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Week 12: Dolphins at Broncos
Last week I said Ryan Tannehill (RT) needed time to learn the offense. His throws have been erradic this year because the timing on them was off. This was clear to me watching game film of him hitting the WR late out of the break. The last month, his timing has been improving and it shows in his completion percentage. Bill Lazor said the other day that he can only let RT run plays he's comfortable with...so the entire playbook isn't on the table just yet. What is clear? RT is good enough to take this team to the post season. Oddly enough, he seems to play better when he takes a hit. In week 1 against NE his performance improved noticably after a hit to the chops. Lazor has seemed to recognize this as well. RT, while seemingly a quiet guy, has to be emotionally charged to improve his game. That was done early by Lazor on Sunday and the result was RT putting up gawdy numbers in terms of completion percentage. I don't think Miami can open that way every week, but those plays still need to be in the playbook and used very sporadically. The last thing this team needs is a safety or LB to get a clean hit on RT and put him out.
Have you noticed that the Mike Wallace critics are silent? Yeah, me too. Wallace has shown the world that he can adjust his game from being a 1 trick pony to a complete WR. He's catching the ball across the middle, in traffic and running routes so sharp they could cut you. Kudos to him. I think Miami is still going to have to exploit his speed deep to keep defense honest. The emergence of Landry and the return of Charles Clay could propel the Dolphins Offense into a new zone. Clay appeared to be back to 99% on Sunday. Landry conintues to shine as the rookie is making a push for rookie honors. The big puzzle to me is the disappearance of both Hartline and Gibson. Hartline still has those 4 catches a game but nothing like the two previous seasons. Gibson is all but non-existanct and it could be due to Landry's play.
Lamar Miller had another decent outting and Thomas provided some good plays both running and catching out of the backfield.
Defense - Again despite having the best bookends in the league and a solid interior, the defense still gives up that critical drive. Leading 14-0 they give up an opening 2nd half TD which put Chicago back in the game. Had it not been for the offense clicking, the game might have been different if they come out and go 3 and out on that series. Instead the offense drove down for a kill shot TD. That seemed to be the dagger that killed Chicago.
STs - remain some of the worst in the league. We waive Don Jones and he is now making big plays for NE STs. Jones was one of those nitch players on STs that Rizzi should have fought for. Instead he let him go and it conintues to cost Miami. Anyone miss Carp yet? Sturgis is awful. I can't believe there's not a guy out there on waivers better. The guy Miami waived with an injury settlement is better. Bring him back. What has happened to one of the leagues premier punters? Fields seems to have at least 1 shank a game now. In any case, this is not good. STs wil win or lose a few games this year and I don't think there are many Miami Fans who are confident this unit is getting it done.
Onto Jacksonville! This is last year's Tampa Bay game. You remember that one right? Miami was heading into a brutal part of their schedule and the winless Bucs were up next. Miami lost that game. It was hard to take. The Dolphins needed to desperately win that game to put themselves in contention for the division title. Instead, they lose it. Jacksonvillle isn't winless after winning last week but this game is just as important as any other on the schedule. Miami typically comes out flat and stays flat against inferior competition. Winning will give htem a winning record for the first time since week 1. Losing will open up conversations of Philbin's departure. That's as the world turns in the NFL. What have you done for me lately? Miami should blow out J'ville by 14 points or more. If this game is close going into the 4th quarter, J'ville will be playing harder for that 2nd win.
J'villes pass defense is ranked 30th in the league. Their run defense about 12th. Miami should match up well here. and win this game solidly.
Ryan Tannehill - He had one of his best days as a pro, completed 78% of his passes, threw for two touchdowns and finished with a 123.6 QB rating. On top of that, he had 6 runs for 48 yards, including a 30 yard run out of the read option in which he shook the safety in the open field. Tannehill's completion percentage for the season jumps from 60% to 63% and his QB rating jumps from 81.5 to 87.7 thanks to his performance today. Here are Tannehill's stats the first three weeks of the season:
70 of 124, 56%, 624 yards, 4 TDs 2 INTs, 74.12 QB rating.
Here are Tannehill's numbers the last three weeks:
68 of 94, 72%, 799 yards, 6 TDs 3 INTs, 105.76 QB rating.
This is evidence that Tannehill is becoming more comfortable in Lazor's system.
Additionally, as I have been saying for a couple of weeks, it appears that when Tannehill gets a nice run out of the read option, he plays better the rest of the game. Good strategy by the Dolphins coaches to get the read option going early and get Tannehill into the flow of the game quicker.
Charles Clay - Welcome back Mr. Clay, you were missed. 4 catches for 58 yards and a touchdown. The Bears had no answer for Clay. He also had some nice blocks on those Tannehill runs.
The Offense - They held the ball for over 37 minutes and did not turn it over. They also had almost 400 yards on offense and scored 27, although some points were left on the field due to penalties and missed field goals.
The Defense - Where to start? Oh of course, Cameron Wake had a hat trick on the sack, strip, recovery on Jay Cutler. One of those game changing plays Wake is known for. Reshad Jones had 7 tackles and a big interception that he returns 50 yards. Cortland Finnegan was all over the place with 4 tackles, 4 passes defensed and a forced fumble. The defense held the Bears to 52 yards rushing and 224 total yards.
Jeremiah Ratliff had 3.5 sacks. The Dolphins interior offensive line had trouble blocking Ratliff.
The field goal unit had a rough day. Caleb Sturgis missed a 50 yard field goal and had another field goal blocked.
Not much ugly in this game for the Dolphins. But as I mentioned before, there were some points left on the field due to penalties and botched field goal attempts. So despite a dominant win, the Dolphins still have work to do.
The loss against Green Bay makes this week bitter sweet as the Dolphins won but could have been in stronger position if they had finished the job last week. When this team is clicking on all cylinders, from QB to the running game to defense and special teams, they can beat anyone. The problem with this team is consistency. Today they showed consistentcy for 4 quarters against a good team on the road. The Dolphins slowed down an offense with several explosive weapons, but the Dolphins holding onto the ball for 37+ minutes certainly helped.
The Dolphins get as close to a gimme as possible as they go into Jacksonville next week before facing a brutal stretch against San Diego, Detroit, Buffalo and Denver. They need to take care of business and get back to Miami to play the Chargers with a 4-3 record.