Observations From The Miami Dolphins’ 26-23 Loss


Oct 6, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins free safety Reshad Jones (20) returns am interception for a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens in the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins lost a heart-breaker yesterday dropping their second game this season 26-23 to the Baltimore Ravens. Miami is now 3-2 heading into their week 6 bye.

Both teams played well throughout the game, but Baltimore was able to jump ahead of Miami late in the fourth quarter which would eventually be enough to grasp the win from the young and talented Miami squad.

Before we really get into depth let me say two things. First off, Miami played Baltimore tough. This was not the same Baltimore Ravens team that handed a struggling Buffalo Bills team a win during their week 4 match-up. Secondly, the team is 3-2 heading into their bye week with three quality wins under their belt. Most of us really had this team heading into their bye at 2-3 or worse, so standing pat at 3-2 is still quite impressive. Not to mention the team’s schedule is favorable now after that opening 5 week gauntlet.

Let’s dive into some observations from Sunday’s tough loss:

—-QB Ryan Tannehill had another up and down game. The stat sheet shows that Tannehill was able to take care of the football by throwing zero interception and fumbling the ball zero times! A+ in terms of taking care of the football. Tannehill completed 21 of 40 passes for 307 yards and threw one beautiful touchdown to TE Charles Clay. We really saw his struggles in terms of ball placement and deep accuracy, however. Tannehill continues to struggle with under-throwing WR Mike Wallace whenever the second-year quarterback tries to hit Wallace deep and has struggled leading receivers over the middle. These are both coachable, but Tannehill needs to clean this up quickly for this team to compete.

—-The running backs never even took the field. Okay, maybe they did. But RB Lamar Miller was held to 15 yards on 7 carries and RB Daniel Thomas was held to 1 yard on 2 carries. Miami needs to figure out how to pound the rock to create balance on offense. A one dimensional offense may work for teams like New Orleans or Green Bay, but Miami needs to help their second-year quarterback out by establishing a rushing attack.

—-WR Mike Wallace had a good day if you point to the stat-sheet. Wallace grabbed 7 receptions for 105 yards. If you look a little deeper Wallace had an absolutely terrible day. This is turning into a nightmare for Miami. Wallace ran poor routes, which did not help his QB out at all. Wallace also dropped about as many passes as he caught if not more including two key Tannehill throws on the game’s final drive. Wallace needs to step up quickly.

Oct 6, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb (21) tries to intercept a pass intended for Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace (11) during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

—-WR Brian Hartline had a very poor outing also. Hartline grabbed 4 receptions for 60 yards, two of those coming on the Clay touchdown drive, but Hartline had some issues with catching the football. Very uncharacteristic of Brian. I do not expect this to be a recurring theme.

—-WR Brandon Gibson perhaps had the best day of Miami’s top targets through the air. Gibson caught 4 balls for 74 yards and a key 46-yard bomb from QB Ryan Tannehill on Miami’s final drive of the game in a fourth and long situation. It was a little disappointing to see Tannehill not target Gibson more on the drive. Gibson’s hands are a bit suspect at times but he had the most consistent pair on the day.

—-TE Charles Clay continues to impress many. Clay grabbed 3 balls for 52 yards including a beautiful 45-yard bomb from QB Ryan Tannehill. Again, Clay also dropped a key pass on the team’s final drive.

—-This offensive line sucks. Point blank. G John Jerry and RT Tyson Clabo are absolutely awful and shouldn’t be starting at this point. LT Jonathan Martin took a step back yesterday facing one of the league’s best pass rushers in Terrell Suggs. And G Richie Incognito had a bad game himself. The only constant of this group is C Mike Pouncey and even Pouncey himself had an off game sending a snap wayyyyy over Tannehill’s head. If I’m Jeff Ireland I am making calls to all 31 teams about some offensive line help. Cleveland, are you interested in unloading LT Joe Thomas after losing QB Brian Hoyer? Let us know. Hell, Hey Carolina, how about LT Jordan Gross?

—-The offense seems out of whack. Hell it has the past few weeks. The offense converted 3 of 18 third downs for 18%. That stands out as Miami was converting 50% of their third downs just a few weeks ago. The final drive really stands out, in my opinion.

—-OC Mike Sherman called some questionable plays here. QB Ryan Tannehill took a sack on second down after throwing a beautiful bomb to Gibson on fourth down. Again, inconsistent and allowing “no, no’s”.

—-The final drive also showed how much of an impact the loss of TE Dustin Keller was on this team. How so? Consistent hands, route running and providing a security blanket for Tannehill. Clay did not give that to Tannehill nor did any of his receivers.

—-Defensively the pass rush was finally there. No the stat-sheet really does not reflect it as the team only racked up two sacks – 1 for LB Koa Misi and 1 for DE Olivier Vernon. But the team was constantly getting pressure/hits on QB Joe Flacco and collapsing the pocket. Getting DE Cameron Wake healthy is going to help this team rack up those sacks.

—-The run defense was there early completely shutting down RB’s Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. MLB Dannell Ellerbe was playing lights out until he left with an unfortunate injury. I do not know the specifics of his injury but he has been dealing with an sternum injury. In the second half the run defense really let up as we saw Miami’s depth being tested with backers Jason Trusnik, Jonathan Freeney, Jelani Jenkins and Austin Spitler all seeing snaps out there. Hopefully Ellerbe gets himself healthy over the next two weeks.

Oct 6, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon (50) tackles Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) in the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

—-A few stand out performers on the defensive front:

  • DE Dion Jordan played a great game. He was able to get pressure on Flacco and forced a tipped pass leading to a Reshad Jones pick-six.
  • DE Olivier Vernon played well also. Vernon grabbed a sack and three tackles on the day. Hopefully this was Vernon’s coming out party.
  • OLB Philip Wheeler played a good game after two awful games in a row. Wheeler was caught in coverage a few times. But played well for the most part.
  • OLB Koa Misi gets my game ball of the week. Misi played his best game I have seen in quite some time for Miami yesterday. Misi was quite involved in the run game and even collected a sack on Flacco to pair with 8 total tackles.
  • DT Paul Soliai is the heart and soul of this defensive front. Soliai’s impact has been felt for the 5th straight week this season. The guy has already earned his contract for next season. There’s no way Miami does not get a deal done with this guy.

—-CB Nolan Carroll and Brent Grimes were both screwed over on BS pass interference calls. The Carroll foul was absolutely BS. The call on Grimes could have went either way, but in a situation like that the ref needs to let the players play.

—-Speaking of Grimes, the corner played well all game. He missed a tackle, but was in good position on every throw while covering WR Torry Smith. Smith lit up the stat-sheet, but Grimes was able to break-up numerous passes and held his own. This was easily the best match-up to watch throughout the game.

—-Miami’s safeties are both struggling mightily. Reshad Jones ended the day with an interception returned 25 yards for a touchdown along with 4 tackles, but Jones is struggling in coverage after a great season just one year ago. Chris Clemons has also returned to earth after a great end to 2012. Clemons is having trouble in terms of tackling yet again and is quite frustrating. Clemons had 6 tackles on the day but could have had many more. These safeties need to step their game up and play like they did last season for this young and struggling squad.

—-PK Caleb Sturgis is still a beast, fans. Sturgis missed a 57-yard field goal to tie the game, but the attempt should have been much closer if not for a Tannehill sack on second down. It’s pretty tough for a rookie kicker to nail a 57-yard field goal to win the game especially when he does not get all of the football on his attempt.

—-P Brandon Fields is GOD.

—-The kick and punt coverage units were off yesterday also. This is a coachable issue for Miami and I expect it to be fixed during these upcoming two weeks.

Miami is now headed into their bye week with a very respectable 3-2 record on their hands. Miami will come out of their bye week facing the 2-3 Buffalo Bills who will likely be without rookie QB EJ Manuel after spraining his LCL against Cleveland this past Thursday night. This is a must win for Miami coming out of their bye and expect the team to win this game. This is the game that will set the tone for the remainder of their season. Let’s get healthy fellas.