It was ugly. Very ugly. And I don't grade on a curve.
Three interceptions, just 149 yards, and less than 50% completion; today was a bad, bad day for Bulger. He makes it hard for me to defend him. Today, the protection was very good, and he just didn't make the most of it. Short slants work, but they don't put the secondary on their heels, and they don't score points. The longest pass was to Keenan Burton for 23 yards, and that was due to some solid YAC work on Burton's part. Two of those interceptions were thrown because Marc didn't see the defender underneath the pass. If this is what we are to expect, we need to start looking for alternatives.
How do I grade this? Pittman and Darby didn't do much (outside of a nice first down run by Pittman), but SJ was great in the first half (15 rushes, 72 yards), nearly non existent in the 3rd quarter (4 rushes, 20 yards) and got just two touches in the 4th quarter for two measly yards. Was it his thigh? Was Haslett just hesitant to let the thigh become an issue again? You can't really fault SJ; he played very well, averaging 4.5 yds/carry. Nevertheless, the position didn't provide us much in the second half and someone should be blamed for that.
What is going on with this group? Torry Holt, Donnie Avery, and Keenan Burton combined for 4 catches for just 53 yards. As I mentioned above, Keenan had 1 catch for 23, and Holt hauled in 3 receptions for 30 yards. Avery didn't have a single catch. Was Bulger unable to get them the ball, or were they so well covered, they didn't warrant a pass attempt? I find it hard to believe that Miami's woeful pass defense was just that good today. Bulger and the WR's continue to perform below average. SJ was trucking in the first half, and even with the threat of the run, the passing game couldn't make any serious gains. The '+' is awarded to Dane Looker who put in a yeoman's game with 6 catches for 52 yards, many of those catches coming in vital situations. When Dane Looker is your highest performing WR, something is wrong. Very, very wrong. Oh, and Klopfenstein must disappear.
No sacks. I repeat, the Rams gave up no sacks today. Even the run blocking was solid. Only a handful of mistakes the entire game. It's sickening to have blamed the O-line for our offensive issues the last two years, and then when they do perform for an entire game, you can't score a single touchdown. Today's game convinced me Saunders needs to go. Nevertheless, the line should get credit for their effort today. They were outstanding.
No sacks and intermittent pass disruption. They did a decent job on the run, holding Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown to 102 yards combined. The Wildcat should hopefully be a thing of the past as the Rams saw it three times and held the Dolphins to just 3 yards when they did employ it. Still, where are the sacks for Chris Long? He went up against a hurting Jake Long today and could have been credited with a sack when Pennington fumbled and tried to run out of bounds, but was corralled by C. Long. Other than that, he wasn't able to do much. Adam Carriker? Didn't notice him. Leonard Litte? Jumped offsides once. The DE's aren't giving us much, and only James Hall jumped out at me as having a nice game. Poor showing.
Why lump these three together? Because they combined to hold the Dolphins offense in check. The Fins moved the ball erratically with the run, but (AMAZINGLY) couldn't pass against the Rams, with Pennington going 13/23 for 166. Again, we hold the Dolphins to 166 yards passing, our O-line plays well for the entirety of the game, and we can't win or score a touchdown. So incredibly frustrating. Still, the LB's and secondary deserve credit for playing a solid game today.
Josh Brown gets the A for going 4/4 on FG's with a 51 yarder. Put Donnie Jones in that A too; he's on track to make the Pro Bowl. Derek Stanley gets the D- for returns. Who is making the call on return men this season? We started the year with Dante Hall, and thankfully, someone was actually watching what he did and not just assigning him a spot on the depth chart. Dane Looker and Travis Minor have even been used on return duty this year. Now, it appears we're stuck with Derek "4 for 18" Stanley. I hereby assign him that nickname for returning 4 punts for just 18 yards. What is the rationale behind not using Donnie Avery? If he's so fast, why not put him back there? It can't be because he's making such a difference in the passing game; he's only caught one ball for 14 yards in the past two games.
This is a hard game to grade because the defense was effective, we held them to just 16 points, and the O-line played so well, not to mention the 1st half's running game. What is going on with this offense? Is it Bulger? Is it Saunders or Haslett? I can't tell, but anyone watching can tell it's just not working.
I'll update some NFL draft stuff this week since that seems to be what we're playing for at this point.