If you are new to this site then there is one thing you should know. I never write a post-game column after a loss or a close victory. Call it drunk on the punch. I don’t let my initial thoughts or reactions become overreactions and thus you don’t have to read a “sky is falling…OMG” article. You can do that with the Miami Herald reporter or listen to the national media criticize until they are blue in the face. When I follow a poorly executed game I like to make sure that my emotions are intact so I know exactly what I am writing about. So let’s take a look at last nights game.
To say the Dolphins were unimpressive in their 2013 debut would be considered an understatement. They didn’t look good for most of the game and it is apparent they have a lot of work to do to get ready for the September regular season over. While the extra week of training camp doesn’t appear to have paid off, consider they still have four more weeks of pre-season games to iron out the wrinkles. Last night showed us they have a lot of laundry that needs pressed.
It’s easier to sit back and point a finger saying how badly the team played but we also have to consider who played as well. Ryan Tannehill took only a handful of snaps. The first snap Lamar Miller put on the ground. Tannehill then passed for 11 yards on two completions with five attempts. Hardly long enough to get real work done. On one of those plays he was sacked. He was pulled after his second completion.
Lamar Miller may have put the ball on the ground the first time he touched it but after shaking off the early “pre-season” mistake he rushed twice for 21 yards. That’s an average of over 10 yards per carry. He took the rest of the night off.
Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace were benched as was Rishard Mathews but alas the back-up 3rd, 4th, and won’t make it receivers combined to catch 324 yards (not including Tannehill’s 11). They also caught two TD’s. Brandon Gibson and Dustin Keller each had one reception and then took the night off as well. Enter Chad Bumphis, Keenan Davis, Brian Tyms, Jeff Fuller, and Stafford. Add in the receptions by TE’s and H-backs and you can see that the ball was spread around rather well.
The receivers however had a hard time holding on to the ball and that is a problem the team needs to address. While Matt Moore is credited with the pick-6 INT, it was Chad Bumphins who failed to pull in a catchable yet imperfect pass. The tipped ball put the Cowboys ahead 17-0. The Dolphins need better hands on their receivers if they plan to make any waves this season at all. Ironically the best hands of the night came from the one player who was least expected to show he had a pair.
Targeted four times in traffic, Egnew looked like a receiving TE. He pulled all four balls into his body with no drops. Tally 52 yards on the four receptions, Egnew made a big statement about himself in last nights game. He will need to continue but solid effort in a guy that is continually dogged each practice.
Despite the scoreboard the Dolphins didn’t sway from their game plan. In fact they stuck to the balance of running and passing up until the final three to four minutes when they became pass happy. At one point they had pulled within four of the lead. With the ball. The Dolphins running game was clearly outshines by a Dallas rushing attack that put over 170 yards on the ground against a much heralded Dolphins defense. But they did it against back-ups. The Dolphins benched all of their starting LB’s and DE’s after one or two series. Only Dion Jordan played the whole game in and out.
Miami rushing attack despite some questionable blocking, produced 112 yards. Most of those coming on the legs of Mike Gillislee in his first NFL action and Jonas Gray seeing his first action as well after sitting out last year injured. Both players looked good at times. Good enough to believe they both could be making an impact on the team this year. Absent were Miller and Daniel Thomas who took all but a few series off as well Charles Clay and Jovorskie Lane. Neither of whom saw the field.
The offensive line however struggled. Again without starters at all the positions the Dolphins really used the game to get work in for the younger guys. Dallas Thomas played almost the entire game at LT and he was manhandled on several bull rushes from a Dallas DE. He will learn. The line is a big concern for the Dolphins.
Defensively the team played o.k. despite sitting their starters across the board for most of the game. Dion Jordan looked electric at times and it left you wanting to see what he will do against the number 1′s in the league as opposed to the number 3-5 guys. Derrick Shelby is in that same boat as well. The corners played a little looser than normal and frankly I couldn’t tell you who was on the field most of the time.
Regardless the game did look sloppy but hardly what I would call a game that would have me concerned. It’s pre-season one of five and a lot of talent was on the bench after the first quarter. Of course I expected more and not less but there were enough positives to take away from the game with that leaves me with some excitement for the season. And there were some moments that left me baffled. Like why did veteran Matt Moore take a 17 yard loss on 2nd and goal? Rookies make those mistakes. It is that there that tells me the Dolphins lacked focus last night.
My guess, they won’t lack focus next week.