The Miami Dolphins regained some dignity yesterday defeating the San Diego Chargers 20-16. Both teams were incredibly inconsistent during the duration of this game, which has been “the norm” for both teams this season. Miami just happened to pull it together during the second half outscoring San Diego 10-6.
Miami now moves to 5-5 on the season, which ties Miami with the inner division rival New York Jets for the 6th and final wild card spot in the AFC playoff hunt. San Diego, on the other hand, falls to 4-6 on the season, but is still alive in the wild card hunt.
Here are some observations from Miami’s 20-16 win:
—- As always, let’s start things off with Miami’s young quarterback. Ryan Tannehill played well at times, but was far from extraordinary. Tannehill completed 22 of 35 passes for 268 yards and 1 touchdown. Tannehill played well when throwing short to intermediate routes, but struggled when he attempted some deep shots. He was off-page, yet again, with WR Mike Wallace on a sure touchdown down the sideline, under throwing the speedy receiver. Tannehill also under threw Wallace on a second occasion, but I’m unsure if Wallace would have scored if the ball had been in the right spot. Tannehill also threw an interception on the day, and although the corner disguised his coverage, this is not the first time Tannehill has struggled seeing defensive backs leading to easy interceptions.
Bottom line: I’m not so sure that Tannehill is the guy.
—- RB Lamar Miller was surprisingly absent in this one only receiving 4 carries for 17 yards. Daniel Thomas, on the other hand, was surprisingly effective in this one rushing the football 10 times for 57 yards and 1 touchdown. I was surprised with Thomas’ effectiveness running the football given the fact that, well, he’s not very good.
—- WR Mike Wallace’s production is lacking due to Tannehill’s inability to dial the speedy receiver in, and some what of a lack of effort on Wallace’s end. He finished the game with 4 receptions for 39 yards. Rishard Matthews followed up his break-out performance with a 4 reception 52 yard performance, but made some crucial grabs. Brian Hartline also had a nice game making some critical grabs en route to a 5 reception 65 yard performance, but also had a drop.
—- TE Charles Clay is easily the most improved player on this Miami team. Clay finished the day with 6 receptions for 90 yards and an amazing 39-yard touchdown grab in which he broke 4 or 5 tackles. Outside of Clay’s production, the other tight ends were quiet.
—- Given the circumstances, I thought the offensive line played well in this one. Miami rushed for 104 yards as a team and averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Ryan Tannehill was sacked 4 times but was only hit 3 times. I will say, however, that it’s concerning to me that Miami decided to call up practice squad guard, Sam Brennan, over third round pick Dallas Thomas AND former first round pick Danny Watkins. If Brennan is better than both, why was he on the practice squad in the first place?
—- Miami’s run defense has not been the same this season and is quite suspect. San Diego ran the ball effectively en route to 154 yards on 26 attempts, good for a 5.9 yard per carry average. Awful. Jeff Ireland made a huge mistake messing with his front seven this past offseason. Huge mistake.
—- In my honest opinion, Jared Odrick, Randy Starks and Paul Soliai are inconsistent. Let me explain: Do I think these guys are some of the best at what they do? Yes. But do I think they are consistently week in and week out some of the best in the league? No. This trio tends to make a big play every 4 plays or so, give or take. My problem is that none of these players are truly dominant on every single play. Sure offenses need to game plan around these guys because they can be truly dominant during a game. BUT, they are not consistently dominant. We blame Ellerbe and Wheeler for the suspect run defense, but some of blame needs to go towards these guys also. Odrick, Starks and Soliai are all strong defensive linemen. They should not be getting pushed 4 yards off the football.
—- The pass rush was there late, but was inconsistent for the majority of the game. Olivier Vernon, Cameron Wake and Jared Odrick all were credited with a sack on the day.
—- I will never understand why Dion Jordan is not seeing more snaps. Sure he received 22 yesterday which is a huge step up from his 9 against Tampa, but this kid is so explosive, he needs to be on the field. Make it work.
—- Dimitri Patterson’s health is starting to irritate me. When Patterson is healthy, this defense is much better. When he is unhealthy, it forces Nolan Carroll into action and, well, he has been inconsistent this season. Carroll played well to start the season, but has sucked for weeks now. Carroll dropped an easy interception yesterday and was Phillip Rivers‘ whipping boy.
—- Brent Grimes is easily the best corner this team has seen since the Pat and Sam show. Grimes grabbed an interception yesterday for his third on the season and also saved the game batting down Phillip Rivers’ last second prayer.
—- Chris Clemons had another solid game collecting 3 tackles, but blitzed effectively. Reshad Jones, on the other hand, had another bad game. I’m not sure what has happened to Jones this season, but he is not the same player we saw last season.
—- Caleb Sturgis had another solid game and has found his groove.
—- Brandon Fields returned to his god-like self.
—- Marcus Thigpen continues to make questionable decisions in the return game. Thigpen called for a fair catch on a punt when he clearly had room. Although Miami took over around their 40 yard line, Thigpen could have gained some extra yardage.
This game wasn’t pretty at all, but Miami was able to put up more points than their opponent which is all that matters in the end. Miami was able to win the penalty battle 3 to 10, which was about all they won head-to-head besides the point differential.
Miami’s offense was only able to convert on 20% of their third downs going 2 of 10. That’s not going to end well next week against the Carolina Panthers and that vaunted defense. Miami has a lot of growing up to do, as well as fine tuning.
A loss to Carolina next week does not end Miami’s playoff hopes. If Miami loses, bringing their record to 5-6, the team will need wins over Pittsburgh, Buffalo and two wins out of three games against New York (2) and New England (1). 9-7 keeps this team in the hunt, 10-6 secures a spot, 8-8 or below takes you out of contention.