Ryan Tannehill - I'm putting him in the good because he overcame a lot of things to be able to lead the Dolphins to a victory. But his game certainly had some blemishes. Let's talk about what he did well first. Obviously, Tannehill cleaned his game up in the second half, throwing 2 TDs against a defense that has consistently rattled him for two years. He completed a lot of passes, getting rid of the ball quickly and accurately enough to allow his receivers to gain yards after the catch. Despite being sacked 5 times and hit a lot more, he showed resiliency, keeping his composure to come out and compete well in the second half. His stat line is solid, completing 76% of his passes and throwing 2 TDs and no interceptions.
But his pocket awareness was especially bad in this game after showing improvement the past few weeks. Some of the sacks were the fault of the offensive line’s poor pass protection, but some were on Tannehill for not recognizing where pressure was coming. The last Mario Williams sack sticks out as Tannehill had enough room to climb the pocket but didn’t. It was actually good protection by Dallas Thomas, but he gave up the sack because Tannehill didn’t step up. He also had the fumble while running the ball and another curious play on 3rd and 2 where he had plenty of room to run for a first down and instead chucked it deep to Brandon Gibson, who had pushed off the DB and was called for offensive pass interference.
But again, despite these blemishes, Tannehill showed toughness. He’s been a durable player and anyone who can sit there and take 58 sacks and over 100 hits in a season should never have their toughness questioned. The fact that Tannehill had these blemishes in his game and yet was still able to put up the numbers he did speaks to his improvement. That being said, there is still a lot of work for him to do to continue getting better.
Jarvis Landry – Yes, he fumbled on the punt return, but he made up for it with that touchdown. Landry has been a consistent playmaker for the Dolphins, making people miss with the ball in his hands and providing a nice safety blanket for Tannehill.
Lamar Miller – Gained 5.7 yards per carry, which begs the question – why isn’t he being used more? Despite a shoulder injury, Miller ran tough and kept the defense honest.
Brian Hartline – He’s had a quiet season and his days as a Dolphin may be numbered given his productivity versus his contract, but Hartline made some big plays to set up scores in this game, catching two short crossing patterns and turning them into big gains. Hartline has been asked to run a lot of vertical routes this season and has struggled getting open, but the Dolphins may have something here using him running across the field rather than up the field.
Brent Grimes – He held Sammy Watkins to 3 catches for 32 yards. If you recall, Watkins killed the Dolphins in their last match up against the Bills, doing most of his damage against Will Davis. Grimes neutralized that and outside of Chris Hogan, the Bills had no one else who could threaten the Dolphins in the passing game.
Defense – The Miami defense struggled a bit early, giving up too many yards on first down plays and failing to stop the Bills on 6 of 8 third downs in the first half. But they tightened up in the second half and held the Bills to 0-7 on third downs. They also made life miserable for Kyle Orton, who was accurate and decisive early on, but fell apart in the second half thanks to the consistent pressure the Dolphins were able to bring. When it was all said and done, the defense allowed 237 total yards, 54 yards on the ground, allowed 6 of 15 third down conversions, and most importantly, held the Bills to 9 points for the game.
Brandon Fields – He’s had a terrible season, but he put two of his three punts inside the 20 and one of them contributed to the intentional grounding call on Kyle Orton for a safety. It is not about average or net average; it is about placing the ball inside the 20 and forcing the other team to drive the field. Fields contributed to eliminating those hidden yard for the Bills.
My biggest complaint is how ugly the game was, especially in the first half. I expected a low scoring affair, but for a while it looked like we’d have a baseball score. The Dolphins continue to start slow. They are doing a disservice to the fan base by worsening all of our blood pressure.
Offensive Line – Pass protection was awful. There is no other way to put up. Aside from 5 sacks allowed, they also allowed 16 pressures. That means Tannehill was sacked or pressured on 54% of his drop backs. By my count, he was sacked or pressured on 59% of his drop backs against the Lions. Again, these are deplorable protection numbers in back to back games. Granted, it is against two of the best defensive lines in the league and the injury to Brandon Albert hurts. Conversely, the offensive line did a good enough job of run blocking against a stout front that the Dolphins were able to rush for more than 5 yards per carry. This is a difficult situation for the offensive line. There has been so much shuffling it is hard to keep up. So given the circumstances, I am hopeful things will get better, but they need to get better quickly.
Huge win! The Dolphins were finally able to overcome a Bills defense that has given the offense fits. 19 points in the second half is promising, they just need to figure out the first half. It was ugly but they got the job done. Hopefully getting this monkey off their backs catapults them to bigger things.
That being said, the Dolphins fly to Denver to face an elite team next Sunday. This will probably be their most difficult game of the year. The Broncos defense is legit and we do not need to talk about their offense. Let’s hope the Dolphins defense can make it tough for Peyton Manning and the offense can do enough to win.