I don't write a lot about sports on here, but I went to the Dolphins game yesterday with my 14-year-old son, who happens to be a raving Saints fan. I know you're thinking that I must be a terrible father, but there really wasn't anything I could do. I'm just a casual Dolphins fan, and the boy fell for Reggie Bush when he was playing at USC, securing the Saints as the team that got his heart first. (And though Bush has been a disappointment, he got to see a classic Bush touchdown leap, one of the best I've ever seen. You can see it after the jump, or not).
There were always things that held me back from totally embracing the Dolphins, though I invariably root for them. I've lived in Florida for 16 years, 11 of them here. So I didn't get much Shula. I just got weepy Jimmy Johnson, dopey Dave Wannstedt, grumpy Nick Saban, and sleepy Cam Cameron. So that's not made it easy to join. Plus, there was Wayne Huizenga at the top, an impossible man to love if ever there was one.
Well Huizenga is just about gone, and Tony Sparano and the Big Tuna seem like they know what they're doing. Or so I thought until yesterday's game. Everybody has his or her ideas about what went wrong, but here's my take:
1. The second-half play calling. Sparano in two key early fourth-quarter drives went almost exclusively to the air. I was shocked. Henne is a promising young quarterback, but he's not ready to carry a team. You keep the ball in the hands of Ronnie and Ricky and you win or lose with them. It's that simple.
2. Ted Ginn Jr. He's a great athlete, but tragically, he's not
a football player. The pick six at the beginning of the second half was on him, literally. The ball hit him and bounced off. The drop in the open field in the fourth quarter was embarrassing. Then the ball bounced off his helmet in the end zone at the end of the game. Ridiculous. The receiving corps made other mistakes, including Fasano's drop and Camarillo's toss out of bounds. Stupid.
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3. A lot of people are blaming the defense, particularly the safeties. It's true that the D lost air in the second half, but remember they were going up against one of the best and most productive offenses anybody has ever seen. That they dominated Brees and company in the first half was incredible. But when the Saints offensive machine started humming, you knew the only real way to stop what was coming was to keep them off the field, which brings us back to No. 1 -- that is, to use the best running game in football to chew up clock.
Well, at least the kid got his money's worth. Here's that leap in the fourth quarter that really made you feel like it was over.