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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Miami Dolphins: Observations From a Loss to the Jets

When the Miami Dolphins take stock in 2014 and look back on a season that saw improvement on offense but not enough to get the team past an 8-8 record, there will be many sign that can be pointed to. In the loss to the Jets on Sunday, the running game reinvented itself but the defense – a stalwart most of the year, allowed Geno Smith to look like Joe Namath.

An 8-8 record gets this team nowhere and builds drama for 2015 where Joe Philbin, who was told he would return to the team next year, is already on the hot seat. Here are some observations from Sunday as seen on and John Congemi.

1. Back to the Drawing Board

The way this game played out was kind of a microcosm of the entire Dolphins season. Miami was behind and they were able to come back and take the lead. Then they gave up the lead and had a chance to tie it up and missed a field goal.

Anytime you go through a season when you’re overall record is .500, and your home record is 4-4 and as well, it’s very easy to see why the team is being held back. They need to play more consistency at home. Hopefully the frustration ends with this game, in terms of being able to achieve more consistency in 2015, or at least make the highs of the season last a little bit longer, and the low points not as devastating, such as the Jets loss today.

2. Offensive Line Concerns

It was common knowledge when Pro Bowl offensive tackle Branden Albert went down midway through the season, that this entire unit would probably struggle to make up for his elite level of production. When rookie Ja’Wuan James had to be asked to move from right tackle to left tackle, replacing Albert, he took upon a monumental task and played fairly well making that adjustment.

Today, there’s no excusing giving up seven sacks. I’m sure that the Dolphins coaching staff is going to be back in the film room trying to find at least two offensive guards this offseason that they can count on. It should help that Mike Pouncey will likely move back to his center position.

There’s no doubt that quarterback Ryan Tannehill made huge strides in year three, but he can only become truly elite if the protection in front of him improves drastically next year, because everything with this offense starts up front, giving time for Tannehill to operate.

3. Too Much Space

My biggest concern coming into this game was stopping the run, and I wasn’t even concerned about quarterback Geno Smith and the Jets passing game. Miami’s secondary made Geno Smith look like an elite quarterback – he posted the lone perfect passer rating of the NFL season today. It was clearly evident that Cortland Finnegan wasn’t 100 percent or just had a terrible day.

Eric Decker made the majority of his big plays going directly up against Finnegan. This was really the only time all season that Smith looked comfortable and had plenty of time and space to operate, as this Jets offense posted eight plays of 20+ yards or more. One of the primary reasons why he did was because the Dolphins pass rush couldn’t get to him and the Jets seemed content not to force the running attack, and trusted Smith to really push the football down the field.

Much like the offensive line, the Dolphins are going to be looking for probably a couple of linebackers and defensive backs in the offseason, as injuries depleted the back end of this defense.

News & Notes

  • Ryan Tannehill became the second quarterback in Dolphins history to throw for 4,000 yards in a season with his performance on Sunday, joining Hall of Famer Dan Marino in that exclusive club. Tannehill finises the year with 4,045 yards passing.
  • Tannehill also set a franchise record for the most completions in a season with 392. He surpassed Marino’s previous record of 385 completions in 1994.
  • Lamar Miller eclisped 1,000 yards in a season for the first time in his career, as part of a 178 yard day on the ground. Miller finishes the year with 1,099 yards rushing for the season, and eight rushing touchdowns.
  • Miller’s 97 yard run was the longest in franchise history, passing runs by Keith Byars and Leroy Harris, who both held the record with 77 yard runs.
  • After being shut out the past two games, wide receiver Brian Hartline led the team in receiving today, catching five passes for 94 yards. It was a season high game for Hartline in terms of yardage.


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