This past Sunday the Miami Dolphins fell to 5-6 on the season after dropping a crucial game against the Carolina Panthers, who moved to a surprising 8-3 on the season. Carolina was able to pull ahead in the second-half, shutting out Miami completely, for their seventh win in a row. Carolina took down Miami 20-16.
It was actually not all bad down in Miami Sunday for this Dolphins team. We saw some good things, some bad things, and some re-occurring themes.
Here are some observations from Sunday’s loss (I apologize for this being late):
—-QB Ryan Tannehill had a good game stat-wise: 28 of 42, 310 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, 36 rushing yards. While Tannehill took a step forward, in my opinion, in terms of leading this team, he was still unable to get on-page with his deep threat, Mike Wallace. Three deep bombs to Wallace, and it was Wallace who made Tannehill look “good” by adjusting to the football to make two of those receptions. Tannehill still is struggling with accuracy, timing and his inner clock.
—- The run game was absolutely awful in this one. Carolina’s front deserves some credit, but OC Mike Sherman threw the football 42 times compared to running the football 13 times. Talk about being one-dimensional. Daniel Thomas had three of those carries for 8 yards and will likely miss the remainder of the season with an ankle injury, so we may see what the team has in rookie RB Mike Gillislee. Lamar Miller had 10 carries for 8 yards also. Miller is concerning me a bit, but it’s tough to judge behind an absolutely awful offensive line.
—- WR Brian Hartline caught 5 of 5 targets for 78 yards, but was not involved as much as I would have liked him to be. WR Rishard Matthews has fallen back to earth after his break-out game. Matthews only gained 2 yards on 3 receptions. WR Marlon Moore made a two nice grabs for 20 yards. But the guy I want to single out here is WR Mike Wallace who grabbed 5 balls for 127 yards and 1 touchdown. Wallace made his quarterback look good Sunday by making adjustments to under-thrown footballs, including a 53-yard touchdown reception. Wallace did have a few drops, of course, but he looked the part of a dominant number one wide out Sunday. Don’t blame the kid for the drop on the last play of the game – the ball should have been placed better by Tannehill and there was tight coverage on the play. When will we actually see Tannehill try to over-throw Wallace…?
—- The tight ends sucked Sunday as no one stepped up. Charles Clay, who has broke out this season for Miami, only caught 4 passes for 27 yards matched up against one of the league’s more athletic linebackers in Thomas Davis. Mike Engew caught one pass for 5 yards and rookie Dion Sims caught one also for 6 yards. Hopefully next year’s offensive coordinator understands how to utilize tight ends.
—- The offensive line held well for the majority of the first half, but came out sluggish in the second half leading to a terrible offensive output. When you net 52 yards rushing (3.1 average) and allow 3 sacks and a crap ton of pressures/hits, you suck. Miami’s offensive line, sucks. Start scouting offensive linemen hardcore.
—- I thought Miami’s defensive line played with a reckless mentality in this one, and I was very impressed. Sure the team only netted 2 sacks on Newton and 3 hits, but they were able to use their athleticism in this one to pressure and keep Newton in check. I loved the play across the board, but two guys I was absolutely impressed with are Olivier Vernon and Dion Jordan. Jordan proved to the coaching staff that he needs his role expanded. Vernon, on the other hand, has proven he is a valuable asset to this defense. He’s not the biggest, fastest, or strongest, but the kid has a ton of heart and is learning as he goes. Vernon is one of this team’s most improved players, in my opinion.
—- LB Philip Wheeler played well in this one collecting 9 total tackles and actually tackled well. LB Dannell Ellerbe, on the other hand, continued to suck and prove that Miami made a mistake signing him this off-season. Ellerbe continues to disappoint in pass coverage and in run support. Easily Miami’s most over-rated off-season move. And LB Koa Misi actually played well in this one. Misi only collected 2 tackles, but he was solid in coverage. He’s not flashy, but he gets his job done when he needs to.
—- The corners played well all together in this one. Brent Grimes drew a tough match-up with WR Steve Smith and held his own limiting Smith to 69 yards on 5 receptions. Nolan Carroll played great Sunday and deserves credit for stepping in and playing lights out. He made an excellent play on a Newton pass to intercept it. And, of course, Jimmy Wilson played well as the team’s #3 corner. Wilson is turning his career around after looking terrible for the majority of it in Miami’s nickel role. He’s actually playing quite well this season and my concerns about him in coverage are not as bad as they used to be.
—- S Reshad Jones woke up and played well Sunday collecting 5 tackles. Jones was also solid in coverage. Chris Clemons had a decent game, but was not spectacular by any means. It was quite a scary moment when Clemons went down, which meant DJ Campbell replaced Clemons. Thank god Clemons was okay.
—- PK Caleb Sturgis was 3 for 4 on the day, but shanked a 52-yard attempt….badly.
—- P Brandon Fields had another solid outing. What’s new?
—- K/PR Marcus Thigpen is making downright awful decisions in the return game and looks like a shell of the player we saw last season. The kid has been no threat at all as a returner this season, which is an issue when you have a team that needs a spark to get things going offensively more often than not.
Miami will face the AFC East rival New York Jets this Sunday at 1:00 PM EST. The Dolphins will be looking to get back to .500 on the season and jump ahead of the pack in the battle for the AFC’s final wild-card spot.