The Miami Dolphins are 0-1 to start the season after falling to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday afternoon. Was the close game an indication of what’s to come or just another loss?
No matter how close any game is a loss is still a loss. Just as the Miami Dolphins found out on Sunday. How easily the game could have been different had a few things gone the Dolphins way.
On Sunday night we saw the New England Patriots win their opening game against the Cardinals without Tom Brady and it came down to a simple missed kick by the Cardinals.
For the Dolphins it wasn’t just one thing. It was a dropped touchdown catch by Kenny Stills. A fourth and one play call that didn’t give Miami a real chance. A missed field goal that would have at least given the Dolphins a possibility of a tie. In other words, missed opportunities the entire game.
Earlier today the Dolphins Tweeted the final score with the caption “We kept it close”.
It’s a final. The Dolphins fall to the Seahawks 12-10. pic.twitter.com/KuUAyLMqSG
— Miami Dolphins (@NotTheDolphins) September 11, 2016
Are the Dolphins satisfied with just keeping it close? Are they simply trying to point out that the heavy underdog wasn’t blown out like many believed? Maybe they are trying to say this years Dolphins, despite the loss are better than last year.
They are still 0-1.
On Sunday we posted the 5 keys to a Dolphins victory. How did they do compared to those five things?
Keeping Ryan Tannehill upright.
For most of the day on Sunday, Ryan Tannehill had time to throw. The Seattle defense is very good and one of the best defensive lines in the league. Tannehill was sacked five times however and that is not good. With 31 seconds left in the game the offensive line could not muster the strength to keep Tannehill up.
Miami’s inability to create running lanes consistently and the inability to effectively protect Tannehill was part of the reason the Dolphins lost.
Stopping the run
The Dolphins gave up 112 yards on the ground. While the Seahawks didn’t break any big gains they managed to get enough yards to stay in manageable 3rd downs allowing them to convert. Miami has to do better at stopping the run moving forward. On a positive note, Kiko Alonso and Mario Williams played very well. Williams left the game early with a possible concussion and didn’t return.
The Offensive line
Miami had their chances to put this game away but inevitably the Dolphins offensive line simply gave way to the bull rush of the Seattle defense. Anthony Steen played very well for a player who has never played center at any level of play. His play was such that man wondered if Miami would be better suited to put Mike Pouncey at guard when he returned.
Laremy Tunsil’s day was far from perfect and it’s obvious he has some growing to do but overall his first game in the NFL ends with a positive grade and good step forward. Tunsil faced a big test against Seattle and he did well.
Ja’Wuan James on the other hand needs to work harder at keeping the edge. Seattle was able to get a lot of pressure off the right side and James has to do a better job of holding that side.
The Dolphins looked more like they did last year than what many expected. Honestly, I didn’t really notice the fast paced no-huddle offense that I expected to see. When the Dolphins opened the 2nd half it was hard to tell what adjustments were made. On the other hand, the defensive adjustments were spot on for 56:00 minutes of the game. Unfortunately they needed those 4 minutes to come at any other time than at the end.
The use of timeouts was a bit confusing and it seemed like Joe Philbin was there to throw them around. Another questionable situation was the Dolphins decision to try to keep Seattle out of the endzone with 57 seconds left in the game with the Seahawks on the two yard line. The Seahawks not only scored but left Miami 31 seconds on the clock.
Making it worse was the fact that rookie Jakeem Grant elected to run the ball out of the end zone rather than take a knee. The ball would have been placed at the 25 yard line and no time would have come off the clock. Grant didn’t make it back to the 20.
It’s hard to suggest to any coach that letting the other team score is a good idea but it might have been something to consider the way the Seattle final drive went.
To be honest, I was impressed with the play of the secondary for most of the day. Xavien Howard held up much better than expected. Overall the Seattle offense generated 258 yards in the air with most of those yards coming on a handful of plays. The biggest of course was the 4th and 4 pass to Doug Baldwin for 22 yards.
The Dolphins cornerbacks played well enough to win but couldn’t pull it out in the end when it mattered the most.
The Dolphins are right about one thing, they kept it close and Ryan Tannehill drove the field when it mattered and put the team ahead. It can not be discounted how much the dropped Kenny Still touchdown pass was. Or the missed field goal or the poor play call on 4th and inches. Those are things that the team will learn from.
Adam Gase has done one thing well, he has turned the attitude around of this team. Last year the Dolphins looked lethargic and lifeless, this first game they played with an attitude. They played like they were good enough to beat a very good football team and they took them down to the final minute and that can’t be discounted.
There is still a lot of work to do and there are still weaknesses on the team but if the Dolphins can build off this close loss they could get a lot better and then these types of games will turn their way.
It’s a loss but this loss could be a good thing. It’s rare with the Dolphins to lose a game and think something can be gained but for Adam Gase, he can now see the teams weaknesses and work to correct them. He can also see his team grow towards being a team and that is a big step.