It may only be the preseason, but it’s always nice to get that first win of the year, and that’s exactly what the Miami Dolphins did Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While the first team offense didn’t experience quite the success they did a week ago, Ryan Tannehill still moved the ball efficiently down the field in all three of his series, and got some help from guys like Rishard Matthews and Jarvis Landry, who continued to make a name for themselves tonight. On the other side of the ball, the defensive line, led by Cameron Wake and Randy Starks, looked to be in midseason form all night long, while cornerback Brent Grimes made the game-changing play of the game midway through the second quarter.
1. QB’s Taking Chances
There’s still plenty of room for the Dolphins offense to improve, but the position of quarterback is performing at a high rate of consistency. Tannehill looks very comfortable operating the new offensive system and his execution is giving this offense a chance to create game changing plays. The football is coming out quickly and is helping the protection up front for the offensive lineman.
Backup quarterback Matt Moore saw his first action of the preseason and responded by playing with command and confidence. His stellar training camp play carried over to the live action and his anticipation and general feel for this offense has been a pleasure to watch over the last two weeks.
For this offense to really hit and control games in the regular season Tannehill must continue to progress, and I believe he will. But Miami must find a way for the running game to catch up to make this unit complete.
2. Lots Of Touches
It’s easy to see why I’m a big fan of this entire receiving group. Sixteen different players had a reception against Tampa Bay and some of these players are starting to separate from the pack. Veteran slot wideout Brandon Gibson looks to be healthy and gives this offense a vertical threat in the middle of the field. The same holds true for rookie Jarvis Landry. This combination inside will give opposing defense matchup problems because the can create with their route running and always give the quarterback a window to deliver the football.
It was also nice to see wide receiver Damian Williams flash versus the Bucs and get opportunities to show in a game what’s he been able to do throughout training camp. If the Dolphins keep six at wide receiver, he’s currently the leader in the clubhouse for that final spot in my mind.
3. Starting Defense Improves
I wasn’t ready to go into panic mode after the Atlanta game, and I’m not thinking the Dolphins defense is where it needs to be after their uneven performance against Tampa Bay either. My belief is that this unit still hasn’t come close to executing to the level of talent that is on the roster, but is closing the gap. The push in the pass rush was much more frequent and the linebacking unit fit the run with more discipline. Next week’s game at home against a potent offense in the Cowboys should give us a clear indication of this entire group and hopefully a better understanding of what to expect in the regular season.
News & Notes
- Terrence Fede looks more and more to be a terrific find in the 7th round of this year’s draft and his production has been consistent since his name was called back in May. Fede tallied a sack, a fumble recovery, and was impactful on special teams.
- Will Davis continues to be around the football and I love his aggressiveness. Look for Davis to play CB in the nickel package early on in the season during Reshad Jones‘ suspension, most likely on the outside with starting cornerback Cortland Finnegan shifting inside for more physical play against slot receiver.
- John Potter didn’t have a whole lot of time to meet his teammates, but his timely kicking ought to push 2nd year place kicker over the next two weeks. What Potter did Saturday night was very impressive and shouldn’t be overlooked.
- Brady Quinn got his first taste of action in a Dolphins uniform last night…and looked like a player who just got here. He was 4-4 passing on the night for 22 yards, but it’ll take him a little while to get more in tune with the offense to try to push Matt Moore or convince the Dolphins to keep a third quarterback.
- Linebacker Chris McCain was all over the field tonight with the 2nd and 3rd unit defenses, and looks more and more like a undrafted diamond in the rough that could push for a practice squad position or even a spot on the 53-man roster.
RELATED: Joe Philbin Recaps Win Over The Bucs
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.