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Sleeping with the Enemy: Miami Dolphins

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I'm sure most of you were freaking out about whether I would be able to get you your weekly dose of opponent insight but have no fear cause I got the hook up! I had a quick chat with Matty I over at The Phinsider and got some answers about going to London, losing a lot and, of course, Ricky Williams. Be sure to check out my answers to his questions over at The Phinsider.

 

CSC: I'm sure you get this question a lot, but I gotta ask it. How's Jake Long coming along?

TP: Jake’s really doing well.  He has come in here and instantly earned the starting left tackle job.  And his run-blocking has been just ad advertised – he’s a mauler.

But as many said, his pass-protecting does need work.  He will struggle, at times, against speed rushers off the edge.  However, Tony Sparano and this coaching staff believe any issue he has is more if a “technique” issue rather than a “talent” issue.  And to be honest, Jake hasn’t struggled as much in games against speed rushers as I thought he would.  In fact, he hasn’t struggled at all.  He went against a fellow rookie in Jacksonville , Quentin Groves, and handled him with ease.  But various practice reports by the South Florida media indicate that speed rushers still get by him at times.

Regardless, I’m as confident as ever that Long will be the franchise LT that this team desperately needs.  He might not have a Joe Thomas type of impact as a rookie, but he’ll be a Pro-Bowl caliber left tackle for the next 10+ years in Miami .


CSC: Thanks to Brett Favre, you guys got a shiny new quarterback. How do you guys feel about that? Are you Favre fans now or do you hate him?

TP: Well I won’t speak for all Dolphin fans, but I still can’t stand the guy.  He’s tough as nails on the field, but emotionally he is a girl.  I’ve never seen a bigger drama queen and attention whore in the NFL as Brett Favre.

But with that said, I’m very grateful to Favre for coming back and for accepting his trade to New York .  Like you point out, we now have a real quarterback – the most accurate QB in NFL history (statistically speaking).  And he’s instantly become the leader that this offense was in dire need of.  Perhaps the best part, though, is how he’s going to help the young receivers, as well as the young quarterbacks, grow.  He’s already, in just over 2 weeks, developed noticeable chemistry with Ted Ginn.

Needless to say, I think all Dolphin fans would agree with me when saying I’m very thrilled to have Pennington in Miami .

CSC: If anyone knows losing, its Saints fans. After last season, what are fan expectations this year for the Dolphins? Are you going to shoot straight to the top or will it take a while to get better?

TP: Well, as much as you know losing, I don’t think you ever went through what Dolphin fans went through last year.  I honestly thought that we weren’t going to win a game.  I really did.  And truth be told, the Ravens handed that win to us.  Matt Stover missed the potential game-winning FG.  So the Dolphins were literally one missed field goal away from going 0-16.  Truly unreal.

However, 2008 and beyond looks much brighter.  There hasn’t just been a change in personnel, there’s been an entire culture change.  And it all starts with those 3 guys running the show: Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland, and Tony Sparano.  The “trifecta” – as they’ve been dubbed – have come in here and completely turned this thing around.  Will there be a big improvement in year one of this process?  Maybe – depending on how you define “big.”  I think somewhere between 5 and 8 wins seems realistic.  And that’s really all fans are expecting.  And to be honest, going 8-8 would feel like winning the Super Bowl to me.  If I had to bet, I’d say 6-10 is most likely.  But the future is undoubtedly bright.

CSC: The Saints are playing the International Series game in London this year. You guys did it the previous year. Any advice? Do you think it affected the team in any way? One year later, do you think it was good or bad for the team to participate?

TP: To be honest, it’s hard to tell how much it may or may not have affected the players simply because of how bad the team was for the entire season.  However, they did only lose by 3 to the eventual Super Bowl champions.  So I guess you can say the players weren’t affected all that much – or the Giants’ players were affected.

I will say this, though.  I hope, for your sake, that the playing surface is much improved over how it was last year.  The field was a muddy, disgusting mess.  Players constantly lost footing.  The entire game was sloppy.  And it just really made the game tough to watch.

Looking back one year later, I think that it was great for the Dolphins to participate in that game.  While season ticket holders may disagree – after all, we lost a home game to this game – everyone I talked to who was at the game said the game felt like an event.  And I think that not only was it good for the franchises involved in terms of generating new fans, but also good for the league as a whole. 

CSC: Alright, this is the other question I have to ask. Ricky Williams! What's going on with him? Is he enjoying the the finest herb Miami dealers have to offer? Kidding. Sort of. Last year, in typical Ricky Williams style, his season was over as quickly as it started. What are expectations for Rickey this year?

TP: I think Ricky has finally realized that it’s more fun to play on grass than it is to smoke it.

But in all seriousness, Ricky Williams has been the story so far in Dolphins camp (and in the preseason).  He’s honestly as close to the same Ricky we saw in his first two years in Miami as I’ve ever seen him.  He’s looks fast, powerful, and quick.  And Bill Parcells has really taken Ricky under his wing – which says a lot about the kind of person both Bill and Ricky are.

His workload, though, is up in the air.  Ronnie Brown is coming off of that torn ACL and a recently sprained thumb.  But he is expected to play on Thursday night.  I do think, though, that Ronnie’s workload will be limited to start the season, with a more even split to come by mid-season.  And call me a “homer” if you want, but there’s no reason why Ricky can’t top 1,000 yards rushing in 2008.

Ricky’s back, folks!

Thanks so much to Matt I for taking some time out to answer my questions! The Phinsider is one of SB Nation's top football blogs so check it out and see how it's done.

Keep it here at 12 noon Central time for our usual game predictions thread. If you want to make a predictions, reminisce and laugh over last weeks predictions and/or vote for last weeks winner, make sure to be here. Sorry we have to do it on the day of, but there wasn't much time between games. Hopefully, some of our evening/night posters will be still be able to stop in quickly to make their predictions.

Of course, be here at kickoff to participate in the game day open thread! I will be at the game, so I will be unable to join you, but I fully expect to come back and see a lot of good stuff in that comment section! The thread will be open 30 minutes before game time for any of you who want to talk before the game.