense.  Now, to the general football fan, his play last week was nothing special.  But you need to look at it from where I’m coming from.  Last week, we had a quarterback complete 63% of his passes for over 200 yards.  He threw a touchdown and didn’t throw a pick or fumble at all.  That’s a huge step in the right direction and a far cry from what Dolphin fans have come to expect over the last 6 or 7 years.  And consider this.  The Dolphins were losing 13-10 and had the ball at their own 20 with just over 5 minutes left.  Trent Green then led the team down to the Washington 8 yard line before stupid penalties created a 2nd and goal from the 28 and they had to settle for a field goal.  But the point is that this is the first time since Dan Marino retired that the Dolphin fan can have that kind of hope when they need to come up with a key drive late in the game.  Pathetic that it’s come to this for a Dolphin fan? Probably.  But hey, hope is hope.

BTB: The Cowboys struggled in defense last week, especially in the secondary. Do the Dolphins have the weapons and offensive line to exploit that?

TP: Let’s take the first part first.  I do think they have the weapons to exploit it.  I mean, the Giants did and their offense isn’t exactly explosive.  First, Trent Green understands coverages and can make quick reads and accurately deliver the ball. Chris Chambers is an extremely talented receiver who, if he can just hold on to the ball more, could be a perennial pro-bowler. Ronnie Brown is a dual threat, as he can run it with speed and power as well as being able to make plays in the passing game.  And don’t forget about Miami’s 2007 1st round pick, Ted Ginn, who is eventually going to get involved in the offense.  And the Cowboy secondary isn’t exactly deep.  I definitely could see Ginn making a few plays down the field if given the chance.

And that’s the catch.  This offensive line is likely to be the reason the offense will be ineffective. Last week, the Giants used a deep passing attack rather effectively.  The Dolphins must get better line play if they also want to look to go deep against Dallas.  But, as a pessimist when it comes to this line (until I see improvement), I just don’t think this line can do the job long enough to allow Miami’s receivers to get down the field.  Hopefully (for my sake), I’m wrong, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

BTB: On the flip side, the Cowboys offense rolled. Will the Dolphins blitz often to get pressure on Tony Romo? And can your secondary hold up?

TP: Yes, they certainly did roll on Sunday night.  I was watching that game just thinking to myself that this next game could get ugly very quickly.  As for how the Dolphins’ defense will handle this offense, I’d suspect that blitzing would be the route they take. Last week, the pass rush didn’t perform very well when they chose not to blitz.  And they also limited the number of snaps Joey Porter saw as they worked him back slowly from the scope he had in his knee early on in camp.  I’d think that this week, to cover up a weak secondary (especially with the loss of safety Yeremiah Bell), Miami would blitz a lot and in many different ways.  Last week, when Miami did blitz, Dom Capers sent anyone and everyone, from Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas, and Joey Porter to safeties and corners. Considering how much time Tony Romo had in the pocket last week, I’d assume Capers wants to get pressure on Romo and see how he handles that situation.  And with the talented front 7 that Miami does have, I tend to think that constant blitzing to apply immense pressure would be the way to force Romo into turnovers and cover up the weakness that is the Dolphin secondary.

BTB: Lay out the ideal game plan for the Dolphins to get the win.

TP: Well I’m no coach or anything, but I’d say that there are a couple of specific things that could be done to give Miami a better shot at winning.  First, on the offensive side of the ball, they have to try to establish a running game with Ronnie Brown.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Brown is Miami’s best offensive player.  Get him involved, give him some running room, and keep the clock moving with that Cowboy offense off of the field.  That’s the most important thing.  Then I think you can use the run to work the play-action pass to make big plays deep because we all know how Roy Williams will cheat up to the line when the opposition is running effectively. I also think that, in certain situations, a spread type offense might be a good idea.  This could create matchup problems for the Cowboys in terms of how they defend Chambers and Ginn.  Just a thought.

On defense, like I said above, I would blitz constantly.  Force Romo to have to constantly think about Taylor and Porter just ripping his head off. Make him uncomfortable in the pocket.  Also throw various looks at Romo and Dallas’s offense.  To have a guy like Jason Taylor is a huge advantage.  The Dolphins need to line him up all over the place, forcing the line to have to pay close attention to him at all times.  And my other great idea, which might be morally wrong, would be to send Porter out there to intentionally injure Terrell Owens.  Maybe go for his knees or something.  Of course I’m just kidding about that last one...sort of.

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