The Miami Dolphins have one more game in the exhibition season and that is not enough time to solve all of their problems. They simply are running out of time.
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The good news for the Dolphins is that all is not bad. The offensive line looked much better on Thursday night and the defensive line starters look to be very good. Still some issues remain and need fine tuning if not fixing.
Bobby McCain is not playing bad but is he the answer across from Byron Maxwell? Maybe, maybe not. What did learn from Thursday is that Tony Lippett has a lot of work to do. Frankly the cornerback situation in Miami isn’t good.
The Dolphins believe that Xavien Howard will be able to jump right in when he returns to the field but that is a high expectation for a player who has missed all of training camp. The reality is that the Dolphins lack quality depth at corner and if Maxwell gets hurt or plays like he did last year, the Dolphins are going to have a long season with some really big plays and a lot of penalties.
Arian Foster looked o.k. in action in Thursday’s week 3 pre-season game and Jay Ajayi looked o.k. too. The problem? They looked just o.k. The biggest issue for the Dolphins and their running game has far more to do with their run blocking which is still a struggle on the offensive line.
When there are holes however the runners are not hitting them as fast as they should. Overall the running backs are not a huge concern but the run blocking has to get better or the Dolphins will be rewarded with an offense that is very one-sided.
It will be interesting however which direction the Dolphins go in when the final cuts are made. Damien Williams hasn’t looked all that bad and brings a more bruiser mentality to the group. Isaiah Pead has performed better than expected. Daniel Thomas is a very big long shot to make the roster and the Dolphins still have injured Kenyan Drake to look at. It’s a crowded back-field that won’t remain crowded in another week and a half.
Earlier today we talked about Jordan Cameron and how he is not very impressive thus far. The same can be said about Dion Sims, MarQuies Gray, and Thomas Duarte. Duarte, a 7th round pick get’s a pass but the productivity of the unit as a whole makes me wonder why the team released Jake Stoneburner who I believe had potential.
From dropped passes to bad routes, the tight-ends have been lackluster. In previous coaching stops Adam Gase has made unknown tight ends into rich men. Julius Thomas anyone? Of course Thomas also had Peyton Manning.
While this is still an offensive system in progress, the tight ends need to step up and find a way to make big impacts on the field.
The 3rd pre-season game was a huge step in the right direction but it needs to continue that forward momentum. Perhaps Gase and company have found a solution at right guard with Jermon Bushrod and perhaps we have finally seen the end of the Dallas Thomas/Billy Turner starter experiments.
Miami needs consistency on the offensive line and even with Mike Pouncey out they need to grow together. Too often have coaches played a roulette game with the interior lineman. Bushrod may not be the best option at right guard but the unit seems to play better when has been in the game instead of Turner or Thomas.
Miami isn’t likely to fix much next week ahead of Seattle so practice will be important as many starters will not see a lot of playing time in week 4 pre-season. Hopefully the Dolphins start the same group again.
Run stuffing defense
The Dolphins improved considerably on Thursday night with their first team unit. However one game doesn’t exactly mean that the Dolphins run stopping defense has turned a corner. The reality is this was the biggest problem Miami’s defense had in 2015 and through two previous weeks it was a major problem as well.
The Dolphins got some much-needed help from Koa Misi who looked really good attacking the line of scrimmage and later Miami was able to get more looks from Neville Hewitt who played well.
Defensively the front four played much better on Thursday stopping DeVonte Freeman in the first quarter and a half. That will need to continue as teams will test the Dolphins ability to stop the run early and often.