From The Other Side – Dolphins
Alain Poupart – Asst Editor Dolphin Digest
1) Do you think the Dolphins can be competitive for the remainder of the season even if they don’t win this weekend?
Alain Poupart: Yeah, I think the make-up of this team is totally different than it was when Cam Cameron was head coach in 2007. Anybody who has watched Tony Sparano work would have a hard time envisioning his players giving up on him. That said, the schedule down the stretch is really difficult (at Jacksonville, at Tennessee, Houston and Pittsburgh), so it's not impossible that the Dolphins could end the season on a six-game losing streak if they lose to the Pats. But even if that happens, it won't be because the team has given up.
2) Was it a big surprise to see the Bills pull out the comeback victory last week and do you think the team took it hard?
Poupart: It was and it wasn't. It was because the Dolphins have been good all year at beating the teams they're supposed to beat while having problems beating those with superior talent. On the other hand, the fact that the Dolphins can't produce big plays and give up a lot of them makes them vulnerable against just about anybody. The tone for that game last Sunday was set early when the Dolphins pounded the ball down the field on their first drive but then decided to get cute and have Ricky Williams throw a pass on first-and-goal from the 3. Well, Williams got some pressure, the tight end didn't run the route deep enough, there was no arc on the throw and it got picked off. Had the Dolphins completed the touchdown drive the way they should have (with a Williams run), I'm inclined to think they could have dominated from here on out. After all, it's not like Buffalo is a good team, as was proven Thursday night. As far as taking it hard, of course they took it hard. This was their chance to finally get over the .500 mark and based on what happened Monday night they missed a chance to put themselves in position to play for first place this Sunday. It also left them in a position where they have to run the table to have any chance whatsoever of making the playoffs -- and even that might not be enough. So, yes, it was a really, really tough loss to digest.
3) What was your reaction to this game being moved OUT of Sunday night and back to Sunday day in favor of Brett Favre vs the Cardinals?
Poupart: Playing the results, it worked out well for NBC, but my reaction at the time was that I thought it was a joke, a move done for no other reason than for NBC to get involved in the Favre fest (which is getting rather nauseating, I must say). Had the Dolphins not gagged at Buffalo, this game would have first place in the AFC East on the line, and a game with those kind of stakes shouldn't be flexed out. Then again, flex scheduling is about ratings, not giving viewers great matchups, so we can't be surprised to see Favre go to prime time.
PREDICTION (and why)
Poupart: I wish I could say I see the Dolphins winning, but I just can't bring myself to doing that. Bottom line, they just don't have the weapons. It's entirely possible the Dolphins could rush for 200 yards in this game, control the ball for 40 minutes and still lose because Brady and Moss hook up for two long passes. That's the downfall of the Dolphins, who just don' t have any way of scoring quickly on offense and therefore have to execute on offense for such longer periods of time than their opponents. I would anticipate -- and hope -- that the Dolphins will give Vontae Davis some help this time around with Moss because while Davis is a really promising corner he's got a ways to go and Moss is savvy enough to exploit him. So ... I would think the game will play out pretty much the way the first matchup did, except for the quick-triggered scoreboard operator who gave the Pats a free three points at the end of the first half after Brady had made a really poor decision. Let's make it ... what the heck ... same score as the first meeting: Patriots 27, Dolphins 17.
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