This dress rehearsal game as it’s called while entertaining, didn’t show everything needed to form a complete consensus on where this Miami Dolphins team is at.
Of course there is a factor that teams don’t want to show too much during these games. Even this third game that is normally reserved for teams playing their starters the most.
The showing too much part is more toward scheme and plays. But you can see a glimpse of what’s to come from the overall cohesiveness of the units.
Where the breakdown of gathering the information on the whole of the units comes from is when one main player has an off day. And this was the case for this game with the Miami Dolphins losing to the Eagles 31 – 38.
The main players that stood out the most was Reshad Jones on defense and Matt Moore on offense although he is second string. Also to a lesser extent Laremy Tunsil on offense. A main cog player having an off day throws off proper evaluation of a unit in preseason. During the regular season it can mean the difference of a win or a loss. It’s the old analogy of the weak link breaking a chain and shows how important the team as a whole is.
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Grant is getting settled in on offense and becoming more aware of his surroundings.
Ajayi will find that end zone!
Ajayi one of two rushing TD’s in just one-quarter.
Ajayi is showing no signs of slowing down.
Jay Cutler: played one-quarter finishing 5-for-8 for 105 yards & a TD. But also had a fumble. He showed a command of the offense that is uncanny considering his short time with the team. And could be a possible sign of good things to come from the unit should they stay together as a whole.
DeVante Parker: caught two passes for 78 yards. On his longer one he was near the goal line and was close to breaking the tackle. We have heard all the talk on Parker getting to a next level and so far he is showing it. Before long a stronger trusting bond could develop between this WR and his QB.
Jay Ajayi: showed no signs of slowing down or lingering effects from his concussion. After his first big play it looked like his head hit the turf hard but he bounced right up. He had great stats for just a quarter of play with 53 yards and two touchdowns. And after the game he credited Mike Pouncey as a difference maker on offense.
Still missing in action
Matt Moore: started 2-3 with 2 INT’s which is not like him and makes me wonder if WR’s may have run the wrong routes. But he did also have positive moments like the big gain to Landry to set up a long FG as the first half ended. Come to think of it Moore has not shown much during preseason games so it is like him, he has always been more of a game day player.
Laremy Tunsil: missed a block that lead to a fumble by Jay Cutler. Of course he can’t take all of the blame for Cutler coughing up the ball. With any luck this bad play could be due to Tunsil getting reaccumulated to playing his natural tackle spot from college after having played guard mostly last season. It could come down to just muscle memory.
Reshad Jones: was not himself at all missing many tackles all over the field. This is a very rare occasion. Also missing was good communication needed from him and the CB’s to instinctively know who is responsible for covering WR’s. And not getting burned in the seams as what happened on the Torrey Smith TD.
Julius Thomas: had been flying under the radar with many going overboard calling him a bust already. But after a timeout and a changed play at the goal line. He looked sharp going out for a pass and catching it with perfect timing looking back for the football just over the goal line for a TD.
He could have used his body more to try to block out the defender that got an INT off him though. A big TE with sure hands is a strong asset to have and coach Gase should be able to open up the playbook even more, stay tuned.
Jakeem Grant: on a short post pass spun out of two would be tacklers and ran it in for the score going 69 yards. Grant seems more durable the more he plays on offense. There has been a cringe factor watching him get hit with his smaller frame. But he seems to be getting settled in on offense from the increase in playing time.
Jordan Phillips: last week he missed an interception that was right on him. Of all fortunes he got a second chance at it. This time he not only gathered it in but nearly returned it for a score. The player that tipped the ball appears to be number 95 William Hayes from looking at the highlights linked above. Phillips is almost borderline here as he reportedly had nothing else going for him this game. At least he can be rotational and the Miami Dolphins should really look into making him a FB. (Earl Mitchell 2.0)
Lawrence Timmons: showed his pedigree by being ready anticipating an interception using outstanding athletic ability. He also got after the QB with a hit and a pressure, also making or being in on tackles.
Special teams: playing without having all the blunders as of lately, coach Rizzi has reeled them in. And the lack of penalties was also shared among all units. May as well tack on lack of injures here other than TE Thomas Duarte‘s concussion.
Alterraun Verner: looked sharp and stood out on some plays. I did not notice Bobby McCain other than getting penetration during the game. But there was a report he bobbled a play in the end zone, which had been his undoing for a lot of last season. It’s my opinion as it was last season that some kind of rotation should be used around the red zone.
Some will get after the defense saying that the first team was lacking going against lower string Eagles offensive units. But looking at the bigger picture of preseason and what it entails the defense did alright. Where it stood out as a possible indicator to come is in the rotation along the line producing results even late into the game.
Had Jones been his normal self there would have been far different results. And the same finding of fits that the special teams had went through last game the defense was most likely doing the same. There are many new parts to the unit and they could mesh soon.
There was a build up of Byron Maxwell leading up to this game pitting him as some kind of revenge seeker going up against his former team. This didn’t materialize, in fact he got torched for a TD by Torrey Smith. And while Maxwell took full blame of it, some has to go to Jones and his aforementioned bad day.
This game marks my starting of getting Parker and Stills mixed up. Bad for me making potential mistakes with stories but good that they are both getting lots of looks and plays. And if this is a thing that continues it is a sign of a potent offense with a lot of potential.
The next and final Miami Dolphins preseason game is Vs the Vikings and should only be for final evaluations before cut down day which is now condensed into one action.