Miami Dolphins Pos/Neg – Preseason Game 4

Aug 24, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins linebacker Jonathan Freeny (56) reacts after sacking Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins dropped their fourth preseason game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last night by the score of 17-16. Miami’s meaningless preseason record now stands at 1-3.

Miami did, however, come out and perform well from the beginning of the game, which is something many fans were dying to see happen. Although the offense performed well for the majority of the night, a Jonas Gray fumble led to a Tampa Bay touchdown late in the fourth quarter giving Tampa the victory.

 

There were certainly some good signs we can extract from this game, but also a few lingering negatives that must be cleaned up.

 

Positives:

 

  • The biggest positive of the night, in my opinion, was the play of QB Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill had the look of a top-tier quarterback last night. The second-year pro finished the night 17-of-27 for 150 yards and 1 touchdown. His stat-line could have looked much better if receivers such as Brandon Gibson, Charles Clay, etc. could have held onto the football when given a chance. Tannehill is definitely a bright-spot for this team.
  • WR Brandon Gibson was another bright-spot last night. Gibson finished the night with 5 receptions for 43 yards and 1 touchdown. Gibson performed well in the absence of TE Dustin Keller, proving to be Tannehill’s go-to guy. Gibson did drop at least two balls that I counted that were catch-able. BUT, Gibson looked very good last night and should be one of this team’s top targets.
  • TE’s Dion Sims and Evan Rodriguez looked like the two best tight ends on the squad last night. Sims looked powerful and had a very nice 18-yard reception – his only reception of the night. Rodriguez, on the other hand, made this team last night. The former Chicago Bear put together a solid night blocking and had two receptions for 16 yards. Rodriguez will likely stick as the team’s “fullback” but could actually move Charles Clay to that position, but we will get to that later.
  • MLB Dannell Ellerbe looked fast. Hell, Ellerbe looked like the fastest linebacker on either team last night. Ellerbe grabbed two tackles last night, but he was all over the field making an impact. Ellerbe is a huge upgrade over former Dolphin, Karlos Dansby.
  • DE Olivier Vernon looked like a man-child last night. Vernon looks much more explosive this season and much, much stronger than he was during his rookie season. Vernon could actually prove to be the break-out defender for this Dolphin defense this season.
  • RG Josh Samuda actually looked pretty good last night. Maybe all of the criticism he has taken in recent weeks has fired him up and, in turn, motivated him to improve in all areas. He did not look like the same guy we have seen out there the past three weeks.
  • Linebackers Josh Kaddu, Jelani Jenkins and Jonathan Freeny want to make this team. Kaddu played well last night showing versatility which will help him make this team (1 tackle, 1 sack). Jenkins looked pretty darn good last night in my opinion. Yes, he made his fair share of mistakes, but Jenkins is definitely someone the coaching staff can work with (3 tackles). Freeny easily was the best back-up linebacker the team had last night. He finished the night with four tackles and one sack, but also was flying around.

 

Aug 24, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller (26) is tackled by Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Michael Adams (21) during the first quarter at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Negatives:

 

  • Special Teams, special teams, special teams…Specifically the punt return unit. PR Marcus Thigpen muffed a punt last night which is something coach Darren Rizzi will not be happy about. And CB Nolan Carroll caused another turn-over. Although Carroll was pushed right into the ball, he must have a better sense of awareness if he wants to carve himself a niche on special teams.
  • RT Dallas Thomas had another tough outing last night allowing a sack. He was beaten inside by DE Trevor Scott for the sack. And when I say beaten I mean just absolutely owned by Scott’s speed.
  • RB Jonas Gray likely just fumbled away his chance at making this squad. Sorry for the pun there, but seriously. Gray looked like he had a chance to make this team for his performance through the first three games of the preseason. That all changed last night. Head Coach Joe Philbin did not look impressed after the fumble occurred. I know that Gray does not play defense therefore he does not deserve all of the blame, but giving the opposing team field position that close to the end-zone at the tail end of the game will almost always result in a loss.
  • TE Charles Clay did not look good at all as a tight end last night to be quite honest. Clay does have a nice skill set to be a decent tight end, but his route running is atrocious. Clay does not have that natural route running ability like a Dustin Keller, but he needs to do his best to improve in this area. Evan Rodriguez looks like he would be a better fit as the team’s top tight end, which would move Clay back to the fullback/H-back role.
  • Turnovers, penalties, and third-down execution. Miami had four fumbles (three of which were lost) last night paired with one interception. That does not equate to a successful evening. Miami also committed 5 penalties for 37 yards. Lastly, Miami was 6 for 17 on third-down equating to a 35% success rate. Miami must improve in these areas if they wish to compete this season. If you can win the turnover battle, commit a low number of penalties and execute on third-down then you can compete with any team in the league.

 

Miami will face off against New Orleans next Thursday night in the team’s final preseason game. Although the starters will not play much, it will be due or die time for the back-ups to prove they have the potential to contribute for this team.

 

Tuesday is cut day for NFL teams. Teams will be cutting their rosters down to 75 players. Keep an eye out for updates on who exactly Miami will be parting ways with.

Topics: Brandon Gibson, Dannell Ellerbe, Miami Dolphins, Olivier Vernon, Ryan Tannehill

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  • tpl

    Moving Clay to FB is a great idea. Let Rodriguez play TE.

    • TylerMcMullen

      Agreed. Clay looked terrible as far as his route running, precision and awareness are concerned. Rodriguez could be a hot name this week in practices. Thanks for the read and the comment!

  • gofins60

    Forget the playoffs this year… this offense needs a lot of help and better playcalling. They’re not very good on 3rd downs, short yardage, and in the red zone, and TE is a concern after losing Keller. The only improvement I see over last year is the passing game (between the 20s). The playoffs are out of the question until this offense can consistently put up 27-30 points per game like the “elite” teams. As it stands, the defense will keep them in games, but it’s up to the offense to score more than one or two TDs per game.

    • David Henderson

      Well said, this team is a mirror of last years which was a total disaster. With the inability to score in the red zone this team will flounder on offense as they did last year. 6-10 is most likely what this team will go this year, but then I could be wrong…time will tell.

      • TylerMcMullen

        Like I’ve been saying all along, David, the lack of a true red-zone threat will hurt this team in that area of the field. I’m missing my boy Brandon Marshall terribly. Sure he under-performed mightily as a Phin, but he had a big body that had to be accounted for. Don’t sleep on the team finding a 5th receiver through roster cuts. There are bound to be a few big bodied receivers cut come roster trim downs. I’m saying 8-8 is a successful season and anything less is a let down. As you have stated, time will tell..Thanks for the read and the comment, David.

    • #1Dolphan

      Great Point!!!

    • TylerMcMullen

      If Gibson and company can step up to pick up the slack for the injured Keller, this offense actually could be potent. The only REAL issue is the lack of that red-zone guy. Which is something we knew coming into the season. Keller would have helped, but even Keller doesn’t have that big red-zone frame. The playoffs are not out of question this year, in my opinion, but if the team continues to put up field goals instead of touchdowns it will be tough to win the tight games. Thanks for the read and the comment!

  • William Varner

    Holy cow! You guys are throwing in the towel in the preseason? Maybe Tom and company should do the same since they got trounced 40-9. We are light years ahead of where this team was last year at this point. You know, the team that would have been 9-7 if Carpenter made 2 fgs. While I’m not saying a 13-14 win season, but to actually downgrade our wins is ludicrous.

    • TylerMcMullen

      You got it, William. I for one am very impressed with where this team is at. If injuries happen, though, which they do as we all know, this team could be hurting due to lack of depth. But I think this team is very strong at many positions as far as the starters are concerned. Thanks for the read and the comment, William! PS I’m saying an 8-8 season is a win this year. The beginning of the season will be brutal.

      • William Varner

        Definitely the first five games will dictate the season for us. If we go 3-2 or better, I say 10 wins. I really think we will go 5-1 or 4-2 in the division. If we go anything less than 3-2, an 8-8 season is very possible.

        • TylerMcMullen

          I say it’s quite possible. Realistically I’m thinking that we go 2-3 to open the season. Then, of course, there will be some tough games but I definitely think that 8-8 is within reach. The ceiling, however, for this current team is only 10-6, MAYBE 11-5 if you’re a dreamer and we still had Keller.

  • William Varner

    FYI Everyone… Carpenter was cut by Cardinals. Bad practice and had his fg blocked!!

  • Jcartwright67

    Prior to Keller going down my biggest concern was 3rd down efficiency. Philbin made the comment a short while back that we’re only seeing half of the offense. So, I’m hoping the unseen 50% actually converts 3rd downs and has a red zone scoring solution. I’m also secretly hoping that the FO has an ace in hand for the TE position. We wouldn’t actually go into the season hedging all our bets on a TE that missed most of last season due to injury….would we? I like Sims and I’m hoping he has a great rookie campaign. I know Tannehill has had some decent numbers but I’m growing more concerned with his ball placement or accuracy. He seems a little off! The great QB’s make average WR’s and TE’s look amazing.

    • TylerMcMullen

      He does seems a little shaky at times, doesn’t he. Well, the hope is there for a good season. As I’ve stated above, I will call an 8-8 season a success for such a young team with a lot of talent that has yet to really gel together. Hopefully the tight ends come around and someone steps up. I still have my money on Egnew at some point during the season. But I feel like I could be losing a lot of money if you see what I’m saying. And yes, the biggest concern in my opinion also is the third down efficiency. If this team cannot convert third downs and put together long touchdown drives….it could be a long year and they will NOT compete for a playoff spot. Thanks for the read and the comment as always, J!