Time for the latest episode of Pre-Game Recon, where we attempt to delve inside the mind of the opponent. This week's edition is with SB Nation's incredible Miami Dolphins blog, The Phinsider. Proprietor of all things Cleo Lemon, a/k/a Matty I, was kind enough to answer my queries. Without further ado:
TP: Yeah, that's definitely being polite. Trent, so far, has been quite the disappointment. He's making some very bad decisions at critical times and seems to have lost the ability to throw the deep ball. And, quite frankly, I'm surprised. I never thought he'd struggle this much. But, this is par for the course in Miami. There's nothing new about bringing in a quarterback and him being a failure so I guess I shouldn't be too shocked.
So that brings us to John Beck, everyone's favorite Mormon. To answer your question: Yes, the calls are getting louder for Beck. It seems as though, with each loss, more and more fans are pushing to see Beck thrown in there. But the fact of the matter is that it isn't going to happen soon. Beck's still the 3rd string quarterback and is running the scout team in practice. But I do think it's possible Beck gets some playing time later on in the season. After all, he's a 26 year old rookie and isn't getting any younger. By mid to late November, I'd suspect we'd be close to seeing Beck make his debut.
2. Much has been made of how the aging Miami defense has lost a step. Do you buy it? Or is it more a matter of relying on Dom Effing Capers to construct a scheme that doesn't prominently feature him staring blankly into space? Sorry...that's the 2002-2005 flashbacks talking; I know Dom is a solid coordinator. So what's wrong with the defense?
TP: I'm not sure what the problem is here. But I really have a hard time believing it's Dom Capers' fault, no matter how Texans feel may feel about him. His defense was very good last year, so I don't see why his schemes would suddenly cease being effective one year later. I also have a hard time believing that age could have set in this quickly to this defense. Remember: They were the #4 overall defense last year.
One thing you could blame for this terrible drop off is injuries. The loss of Yeremiah Bell was a big hit, especially to the run defense. Bell did a fantastic job of supporting against the run. Also keep in mind that Zach Thomas has missed the last 2 games and his fill-in at the MLB spot, Channing Crowder, missed 3 quarters of last week's game. But that excuse only goes so far. There's no reason why Jason Taylor can't be nearly as dominant as he was last year. I'm truly stumped. So I'll tell you what: You watch them this weekend and you tell me why this defense couldn't stop a high school team on the ground. Maybe you can find the answer because I don't get it.
3. Ronnie Brown seems to be kicking it into gear. Unfortunately for him, running against the Texans has been akin to beating one's head against a wall so far this season. Given that aspect, should we expect Cameron Cameron to air it out on Sunday, using R. Brown as a tool to keep the defense honest? Or is there a dearth of talent in the passing game that mandates the Fins run, run, and run some more?
TP:"Kicking it into gear" is probably an understatement. Brown has been simply sensational these past 2 games. In fact, if he can pick up 200 yards from scrimmage on Sunday, he'll become just the 2nd player ever to gain 200 total yards in 3 consecutive games. But like you said, the Texans' run defense is very good and yards may be hard to come by.
So what will Cam Cam do? Good question. I'd say he's still going to give Ronnie the ball and try and get him to wear down this defense. But I also think they will get Ronnie involved in other ways. Look for swing passes and screens often. Also, don't be surprised to see Ronnie split out as a wide receiver in some formations. But with all that said, the key for Miami's offense is going to be how Trent Green plays. Houston's secondary seems vulnerable (according to the stats), so it'll be up to Trent to limit his mistakes, something he's had trouble doing all season long.
4. With "1" being "genius" and "10" being "galactically stupid," how would you rank the decision to give $18,000,000.00 in guaranteed money to one Joseph Porter? Staying on the subject of personnel, whither Ricky Williams? No way the Dolphins bring him back, right?
TP: Yeah, the Joey Porter signing. Ugh. I guess I'd have to give it an 8 right now. He hasn't looked good at all so far, getting no pressure on the QB and rarely being a factor in the running game. But the reason the signing doesn't get a 10 is because it's still early. He's only played in 4 games as a Dolphin, and that includes the preseason (which he missed all of). So I don't want to write him off already. Maybe he's still coming back from the knee injury. Maybe he's too busy trying to stop his pit bull from killing other people's miniature horses. I don't know. But I'm willing to give him more than 4 games before totally crucifying the signing.
As far as Ricky goes, I'm not sure what Cam is thinking. From past quotes, you'd say that he wouldn't welcome him back. But he's never come out and said that, meaning the door is still cracked. I wouldn't put it past him to welcome Ricky back, as an offensive guru like Cam would love to have all the weapons he can get. But there's another option. What about trading Ricky to a team that, thanks to the good ol' mary jane, may have an opening at running back? Of course, I'm referring to the Broncos, who may have lost Travis Henry to a year's suspension, according to some reports. I guess we'll have to wait a little bit longer and see how this Ricky saga plays out. Right now, with a gun to my head, I say he never plays a game in a Dolphins uniform again. But I wouldn't be shocked if I was wrong.
5. Put your name on it: The final score of Sunday's game will be _-_. At the end of the season, Miami's record will be _-_.
TP: Okay...call me a homer if you want, but I think the absences of Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones are going to play a big role in this game. Bottom line, with my image on the line here, I'll say Dolphins win 20-17. And at the end of the season, the Dolphins will be 4-12 and get a solid top 5 pick. Hey, maybe this year they'll sure up their special teams and take a long snapper with their 1st round pick.