Ryan Tannehill opened his 2013 Sun-Life campaign with a three TD effort and no interceptions. It would be far more impressive if it were a real game, say against the Falcons on their home opener. Alas, it was just a scrimmage against their own defense. Peeling away the layers a bit further the TD’s came in the red-zone and not at the end of long sustained drives which the Dolphins had trouble delivering. No sorry, the big surprise was not Ryan Tannehill’s three TD effort. It was the 22,000 plus fans that attended the scrimmage.
The Dolphins are hoping that their fans will come out to support a team that has been made over with a new core linebacking squad and a top flight WR who didn’t bother to play on Monday night. Yes that’s correct, Mike Wallace sat out the scrimmage as did Brian Hartline who suited up and then sat down before it started with what appeared to be a calf injury. The Dolphins have been dealing with injured WR’s of late. Armon Binns is out for the season with an ACL/MCL tear and Rishard Mathews is missing extended time with an undisclosed injury. Now Hartline. The Dolphins are searching the street free agent market now for some camp bodies.
Matt Moore was pedestrian in last nights show event and third QB Pat Devlin fared little better. Lamar Miller didn’t seem all that productive running the ball but rookie Mike Gillislee appeared at times to want to challenge for a bigger role in the offense. Of course this offense was going against a very formidable defense. The bigger issue the Dolphins are facing, again for another season, is a merry-go-round offensive line. They simply can’t get the athletes there to fill the holes.
It was an assumption that Tyson Clabo would lock and key the RT position and he has been o.k. in camp but the team simply can’t get a grasp on the guard positions. John Jerry is injured, Lance Louis a free agent addition from Chicago is injured, Ritchie Incognito is now lining up on the right side, Josh Samuda is starting on the left next to Jonathan Martin now manning the LT spot and Dallas Thomas is trying to make enough of a stride to jump into the rotation and have a shot at starting. The Dolphins are back to shuffling the line once again.
The good news is they are a full week into camp and are still one week ahead of the rest of the AFC. There are still five pre-season games to go before the season opener. In other words, it’s so early in this process that the panic button is on the other side of the field.
It’s hard to take anything away from a scrimmage game that doesn’t involve tackling or full go contact once the lineman have separated. That won’t be the case on Sunday when the team faces the Dallas Cowboys. While the top players won’t play the younger guys will get plenty of work in and we will see how well they are progressing. One take-away from last night was the kicking game where Dan Carpenter missed one field goal from 49 and an extra point. He had no competition from the Caleb Sturgis who continues to nurse a groin injury.
Going back to the fans however is something this team needs to see. The excitement from the stadium elevates and motivates the players on both sides of the balls and several players made reference to being “pumped’ to play in front of such a large crowd for a practice. Winning will obviously win over the fans for good but last night may be an indication that they are at least approving of the direction the team is trying to head towards.