The Dolphins are 1-0 after a solid 23-10 win over the Cleveland Browns.
While the offense took a little bit of time to get going, the defense, led by Cameron Wake, dominated from start to finish. Trailing by a point at halftime, Ryan Tannehill and the offense strung together 17 points in the second half to give Miami the win.
Here are three of my observations from today’s win over the Browns:
1) Dolphins get their takeaways: It’s been a focus of Joe Philbin and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle to create more turnovers in 2013. There’s no better way to start the season than by winning the turnover battle, getting three interceptions–two by Dimitri Patterson and one by Nolan Carroll–to open up the season. Not only did the turnovers change the way an opposing offense plays, but it gives you confidence as a defense that one turnover is going to lead to two and two possibly could lead to three. As well as the Miami defense played, there were probably more opportunities for turnovers that would have resulted possibly in points at the end of today. But it’s a great way to start the season and you only hope that this trend will continue next weekend in Indianapolis.
2) Wake is a difference maker: There’s no question that when you’re talking about players in the NFL and their ability to get to the QB, you have to rank Wake as one of the best throughout the league. Not only did Wake register three sacks on Brandon Weeden, but he must have left his body imprint all over the Cleveland QB, registering 7 QB hits and multiple pressures on the afternoon. Wake changes your offensive scheme in the way you’re going to block the defensive end position because he has a blend of power and speed that sets him apart from the rest of the ends in the league. His play is contagious and you could see how it affects players like Randy Starks and Paul Soliai and Derrick Shelby, because once Cam got it going, it seemed like everyone else raised their level of play. Cam started the aggressive style with his three sacks and his teammates responded with three more of their own–Randy Starks with two and Derrick Shelby with one.
3) Tannehill’s final drive: Much has been said about second year QB Ryan Tannehill and the way he’ll operate at the end the first half and in the fourth quarter. Tannehill’s numbers improved as the day went on, but the on most important drive for Miami in the fourth quarter, Ryan commanded a 10-play, 85-yard drive that ended with a Daniel Thomas 1-yd touchdown run. Tannehill was able to find Brian Hartline three times (1 for 16, 1 for 7, 1 for 11) and Brandon Gibson three times in the drive, with the most important reception being the 34 yard catch and run to keep the sticks moving. Tannehill was not only closing out the game, but he was able to move the Miami team on third down, as the team went 8/16 on third down for the day. Those were two areas that were concerns for Miami at the beginning of the season after last year, and Ryan was able to turn around in week one and it resulted in a 23-10 win.
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