The Miami Dolphins have finished their first quarter of play for 2013 and they stand at 3-1. Fans should be beyond thrilled as most pundits had the Phins anywhere from 1-3 to 2-2 at best. The Dolphins faced one of the most challenging opening month schedules in the NFL. A schedule which included only one home game, a win against the Atlanta Falcons. With three more quarters of play to go the Dolphins can ill afford to look back at the first four weeks.
Luckily, we can.
The Biggest Surprises
5: Brent Grimes has been one of the biggest and best off-season additions to the Dolphins in a very long time. Jeff Ireland should be opening communications with Grimes’ agent soon if he hasn’t already. Grimes has been as close to a lockdown corner as the Dolphins could want. He shows no affects from last seasons Achilles injury.
4: Caleb Sturgis has been perfect and while we all know that a miss will eventually come Sturgis has made several critical FG’s including a long of 54. His seven attempts is more a testament to the Dolphins offense’s ability to score TD’s instead of FG’s.
3: Charles Clay should be ranked higher but frankly it’s hard to nudge him over the top two. Clay has made people forget (almost) the injury to TE Dustin Keller. Clay has been almost flawless in the passing game while still struggling at times with his pass and run blocking. There is no question he has stepped up after a putrid pre-season. Clay currently is 6th in the NFL (tied) in receptions with 20 and has added 245 yards on those receptions.
2: Ryan Tannehill’s no quit nature has led the Dolphins back from half-time deficits in three of the four games. He has calmly led the team on game winning 4th quarter drives in all three of the teams wins. With the exception of the New Orleans Saints game, Tannehill was one of the highest rated NFL QB’s. He has a QBR of 85% and a completion percentage of 65% ranking him 10th in the NFL. He is 14th in completions on 142 attempts while ranking 18th on attempts. Tannehill needs to work on releasing the ball quicker. He has been sacked a league leading 18 times.
1: The Dolphins offense has been remarkably resilient and nothing shows more than in the Red Zone. While the team has shot themselves in the foot more often than not, the Dolphins have shown the ability to move the ball against stout defenses almost at will. The lack of consistency is keeping the Dolphins from becoming one of the highest scoring NFL teams. It seems drives are killed after one mistake. If the Dolphins can fix those mistakes they could become a very dangerous offense. In the Red Zone the Dolphins are one of the top ranked teams in scoring TD’s once inside the opponents 20 yard line. Last year it was the teams Achilles heal.
5: Tyson Clabo was signed as a one year free agent RT fix and thus far he has looked more like Marc Columbo. It’s likely going to be a one year and out for Clabo who has struggled in all facets of the game. Clabo has been unable to successfully block for runs or in the pass protection and he has not looked especially quick on the outside. He will need to get this working or he won’t find many suitors in the off-season.
4: Olivier Vernon rocked the pre-season and then took a big step back. Granted he has faced some very solid LT’s but he has been unable to make any upward push into the passing pocket. Vernon has been almost non-noticeable since week one when he had a solid game against perennial Pro-Bowl LT Joe Thomas.
3: Mike Wallace has only been thrown to a paltry 28 times. It’s obvious that the connection between he and Ryan Tannehill is a disconnect. Wallace has dropped a few passes, some very catchable but what lacks here is the blazing speed we expected to see. Of course you need a QB who can stand up in the pocket and deliver the ball. With pass blocking almost non-existent Tannehill isn’t waiting for Wallace to get open down field and Mike Sherman isn’t calling the shots to be taken as the team has opened with a more methodical approach to their offense.
2: Where is the QB pressure? The Dolphins were expected to have a possible top 5 defense especially on the line of scrimmage. So far they are giving up chunk yards to opposing runners and giving opposing QB’s all day to throw the ball. Sure Cameron Wake has missed one full game and part of another but there is still no push from Miami’s front line. The Dolphins are 14th in the NFL with 11 sacks on the season. It’s a number that must improve as the season wears on.
1: The offensive line was supposed to be fixed when Tony Sparano was the head coach. Being a former Oline coach. It wasn’t of course and Joe Philbin, a former Oline coach was going to mold the Oline into a faster more athletic unit that displayed more speed than anything else. So far the Dolphins Oline is only fast at allowing defenders to run past them. Cleveland has a top rated defense and Atlanta and New Orleans are not too far behind but the Dolphins offensive line is still playing poorly as an entire unit and if it continues they will start going through QB’s.