Friday night’s matchup for the Miami Dolphins looked awfully familiar. One side of the ball excelled despite mistakes. The other side never seemed to get out of the starting blocks. Miami enjoyed above average success on offense. The defense looked used and abused. Much of the night for the Dolphins’ defense was spent fueling the Dak Prescott hype machine. After two weeks plenty of players have stepped up, but it’s overly apparent the team is a long way from being consistent.
Two Thumbs Up:
Kenny Stills had the type of game expected in week 2. (check the preview). Miami needed some spark to ease the fan tension. Continuing his training camp success, Stills pulled in 3 receptions for 71 yards and 2 TDs.
Look for him to be a continued target as the season progresses and take the pressure off Jarvis Landry. Giving the predictable nature in which quarterback Ryan Tannehill relies on Landry, Miami’s playbook will continue to expand. Even after Adam Gase stated the team wouldn’t focus on the deep ball, Stills took a deep route and turned it into a 45 yard gain.
One Thumbs Up:
Ryan Tannehill struggled again in his first series of the matchup. In the first half, he did a little bit of everything. He rolled out to avoid a sack hitting Stills on a deep pattern. He consistently placed balls where only his receivers could catch (or drop) them. His crisp, precise passes had Dan Marino’s tutelage written all over them.
Tannehill finished the game 12/20 for 161 yards and 2 TDs. Then, of course, there are the things that don’t show up on a stat sheet. When things looked to be getting heated, Tannehill quickly stepped between and pointed Landry back to the huddle. This one series after the defense stood over Landry after an unsportsmanlike penalty, causing Stills to get between and start shoving.
Leadership will be key this year for the quarterback. The Dolphins seem to have a little bit of competitive fire.
The starting offensive line looked a lot better in week 2. Although a few plays broke down, Ryan Tannehill took one big hit. Miami started the game with Laremy Tunsil and Jermon Bushrod in at guard then switched to Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas to work with the first unit. In the passing game, both units had above-expected success giving Miami time to work.
Coming back late in the second quarter, Miami’s offense was clearly just out to work out some kinks. There were some timing plays, no huddle, quarterback keepers, and quick passes. Keeping the unit on the field built experience at game speed without the outcome mattering. Not only was this a building moment for the Dolphins line, the success the produced gave the team a much-needed sigh of relief.
Adam Gase again called another unique offense. The offense opened up every aspect of the field. Deep passes went left and right, short passes to both sides of the field, even tight ends were involved. Even after Miami was quickly bounced to a 3 and out, Gase immediately had Tannehill on his hip. Whatever he said must have worked because the offense made the necessary adjustments and the next drive quickly marched down the field.
Even in the second quarter, Gase wanted to pull the first unit. The offense made their case to go out and want to finish strong and develop some plays and Gase obliged. When you can inspire a group to go out and finish making plays in a game that won’t matter, you might be on to something. Miami hasn’t had a coach that inspires greatness in quite some time.
Can Gase be the guy who not only establishes the team as a powerhouse but also builds the character needed to start a dynasty? Early indications show he has what it takes. Now, he just needs both sides of the ball working at the same time.
Isiah Pead had another solid showing, against backups. Pead might be fighting for a roster spot that might not be there. With Ajayi having a firm spot and Foster still a cheap option the third running back is wide open. With four carries for 48 yards he might be creeping up the depth chart.
Too bad for Pead, the third running back often is reserved for a skill player. Pead has shown he can go against third string players, but until he can factor into special teams or be a contributor in certain situations, he’s a long shot. With backup Damien Williams reportedly being the team’s best blocking back, he serves more of a role in goal line protection or bunch formations. Look for these two to battle for the remaining roster spot.
The entire defense was bad. Real bad. So bad, they need a new word to describe how bad it was. They couldn’t tackle, defend or make plays. However, while frustrating to fans, this was great for the Dolphins. If everything were always sunshine and rainbows, there’d be no room to grow. Miami’s defense, who dominated in camp, need to be reminded that it’s still just preseason.
Everyone shines in the preseason. It’s also good for the rookie defensive coordinator, Vance Joseph. It’s better to have a blowout game during the preseason to make adjustments than midseason. Miami needs to get back to practice, find out the difference between the Giants and Cowboys games, and get things back in order. No one wants to see the defense struggle just as the offense is picking up steam.
One Thumbs Down:
Jordan Cameron’s name has come up on the list of players struggling. During Friday’s matchup, he had a chance to redeem himself, only to drop the touchdown pass. Not what you want to see out of a former pro bowler. He’s got the big body and ability to pull them in. He has to make those plays. With that being said, his issues don’t seem to be of the football nature. Cameron seems lost in the shuffle and set up camp in his head. He hasn’t returned to his old form. He hasn’t been the same since all the concussions. The mark of a great coach is the ability to get players involved and remind them what kind of value they can bring to the team.
Mario Williams was supposed to revive his career in Miami. After a very slow start, the only thing he might be reviving is a resumè. Haven’t heard his name called much this offseason and with Miami having an abundance of defensive lineman he needs to step up. Williams is projected a starter, but Miami already has one player who is going to be situational, maybe they make it two.
The Miami Dolphins’ receivers were terrible on Friday. It was very reminiscent of Oprah, The most frustrating part to fans had to be, it wasn’t just one guy. The first drop was Cameron. Then Jarvis Landry had a rare drop. Even Devante Parker got in on the action. Three of the dropped passes would be touchdowns. Luckily for the Dolphins, they did find the end zone. The first unit did have some gel to them. They even managed to set up a few 3rd and manageable situations. Miami needs some momentum going into their week one matchup with the Seattle Seahawks tough defense. Time is not on their side.
If the Dolphins want to be a playoff-caliber team this year, both sides of the ball have to compete. The defense showed up against the Giants, the offense against the Cowboys. Next up in the Atlanta Falcons. Coaches need to dig in and challenge players. Roster cuts are coming, and it’s time to see what this team is made of.