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Week 6: Dolphins at da Bears
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The offensive line paved the way for 191 yards rushing and 5.0 yards per carry. This is a far cry from the running game the Dolphins fielded last season. Additionally, Ryan Tannehill was only sacked one time, and that on a delayed blitz. For most of the game, Tannehill benefitted from a clean pocket and adequate time to throw.
Knowshon Moreno proved that his talent, not Peyton Manning, is the reason he had over 1500 yards from scrimmage last season. Moreno had a terrific debute with the Dolphins, gaining 134 yards on 5.58 yards per carry. Almost everytime he touched the ball, Moreno did something with it, even when being hit in the backfield. He brings a power running to the running game that Daniel Thomas couldn't. A clear upgrade over the former 2nd round pick.
Cameron Wake did what he does best - dominate right tackles. Wake had two sacks and forced fumbles in the 2nd half, creating the defensive plays the Dolphins needed to shut the Patriots out in the 2nd half.
The back up linebackers, Jelani Jenkins and Jason Trusnik, came in and held the fort. Not only was Phillip Wheeler out, but the Dolphins lost Koa Misi and Dannelle Ellerbe during the game. The result was that the Dolphins defense stepped up big in the 2nd half, shutting out the Patriots after they scored 20 in the first.
Let's throw in Chris McCain, an undrafted rookie, who sacked Brady and blocked a punt. Welcome to the NFL, we hope to see a lot more in the future.
33 points by the Dolphins offense, a dominant running game, an effective passing game and a game plan that kept the Patriots defense off balance for most of the game. The turnovers were not Bill Lazor's fault, but we can already see his imprint on this team. Lazor stuck to the run, something that was abandoned way too often by the previous offensive coordinator, and he put together a game plan and some playcalling that was extremely effective against what is supposed to be a much improved Patriots defense.
Kevin Coyle usually earns my ire, and he did for a good portion of the first half. But his defense stepped up big time in the 2nd half. I saw a lot of creativity in schemes as Coyle had to adapt to having all of his starting linebackers out due to injury. The Dolphins lined up in a 3-4 several times on first and second down and brought serious heat in passing situations. Credit must go to Coyle for his halftime adjustments.
Turnovers were unacceptable. Two careless fumbles and an underthrow, or maybe a late throw, by Tannehill that was intercepted, all in the first half. It is fortunate for the Dolphins that the Patriots only got 10 points from those turnovers.
Those soft zone or off man schemes the Dolphins were running early in the game really made it too easy for Tom Brady. It was good to see more aggressive play from the defensive backs in the 2nd half, but a couple of interceptions were to be had. For a team that had no interceptions in the preseason, we'd like to see one soon from this team.
A great win against the defending AFC East champs. Some big questions were answered today. Most importantly, the offensive line dominated the trenches both by getting push in the run game and by protecting the quarterback. Additionally, Knowshon Moreno added a dimension to the running game that we did not see last season. And perhaps there was a silver lining in all those linebacker injuries as the Dolphins depth got tested and stepped up to the challenge in the 2nd half.
There was certainly a different demeanor in this team, especially in the 2nd half. Credit needs to go to the coaching staff for whatever they said to these guys at half time.
This is a team that typically falters with halftime adjustments, but today they all stepped up.
Nice win and a nice way to start off the season.