Miami Dolphins have a lot of work to do before Jacksonville
By Josh Binder
While Jarvis Landry was able to secure a win with a punt return for a touchdown, the rest of the Miami Dolphins looked sluggish against the Redskins. After a stellar preseason, Fins quarterback Ryan Tannehill regressed back to some bad habits in game one, and missed on a few throws that could’ve turned into big plays (i.e. Dion Sims would be touchdown). Furthermore, the entire defensive line looked sloppy, leading to a fantastic day on the ground for Redksins running back, Alfred Morris. With next weeks game against the Jacksonville Jaguars coming up, lets take a look at where the Dolphins must improve in order to get back into good form.
As said before, the Dolphins defensive line did not play up to the level needed to be a top-5 defensive unit. Ndamukong Suh, Jelani Jenkins, and others on the Dolphins defense said much of their struggles came from the cut blocking implemented by the Redskins offensive line. This defensive technique focuses on taking out the legs of big defenders, opening up cut back lanes and other holes. This dangerous style of play led to Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon getting sidelined for the second half with an ankle injury.
One of the keys to defending against cut blocking is to be aware of centers and guards pulling during run plays, and utilizing your hands to shed off cut blockers. Dolphins outside linebacker Koa Misi went into further detail when talking to Sun Sentinel’s, Omar Kelly.
"“I got cut that one time, and then got cut off on the backside another,” Misi added. “You just got to be ready for it because the center is coming [to the second] level right now. He’s not blocking anybody. He’s coming straight for you and you have to be ready…You better get your hands out and be ready to play off of it.”"
Defending and attacking cut blocks may have been an area of weakness for the Fins defensive front, but something even more troubling came from the offensive side of the ball–Ryan Tannehill’s decision making. Poor play and lack of touch on a few potentially big plays led to a below par performance for the recently paid veteran. Tannehill will need to improve on every aspect of his game in order to take this Fins offense to the next level. He must be more aware, must be smart on third downs, and must convert on redzone opportunities.
Many of Tannehill’s poor decisions should have been intercepted, but their were several questionable decisions that luckily didn’t end in a costly turnover. While I’m not necessarily too concerned about Tannehill’s play (I’ll chalk it up to first game jitters), Fins fans should pay extra close attention in next weeks game agains the Jaguars. Furthermore, as the offensive line gains chemistry, expect Tannehill to feel a bit more comfortable as the season goes on.
While the Dolphins certainly have a lot to improve on, there were many positives, and even some pleasant surprises to take away from game one. We all knew Brent Grimes was going to do well this year, but what about the opposite starting cornerback Brice McCain? He did very well in his Dolphins debut, which even included an acrobatic interception. Additionally, Reshad Jones played with tenacious effort and rookie Jordan Phillips was able to register his first sack of his NFL career. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, rookie offensive guard Jamil Douglas looked solid in his first start of the regular season.
Week two can’t come soon enough, and I know all you Phanatics out there are pumped to see what the Dolphins can do against a lackluster Jaguars team. I would expect to see a bit heavier a dose of Lamar Miller and a huge improvement along the defensive line. I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least 4 or more sacks against this Jaguars offense. As always, feel free to comment below and Fins up!