It certainly was not pretty from an offensive standpoint. However, sometimes in football one unit picks up the other long enough to get the other going. The Miami Dolphins defense carried the team to victory today in Jacksonville thanks to two interception return touchdowns from the secondary and just enough offensive production to put the game away. The Jaguars played a spirited but sloppy game, and that allowed Miami to take advantage of a multitude of Jacksonville mistakes, with several resulting in game changing plays, turnovers, and eventually points.
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.
News & Notes
- Safety Reshad Jones was all over the field for the third straight game, as the Dolphins safety led the team in tackles for the third consecutive week with 8.
- Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace finally connected for a proverbial “deep ball” today, as Tannehill hit Wallace down the sideline for a gain of 50 yards. It was Tannehill’s longest completion of the season, and longest dating back to Week 12 of last season.
- Cameron Wake’s presence continues to be felt off the edge, as the All-Pro got another sack today after planting Blake Bortles into the turf in the second quarter. Wake leads the team in sacks with 5.5.
- Tannehill’s running ability continues to make an impact offensively, and is getting the Dolphins signal caller into the record books. With a run of 30 yards late in the fourth quarter, Tannehill became the first quarterback to have three straight games with a rush of 30 or more yards since Michael Vick in 2004 according to NFL.com.
- Brandon Fields and the Dolphins punt unit had been struggling going into this game, being last in the league in net punting. However, Fields may have gotten his groove back, as he averaged 51 yards per punt today, and Jacksonville only average 5.6 yards per return, below their season average.
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