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Brandon Marshall is Brandon Marshall After All

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LiveBall Sports can only afford to have a reaction for the things that happened in the NFLs first week that happened according to plan.  I’d love to rave about the Seattle Seahawks’ defense, to talk about the Jacksonville Jaguars offense, worry about the 49ers offense, or write off the Bengals entirely.  It’s simply too early to pass judgement on what I was wrong on in terms of preseason predictions.

It’s never too early to claim victory.  Just ask Rex Ryan.

The Miami Dolphins beat the Buffalo Bills 15-10 in a game that no one would have cared about if Gus Johnson hadn’t been calling the game for CBS.  They won it with defense (and bad Bills offense).  Buffalo rushed for 50 yards, threw for 139, and took three sacks.  Dolphins running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams combined to rush for 127 yards, which isn’t great, but it’s nearly as much offense as Buffalo had without including the passing game.  That passing game was pretty good.  Chad Henne completed 21 passes on 34 attempts for 182 yards.

Of those 34 attempts, 13 were thrown to Brandon Marshall, 38.2% of the passing offense.  Marshall’s longest reception — in 13 attempts — was 13 yards.  Credit the Buffalo defense for a good scheme, and well, credit Marshall for that performance, because this is who he is.  He got 38.2% of the passing offense funneled his way, and accounted for 29.1% of the Dolphins receiving yardage.  Passes that were intended for Marshall in this game created 4.1 yards per target of offense.  In 2009, the Cleveland Browns’ passing game yielded 5.1 yards per passing attempt.

I don’t doubt that teams scheme to take away Brandon Marshall in the deep field as they have to, but if you trade two 2nd round picks for a guy like Marshall, you have to expect to receive more than this here.  There’s plenty of time to make good on that investment, but three years of playing as the no. 1 receiver in Denver has shown that this is all Brandon Marshall is really capable of being.  Instead of averaging 6.6 yards per catch as in week, he will be closer to 11.5 for the season.  And he will make a number of spectacular plays for the Dolphins.

But teams won’t build a successful passing offense around Marshall until they stop throwing to him so much in the short field, eschewing longer downfield opportunities in the process.  Marshall, ultimately, is the reason that Chad Henne failed to throw for 200 yards against a defense with question marks and a reasonable amount of attempts to do so with.

Can the Dolphins alter this offense to avoid falling into the same trap that plagued the Broncos offenses under Josh McDaniels and Mike Shanahan?  They may need to soon.  It’s only been one week, but the Dolphins passing offense is regressing already.  You don’t have to look further than Brandon Marshall’s past history to figure out why.

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