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Before the build-up begins toward Sunday against Atlanta, before we start talking about the real possibility of a 3-0 start for the first time in more than a decade, let’s re-visit Indy and a victory as important as any in Joe Philbin’s 18 games as Dolphins coach.
• Speaking of Philbin, it should not go unnoticed that he coached an excellent game. From preserving timeouts at the close of the first half, the end result a Caleb Sturgis field goal, to challenging a bad call at just the right moment, Philbin was clearly on top of his game. His statement to the team in the locker room — “We’ve got a helluva team in the making” – could have also applied to the head coach.
• Finish the first half strong. Finish the game strong. The message has been delivered over and over. It seems to have gotten through. The Dolphins won the Indy game in the fourth quarter, the defense coming up big against Andrew Luck. A year ago, this defense struggled to finish games. Now it’s a different defense and a different mindset. Very encouraging.
• There should be no doubt at this juncture that the Dolphins made the right decision keeping rookie placekicker Caleb Sturgis. I truthfully wasn’t sold until he nailed back-to-back 54-yard field goals – the first one negated by a timeout – to close the first half at Indy. Sturgis’ kicks aren’t merely good; they are dead center good. And his kickoffs are something special.
• The Dolphins appeared to have found a play-making tight end and it is molded out of Clay. That’s Charles Clay, who in two games has now caught 10 passes for 163 yards and showed his versatility last Sunday by also scoring on a 1-yard run. I was deeply concerned when Dustin Keller went down with a season-ending knee injury. The concern has clearly been lessened by the performance of Clay.
• The only real negative in the Indy game was the pass protection, which has now given up 9 sacks in two games. Part of this is because Ryan Tannehill, at times, holds the ball too long. But there are too many breakdowns on the line and too many times when a running back misses an important block. This, I know, will be addressed heavily over the next few days.
• You should try to check out a replay of the bubble screen that resulted in Mike Wallace’s first touchdown of the season. Talk about perfect execution, this was it. Why, center Mike Pouncey was 15 yards downfield blocking for Wallace. It’s a great way to get Wallace the ball in a hurry.
• In case you missed it, that was former Dolphin Vontae Davis who failed to secure the outside on Lamar Miller’s touchdown run.
• As each game goes by, I’m becoming more and more impressed with the contributions of little known defensive end Derrick Shelby. There is a reason he is entrenched in the defensive line rotation; the young man can play.
• Brent Grimes is the best pure athlete the Dolphins have had at cornerback in years. His interception of a Andrew Luck pass was just one example of that. Here’s a guy who is small in size, but big in ability. Has already proven to be a very important free agent signing.
• Dion Jordan, next time wrap-up Luck with both arms. He’s too big to try to merely push to the ground. I’m quite certain that’s a play he’ll learn from.
• Now to Sunday’s game against the Falcons and the potential of a 3-0 start for the first time since the 2002 season. Interesting historical oddity to that season. The second win of that 3-0 start was at Indy.
• I’m already looking forward to seeing Grimes, playing against his old team, matched up against either Julio Jones or Roddy White. Keep your binoculars focused on that one.
• My Tuesday morning question: How is a defense that has struggled against tight ends in the first two games going to contain Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez? “A big, big challenge,” said defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle.
• Bottom Line: The Colts were an important obstacle to clear. But the Falcons are a notch above and a chance for this Dolphins team to put a nice exclamation point on their early season run of success. In the big picture, this is about as important a non-divisional regular season home game as this team has had in a long time.
On Wednesday, AC in the AM wonders how five starters on this year’s team could have gone undrafted.
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.