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Nolan’s Defense Dominates Intrasquad Scrimmage

Before you give up on this season a week in, a drastic reaction to an overall negatively portrayed offensive outing, just remember it’s only a scrimmage and we are still just a week into the 2010 season. Should we have wanted to see great things from Henne and company today? Of course. But is it time to hit the panic button because the defense reportedly dominated the scrimmage? Absolutely not.

The defense is typically always ahead of the offense this time of year, and when you factor in things like the ongoing carousel competition at the guard spots and center and how the running game-still this offense’s bread and butter- was seldom used, it’s easy to see why today won’t likely be indicative of what we see this season. And let’s be honest, Brandon Marshall wasn’t himself today. After being uncoverable for over a week, Marshall was limited to only two catches for 11 yards. And that reportedly came on six targets, which included two uncharacteristic drops. For some reason I just get the feeling that kind of performance from Marshall won’t be the norm.

When I actually had time to look at the play-by-play report, the doomsday tweets seemed quite honestly like an over-reaction. Sure Henne was far from brilliant today, but is 12-22, 72 yards, and a touchdown really something to panic over? Looking at the last drive, Henne apparently was able to settle in, going 7 for 7 against the first-team defense, and ended the day properly with a scoring strike to Brian Hartline.

Maybe that doesn’t quite redeem him from that 5 for 15 start, but once again, take a deep breath, it’s early August. Don’t forget either, that after the scrimmage Sparano mentioned that Henne was completing around 75% of his passes with only two interceptions going into today.

And what about the defense? Shouldn’t they be getting some credit for an outstanding session? Sean Smith bounced back nicely by breaking up a long pass to Marshall along the sidelines and getting in on a sack from a corner blitz, the defense as a whole was bringing pressure from everywhere, which is a refreshing change of pace from last season’s vanilla scheme, Charles Grant may have submitted a nice little resume for the nickel package with three sacks of his own, and Cameron Wake was reportedly one of the more impressive players out there today, contributing two sacks.

Has Mike Nolan really transformed this unit into a top-notch defense in just over a week? Not likely. Today’s defensive domination was probably derived from several factors. Some have already been mentioned, like the defense typically being ahead of the offense this early in camp, the offense having a lackluster, uncharacteristic day, and Ronnie and Ricky only combining for four carries. Other factors include Mike Nolan’s blitz heavy scheme being a little much to pickup without a week of preparation, and players like Sean Smith playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulder after reportedly getting beat up pretty bad throughout the first week of camp.

No, I wasn’t in attendance this afternoon, and maybe I’m just clinging to the optimism the Dolphins head into the 2010 season with, but I just feel the offensive struggles were slightly blown out of proportion today. And this just gives us that much more reason to get pumped up for the preseason opener next weekend. Something tells me the offense is going to come out with something to prove.

Sources: Sun-Sentinel, Miami Dolphins in Depth

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