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So much to talk about. So much to look forward to. Who, for instance, could have imagined that a Monday night game between the Dolphins and Saints would emerge as the NFL’s marquee game in the first month of the season? Two 3-0 teams. Two impressive early season resumes. Two exciting quarterbacks, one at the top plateau, the other trying to get there.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves just yet. There is plenty of time to talk Dolphins vs. Saints. I’d prefer, at least for another day, to look back at Sunday, to look back at a home victory as important as this franchise has had in a long, long time.
The more I replay this game in my mind, the more things come into focus. That final drive alone was a symphony of significant plays. How about that one-handed scoring catch by Dion Sims? Perfect throw. With a linebacker draped all over him, the only way Sims could catch the ball was with one hand. How about Brandon Gibson coming up big with two catches? How about Ryan Tannehill showing the poise of a 10-year veteran?
You learn so much about a team, about players, at a time like that. Who are the difference-makers? Who wants the ball? As poorly as the pass protection was for most of the day, it was flawless on that one drive. What does that tell you?
Indeed, it was a day to remember. And so much to put in perspective:
• So the Colts go to San Francisco and dominate the 49ers. How impressive is the win at Indy now?
• No. 1 pick Dion Jordan saw his most significant playing time and responded with a big third stop and some decent pressure on Matt Ryan. An important first step.
• Caleb Sturgis: Do you ever miss?
• Lamar Miller: Nice run early, but you’ve got to make that catch in the fourth quarter.
• Michael Egnew: Welcome to the NFL.
• Don Jones: That’s how a seventh-round pick gets noticed.
• Joe Philbin is three-for-three on challenges. The second-year coach is getting pretty good at this.
• So Tannehill admitted he called the play on the game-winning score. Maybe coaching is in his future. Let’s hope it’s the distant future.
• Impressive group of receivers. Different players step up every week. On Sunday, we saw seldom-used Rishard Matthews come up with four big catches. Clearly, the four wide receiver spot is among the strengths of this team.
• On a day that John Denney breaks the team record for most consecutive games played, he recovers a huge fumble. Can you write a better script than that?
• No, all is not perfect. There are legitimate concerns and these concerns should not be diminished because of a 3-0 record. Concerns like the offensive line continuing to struggle in pass protection; the running backs and tight ends also struggling in pass protection; Tannehill at times holding the ball too long; the rushing defense clearly missing Paul Soliai and continued problems covering the tight end. That’s enough to keep Joe Philbin and his staff busy for a while.
• Making Sunday’s win even more remarkable is that the Dolphins played most of the game without its best defensive player (Cameron Wake) and some of the game with as many as five defensive starters out.
So the Dolphins are 3-0 for the first time in more than a decade. I said before the season that, given the difficulty of this early-season schedule, I would gladly take a 3-2 record heading into the bye week,
Now it’s time to get greedy. It’s been 18 years since the Dolphins were last 4-0, but perhaps the most difficult challenge of the season awaits Monday night in New Orleans.
Great to be relevant again, isn’t it?
On Wednesday, AC in the AM answers fans questions
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.