Friday’s contest left fans of the Miami Dolphins with an all too familiar feeling. After the Dolphin’s first team offense struggled mightily, flashbacks to last season crept their way in. Miami took the field and looked unimaginably bad. Should it be a cause for concern or should fans have hope? With the offense struggling to move the chains there’s plenty of room for finger-pointing.
It’s still only the second week of camp. This was only their first preseason game. Wait, and they won, right? How can fans be so salty after a win? Sure the game was meaningless, but fans should focus on the positive aspects of the game. How does the team build off of what they saw?
First, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. How did the offensive line look against actual opponents? TERRIBLE! Right? Not at all. Sure you can point out how bad the first team unit looked. Brandon Albert whiffed on a few plays and both starting guards looked like statues, but there’s tape on it. With a head coach like Adam Gase, there’s nothing more useful than game footage. He’s going to go back, over analyze it, and come up with a solution. That’s what offensive minded coaches do. While it is just a “meaningless game”, this game for the Dolphins was just as important as their regular season games. While the first unit fell apart, backups like rookie Laremy Tunsil showed there might be a place for them in starting lineups. The rest of the preseason will focus on those position battles.
Then, of course, fans should note, preseason isn’t about winning. Imagine the season as an all-you-can-eat buffet. Your first trip to the buffet, you sample a little of this, a little of that, and eventually settle on what you like. By the time you go up for seconds you know the bulk of what you want to fill up on to finish dinner.
Preseason is the same way. Teams aren’t going out and trying to win football games. The key benefit to the first four practice games is sampling. Coaches trot out players to find who will have success, what plays will be their bread and butter, get film on what to work on in practice, and find out who’s rounding out the rest of their 53 man roster. That’s all preseason is for. There’s no sense giving up hope before the season starts. Remember the winless 2008 Detroit Lions, went undefeated in the preseason.
Fans saw a lot of bad, but on the flip side of the coin, there was also a lot of good. Miami had a few penalties early on, but it’s going to happen with a physical team. Take away silly penalties, and the defense brought it. Without Wake, Suh and company, the defense provided enough pressure on Giants’ Ryan Nassib to force multiple turnovers. With backups on the field, Miami recorded 2 interceptions and one forced fumble. If that isn’t enough to get Dol-fans excited, nothing will be.
A spotlight should be shined on that alone. It’s been no secret that Miami hasn’t had a lot of success with their secondary and linebackers. However, if Miami can get the same type of production out of their starters those concerns will quickly diminish. Nassib looked very uncomfortable throughout the game. His throws were often rushed and misplaced. The pocket often collapsed forcing him to run, leading to the fumble.
Things might be different with a starter in at quarterback, but if the trend continues the turnovers and field position will put even the sloppiest of offenses in a position to win games. Fans just have to cross their fingers Miami isn’t one of those offenses.
Miami might have a long season to go. Fans can give up early or witness greatness. There was plenty to go back and review. Gase, unlike Philbin, doesn’t seem like the type to just force-feed useless plays down his player’s throats. Units will struggle in the preseason, but after some ugly football the Dolphins settled in. Maybe that’s a prequel to the Gase lead Dolphins’ season fans should get familiar with.
They could very well be a team that comes out and struggles at first until game-winning adjustments are made. They could be a team that comes out and dominates from the start, we don’t know. All we know is it’s week one of the preseason and your Miami Dolphins won a football game. Be happy with it.