Earlier this week, your's truly had an opportunity to speak with the head blogger over at The Phinsider. It was a cordial and civil discussion, and we exchanged "Five Questions". Here's his response to BCC's five questions about the Fins...
1) Ronnie Brown is injured... Can Ricky run the wild-cat effectively, or can we expect a more traditional offense? What about Pat White, will we see him at all?
No - Ricky Williams is not nearly as effective as the Wildcat "triggerman" as Ronnie is. It's not even close, in my opinion. So I don't think you will see the Wildcat much - if at all - on Sunday. Last week, the Dolphins didn't use the Wildcat at all against New England. And quite frankly, Ronnie Brown is the Wildcat. He is what makes it work.
As for Pat White, you could see a play or two with him. Recently, the only game in which he hasn't played was against Carolina on that Thursday night. Last week, White took two snaps. One was a botched option play. The other was a sweep that went for nothing. You might see him once or twice. But I think the "non-conventional" offensive packages will be kept to a minimum.
2) Coach Tony Sparano is 5-0 in December. Was that due more to facing weaker competition last season, or is Tony a great clutch coach?
He was actually 4-0 last year and is 1-0 this year. Now last season, you could say that Miami's weaker opponents played a role in their 4-0 December. The Bills, Niners, and Chiefs were all below average opponents. But this team did go to Kansas City in December, play in the coldest game in Dolphins' franchise history, and leave with a win. They also went up to the Meadowlands in week 17 and knock off the Jets in what essentially was a playoff game for both teams. So it's not like these games were cakewalks.
Then last week, the Dolphins beat a Patriots team that everybody was picking to be Super Bowl contenders prior to their ugly Monday night game against New Orleans. They clearly aren't "weaker competition."
So I think Tony Sparano does deserve some credit for preparing this team well late in the season. I think that he knows how to motivate a team. I think that his players love him and will work their asses off for him. And I just think that Sparano knows how to handle a team week in and week out to make sure his players aren't worn down for these important late-season games.
3) Chad Henne's got a cannon and the Jaguars have a weak secondary. We know Ginn can't catch, is there anyone else we should be concerned with?
You know it's bad when non-Dolphin fans know that Ted Ginn can't catch. But don't just write Ginn off. He isn't a number one receiver - and probably isn't a number two, either. But he will surprise you from time to time - like he did last week by making two big catches against the Pats. But you're right in saying you don't need to concern yourself with Ginn.
Who you do need to concern yourself with is Davone Bess. He's coming off of a career high 10 reception, 117 yard game against New England. He's 7th among AFC receivers in catch percentage - hauling in 70.2% of the passes thrown his way. And he's second in the entire NFL in both 3rd down receptions (29) and 3rd down conversions (23). Basically think of Bess as a poor man's Wes Welker.
But also don't sleep on Greg Camarillo (6th in AFC among receivers with a 71% catch percentage) or rookie Brian Hartline (leads team with 3 receiving touchdowns and 14.8 ypc average). Camarillo seems to make a clutch reception in every game - such as his 4th & 6 reception to keep Miami's game-winning drive alive last week. And Hartline seems to be really clicking with Chad Henne.
4) The Dolphins traded the Jaguars a 7th round pick for Tony McDaniels. How has his production been this season?
Most Dolphin fans would agree that only giving up a seventh round pick for McDaniel was a steal. He's really transitioned well into Miami's 3-4 defense. Somebody with his combination of size (6'7, 305) and athleticism is rare. And it's shown. His role has expanded since Jason Ferguson was lost for the season. But he's still only played in about a quarter of Miami's defensive plays. His production, though, has been surprising. He's got a sack and a half and has made a handful of big plays/stops in his limited action.
I think that the 24 year old will be in Miami for a while as part of the team's young defensive line rotation with guys like Kendall Langford, Randy Starks, and Phillip Merling - all players who are 25 or younger.
5) The Dolphins picked Jake Long 1st overall after Cam Cameron's debacle. How has he progressed, and what's the state of your offensive line on the whole? Are they better in pass-blocking or run-blocking situations?
Jake Long has come along as well as we all hoped he would. He's quieted his critics who believed he might not have the foot quickness to play left tackle in the NFL. He was a Pro Bowl player last year as a rookie (albeit as an alternate) and has a good chance at returning this year. He had a few hiccups earlier this season. But he's been outstanding of late and solidifies Miami's LT spot for years to come.
As a whole, the offensive line is very good. They're very well balanced. I'd say that they might be a little bit better of a run-blocking unit than a pass-blocking. But that might be hard to tell to outsiders who don't realize that because of Miami's lack of firepower on the outside, teams stack the box and make it a point of emphasis to shut down the run. With that said, this offense is still fourth in the NFL in rushing and averages 4.5 yards per carry.
Injuries have hurt this unit at times this year. Starting center Jake Grove - who has been outstanding, by the way - has missed some time recently and is questionable to play on Sunday with a high ankle sprain. Justin Smiley missed time as well at left guard with a shoulder injury. But their replacements - Joe Berger at center and Nate Garner at guard - have even played well. This is a pretty young unit as well, which bodes well for the future. After all, lines that stay together for a long time and gel tend to be among the best in football. So needless to say, Dolphin fans are optimistic.
Thanks to Matt from the Phinsider.