|Date:||August 17th, 2009
||Location:||Miami Gardens, FL
|Time:||7:30 pm EST
||High 73, clear
|SBN Coverage:||The Phinsider||Coverage Map
What's this, light at the end of the tunnel? Grandma? Oh wait, it's just the start of the preseason.Either way, it's still great to finally see some live football after months of making mountains out of mole hills and endlessly debating the finer points of Gene Smith's moves. The first preseason game will finally allow the team to see all of it's offseason moves in action, and provide a glimpse of how the team will do.
The Dolphins were the surprise team of the year, going from 1-15 to winning the AFC East in 2008, reintroducing the NFL to the Wildcat offense, and lost to Baltimore in the Wild Card round. This year the Dolphins will now be playing with expectations, just as the Jaguars were in 2008. Last year's preseason game for the Dolphins was a harbinger of the 2008 season for the Jaguars, will this year provide a similar preview?
What To Watch For: Jacksonville Jaguars
1.The Offensive Line: Last year's game against the Dolphins began to show the struggles the offensive line would have all year. This year, newcomers Tra Thomas, Eben Britton, and rededicated Tony Pashos look to re-solidify the Jags line. A good performance from the first team line Monday night would be a great sight to see. In addition, a good performance from Tra Thomas would be more leverage for the Jaguars with Eugene Monroe.
2. Quarterbacks: David Garrard has been hit or miss in training camp. He'll make the kind of pass he did in 2007, then let a ball sail on him that would get intercepted. David has to begin to show that 2007 wasn't a one hit wonder. Paul Smith and Todd Bouman are now in a competition for the back up job. Smith was impressive at the scrimmage, and has dominated Bouman through out camp. If Smith can show this at full speed, then he'll go from the practice squad to having the back up job.
3. The Secondary: There might not be more competition on the team than in the defensive backfield. Third round pick Derek Cox has had his share of wow and face palm moments, which is to be expected of a talented rookie corner. Brian Williams has continued to show he is one of the best all around players on the team. Sean Considine has elevated himself from back up/special teamer status with his play in camp. Gerald Alexander has caught up to Reggie Nelson, or has Nelson fallen to Alexander?
4. Defensive line: The D-line will be the story for the Jaguars this preseason. As the Jags d-line goes, I believe the team will go. Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves are looking to show why they were essentially the Jaguars entire 2008 draft. Terrance Knighton has been solid in training camp. Can he make his way to be a starter? Will John Henderson even show up?
What to watch for: Miami Dolphins
1. Chad Henne: Henne was the Dolphins second round pick in 2008. While the Phins scored big by signing Chad Pennington, how much more does he have? Pennington never showed he could take a team to the next level with the Jets, and I doubt he will with the Dolphins. Henne will see a good amount of time against the Jaguars, and he could begin to make a case for being the Dolphins QB of the future.
2.Pat White: Another QB taken in the second round, White shot up draft boards after he showed that he could be a viable QB option in the NFL. As a rookie ,however, he'll be used in Miami's Wildcat offense. Expect to see a few uses of the Wildcat with White at the helm Monday night.
3. Ernest Wilford: Everyone's favorite ex-Jaguar may soon be an ex-Dolphin as well. Wilford has been struggling since signing with the Dolphins in 2008 and needs a good showing in the preseason to stay on the roster. Collin suggested the Jaguars resign Wilford if the Dolphins cut him, but do we want a guy who hasn't shown anything in two years?
4. Ricky Williams: Williams is still one of the most fascinating players in the NFL. I almost ordered a Toronto Argonauts jersey just because I found Williams situation so entertaining. Williams is currently backing up Ronnie Brown, but he is still a former Heisman Trophy winner. Williams would've been an all-time great if his favorite time of day wasn't 4:20.
Player On The Hot Seat
Quentin Groves, DE, Jacksonville
Groves needs a good preseason in the worst way. Groves was physically dominated through out last year and the whispers that he was too small to be a 4-3 DE became statements of fact. He then proceeded to become a workout warrior this offseason to show that he could compete in the NFL. Instead, Tra Thomas might as well have been the Berlin Wall during training camp. Groves has had a lackluster camp and may find himself on the chopping block if he doesn't show why he was a 2nd round pick.
7-7 tie (When the first team players leave)