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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
October 16, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
CAR at DET* MIA at TBB* Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM
CLE at BAL NYG at DAL* NYJ at BUF PHI, SF *Updated

Prediction: Miami 10, Tampa Bay 17

So far the Dolphins have won all their home games and lost every road game. The Buccaneers have just one loss on the year and return home after getting clipped by the Jets. Cadillac will be back and so will the winning ways.

Update: I am lowering the numbers for Carnell Williams since he remains questionable and still has not completely returned to all team drills though he is back at practice. Realize that the final decision may not be made on him until very late - perhaps even game time. I am basically splitting the RB duty in my projections but there is more risk of WIlliams playing limited or even not at all than earlier believed.

Miami Dolphins (2-2)
1 34-10 DEN 10 Nov 13 NE
2 7-17 @NYJ 11 Nov 20 @CLE
3 27-24 CAR 12 Nov 27 @OAK
4 Open Bye 13 Dec 4 BUF
5 14-20 @BUF 14 Dec 11 @SDC
6 Oct 16 @TBB 15 Dec 18 NYJ
7 Oct 23 KCC 16 Dec 24 TEN
8 Oct 30 @NOR 17 Jan 1 @NE
9 Nov 6 ATL . . SAT
MIA at TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Gus Frerotte 0 0 170
RB Ronnie Brown 50,1 10 0
RB Ricky Williams 20 0 0
TE Randy McMichael 0 30 0
WR Chris Chambers 0 50 0
WR Marty Booker 0 30 0
WR Wes Welker 0 30 0
PK Olindo Mare 1 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Dolphins come off an error-strewn loss to the Bills and return home to find Ricky Williams standing by the gate. Ronnie Brown has been very impressive the last two weeks, perhaps fortuitously so, but all eyes will be on the new Ricky... or is it the old Ricky..

Quarterback: Gus Frerotte has thrown for at least two scores in all but one game this season but last week his three interceptions were a killer. Frerotte has settled down to around 200 yards per game and the potentially better rushing game may push it further downward even still.

Running Backs: Ronnie Brown comes off his second good game, gaining 97 yards on 17 carries against the Bills. That gives him 229 yards on 40 carries over the last two weeks, an average of 5.7 yards per carry. His role is a bit muddied now with the return of Ricky Williams who has been faithfully following his personal training regime of exercise, stretching, playbook study and not smoking a lot of marijuana.

HC Nick Saban has repeatedly stated he intends to use Williams along with Brown and at times in the same backfield. It's all conjecture until the pads come on and we can see how productive Williams can be - Saban has also said as much. There is no declared ratio of carries or plan beyond doing what the game situation and player performances dictate. Given that Brown has been successful recently, it would be hard to see Williams with more than a very minor role this week.

Wide Receivers: The Dolphin wideouts are getting less action as the season progresses. Chris Chambers had four catches for 60 yards last week but only has one score on the year and peaked in week three with 93 yards. The only other wideout score this year was Marty Booker in week one. Wes Welker has yet to gain more than 24 yards since week one as well. Chambers and Booker gain the moderate yards in this offense but when the endzone comes into focus, the tight ends come into view.

David Boston is having knee problems again and was inactive last week.

Tight Ends: Randy McMichael - AKA "La Machine" - has scored in every game this season even though he only has one catch in each of the last two games. Even Will Heller had a touchdown last week - his only catch on the year. The tight ends have accounted for five touchdowns so far and all other positions have only four combined.

Match Against the Defense: The Buccaneer defense has only allowed a total of five touchdowns this season and Martin's two scores last week were very uncharacteristic. Martin also only gained 59 yards on 23 carries which was a season high allowed by the Bucs. Look for a lower game from Brown here that could be slightly even less with Williams taking a few carries. If there is a touchdown, it would most likely be for Brown on a short run.

There has only been one team - the Packers - who have thrown any scores against the Buccaneers this season. There is virtually no chance that Frerotte has more than 200 yards passing since only Culpepper has done so (233) and by now, Tampa Bay probably knows that McMichael deserves attention in the redzone. The Buccaneers are coming off a loss and returning home. That should play into a dominating game as they have not allowed more than 16 points to any opponent this season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-1)
1 24-13 @MIN 10 Nov 13 WAS
2 19-3 BUF 11 Nov 20 @ATL
3 17-16 @GBP 12 Nov 27 CHI
4 17-13 DET 13 Dec 4 @NOR
5 12-14 @NYJ 14 Dec 11 @CAR
6 Oct 16 MIA 15 Dec 17 @NE
7 Open Bye 16 Dec 24 ATL
8 Oct 30 @SFO 17 Jan 1 NOR
9 Nov 6 CAR . . SAT
TBB vs MIA Rush Catch Pass
QB Brian Griese 0 0 220,2
RB Cadillac Williams 50 0 0
RB Michael Pittman 40 40 0
TE Alex Smith 0 20,1 0
TE Anthony Becht 0 10 0
WR Joey Galloway 0 80,1 0
WR Michael Clayton 0 50 0
WR Ike Hilliard 0 20 0
PK Matt Bryant 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Buccaneers come off their first loss of the year and it was not the fault of the defense that has held all opponents to less than 17 points per game. Playing without Cadillac Williams led to predictably low rushing numbers and Griese cannot win games this year since he has entirely forgotten about Michael Clayton. Back at home, it is time to get back on the winning track.

Quarterback: For the second time this season, Brian Griese did not throw for any touchdowns and he ended with only 226 yards against the Jets last week. After five weeks, Griese either throws for two scores or has none but he has been far more consistent with interceptions. He currently has seven picks versus only six touchdowns.

The passing scheme has evolved into using Pittman out of the backfield or Galloway downfield - and no one else really. The defense and rushing game has been good enough to get to 4-0, but the lack of a diverse passing game made it 4-1.

Running Backs: Cadillac Williams was inactive last week to heal his arch and hamstring injuries but early word has it that he will be available this week. That would be an obviously welcomed addition to last week when Michael Pittman could only gain 46 yards on 13 carries. I am assuming Cadillac plays and will be healthy enough to not be limited. Updates as warranted.

Wide Receivers: Joey Galloway comes off a nice five catch, 87 yard game against the Jets and he has all three of the wideout touchdowns for the Bucs this season. And that about wraps up everything you need to know about the Buccaneer wideouts.

Michael Clayton has disappeared in the last three games, ending last week with no catches and only one pass was thrown to him. He only had two catches for 11 yards against the Lions the previous week. Clayton has been playing with a separated shoulder and he is adamant that does not limit him. Hard to tell when he only gets one throw in a game. Clayton peaked with 84 yards in week two and has been declining with each successive game.

Tight Ends: Alex Smith came back to life last week when he had five catches for 46 yards and he opened the season with two touchdowns in week one. But he's only had one catch in the three weeks in between and those two games were the only times this season any Buccaneer tight end had more than 10 yards in a game.

Match Against the Defense: This will be a challenging game for Cadillac even if he is fully healthy (and he likely won't be 100%). The Dolphins have not allowed any runner to gain more than 86 yards this season and that took 31 carries by McGahee who also has the only rushing score allowed by the Fins. Cadillac has been electric this year but topping 100 yards in this game will need to happen from popping a long run - always a possibility.

Griese faces a secondary that should allow him some success, particularly if he realizes that more than Galloway exists. Galloway does get the most productive matchup even though it goes against Sam Madison. The best yardage games and three of the four wideout scores have gone to the opponent's split end - Galloway in this case. Clayton could see some decent success here too if he finally gets some passes once again. Look for Griese to throw for two scores in this game with Galloway the best bet and then either Clayton or a tight end for the other.