Still celebrating the Miami Dolphins shellacking of the Oakland Raiders? You should be. You deserve it. The team deserves it. So does Jeff Ireland and Stephen Ross. While in now way do I wish to put a damper on the outcome or that giddy feeling like maybe the this team can pull something magical out, there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered for these Miami Dolphins.
Here are 10 of them.
10: Cornerback – the injury to Richard Marshall may or may not be serious and while he publicly states he expects to play Sunday against the Jets, depth behind him is significantly missing. Jimmy Wilson stepped in as his replacement on Sunday but is nowhere near ready to be a full time player. Jeff Ireland should have seen this and the Dolphins should be examining the market both on the street and on other rosters.
9: Daniel Thomas – Out with a concussion, Thomas’ absence only brings up more questions about his role on this team. Subbing for Thomas, rookie Lamar Miller racked up 65 yards in his debut while spelling starting RB Reggie Bush. The 2nd round pick is looking more and more like another bust for Jeff Ireland. Could the Dolphins use Thomas who still has a lot of upside as a trade object to get a corner? Some teams like Chicago could use some depth at their position.
8: Lamar Miller – While Miller was active for his first game of the NFL season, his hard nose running and ability to hold on to the ball made him a much needed asset to the offense. With Thomas likely healthy against the Jets, where does Miller fit in to the roster?
7: The defensive front 4 – For two weeks now the Miami Dolphins defensive front have shut down the likes of Arian Foster and Darren McFadden and are only giving up an average of 53 rushing yards per game. Going back to last season, the Dolphins are in the top three in rushing defense. The problem is they are not getting to the QB. The team is lacking a major push up the field and yesterday despite coming close to sacking Carson Palmer, the team simply couldn’t close the deal. They suffered similar issues the week before against Houston and will face at some point, the mobile Tim Tebow next week. Palmer lit the team for 373 yards on Sunday and much of that has to do with having more time to read the defense than a smoker has time to smoke a turkey.
6: Karlos Dansby – Dansby was around the football a lot on Sunday but he was rarely at the point of impact. In other words, he was chasing down players instead of hitting them where they stood. Dansby has yet to become the vocal leader on the field after making sure he was the players vocal crutch off of it. At some point Dansby needs to become the game changer he was while in Arizona instead of a poster child for wasted bid contracts.
5: Safeties – Sometimes you have to call it like you see it and while some want to blame the locked up corner on the long Mike Goodson TD catch, the truth is that the safety who was in center field failed to take the appropriate angle. So much so that he will be a part of a video breakdown later this week. The Dolphins safeties are still trying to find a role in the Kevin Coyle defense but so far, they have been out of position more than they have been in position. The good news is that they are getting better at keeping the play in front of them rather than behind them.
4: Legedu Naane – Is there a reason why this guy is still taking up a roster spot? Surely his guaranteed contract isn’t that much is it? In week 1 Naane dropped a couple of passes but was more pointed at for his failure to fight a defender for the inside route leading to a Ryan Tannehill INT. This week, Naane posted a big goose egg. The fact that Ryan Tannehill has more trust in a WR that he didn’t play with all pre-season says a lot about the trust he has in Naane. As well as the Dolphins.
3: Line Protection – While the Dolphins did great in the second half of Sundays’ game, Ryan Tannehill is taking far more hits than he needs to. The pocket is collapsing too early for WR’s to get into their routes leading to dump off passes instead of going down field more often. The good news is that when Tannehill does have time, he is able to scan the field and isn’t afraid to make the tough throws.
2: Koa Misi - In a perfect world the first two games of the season would be a huge indictment on the type of pro that Koa Misi will be. 11 tackles in week 1, Misi followed that up with 3. While it’s a far cry from the abnormal week 1 performance, two of his three tackles were big stops. With holes scattered around the defense, Misi is going to be relied upon more and more for game changing plays from the outside. If he handles his job well he could be this years breakout player.
1: Jake Long – Long is in a contract year but you wouldn’t know it by the way he is playing. In Sunday’s game against Oakland, Long was schooled by DE Matt Shaughnessy. So much so that at one point the Dolphins rolled Reggie Bush from the right side to help Long in pass protection. Long is expected to get upwards of 50 million on his next deal. While he is a leader on the team, his production is significantly sliding. Couple that with his history of health issues and injuries and Long could be in for a rude awakening when teams start calling his agent should he reach free agency. The Dolphins themselves will need to make a huge decision on the man they took number 1 overall five years ago.