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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
We Dolphins Fans are drinking the Kool-aid of a close game against Seattle to help us get through the week. Let's hope Seattle wasn't looking past Miami as an early bye week. In any case, we won’t know the truth on whether Miami is that bad on offense, good on defense, or somewhere in between until about game 4. The defense, if I were to make a guess, is the real deal. They held the #4 offense in the NFL last year to 12 points. The sad reality is they squandered a great opportunity to shock the NFL on Sunday and it really was a game in which they found new, and old, ways to lose.
As I watched Ryan Tannehill on Sunday I saw the same guy I’ve seen for the last 2 years.; Someone who is afraid to throw the ball to anyone not wide open. Then I watch young guys like Garoppolo and Wentz come out like gunslingers and just throw with confidence….even when the pocket breaks down and their WR is in tight Coverage. Wentz lobbed 2 TDs on Sunday that I don’t think I’ve ever seen RT throw. They were great touch passes over the top in tight coverage. The two stories are very telling. On the one hand you have a converted WR with a somewhat, telegraphed, slow delivery trying to make it as a QB. His biggest fault: hanging onto the football too long in the face of obvious pressure. He also lacks pocket awareness which is related to the first part. When pressure starts to come, most QBs “feel “ it and either bail, throw it, or slide in the pocket to buy time. RT just sits there and takes the sack. I guess to summarize it: He is afraid to fail. He plays so cautious and appears over focused on not turning the ball over that Miami lacks any big plays on offense. The fault is always on the WR or OL. Stills had the obvious drop but in the late 4th he got behind Seattles Secondary again…only to be overthrown by 10yds…an RT hallmark.
Gase: - I wrote about this in the preseason. Although I praised excellent gameplans by Vance Joseph, I was left hoping that the offense was better than the product being displayed. Now that the season has began, it is more obvious the offense is worse than last year’s group. That isn’t easy to do as last year’s group was 26th overall in production. I was completely underwhelmed by the constant force of the run on early downs in the 2nd half. Miami desperately needed first downs and putting RT in consistent 3rd in longs isn’t the way to get them against a defense licking its chops. Gate’s over use of the read option was very Lazor-like in its approach while his constant run up the middle on first down was very Sparano-like. In a tight game against a playoff team on the road, you take the FG every time early in the game. A lesson I hope he has learned.
Special teams is one third of your team. A missed chip shot FG and simple things like knowing to take a knee when you’re out of TOs on the kickoff in the endzone are little things that make a big difference. Although STs weren’t glaringly bad Sunday, they did make a few mistakes at critical junctures.
Bill Belichick is a master at stopping the early run by bringing up the safeties. He lives in no fear of Miami’s ability to get the ball downfield. RT can throw it, the WRs can catch it, but rarely do they accomplish that feat together … which is why this weekend will be miserable to watch. You will see Garoppolo moving the ball with short passes. You’ll see RT frustrated by having to pick up 3rd and 6 or longer. BB will then use his created blitzes to make the day tough on RT. You have to run the ball on the Patriots, but if you get stuck on stupid with constant first down rushes, 2nd and 3rd down will be 8 yards or more.
Here’s the other issue with Miami next weekend. 0-2 is a legitimate threat and will be difficult to overcome. The season is a marathon, but shooting out 0-2 would be like twisting your ankle on the first mile of a 26 mile run. 1-1 will make the fanbase and the team, rest a little easier.
Finally, I had high hopes this season would bring 10 wins. I’m still hopeful they can accomplish this but the offense needs to get a lot better and the self destruction would need to go away. NE will either cement the offense as a dog, or see it wake up and fulfill its potential
The results of Sunday's game against Seattle is a matter of perspective. Like the Green Bay game in 2014, Miami had a perennial title contender on the ropes in the 4th quarter only to watch the defense give up a devastating last second touchdown. In Green Bay it was the Aaron Rodgers fumble that no one fell on, in Seattle it was the 4th Down collapse that completely swung momentum. Prior to the game I stated that the results would not give us any idea of the team Miami will be in 2016. They were going into the lion's den with a new head coach, new playbook and a rag tag cast of characters who needed to prove they belonged. Please allow me to retract my shortsighted, pregame comment as I think we are getting a glimpse of things to come.
Let's start with head coach Adam Gase. Yes, the play calling was less than desirable. But in his Monday press conference he noted that quarterback Ryan Tannehill really pushed for the plays that were called on the comeback drive in the 4th quarter. And guess what, Gase listened! He also implied he is going to continue listening to his quarterback's suggestions. When did Joe Philbin, Go/Go-Go Mike Sherman, Sit Down I'm in Charge Bill Lazor, or Dude Let's do Another Oklahoma Drill Dan Campbell ever show that open mindedness? Gase addresses problems, even his own. And he doesn't seem to wait three months to make a tough decision. His first game as coach was as the league's biggest underdog. He lost in heartbreaking fashion but I'm not so certain he failed. This was a good learning experience for him.
The offense stunk for most of the game. Whether it was Kenny Stills' drop heard 'round the world or the offensive line allowing pressure on nearly 50% of Tannehill's drop backs, it was a collective effort of yuck. But even in that defeat they positioned themselves to score 23 points against one of the top defenses in the league. Tannehill led a 4th quarter comeback that never would have happened last year. We will dwell on the putrid numbers but against lesser defenses there is evidence that these guys have the ability to put 20+ points consistently.
The defense was perhaps the best surprise in the NFL. They did collapse on the final drive and were not exactly facing the toughest offensive line, but give credit where it is due. I said prior to the game that turnovers would give Miami a chance to win and that certainly proved true. If the pass rush we witnessed continues throughout the year then the more immobile quarterbacks are going to suffer. Thankfully Miami doesn't face a Russell Wilson type every week. The secondary, while not perfect, held their own against Wilson and his talented receivers. You can't help but feel more optimistic about newcomers Byron Maxwell, Xavien Howard and Isa Abdul-Quddus.
I think the results of this game are more than the headlines are telling you. There are things to clean up and changes to be made, but this team showed you something. Unlike last year, they were energized and didn't lay down at the first sign of adversity. They have a brutal schedule this season, but if they handle quality opponents the way they carried themselves in Seattle then perhaps we are witnessing the long awaited culture change. Two things that continue to really concern me are the running game and Andrew Franks. The latter is still young and unpredictable. One blocked kick doesn't define you, but as a fan I want a kicker that isn't a gamble, especially in clutch moments. Arian Foster had some big plays but I'm not convinced he's a workhorse. Gase will lean on him because he trusts him and there is a track record. I hope I can write positively about both issues next week. Up next is a really big game in New England. Miami has not played well there in quite some time. Maybe the hope we witnessed on Sunday grows to better results in Foxboro.