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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
A month ago I wrote about the 2nd quarter of the season telling us whether or not this team has promise or is a dud. My focus points were on the coaches making changes, the OL gelling, the running game setting the tone, the defense finding consistency and finally the QB playing solid football. The 2nd quarter offered 4 straight home games against mostly beatable opponents and a chance for Miami to be near .500 heading into the bye. A few days later the Tennessee game happened and once again all seemed lost...
But here we sit at the bye week with the team pulling off impressive wins, finding something of an identity and suddenly in the discussion as a relevant force for the 2nd half of the season. Jay Ajayi has emerged as the offense's top weapon and is burying defenders with yards after contact. We have to give a tip of the cap to the offensive line because they are opening up highway lanes which he is bursting through. It helps that all five starters have finally been on the field together and are playing with a confidence which we have not seen in a long time. The defense has shut down two legitmate running offenses in the past two weeks. The demotions of Jason Jones and Mario Williams have allowed Andre Branch to step up and Cameron Wake to finally log some serious snaps. Donald Butler has been an improvement over the oft injured Jelani Jenkins as well. This all equates to crediting the coaches for learning from their mistakes and making better decisions.
Start with the cutting of a few players. Dallas Thomas, Billy Turner and Jamil Douglas are gone from the offensive line where they had not developed as expected. Perhaps they weren't bringing the right attitude, work ethic, focus, etc. Whatever it was, Adam Gase saw enough and delivered quite the wake up call. As previously mentioned, demotions on the defense also gave other players a chance to step up with more snaps. Vance Joseph seems to be getting the most out guys who were previously backups or depth. The play calling on offense has changed from pass happy to balance. Using the power of Ajayi to both move the chains and set up the play action pass has been awesome. OC Clyde Christensen joked that it gives Gase a rash having to call the same inside run plays over and over, but hey it works. Kudos to the coaches for finding a winning formula and sticking to it. Quick side note, it appears the the OL (Branden Albert and Mike Pouncey specifically) pressed Gase into going run heavy and he listened. This is what we heard about Gase all offseason and its great to witness a coach who communicates well with his players.
This week is all about Miami resting, healing and diligently studying film to see what else they can clean up (penalties come to mind!). The 2nd quarter ends a week from Sunday when they host the New York Jets. This is a game the Dolphins cannot afford to lose. The Jets are in QB purgatory, their running game has not been as advertised and their defense has allowed 23+ points in 6 of 7 games. The worry is that the Jets' front seven has done a relatively good job of stopping the run - they are currently 4th in yards allowed with opponents only mustering 3.2 yards per carry. If they are successful in slowing down the J Train can Miami counter punch? I still believe Miami's defense will be the key by forcing Ryan Fitzpatrick (or maybe Bryce Petty) into multiple turnovers and 3 and outs. But alas, it may come down to Ryan Tannehill producing a big game. The Jets' passing defense is ranked 29th and is allowing nearly 2 TDs per game through the air. After rumors of Miami looking beyond the Tannehill era he has a chance to build off a couple of solid games and deliver a knockout blow to a division rival. Let's hope Miami concludes this part of the season with another impressive victory.