Miami Dolphins: The positive side of a 27-10 preseason loss
By Sean Denison
It had been 228 long, agonizing days since the Miami Dolphins last played a football game. That span was broken last night as the Dolphins played their first preseason game of the year at Soldier Field in Chicago. And although it was a meaningless preseason game, it was nice to finally see the aqua and orange once again on the playing field. Despite the final scoreboard reading 27-10 in favor of the Bears, there were many positives to take from the first preseason game in the books for the 2015 Miami Dolphins.
First things first, Ryan Tannehill played great. It was the first time I’ve witnessed Tannehill look completely comfortable and in control of the offense. The fourth year quarterback’s footwork was good; he progressed through his receivers; overcame two holding penalties by the offensive line; and had noticeably more zip on his ball than in years past. In his brief appearance— which only lasted one drive—Tannehill went six for seven for 56 yards, capping off a drive that totaled 101 yards of total offense with a two yard touchdown strike to Jarvis Landry on fourth and goal. Although short, Tannehill and the first string offense’s night couldn’t have gotten off to a more promising start than putting up six points before you had time to finish your first beverage.
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On the ground, Lamar Miller also only played the first series of the game. Miller, coming off an impressive season after rushing for over 1,000 yards, continued where he left off. The South Florida native finished the night and drive with three carries for 32 yards, including an impressive 27-yard scamper after being knocked out-of-bounds. After gaining a bit of muscle in the offseason, Miller was in question of losing a step, but seemed just as quick as he’s always been. And given the fact that the rest of the Dolphins’ running backs didn’t have a good night on the ground, it seems that Miller had the opportunity to ultimately prove his worth to this team, offense, and its fans.
Last, but certainly not least, the defense looked stellar. Like the offense, they couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. In their first series, the Dolphins forced a punt after causing the Bears to go three and out. Interestingly, Suh’s presence was felt on the very first play of the game for the Dolphins defense. Before the first snap, Suh forced the Bears offensive lineman to jump, which caused a five-yard false start penalty. It’s apparent from training camp to the first play of the game that Suh instills fear into anyone assigned to guard the ferocious mountain of a man. Also in the game, because of the push generated by the defensive line, Dolphins veteran Cameron Wake had a huge sack on quarterback Jay Cutler—unfortunately, the sack was erased due to a questionable defensive penalty. As the year progresses, it will be exciting to see how this talented defense performs in both pressuring the quarterback and stopping the run—essentially leading to more turnovers.
Despite the good, there’s always a bad, right? Such is the case of the Dolphins’ lack of depth at various positions. The Dolphins’ third group on offense and defense couldn’t get anything going the whole night. The defensive line was pushed around and the entire offense struggled to move the ball, or put up any points. Moving forward, the Dolphins still have questions at the kicking position. Kicker Caleb Sturgis didn’t help his case by shanking a kickoff out-of-bounds, putting the Bears in a prime position to score points.
So, yes, the Miami Dolphins still have things to work on. But in short, we should feel good about what we saw from the Miami Dolphins last night in the Windy City: great quarterback play, good starting offensive production, dominating performance by the defense, and a nice preview of what we may see once the regular season starts September 13th at Washington. For a change, excitement seems to be growing around this team and its fan base—all of which can be flushed down the toilet if Miami has another stinker of a season and doesn’t make the playoffs.