Miami’s 23-10 route over Cleveland was anything but spectacular, but the Dolphins displayed multiple improvements in key areas. While the offense struggled to get going in the first half, the defense remained solid throughout the course of the game, and the Dolphin D-Line showed the league why they should be in the discussion as one of the NFL’s best. While there were more than two players who deserved the award, I give my Week 1 game balls to CB Dimitri Patterson and kicker Caleb Sturgis.
Head Coach Joe Philbin said that one area Miami had to improve on this year was creating turnovers on defense. Miami’s secondary struggled to come away with interceptions last year and has yearned for play makers on defense. Yesterday, Dimitri was that defensive spark Miami has been looking for. Patterson had not recorded an interception since 2010 while playing with the Eagles, but the 7th year pro hauled in 2 of Brandon Weeden’s 3 interceptions. The first of Patterson’s picks came late in the first quarter on an incredible acrobatic catch off a tip that initially fooled the referees, who ruled the play incomplete to begin with. After a challenge by Coach Philbin, the play was reversed and Patterson was rewarded his first INT of the game. His second takeaway came off a tipped ball by Brown’s TE Jordan Cameron. Patterson made a good read on the ball and dove forward to catch the ball before it hit the ground. These type of plays were very rare for Miami’s defense last year. Without Patterson’s awareness and ability to reel in two INT’s (along with Nolan Carroll’s pick) gave Miami good field position and stopped Cleveland from driving or scoring. This Dolphins secondary will need to continue to make similar plays all year long if they are to beat the elite teams in this league!
As for Sturgis, the rookie kicker demonstrated why releasing veteran Dan Carpenter was the smart decision. The rookie went 3/3, booting in kicks from 45, 49 and 36. The 36 yard field goal more or less sealed the game late in the 4th quarter for the ‘Fins. Sturgis showed great poised and split the uprights with ease on each kick. He kicked like a 8 year vet, not a rookie in his first regular season game. If Sturgis can continue to make kicks when the Dolphins need him, he will live up to his value as a 5th round draft pick.
I realize that we have only seen one week of football from this Miami Dolphins team and that this will be a long and difficult season. However, there is a lot to be excited about surrounding this organization and team. As the offensive line and offense continues to gel together and get better each week, I think this Dolphins team is destined for great things this season!