Friday, November 20, 2009

On Joey Porter

Last week when Joey Porter was deactivated because of a coaches decision plenty of sports "experts" started writing the obituary for his career. You see he just hadn't been producing of late and surely the Dolphins sitting him down was the beginning of the end for him. Even though at first at least, there were no indications that the benching was because of his play, you saw "expert" after "expert" proclaiming that the Dolphins were about to move on and let the guys behind him on the depth chart take over. After they played the Bucs and his backup Charlie Anderson had a good game as a starter, many of these same "experts" openly speculated that Porter wouldn't even play, let alone start, last night's game against the Carolina Panthers.

Boy were they wrong.

Not only did he play, not only did he start, Joey Porter DOMINATED the game last night on defense with 8 tackles and 2 sacks. That's not even taking into account the other times he hurried Jake Delhomme.

Yeah you could say that the absence of Jordan Gross at left tackle had something to do with it. However not all of the plays Porter made happened when Gross' backup was blocking him.

Here is what I said in a comment on ProFootballTalk when the story about him getting benched last week first surfaced.

I have an alternate theory. The Dolphins took a look at the Bucs and decided the game would probably be well in hand and the looked at Porter and decided that he wasn't going to get back to dominating as a pass rusher until his hamstring really had a chance to heal up. So they give him the week off and get him ready for the rest of the season which they will need to win a lot of their remaining games to get in.

Now if Wake or Roth tear it up then yeah he might get Wally Pipped. But I would bet he is back starting next week.

Now it turns out that Porter was likely punished for not going home after being excused from practice but it doesn't change the fact that being benched for a game was physically beneficial to him.

A lot of people don't understand this but playing in an NFL game takes way more out of you than any practice or practices the week prior. You are never going to feel "good" as a player after the season starts but its worse when you have an injury and keep trying to come back and play in the games. Porter had been battling knee and hamstring injuries most of the season and it really showed when you watched the games. I had a similar experience to this and just wanted to share.

In 1999 I won the starting job at right end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Unfortunately a few games into the season I sustained a pretty bad high ankle sprain against the Denver Broncos (and it could have been a lot worse). Rather than rest the injury I opted to keep playing game after game after game. My production however fell way off and by the end of the year I wasn't making many plays.

It was at that point, right before we went on the west coast to play the Oakland Raiders, that our coaches and training staff decided I should sit out a game and try to get it better. Now at the time I wasn't really feeling that decision because we were on a push for the playoffs and I had former first rounder Marcus Jones breathing down my neck for playing time and perhaps even my starting position. But the eye in the sky don't lie and I wasn't really an asset to my team at that point so I agreed with the decision and sat the game out.

The game itself was a disaster and we got the brakes beat off us. Things weren't looking so hot but we were heading into our final game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago with the NFC Central division crown on the line. To make a long story short I ended up having a great game with a sack and a fumble recovery and we won the game going away.

My play continued at a high level in the playoffs with two sacks and a caused fumble against the Redskins and an interception on the first play of the game against the Rams in the NFC championship game.

Now I don't say all this to promote myself, I say it to show just how much even one week off can make a difference during an NFL season. The Joey Porter we saw last night is the guy we have become accustomed to seeing for most of his career. And I have every reason to believe that now that he is feeling better physically, that he will continue to make plays for the rest of the year.

In the end his punishment for going home may ultimately benefit not only him but his team. If he ends up balling for the rest of the season and the Dolphins get into the playoffs, credit should be given for this move no matter what the motivation. The Dolphins will have their dominant pass rusher back and in the end that's all that really matters to most of their fans.

And this is yet another reason why you should always take what NFL "experts" who have never played the game say with a grain of salt.

It is what it is.

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