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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Miami Dolphins: Finding The Positives of a Win on Sunday

It is kind of hard to get excited about the Miami Dolphins win over the Jacksonville Jaguars this past Sunday. But a win is a win – no matter how ugly it was.

There is a difference in how the Dolphins played in two halves of football. The result was a 27-13 win on the road at a time when the team needed to continue momentum toward the post season.

I’m not sure this win continues any momentum as much as it raises more questions.

Here are three things we learned about this team on Sunday.

1.  Six-Pack

Right from the start you got the feeling that it was going to be a defensive type of day for the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins offensive line struggled mightily in the first quarter and the offense was only able to generate three yards in that quarter.

So the burden of getting off to a fast start, as well as winning today’s football game laid squarely in the lap of the Dolphins defense. Safety Louis Delmas provided the spark and first pick six of the day coming off of his outside flat coverage responsibility, and undercut rookie quarterback Blake Bortles’ pass and taking it 81 yards untouched for a Dolphins touchdown.

 It was a veteran baiting a rookie quarterback into believing there was a window to deliver the football, and Delmas’ veteran savvy provided him the interception opportunity, which he took full advantage of.

The second time the defense found the end zone was when Brent Grimes played a double move on the outside perfectly, and stepped in front of another Bortles pass, and effectively jogged into the end zone. It was a good scheme dialed up by defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle to bring safety pressure from the boundary that limited the time in the pocket for Bortles and also allowed Grimes to break instinctively on the football.

2. Youthful Exuberance

Although the playmakers the majority of the day were veteran presences, I felt that the young guys are getting valuable experience on both sides of the football and are making an impact on a weekly basis. It starts on defense at linebacker with Jelani Jenkins and his relentless pursuit ability, which forced a fumble during the game that was ultimately recovered by Louis Delmas.

Staying on the defensive side of the football, 3rd year player Olivier Vernon might have had his best game as a Miami Dolphin. Not only did he have a key play on special teams, but had multiple pressures and was constantly in the Jaguars backfield. Cornerback Jamar Taylor seems to be fitting into a niche in the defensive backfield, and his open field tackling seems to be improving. He’s player that may be able to be counted on from this point out.

With Dion Jordan coming back, I think Jordan and linebacker Chris McCain give the Dolphins size and range on the outside, and could provide valuable rest for defensive ends Vernon, Cameron Wake, Derrick Shelby.

On offense, it’s worth noting that right tackle Ja’Wuan James hasn’t just been a guy to be counted on, but has clearly proven that he was the right selection in the 1st round by Dennis Hickey and the Dolphins organization.  Receiver Jarvis Landry has not only proven to have consistent hands and a good route runner, he brings toughness and explosiveness in the return game.

It was nice also to see Rishard Matthews get his first touchdown of the season, because I think he’s a player that Dolphins fans should watch for as he’s likely to get more playing opportunities on offense and special teams as the season progresses.

3. Hot & Cold

The Dolphins overcame a very slow start and were able to get the victory on the road, but this is not the blueprint in the coming weeks to win football games. After starting fast in Chicago, Miami did the exact opposite today. I don’t believe the Dolphins can face better teams like San Diego, Detroit, and Buffalo, and sputter out of the gate as an offensive unit like they have at points this year.  

The biggest problem to date is when the offensive line doesn’t get going early. That leaves shaky protection in the pocket for Ryan Tannehill, and limited running space for Lamar Miller. When those things happen, and you don’t catch the football consistently in the first half you dig too deep of a hole early, and sometimes the defense won’t be able to bail you out of it.

This offense doesn’t have to score 21 points in the first half, but they need to consistently possess the football so the defense doesn’t get worn down in the second half of football games.



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