Normally throughout the season, I'll post a thread where all of you can ask questions of an opposing blogger, and I will pick the five best to send over. This week, however, I miraculously added a third role to my day job and have only had the time to rattle the keyboard long enough to get up pre-planned posts. Forgive me for my laziness.
This week, we sat down for a fireside chat via e-mail with Matty I from The Phinsider, our very thorough and very well-read network's Dolphins blog. As befitting a journalist of my stature, I asked all the easy questions, and I'd like to thank him for some very well thought-out answers. Head over the jump and we'll get this thing started, and you should find my answers to his questions at Matty I's site later today.
Dave the Falconer: Given whatdid last year, is there any chance there will be a battle of Chads this year with Henne? What would be a reasonable expectation from Pennington given your current group of receivers, and how do you expect the receiver portion of your depth chart to shake out?
Matty I: Some Dolphin fans are probably hoping for there to be a quarterback controversy. But make no mistake about it - this is Chad Pennington's offense. He was the only offensive player voted a team captain and he clearly outplayed Chad Henne in the preseason. While Henne is likely the future, CP10 is this team's quarterback and offensive leader.
Given Pennington's comfort level now in the offense and with his receivers, there's no reason to think he'll have a big drop off from his outstanding performance last season. When he came to the Dolphins last year, he didn't have much time to learn the offense and gel with his receivers. But now he's been in the system for over a year and his top three receivers are essentially the same as last year.
About the receivers, Ted Ginn is the clear #1 guy this year and it's his make or break season. The number 2 and 3 spots probably belong to Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo in some order. But rookie Brian Hartline is expected to receive plenty of snaps as well.
DtF: The Dolphins have an enormous amount of talent in their young secondary, but will it gel early on? Who do you expect to be the standout corner from the bunch, both now and looking off into the future?
MI: That's the ultimate question - how quickly can this secondary, a unit that will feature two new starters, come together? If the preseason is any indication, it's going to take some time. Sean Smith looked phenomenal in his three preseason performances and Will Allen had his ups and downs. But the safeties are another issue. Gibril Wilson was signed to play the free safety position - a position he played with the Giants in 2007 but didn't play last year in Oakland. He and teammate Yeremiah Bell are very similar players and there are some questions about how the new safety tandem in Miami will fare.
I do expect Sean Smith to stand out because of his true play-making ability. The Dolphins haven't had a corner who can make plays on the ball like Smith since San Madison and Patrick Surtain in their prime. But I'd be lying to myself if I didn't expect some rookie mistakes from time to time.
As far as first round pick Vontae Davis goes, I don't expect as much from him right out of the gate. He's a physical corner who has all the talent in the world. But he's raw and is learning to be both a boundary corner and a slot corner. So he's going to take more time. But I do think that, two or three years down the road, Smith and Davis will make a very good starting corner tandem.
DtF: It's no secret that Michael Turner is going to attempt to jam a football down your collective throats all day Sunday. What looks can we expect from the front seven, and who is primarily drawing the fun task of trying to stop the human freight train?
MI: All Dolphin fans are obviously bracing for a big dose of Michael Turner on Sunday. And thinking the Dolphins can stop him is probably unrealistic. But containing him is key. The Dolphins did very well defending the run in the preseason and most fans are hoping that carries over to the games that actually mean something.
I think you're going to see various looks from the Dolphins' front seven. But it's going to be up to the defensive line to win the battle at the to free up Miami's linebackers - particularly Channing Crowder. I think he and safety Yeremiah Bell will be the two cogs asked to step in front of the 250 pound running back. And that's no easy task - Turner is actually bigger than both Bell and Crowder.
DtF: The team seems inclined to make use of multiple running backs and multiple wide receivers this year, and there's the omnipresent Wildcat to worry about. If you're the Falcons and you're scheming for this game, who worries you the most?
MI: If I'm the Falcons, I'd definitely focus on stopping the run. Whether it's Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams, the Dolphins are going to want to run the ball and control the clock. The Fins have also invested a lot of money in their offensive line - a lot. And they are a big group, that's for sure. I think that the Dolphins will try to pound the ball all game long right into the teeth of Atlanta's defense. The Falcons front seven isn't exactly the "biggest" group in the world. Wearing them down will be key for the Dolphins.
So if I'm Atlanta's defensive coordinator, I'm putting eight men in the box all game long.
DtF: Call the game, if you please. Who will win, what will be the score, and who will be holding up the imaginary game MVP trophy?
I'll tell you one thing - I think this is going to be a very entertaining game. The way I see it, this game has the potential to be a relatively high-scoring affair. When all is said and done, I think the team that limits their turnovers will be victorious. The Dolphins tied an NFL record last year for fewest turnovers in a season and I don't think that will change too much in 2009. So I'm taking the Dolphins in a close one, say 27-23 or 30-27 - somethingg along those lines. And the MVP? Here's a surprise - Ted Ginn.
Good luck on Sunday - let's have an injury-free game!