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Unfortunately, I missed most of the 1st half of the Miami-Carolina preseason game last night. By the time I tuned in, it was 14-0 with 4 minutes left in the 2nd quarter. The Dolphins would end up losing the game 31-30, but once again, this was a game where the first team unit for the Dolphins came out and dominated.
QB Ryan Tannehill has been extremely sharp this preseason, and is 15-18 in the 2 games so far. You can tell that he is more comfortable in the 2nd year of Bill Lazor offense and it is showing on the field. The offensive line still remains a work in progress, especially the offensive guards as Dave Hyde of the Sun-Sentinel pointed out last night. Miami will need to make a decision on if they want to make a run at FA OG Evan Mathis, who was in Seattle on Saturday to talk with the Seahawks. And I just read a tweet this morning from Omar Kelly stating the Dolphins are OUT of the Evan Mathis sweepstakes, so considering the source, take it for what it is worth.
What I have seen of this offensive line though, is that there is very little depth behind the starters right now. OLT Jason Fox left the game with what most are believing is a concussion. If he cannot play, and I don't believe Brandon Albert is ready to play, do you play Ryan Tannehill. The 3rd preseason game is the most game like preseason game, as team game plan for the team they will play, and the starters will play into the 2nd half. Miami has a decision to make possibly, depending on the status of Fox. My thoughts are that if Fox cannot play, you play Ryan that first series, maybe 2 and then get him out, depending on how the OL looks. You can't take a chance on getting him hurt.
I believe the Dolphins need to look at some of the veteran tackles that are still available, as Sam Baker and Jake Long are still out there. Yes, I realize Jake has not been able to stay healhty the last 3 years, but as a backup, he could provide top notch experience, and the same goes for Sam Baker. Right now, the OL depth leaves a LOT to be desired.
On the defensive side of the ball, I see the same thing. The first team goes out and control the game and even has a goal line stand. Then the 2nd and 3rd team guys come in and you have concerns about the depth, especially at linebacker. The secondary also had some injuries to be concerned about, as Jamar Taylor suffered a quad injury and Bobby McCain hurt his ankle. Both said they believe they are fine, but we will know more today after they have been examined more throughly. I thought CB Will Davis had a rough night, as he was beaten for completions a couple of times and missed tackles as well. Must add that Taylor had a nice interception and return, and I do believe if he can stay healthy, he will be the starter opposite of CB Brent Grimes.
Some players that flashed last night for me was WR Matt Hazel and DT AJ Francis. Christion Jones had a 46 yard kickoff return late in the game, and it would be nice to be able to take Jarvis Landry off the return teams and let him focus at wide receiver. I don't think there is any question that Damien Williams is the 2nd back in Miami, as he had 2 touchdown last night and should have had 3, if he had not lost control of the ball while diving for the pylon. I thought LaMichael James flashed last night as well.
Miami has some interesting questions to answer and some moves that may have to be made to sure up the depth on this team. Right now, I like what I see from the starters from Miami. They have been DOMINANT. It's the depth that has to be a major concern if you are a Miami fan, along with the OL issues still.
The Dolphins are going through morning practices, and just from reading some of the comments on Twitter from the various reporters that are there covering the practices, it seems that CJ Mosely is starting to round into shape and is giving the offensive guards problems, especially the rookie, Jamil Douglas.
It has been said before and it is being reinforced. The Dolphins defensive line has the potential to be an ELITE unit. Miami offensive line get's to work against this unit on a daily basis. And while they may look bad, very bad on some occasions, they will not face many units better. With that said, 2 of the very best defensive fronts are in the same division, at Buffalo and the New York Jets. Continued improvement and chemistry needs to be established, and possibly a decision will need to be made in regards to FA OG Evan Mathis and if the Dolphins will look to bring him in. He is supposedly ready to make a decision on a team in the near future.
The questions about the Linebacker group and depth are coming to the fore front right now. During the preseason game against the Bears, both Chris McClain and Jordan Tripp got hurt in the game, but while McCain has been able to practice, Tripp left the field with help and a boot on. UDFA Mike Hull and Zach Vigil looked good today from accounts that I have read, and Jeff Luc flashed a little as well. Those 3 UDFA along with fellow UDFA Neville Hewitt have a chance to make the team because of the concerns about depth. That, and you want to have linebackers on your special teams units as well.
These young kids will have the rest of the preseason to prove that they can play that game at this level, and having quality depth will be a big key for the Dolphins to develop.
Now, to the preseason game against the Bears, and the first thing I need to say is I did not get a chance to see the game, as the replay on the NFL Network came on 10:00 AM Friday morning. Like most of us, I was at work and did not set up to record the game. From what I was able to pick up from reading the various comments from both beat reporters and fans, the 1st units on both sides of the ball looked SHARP, the offensive line included. Offense scored a touchdown, although some have pointed out it came on a 4th down play at the 2 yard line, and in most cases the Dolphins would have probably kicked the field goal. This is probably true, but the fact of the matter is, they moved the ball down the field. They MUST do a better job of getting touchdowns instead of field goals though. After the first drive, the back up personnel came in and played the rest of the game, and from what I could tell, they needed the reps.
Same goes for the defensive unit, as they got a 3 and out. Suh showed what he means to the defense, as he drew double teams for the most part and allowed the rest of the DL and linebackers flow to the ball and make plays. Suh is that RARE DT that teams have to account for on EVERY PLAY. He is a force agains the run and pass. According to who you believe, the 2nd unit DL came in and played well also, as Terrence Fede, Jordan Phillips and CJ Mosely all played well. Some thought they did not play as well, so this is why I wish I would have seen the game to judge for myself. Most, if not all the media accounts of the 2nd unit DL was positive though. The negative comments came from a couple of posters on Phinfever.
Questions still need to be answered. And as far as I am concerned, the most important thing is to come out of preseason at healthy as possible and by all means avoid that devestating injury.
We are getting closer and closer to the opener in Washington. Can't Wait.