AFC East: Brodie Croyle
It's unclear if Miami will sign either quarterback. Dolphins backup Matt Moore is getting first-team reps in practice during Miami's bye week.
But neither Croyle nor Edwards should instill much confidence in Miami turning its season around. Both quarterbacks struggled mightily with Kansas City and Buffalo, respectively.
Miami's next game will be against the New York Jets on "Monday Night Football" Oct. 17.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
The Miami Dolphins have found a primary backup for Chad Henne, and his name is not Pat White.
Two days after losing Chad Pennington to a season-ending shoulder injury, the 0-3 Dolphins dealt an undisclosed draft choice to the Kansas City Chiefs for Tyler Thigpen.
Dolphins football operations boss Bill Parcells is Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli's father-in-law.
"We appreciate the opportunity the Chiefs gave us and we’re excited about this opportunity in Miami," Thigpen’s agent, Joel Turner, told AFC West blogger Bill Williamson. "Bill Parcells is the godfather of NFL personnel to me. For him to want Tyler shows he sees something in him as a quarterback."
Thigpen, a third-year pro from Coastal Carolina, started 11 games last season but became the third quarterback behind Matt Cassel and Brodie Croyle.
Thigpen last year completed 54.8 percent of his passes for 2,608 yards and 18 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. He also ran for 386 yards and three touchdowns.
Could that sort of mobility add an element to the Wildcat that White hasn't been able to?
White has been a disappointment. The Dolphins drafted the scrambler in the second round out of West Virginia and, while other teams scouted him as a receiver, insisted he would be a quarterback.
Throughout the summer, White showed little indication he could be a threat in the passing game.
White, whose spindly body type is typical of a kicker, completed 6 of 16 preseason passes for 31 yards and zero touchdowns with one interception. He ran 11 times for 38 yards.
|Matthew Emmons/US Presswire|
|New England cornerback Ellis Hobbs knows the Patriots secondary needs to step it up.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Philip Rivers pumped javelins down the sidelines.
"Everyone has to realize it's a wound everyone's going to try to keep opening up until we heal it," Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs said. "It's there."
The Patriots' defensive backfield has been overwhelmed as much through five games as it was all last season. New England has given up seven pass plays of 30 yards or longer. That equals the number it yielded in 2007.
Its sixth game won't provide any respite.
The Patriots on Monday night will host the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium.
New England's beleaguered secondary will be asked to contain a pass attack ranked first in the AFC and second in the league at 279.3 yards a game entering Week 7.
"I don't know what the questions are for us," Hobbs told reporters this week. "I just know there are questions out there.
"We need to go into this game thinking, 'I feel like my back's against the wall.' Our team's back is against the wall, and we have to come out swinging no matter what. It's early in the season. But this is how you get the momentum going."
After Miami came to Gillette Stadium in Week 3 and unleashed a dumbfounding game plan, New England's coaching staff -- a group that includes defensive architects Bill Belichick, coordinator Dean Pees and secondary coach Dom Capers -- had two weeks to strategize for Mike Martz's offense. The Patriots held the San Francisco 49ers to less than 200 total yards.
Last Sunday night, however, the Chargers bombed away.
Rivers, mostly picking on left cornerback Deltha O'Neal, completed passes of 48, 49, 59 and 22 yards. They weren't screen plays.
Hobbs also committed a 32-yard pass interference penalty to put the Chargers first-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Rivers found tight end Antonio Gates for a touchdown on the next play.
"I felt embarrassed," O'Neal said Wednesday. "I felt embattled. I felt like there were things I could have did that could have changed the outcome of the game. I'm my worst critic.
"I sat and thought about it the last couple of days, that whole flight home. I'm over it now."
Patriots fans should hope so.
Thunder-armed Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler has thrown for 1,694 yards and 12 touchdowns, numbers that rank third and fourth in the NFL.
When healthy, the Broncos have the most talented receiving corps. Brandon Marshall leads the NFL with 43 receptions despite being suspended for the season opener. Eddie Royal's 30 catches are tied for 11th even though he missed last week's game with an ankle injury. Royal is probable for Monday.
Cutler's other targets include Brandon Stokley (16 catches and two touchdowns the past three weeks) and tight end Tony Scheffler. Stokley suffered a concussion last week, while Scheffler is dealing with a groin injury. Both are questionable. Darrell Jackson, a three-time 1,000-yard receiver, is getting over a strained calf. He's listed as probable.
"They have a lot of different options and they really stress the defense in a lot of different ways," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "They can pack them in and bring in two or three tight ends. They can spread them out and go with four or five receivers, or flex out Scheffler, who is like another receiver.
"They can get as tight as you want to get, and they can get as spread out as you want to spread out, and they do a good job."
The Patriots rank 12th in pass defense, but their first two victories came against opponents who either couldn't or wouldn't throw.
They knocked Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Brodie Croyle out of the game in Week 1 and fended off Damon Huard. The New York Jets still were trying to figure out how to use Brett Favre, who passed for only 181 yards in Week 2.
A lot of factors have played into the Patriots' shaky pass defense.
The most obvious was Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel's departure. The Patriots clearly knew this was a big deal because they signed free agents Fernando Bryant, Lewis Sanders and Jason Webster and drafted two corners in the first four rounds.
Belichick didn't like any of them more than O'Neal, whom the winless Cincinnati Bengals cut because they didn't think he was anything more than a nickelback.
Other developments have left New England's defensive backs fending for themselves more than in recent years. The vaunted defensive line isn't getting as much push as it used to, giving opposing quarterbacks that much more time to work and less time for New England's defensive backs less chance to recover -- or not be detected -- when beat early on a play.
The Patriots won't have an easy time putting pressure on Cutler or forcing him i
nto bad decisions. The Broncos have allowed a league-low two sacks. Only the Kansas City Chiefs and Bengals -- one victory between them -- have recorded fewer sacks than the Patriots, who have seven.
Inescapable is the Tom Brady factor. Even the defense is affected.
Last year, with the record-breaking Patriots offense providing sizable leads before the echoes of "The Star-Spangled Banner" faded out, they had the NFL's seventh-ranked pass defense.
Under replacement Matt Cassel's direction, the Patriots have gone three-and-out on 14 of their 56 drives, sending the defense right back onto the field 25 percent of the time. They went three-and-out on 26 of their 170 possessions last year, a 15 percent frequency.
The longer games remain close, the less defenses can guess what's coming. Last year's Patriots turned loose on the quarterback and defended the pass from the second quarter on. This year's defense can't afford to commit so fully and, therefore, is unable to dictate.
"They've been all over the map a little bit," Cutler said. "You're not sure what you're going to get with those guys. I think they thought they could play man, control Rivers and the receivers and stop [LaDainian Tomlinson]. But they got hit with some big plays.
"It's going to be interesting to see what they do with us."
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Before tonight's game between the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs, I presented some storylines to follow.
This is how they played out:
A: Williams was a mixed bag. He looked like his old self to begin the opening drive with a 21-yard gust and an 8-yard carry to the Chiefs' 4-yard line. Williams used to be money from that close, but he couldn't punch it in on four tries. On his last carry of the series, the Dolphins were on the 1-yard line, but Williams was forced out of bounds for a loss of four yards.
After the game, he seemed to take offense to my line of questioning on the subject.
"I'm the running back, and it's my job to try and get the ball in the end zone," Williams said. "You always want to score six points when you get down there, but I thought we did a good job of running the ball down there. We took 10 minutes of the clock and we put our defense in a good position. Ideally, we want to score, but we'll get it ironed out."
Take away his 21-yard run and Williams ran 11 times for 26 yards, a 2.4-yard average.
Q: Does QB Chad Pennington continue to show progress in learning the Dolphins' system?
A: You betcha. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano has been coy about his plans for the starting quarterback job, suggesting rookie Chad Henne might have a shot at it.
But Pennington was sharp again. He played four series, with the Dolphins scoring 10 points. He completed 11 of 15 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown. His passer rating was 111.5.
Henne completed only two of his seven attempts for 14 yards and threw an interception for Miami's first turnover of the preseason.
Q: Does WR Ernest Wilford, who could be in jeopardy of not making the 53-man roster, make his presence felt?
A: Wilford did not. He played almost the entire second half and didn't have the ball thrown his direction, although the Dolphins attempted only nine passes in the second half.
Q: What will OLB Joey Porter look like? He's dealing with multiple injuries that have the Dolphins concerned.
A: Porter looked decent in his limited time. He started the game and sacked Brodie Croyle for a 7-yard loss on third down at the end of the first quarter.
A: Carpenter made a 19-yard field goal in the first quarter, keeping him perfect on seven preseason attempts. He also made two extra points. His kickoffs went to the 12, 2, goal line, goal line, 1-yard into end zone, goal line.
Kansas City Chiefs
Q: Can Brodie Croyle continue to establish himself as a worthy starter? The Chiefs have scored only 13 points in Croyle's three quarters of preseason work so far.
A: Croyle had a miserable night, and he admitted as much. He was 12 of 21 for 110 yards and one interception. He was sacked three times and lost a fumble.
"It as a setback, obviously," Croyle said. "We wanted to go out and have a good showing, score points and win the game. We just kind of shot ourselves in the foot in the first half."
Damon Huard didn't do any better. He completed three of his seven passes for 26 yards and one interception. He was sacked twice. Tyler Thigpen also threw an interception on five attempts with no completions.
"It's pretty tough when you don't score any points and you turn the ball over like we did," Huard said.
A: Novak had the only attempt. His 48-yard try sailed wide right, but he was kicking from a weird spot where the dirt behind what would be second base meets the grass on the field where the Florida Marlins play.
"I thought Novak would have made that one," Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said. "It would have been nice if he made that. So we're still evaluating."
Q: Will the reworked defensive line make any noise against a young Dolphins front that includes two rookies? DE Turk McBride is having an impressive preseason, and first-round pick DT Glenn Dorsey is under the microscope.
A: The Chiefs didn't record a sack. The stats will show the Dolphins ran 31 times for 164 yards, but that includes three kneel-downs at the end of the game and an 80-yard run by Jalen Parmele.
Dorsey had three tackles, including one for a loss.
The Dolphins had plenty to be satisfied about in their third preseason game, but then the Chiefs marched methodically down the field on the first possession of the second half. The Dolphins' heels were on the goal line.
"It's one of those defining moments in a game," said Dolphins linebacker Akin Ayodele, "that you can say 'This is the turning point. What can you do?'"
The Chiefs had a first down on the Dolphins' 5 and All-Pro running back Larry Johnson raring to plow it through.
Ayodele tackled him for no gain. On second down, Brodie Croyle tried a lob to Dwayne Bowe that sailed long. Then Johnson charged up the middle for two yards. On fourth down, Dolphins end Phillip Merling tackled Johnson for a loss.
"We responded," Ayodele said. "Our backs were to the wall and we responded to the challenge."
The Dolphins won 24-0. It was their first preseason shutout since 1980.
Sure, it was an exhibition and the Chiefs were the opponent, but for a team that 1-15 last season, the Dolphins were thrilled to put together one a complete effort.
Chad Pennington erased any doubt he would be the starting quarterback by completing 11 of 15 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown to tight end Anthony Fasano. Ted Ginn returned a punt 59 yards for a touchdown.
The defense recorded five sacks, three interceptions and a fumble recovery to go along with their goal-line stand.
"It does kind of suck that it's preseason when the team displays the dominance that it did early on," Dolphins guard Justin Smiley said. "To get a win like this always feels good. You can take it for what it's worth, and what it's worth is we're headed in the right direction."
The Dolphins established a tone on the opening series. Pennington conducted a 15-play, 65-yard drive that twice got the ball to the Chiefs' 1-yard line. Although the Dolphins came away with only a field goal, they took 10:03 off the clock.
"As [head coach Tony Sparano] would say, we can't be drinking our own Kool-Aid," Smiley said. "There's no room for that.
"It is the preseason, but those guys are pros over there, too. They want to win just as bad. So that means a little something."
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- We're a few minutes from kickoff under the South Florida gloaming. Here are a few storylines to follow during tonight's preseason game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins.
This is the third weekend, meaning both teams should use their first-teamers throughout the first half and maybe beyond.
- How does RB Ricky Williams respond to being the feature back for at least the first half? RB Ronnie Brown is out with an injured right thumb.
- Does QB Chad Pennington continue to show progress in learning the Dolphins' system?
- Does WR Ernest Wilford, who could be in jeopardy of not making the 53-man roster, make his presence felt?
- What will OLB Joey Porter look like? He's dealing with multiple injuries that have the Dolphins concerned.
- Can rookie K Dan Carpenter continue to acquit himself since the Dolphins cut proven veteran Jay Feely?
Kansas City Chiefs
- Can Brodie Croyle continue to establish himself as a worthy starter? The Chiefs have scored only 13 points in Croyle's three quarters of preseason work so far.
- Which K will put his best foot forward? Nick Novak and Connor Barth are dueling for the job, and the Chiefs reportedly want to name their guy before the final preseason game.
- Will the reworked defensive line make any noise against a young Dolphins front that includes two rookies? DE Turk McBride is having an impressive preseason, and first-round pick DT Glenn Dorsey is under the microscope.