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The Good

 

Ryan Tannehill - I'm putting him in the good because he overcame a lot of things to be able to lead the Dolphins to a victory. But his game certainly had some blemishes. Let's talk about what he did well first. Obviously, Tannehill cleaned his game up in the second half, throwing 2 TDs against a defense that has consistently rattled him for two years. He completed a lot of passes, getting rid of the ball quickly and accurately enough to allow his receivers to gain yards after the catch. Despite being sacked 5 times and hit a lot more, he showed resiliency, keeping his composure to come out and compete well in the second half. His stat line is solid, completing 76% of his passes and throwing 2 TDs and no interceptions.

 

But his pocket awareness was especially bad in this game after showing improvement the past few weeks. Some of the sacks were the fault of the offensive line’s poor pass protection, but some were on Tannehill for not recognizing where pressure was coming. The last Mario Williams sack sticks out as Tannehill had enough room to climb the pocket but didn’t. It was actually good protection by Dallas Thomas, but he gave up the sack because Tannehill didn’t step up. He also had the fumble while running the ball and another curious play on 3rd and 2 where he had plenty of room to run for a first down and instead chucked it deep to Brandon Gibson, who had pushed off the DB and was called for offensive pass interference.

 

But again, despite these blemishes, Tannehill showed toughness. He’s been a durable player and anyone who can sit there and take 58 sacks and over 100 hits in a season should never have their toughness questioned. The fact that Tannehill had these blemishes in his game and yet was still able to put up the numbers he did speaks to his improvement. That being said, there is still a lot of work for him to do to continue getting better.

 

Jarvis Landry – Yes, he fumbled on the punt return, but he made up for it with that touchdown. Landry has been a consistent playmaker for the Dolphins, making people miss with the ball in his hands and providing a nice safety blanket for Tannehill.

 

Lamar Miller – Gained 5.7 yards per carry, which begs the question – why isn’t he being used more? Despite a shoulder injury, Miller ran tough and kept the defense honest.

 

Brian Hartline – He’s had a quiet season and his days as a Dolphin may be numbered given his productivity versus his contract, but Hartline made some big plays to set up scores in this game, catching two short crossing patterns and turning them into big gains. Hartline has been asked to run a lot of vertical routes this season and has struggled getting open, but the Dolphins may have something here using him running across the field rather than up the field.

 

Brent Grimes – He held Sammy Watkins to 3 catches for 32 yards. If you recall, Watkins killed the Dolphins in their last match up against the Bills, doing most of his damage against Will Davis. Grimes neutralized that and outside of Chris Hogan, the Bills had no one else who could threaten the Dolphins in the passing game.

 

Defense – The Miami defense struggled a bit early, giving up too many yards on first down plays and failing to stop the Bills on 6 of 8 third downs in the first half. But they tightened up in the second half and held the Bills to 0-7 on third downs. They also made life miserable for Kyle Orton, who was accurate and decisive early on, but fell apart in the second half thanks to the consistent pressure the Dolphins were able to bring. When it was all said and done, the defense allowed 237 total yards, 54 yards on the ground, allowed 6 of 15 third down conversions, and most importantly, held the Bills to 9 points for the game.

 

Brandon Fields – He’s had a terrible season, but he put two of his three punts inside the 20 and one of them contributed to the intentional grounding call on Kyle Orton for a safety. It is not about average or net average; it is about placing the ball inside the 20 and forcing the other team to drive the field. Fields contributed to eliminating those hidden yard for the Bills.

 

The Bad

 

My biggest complaint is how ugly the game was, especially in the first half. I expected a low scoring affair, but for a while it looked like we’d have a baseball score. The Dolphins continue to start slow. They are doing a disservice to the fan base by worsening all of our blood pressure.

 

The Ugly

 

Offensive Line – Pass protection was awful. There is no other way to put up. Aside from 5 sacks allowed, they also allowed 16 pressures. That means Tannehill was sacked or pressured on 54% of his drop backs. By my count, he was sacked or pressured on 59% of his drop backs against the Lions. Again, these are deplorable protection numbers in back to back games. Granted, it is against two of the best defensive lines in the league and the injury to Brandon Albert hurts. Conversely, the offensive line did a good enough job of run blocking against a stout front that the Dolphins were able to rush for more than 5 yards per carry. This is a difficult situation for the offensive line. There has been so much shuffling it is hard to keep up. So given the circumstances, I am hopeful things will get better, but they need to get better quickly.

 

Overall

 

Huge win! The Dolphins were finally able to overcome a Bills defense that has given the offense fits. 19 points in the second half is promising, they just need to figure out the first half. It was ugly but they got the job done. Hopefully getting this monkey off their backs catapults them to bigger things.

 

That being said, the Dolphins fly to Denver to face an elite team next Sunday. This will probably be their most difficult game of the year. The Broncos defense is legit and we do not need to talk about their offense. Let’s hope the Dolphins defense can make it tough for Peyton Manning and the offense can do enough to win.

The Miami Dolphins, coming off their best performance of the year in a 37-0 trouncing of San Diego, travel to Detroit to take on the 6-2 Lions, coming off a bye week.  Both teams are hot, with the Dolphins winning 4 of their last 5 games, while the Lions have won 5 of their last 6 games.  The game is a 1:00 kickoff on CBS.

 

Let's take a look at the 2 teams and see how they matchup.

 

Offensively, the Dolphins come into the game averaging 365.8 yards per game, 228.5 of that coming via the passing game, while 137.2 yards are generated in the run game, which ranks 4th in the NFL.  The Dolphins are averaging 26.4 points a game, which ranks 9th.  They face a very stout Detroit Lion defense that is giving up just 290.4 yards per game, which leads the NFL.  They are giving up 206.4 yards per game in the pass game, 74.0 yards per game rushing, which ranks 2nd in the NFL.  Detroit is giving up 15.8 points per game, which is an NFL best.

 

It goes with out saying that Miami faces a very stiff test today against the best defense in the NFL.  QB Ryan Tannehill is coming off one of his better games, and is coming into the game completing 63.3% of his passes for 1,907 yards, 14 touchdowns to 6 interceptions.  He is also the 2nd leading rusher on the team with 245 yards.  Besides the call runs, I believe Ryan legs will be a key in this game, as he will need to be prepared to make plays with his legs against one of the better defensive fronts in the NFL that will be missing DT Nick Fairley.  RB Lamar Miller leads the Dolphins with 518 yards rushing and a 4.9 average per carry.  He a little banged up with a shoulder, but he is a go for the game today.  RB Daniel Thomas and Damian Williams round out the RB core that will see the field.  Mike Wallace leads a deep group of WR in catches with 35 catches for 468 yards.  Rookie Jarvis Landry is 2nd on the team with 30 catches for 301 yards.  Balance will most certainly be a key today along with the play of the offensive line, as they have not faced a DL this good since Buffalo, which happens to be the OL worst performance of the year.  One big difference is Miami now has ORG Mike Pouncey back in the fold, and he has made the move from OC to ORG smoothly.  OLG Dallas Thomas will be a BIG key in this game.  This Detroit defense has playmakers on all levels, from the DL to linebacker to the secondary.  Miami will have to be crisp and sharp with their execution today to have success today.

 

Defensively, the Dolphins come into the game giving up 304.6 yards per game, which ranks 3rd in the NFL.  They are giving up 201.1 yards per game via the pass, which ranks 2nd in the NFL, 103.5 yards per game in the run game and are giving up 18.9 points per game, which ranks 3rd in the NFL.  They face a Detroit offense that is producing 338.8 yards per game, 259.1 yards passing, which ranks 9th in the NFL, and only 79.6 yards per game rushing, which ranks 31st in the NFL.  The Lions are averaging 20.2 points per game.

 

Detroit is coming off a bye week and get 2 big pieces back this week in WR Calvin Johnson and RB Reggie Bush.  While Johnson was out with his injury, WR Golden Tate stepped up HUGE for the Lions and leads the team in receptions with 55 catches for 800 yards.  QB Matthew Stafford is completing 61.2% of his passes for 2,216 yards, 11 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.  One big stat is that he has also been sacked 24 times, which is an indicaiton that this Detroit OL has struggled in 2014.  RB Joique Bell leads the Lions run game with 313 yards.  With Johnson back in the fold, Stafford has his favorite piece back, and will throw the ball to Calvin regardless of if he is being double teamed or not.  This is a game where the secondary has to make plays on the ball, because they WILL be given opportunities.  CB Brent Grimes has very good ball skills, and will be key in this game along with CB Courtland Finnegan.  Tate is a dangerous WR that has to be accounted for as well.  That said, as usual, things start up front in the trenches.  Miami needs to keep the Lions run game in moth balls, and then focus on getting after Stafford.  Pressure on Stafford will give you chances to make plays, as he will throw it up for grabs.  Safties Reshad Jones and Louis Delmas must be active HITTERS today as well as ball hawks.

 

The San Diego game began a brutal gauntlet of games that the Dolphins will be facing.  After the game today, the Dolphins turn around on a short week to host Buffalo.  Then it Denver, Jets, Baltimore & New England.  If Miami is going to be a playoff team in 2014, they will have EARNED it.  This is a game the Dolphins have a chance to win if they execute the way they did last week against Detroit.  Should be a great game.

 

Let's Go Miami.

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