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Andy Cohen In The Morning will appear every Monday through Friday until the end of the season, except for the bye week. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m.
By on September 13, 2014 at 9:19 am

091214-weekinreviewThe Miami Dolphins are riding high coming off a 33-20 victory over the New England Patriots and now face the task of traveling to Buffalo to take on the 1-0 Bills. This week, Miami had two players receive awards thanks to their terrific opening game performances, and another player nominated for the Pepsi Rookie of The Week. Also, we learned that the Dolphins will have three permanent captains throughout the season.

Check out the week that was with the Miami Dolphins from Monday, Sept. 8 through Friday, Sept. 12.

Monday, 9/8

The Coach Philbin Show

  • Coach Philbin joined Greg Likens and John Congemi for his weekly show to look back on Sunday’s impressive win over the Patriots. (More…)
  • In Part Two of the Coach Philbin Show, the coach spoke to The Finsiders about the message to the players heading into this week’s AFC East clash with the Buffalo Bills. (More…)

Coordinators’ Corner

  • Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle met with the media to answer questions about the state of the team’s linebackers after following several injuries to the starters on the unit, including a season-ending injury to OLB Dannell Ellerbe. (More…)
  • Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor discussed the strong performances of Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller in Sunday’s important win over the Patriots as he meets with reporters in Davie. (More…)

Tuesday, 9/9

Stepping Up

  • For longtime special team ace Jason Trusnik, injuries in the Dolphins linebacking corps has given the veteran an opportunity to have a more increased role on defense. (More…)
  • Cornerback Will Davis talked to reporters on Tuesday about how he feels he fared in the opening game of the season. (More…)

Opening Weekend

  • Check out a timelapse of Sun Life Stadium, after the home of Miami Dolphins played host to three major sporting events over the span of the three days. (More…)

Albert Leading New Look O-Line

  • In an interview with The Finsiders, left tackle Branden Albert joined the show to discuss the chemistry of the Dolphins new-look offensive line. (More…)

Wednesday, 9/10

Leading The Way

  • For the first time in Joe Philbin’s tenure as head coach, the Dolphins will have permanent captains this season. (More…)
  • After an impressive performance in the season opener against the Patriots, Cameron Wake received player of the week honors from the NFL on Wednesday. (More…)
  • Quarterback Ryan Tannehill talked to reporters on Wednesday about this week’s upcoming game against the Buffalo Bills. (More…)

Mic’d Up

  • During Sunday’s game against the Patriots, cornerback Cortland Finnegan was mic’d up. Check out some of the sound from gameday right here. (More…)

A Brand New Experience

  • Thursday, the Dolphins unveiled a new mobile app offering a personalized and unique experience for members and fans. (More…)

Thursday, 9/11

Juice And Juice

  • In an interview with The Finsiders, rookie wide receiver Jarvis Landry explained the story behind his “Juice” nickname, and how he’s looking to replicate what a former Dolphins wideout, who went by the same moniker, did during his career. (More…)

Award-Winning Performance

  • Dolphins running back Knowshon Moreno was named the FedEx Ground Player of The Week. (More…)

Reflecting on 9/11

  • Current and former Dolphins recalled what they were doing when they first heard of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. (More…)

Friday, 9/12

Previewing Dolphins-Bills

  • Greg Likens and John Congemi of The Finsiders analyze Sunday’s AFC East battle between the Dolphins and the Bills. (More…)
  • Dolphins.com’s Alain Poupart broke down the Dolphins’ opponents on Sunday. (More…)
  • Check out what’s being said around the Dolphins’ locker room as the team prepares for its Week 2 matchup against the Buffalo Bills. (More…)
  • According to Finsiders Columnist Andy Cohen, the Bills pose a formidable challenge. (More…)
  • Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin met with reporters in Davie for the final time before Sunday’s AFC East battle against the Bills. (More…)

TOP VIDEOS OF THE WEEK

TOP PHOTO GALLERIES OF THE WEEK

 


Please Note:
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.
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By on September 12, 2014 at 6:00 am

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Andy Cohen In The Morning appears on dolphins.com every Monday through Friday, except for the bye week, until the end of the season. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins.

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The memory remains both vivid and painful. The Dolphins had just beaten the New England Patriots last December at Sun Life Stadium. They travelled to Buffalo the next week, just needing a victory to get into the playoffs. They responded with an ugly 19-0 loss, a performance so uninspired it left Joe Philbin searching for answers long into the offseason.

We just didn’t show up with the right mindset that day,” Philbin told me in an interview before training camp began.

So here we go again. The Dolphins once again have beaten the Patriots at Sun Life Stadium. Once again are feeling awfully good about themselves. Once again are traveling to Buffalo the following Sunday, which happens to be this Sunday. Once again need a victory over the Bills to further validate what happened against the Patriots.

Did they learn their lesson? We’re about to find out.

No, this may not have the sex appeal of a game against Tom Brady and the Patriots. But it is essential, as this team tries to grow into something special, to follow last Sunday’s performance with another strong showing. To do it in Buffalo, where so many horror stories have surfaced over the years, would both ease the pain of what happened last December as well as further cement the positives that surfaced in the season opener.

This is the challenge facing these Dolphins. Put together two victories to start the season. Make a statement against another AFC East team. And do it against a Buffalo team that has had your number far too long.

Someone asked me this week if there is a concern that the Dolphins will take this game too lightly. My response: Are you kidding? On the second week of the season? In Buffalo? Against a team that won at Chicago a week ago? We saw plenty of reasons last Sunday to think that this is a different Dolphins team with a different mindset and far more talent. Sunday could give us further proof. That underlines the importance of this game.

This will be a difficult test. Like the Dolphins, the Bills enter with more talent than they had in a while. Like the Dolphins they want to validate a 1-0 start.

There’s a lot to break down in this game, but the way I see it one concern dominates all others. The Bills arguably have the best defensive line in the league. The Dolphins have five new starters on their offensive line. Focus on this matchup. It probably was the deciding factor in each game, both Dolphins losses, last season.

The offensive line did well last week against the Patriots. The running game produced almost 200 yards. Ryan Tannehill was sacked just once. But as proficient as the Patriots are on defense, they simply do not have a front four that can approach the Bills.

Remember the names: Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus and Jerry Hughes. Each poses unique challenges. Each has the ability to dominate. It was Mario Williams, you may recall, who had the game-defining play in the first game last season against the Dolphins. This time he goes up against left tackle Brandon Albert, clearly a more formidable test.

“Got to put on our hard hats against those guys,” Albert says.

We feel good right now about the Dolphins offensive line, and we should. But we’ll know a lot more after they face the Bills.

I am not foolish enough to expect a dominating performance by the offensive line. What I would take, though, is enough of a standoff to bring other factors into play. Like Tannehill against the Bills secondary. Like Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon honing in on quarterback E.J. Manuel. Like Knowshon Moreno doing what he did against the Patriots.

But it will start up front and that will dictate the importance of everything else. The Dolphins would love to come back to South Florida at 2-0 and would probably love just as much to clear an imposing hurdle they failed to clear a season ago.

(On Monday, AC in the AM breaks down what happened against the Bills.)

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Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
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.
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By on September 11, 2014 at 5:55 am

140911_AC_AMAndy Cohen In The Morning appears on dolphins.com every Monday through Friday, except for the bye week, until the end of the season. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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Cameron Wake looks up toward the top of Sun Life Stadium and sees the names on the wall. It is an imposing group of names. A coach. An owner. A Perfect Team. Great players in Dolphins history. Iconic players. Names like Marino and Griese and Taylor and Thomas.

“I know they are up there,” Wake says. “I’ve met a couple of them. It’s clear to me that this franchise is about winners.

So today I ask you this: Will Cameron Wake’s name someday be placed on  that prestigious Honor Roll surrounding the inside of the stadium? Will he finish his career here as one of the top defensive players this franchise has seen? Will he reach, or even approach, the level of some of those names on that wall?

I asked Wake this as he sat alone by his locker after a recent mid-afternoon practice. This is his sixth season here. He came into this season with 51 1/2 sacks, averaging more than 10 a season. Now he’s got 53 ½ after an impressive opener against New England. I figure if he puts together three more seasons like the past five, he’s got a real chance to get his name on that wall.

Wake ponders the thought for a long moment. He smiles. He shakes his head.

“I don’t look at myself like that, at least at this point in time,” Wake said. “It would be an honor to even be considered. It would be amazing. Really amazing. You can’t ignore the history of this team. You walk in the lobby and you see the history. You walk down the hallway to the locker room and you see pictures of the great players. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be one of those players.”

He paused and then added: “I’ve got a lot of work to do first.”

Cameron Wake, you can argue, is the best football player on this team. He is an unquestioned leader. He keeps himself in unreal physical condition. He shows up every Sunday with the same attitude, the same hunger, the same desire to make a difference.

He is 32 years young now but his inner belief tells him that he has yet to play his best season. Could this be the year? He certainly got off to the right kind of start (two sacks, two forced fumbles) against the Patriots.

“I prepare for every year like it’s going to be my best season,” he says. “I’m one of those 2009 cars with 2,000 miles on it. I still have a great engine running. There is no reason I can’t perform at the highest level, no reason I can’t have my best season. Why not?”

Why not, indeed. Look at the numbers. They truly get your attention. No player in team history has had as many sacks in his first five seasons than Wake. He is already seventh on the team’s all-time sack list and, with another double-digit sack total this season, will vault up to fifth. Do it again in 2015 and he’ll find himself second all time, with only Jason Taylor ahead of him. Jason Taylor’s name, by the way, is on the stadium wall.

“I’m still having fun,” Wake says. “You gain so much wisdom as the years increase. It’s like the game slows down. You develop an inner belief of knowing what’s coming. You have a better appreciation for the game. As a young player, you just run fast, push hard and make a play. Now you say to yourself: ‘I know this player. I know what I need to do. I know the techniques I need to use.’ That part of it a lot of fun.”

But there is no fun like winning. While the sack totals pile up, while the big plays continue, Wake longs for the feeling of a playoff game. There hasn’t been a winning season since he arrived in 2009. It eats at him and has created a void that only winning can fill. You can have all the sacks, he says. He’ll trade it all for a game in January.

“I remember my first Pro Bowl,” he says. “It was a great feeling. But it wasn’t enough for me. Five years? It’s been too long. It’s not like we’ve been in a slump and have had some awful teams. We’ve been right there every year, maybe one or two plays away. It makes it harder knowing we’ve been so close.

“I always ask myself: Could I have made more a difference.”

He began this season with that as his mindset. Make a difference. Make more of a difference. Never slow down. Never take a half step. The sacks are great, and certainly will help define his career. But Cameron Wake wants more than that. He wants victories. He wants success.

So the Honor Roll will have to wait. So will that hallway with the pictures of all those Dolphins greats. Cameron Wake, you see, is still enjoying the journey. And, the way he sees it, there is still a long way to go.

(On Friday, AC in the AM takes a close look at the game against Buffalo.)

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Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
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.
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By on September 10, 2014 at 5:55 am

1acam_FansAndy Cohen In The Morning appears on dolphins.com every Monday through Friday, except for the bye week, until the end of the season. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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Q. Andy, can Knowshon Moreno carry the ball 20-25 times a game all season to take some of the pressure of Ryan Tannehill? @SteelCityOwlfan

AC: I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if he touched the ball at least 20 times a game. Consider he didn’t catch a pass against the Patriots and that’s one of his real strengths. So when you combine his carries with some receptions, you’ve got a lot of touches. Moreno is durable. He is tough. He is still young at 27. There is no reason he can’t handle a major workload.

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Q. The way the back-up linebackers played against New England, what does this mean for Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler? @ljc7975

AC: Well, Ellerbe is now lost for the season and Wheeler still has some issues with his hand so we’re going to be seeing a lot more of guys like Jason Trusnik, Jelani Jenkins, Chris McCain and even Jordan Tripp once he returns to full strength. Despite the loss of Ellerbe, this is a promising situation with some young players clearly on the rise. I’m anxious to see how they respond and which one of that group elevates his game to earn more playing time. Right now, Trusnik’s stock is real high.

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Q. After Moreno’s statement game, do you still split carries with Lamar Miller? @ecantres

AC: They didn’t split carries against New England: Moreno had 24, Miller had 11. That’s about how I expect it to continue. Miller is more a home run threat while Moreno will just pound you all day. It seems to be a good situation for both players. More than likely, the Dolphins will stay with the hot hand.

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Q. How much of a pleasant surprise has it been to see linebacker Chris McCain make a huge impact on both special teams and defense? @az_dolfan

AC: Very pleasant and very unexpected. You just can’t know if an undrafted rookie is going to stick around, let alone play right away. McCain has already shown that he clearly belongs. He has the size, ability and right mental frame. I like the way he plays. I like his hunger. Yet another move by new GM Dennis Hickey that seems to be working out well. Keeping track?

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Q. Andy, your thoughts about Caleb Sturgis. I know he hit all four field goals on Sunday, but it’s my impression that he is below average. @OKC_Sweden

AC: With all due respect, it my opinion that he is above average. Yes, there were some consistency issues last season. But he is healthy again, hit all four against New England and seems to be getting excellent length on his kickoffs. It’s too early to make any final judgment on a second-year player. But I believe Sturgis has a chance to kick in this league for a long time. The Dolphins will play in a lot of close games this season. They need Sturgis to come up big.

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Q. With so much put into beating the Patriots, do you have a concern of a letdown against Buffalo? @jrn26

AC: A letdown? Against a team that beat you twice last year and has won three of the last four? Against a team that just upset the Bears in Chicago? Against an AFC East rival in a matchup of 1-0 teams? I also know the Dolphins played their worst game of the season when they visited Buffalo last year. All of those factors should be motivation enough. A letdown? I’d be shocked.

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Q. What was your impression of the rookie debut of right tackle Ja’Wuan James? @fins4evr

AC: With the exception of a holding penalty that negated a touchdown, James played well. The moment didn’t see too big for him. I’ve already seen enough of James to believe that you can pencil him in at tackle for the next decade or so. Yes, he has a chance to be that good.

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Q. Do you believe that Ryan Tannehill can significantly improve his accuracy and his leadership to become a franchise quarterback? @finfanatic12

AC: First, leadership doesn’t appear to be an issue. From the first day of training camp, Tannehill has shown a willingness to lead. As for his accuracy, my major concern remains the deep pass. He seems to have an excellent feel for most of the short and intermediate throws. But until he shows a real consistency on his deep throws, I’m going to continue to wonder. I can not diminish the importance of this. Tannehill must develop a better feel for the deep passing game.

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Q. Andy, why can’t we beat the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo? @rodneyworks23

AC: Too many chicken wings the night before the game? No, seriously, I’ve covered this team a long time and many of the most depressing moments have occurred in Buffalo. I’m not sure you can put a finger on an exact reason. But I know it needs to change. Joe Philbin told me in the offseason that the only game last season that disappointed him in the effort department was at Buffalo. I believe the players have gotten the message. I really expect the same type of effort this Sunday as we saw last Sunday against New England.

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Q. Admit it, Andy, you were shocked like all of us to see that second half performance against the Patriots? @rigormark39

AC: OK, I admit it. After three turnovers in the first half, after falling behind by 10 points at the break, I never imagined a complete reversal of form. That’s why this great game is so unpredictable.

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Q. Andy, now that we’re 1-0 and have beaten the mighty Patriots, are you ready to start talking playoffs? @maryrodgers343

AC: Slow down. Take a deep breath. Check out the calendar. It’s still early September. Playoffs? After only one game? Come back in late November and I’ll have a better idea.

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(On Thursday, AC in the AM wonders whether Cameron Wake is already one of the top defenders in team history).

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Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns


Please Note:
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.
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By on September 9, 2014 at 5:55 am

140909_AC_AMAndy Cohen In The Morning appears on dolphins.com every Monday through Friday, except for the bye week, until the end of the season. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFinsHave a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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I am well aware that the proper thing to do on the Tuesday morning following the first regular season game is to look ahead. The opener is now yesterday’s news. You know, ancient history. Got to focus instead on what’s right in front of you and in this case for the Miami Dolphins it happens to be the Buffalo Bills.

But I truthfully can’t do that just yet. The “proper thing” will have to wait until tomorrow. My mind, you see, is still racing with thoughts of Sunday’s victory over the Patriots. You can’t put together a win like that one, you don’t exorcise so many demons on one magical afternoon, and just quickly wipe it out of your mind. It lingers. It breeds. It absorbs you.

And you really don’t want it to go away. At least not this quickly. At least not without some quality ST: Savor Time.

So for those who can’t quite let go (like me), and before we turn our full attention to the imposing challenge of the Bills in Buffalo, here are some more sweet morsels to digest from Sunday’s statement victory:

• So many wonderful stories emerged. But could there have been a better one than undrafted rookie linebacker Chris McCain blocking a punt and getting a sack and then afterward sitting by his locker with tears in his eyes? This is a player who took the long road to get here, the tough journey. “I’m blessed,” McCain whispered.

• I’ve got two lingering memories of Ryan Tannehill’s day, one something he said and the other something he did.

What he said was: “If we correct our mistakes, it’s kind of scary what this offense can do.” Scary and the Dolphins offense in the same sentence? My how times quickly change.

As for what he did: Of all the quality passes he threw, his finest pass of the day fell incomplete and it shouldn’t be overlooked. It was a pass to tight end Dion Sims in the fourth quarter. Would have been a touchdown. Sims was blanketed by a defender in the corner of the end zone. The ball was perfectly thrown. Landed right in his hands. Unfortunately Sims couldn’t hold on. But know this: It was a throw any quarterback would be proud of.

• After a shaky preseason, the special teams were outstanding against the Patriots. I’m talking every phase. Don’t lose sight of the importance of that.

Joe Philbin told me in the preseason that this was the deepest team he has had in his three seasons here and we saw that on Sunday when two starting linebackers (Koa Misi and Dannell Ellerbe) went down. Jason Trusnik? Jelani Jenkins? Before Sunday both were known far more for their special teams play. But without both stepping up on defense against the Patriots, the Dolphins don’t win that game. That’s the right kind of depth, especially needed now with Ellerbe lost for the season.

• Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this season-opening win was that the Dolphins did it despite turning the ball over three times in the first half. You just don’t do that and expect to beat a disciplined team like the Patriots. At least, that’s what we thought.

There are so many neat little aspects to this new-look offense, it’s hard to just focus on one thing. I like the wide-open sets. I like how any player can be in motion on a given play. I like how Mike Wallace is being utilized and how rookie Jarvis Landry seems to be everywhere. And I really like the fact that we are probably going to see new things every Sunday.

Dennis Hickey is looking pretty good right now for signing running back Knowshon Moreno. You just can’t measure the amount of toughness he brings to this offense.

• That second half on Sunday was, from top to bottom, as good a half as I’ve seen here in a long, long time. Especially considering the opponent.

• OK, back to reality. Time to turn our thoughts to Buffalo. The Bills might have the best defensive line in the league, a major test for the Dolphins’ new-look offensive line. But there will be tests everywhere, not just up front.

As impressive as it was beating the Patriots at home, trying to do the same to the Bills on the road is an entirely different manner. You know the history. You know what happened last season. But this is a different Dolphins team. We’ll continue to find out how different on Sunday in upstate New York.

(On Wednesday, AC in the AM answers fans questions)

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Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
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.
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By on September 8, 2014 at 5:55 am

140908_AC_AMAndy Cohen In The Morning appears on dolphins.com every Monday through Friday, except for the bye week, until the end of the season. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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Does it get much better than this? Hard to imagine. Not as far as season openers go. Not when you’re talking about beating the Patriots the way the Dolphins disposed of them on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon at Sun Life Stadium.

They passed over the Patriots. They ran through them. They put together as impressive a second half performance – 23 unanswered points – as I’ve seen here in a long, long time. Down by 10 at the half, it was the Dolphins who made the adjustments, the Dolphins who left Bill Belichick searching for answers, the Dolphins who clearly made the boldest, most powerful statement of the day.

This is no longer last year’s team. This is a new season with a new mindset and a 1-0 record that helps validate everything this team has done during the long offseason and the six weeks of training camp that brought us to Sunday.

“We’ve waited a long time for this,” said veteran defensive tackle Jared Odrick. “We’ve worked hard to get here.”

What impressed you more? That the Dolphins rushed for almost 200 yards? That an offensive line with five new starters could begin their season with a performance as dominating as this one? That a defense missing its starting three linebackers could shut down Tom Brady in the second half? That Knowshon Moreno would step up the way he did?

Indeed, it was all as impressive as it was convincing. And, as the final seconds evaporated, as the reality of a 33-20 victory hit home, as the handshakes and celebrations began, you could almost see an entire franchise breathe a collective sigh of relief. Make no mistake, these Dolphins needed this win. Boy, did they need it.

They needed it because they lost their final two games last season and they simply couldn’t pick up where they left off. They needed it because it was the Patriots and if the Dolphins are going to be a factor in the AFC East, what better measuring stick can there be? They needed it for themselves, and for their fans and for all those people who kept wondering: Will these be the same ‘ol Dolphins?

Not this day they weren’t. Nope, not this day. And certainly not in the second half when the Dolphins outgained the Patriots 222-67, held them to just five first downs and made Tom Brady look every bit of his 37 years.

Yes, this was a day filled with some delicious storylines, a day that saw so many players rise to the highest of levels. There was Moreno slashing his way for 134 yards and, along with Lamar Miller, giving this offense a real sense of balance. There was that offensive line opening holes for Moreno and Miller, giving up just one sack and generally showing a level of consistency that you wouldn’t expect from five guys who had never played together in a regular season game before Sunday.

There was the defense sacking Brady four times in the second half, two of them by Cameron Wake, who seems to never slow down. There was undrafted rookie linebacker Chris McCain who blocked a punt in the opening minutes and then got a sack at the end of the third quarter. Wonder what he’ll do for an encore? There were linebackers Jelani Jenkins and Jason Trusnik replacing injured starters Koa Misi and Dannell Ellerbe and playing as if they had been there all along.

Go down the list. Check out the stats. Joe Philbin was quick to call this a total team effort. Hard to dispute that. Look at Ryan Tannehill. Struggled some in the first half. Had an interception he’d love to have back. But Tannehill, like the rest of the team, took his game to another level in the second half. He was brilliant, exactly the player we had hoped he would be, making one big throw after another and leading this new-look offense with a calm and consistency.

“This was one step in a long journey,” said Philbin.

Yes, just one step. But an important step. A promising step.  Only in the weeks to come, beginning next Sunday in Buffalo, will we truly have a feel for the long-term impact of this victory. But at least for now, at least for one wonderful Sunday in early September, it can’t get much sweeter than this.

(On Tuesday, AC in the AM takes one look back at New England and a look ahead to Buffalo).

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Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
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.
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By on September 7, 2014 at 4:51 pm

140907_AC_AMAndy Cohen’s column on Dolphins.com appears at 6 a.m. every weekday from training camp through the season. Occasionally, like today, Andy will also provide some quick hits.). Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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• What a way to start the season! The Dolphins overcame plenty to get this win. A gutty effort. Something to really build on.

• The Dolphins took over with a strong third quarter, outscoring the Patriots 13-0 in the period. Must have been a memorable halftime speech by Joe Philbin, and some excellent adjustments made.

• That they could overcome three first half turnovers to win this game speaks volumes for this Dolphins team.

• An impressive fourth quarter drive sealed the deal. This was highlight reel stuff: 12 plays, 85 yards. This is how you grow up in a hurry. And that’s what these Dolphins did!

• The Dolphins ran the ball for almost 200 yards. Never saw this coming. Obviously neither did the Patriots.

• I think I’m going to really like both Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno running the ball. An M&M treat!

• Moreno, in particular, was excellent in his first game as a Dolphin. He is a huge addition to this offense.

• Talk about the perfect beginning: A blocked punt, a touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to Lamar Miller and the Dolphins are up 7-0. Can it start any better than that?

• How about undrafted rookie linebacker Chris McCain? On his first play, he blocks a punt. Late in the third quarter he gets a sack. Not a bad way to break in. I think we’re going to see more of him.

• Tannehill’s day? He struggled some in the first half, then came on strong with an excellent third quarter and a gorgeous fourth quarter drive. A step in the right direction. An important step.

• Tannehill and Mike Wallace still have work to do, especially on the deep ball, but we saw progress. We saw potential. We saw a nice touchdown and some big completions. We saw plenty to feel good about.

• Even at 37 years old, Tom Brady is still so smooth, so accurate, so very good. Except when the pass rush gets to him and the Dolphins did a good job of that, especially in the second half.

• In case you didn’t notice, the offensive line did a solid job protecting Tannehill. Gave up only one sack. Now that’s improvement!

Cameron Wake gets his first sack of the season and forces a fumble on the play. Then he gets another sack late. The guy just steps up every game. At 32 years old, he hasn’t lost a thing.

• So many neat formations in this Bill Lazor offense. On one play, Mike Wallace goes into motion and Tannehill fakes a screen in his direction, then turns and hits Lamar Miller on a screen to the opposite side. Only gained 5 yards, but you’ve got to like the creativity.

• This team deserves to enjoy this one for at least a day or two before starting to think about Buffalo. Don’t you agree?

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Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
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.
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By on September 6, 2014 at 1:13 pm

090514-WallaceKickoff Weekend is upon us as the Miami Dolphins are preparing for their Week One clash against division rival the New England Patriots. This week, Miami went through its paces trying to put together the best game plan possible against the defending AFC East champions Pats. We also learned about a new symbol in the Dolphins locker room, and we heard from almost every key starter on the difficulties they will face going up against one of the NFL’s most consistently good teams of the last decade.

Check out the week that was with the Miami Dolphins from Monday, September 1 through Friday, September 5:

Monday, 9/1

State of The Dolphins

  • On Monday, Dolphins General Manager Dennis Hickey joined The Finsiders to talk about the 53-man roster. (More…)
  • Offensive coordiator Bill Lazor answered questions from reporters about the progress of Ryan Tannehill, Lamar Miller and other members of the offense as the unit prepared for Sunday’s season opener against the Patriots. (More…)
  • Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle spoke with the media to share his thoughts on Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots offense that his unit will face on Sunday. (More…)

Numbers Game

  • With the 53-man roster finally set, several players changed their numbers for the regular season. (More…)

Tuesday, 9/2 

The Coach Philbin Show

  • Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin joined Greg Likens and John Congemi for the season debut of the Coach Philbin show as he provided his comments on the team’s opening week roster. (More…)
  • On the second part of his weekly show, Coach Philbin discussed Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the 2014 Patriots that the Dolphins will face on Sunday. (More…)

Hartline Hoping For Hot Start

  • In an interview with The Finsiders, wide receiver Brian Hartline spoke to host Greg Likens on how Sunday’s game against New England is the perfect way to start off the season. (More…)

Crystal Ball Tuesday

  • As part of MMQB.com’s NFL Preview, legendary Sports Illustrated writer and NBC Football In America contributor Peter King predicted that Cameron Wake would lead the NFL in sacks. (More…)

Wednesday, 9/3

Tannehill Primed For Year Three

  • Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill spoke with the media about his expectations as he gets set to begin his third season as the Dolphins starting QB. (More…)

Finsiders Focus

  • Dolphins tight end Charles Clay joined Greg Likens, and former Dolphins O.J. McDuffie and Troy Stradford to discuss his mindset heading into the 2014 season. (More…)
  • Dick Stockton, Dolphins preseason TV broadcaster and current FOX play-by-play announcer, joined The Finsiders to share his thoughts on the Dolphins-Patriots game. (More…)
  • Finsiders Columnist Andy Cohen sat down with wide receiver Jarvis Landry in the latest installment of his “10 questions” series.

Good Memories

  • Safety Michael Thomas spoke to the media about the upcoming matchup against New England, and the memories he has associated with this particular opponent after his game-sealing interceptions versus the Pats last season. (More…)

Thursday, 9/4

Protect The Shield

  • On Thursday, we learned about a special new addition to the Dolphins locker room from lead writer Alain Poupart. (More…)

Sizing Up Sunday’s Matchup

  • Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin met with reporters in Davie for the final time before Sunday’s season opener against the Patriots. (More…)
  • Bob Griese, the Hall of Fame QB and current Dolphins radio analyst, joined The Finsiders to discuss his expectations for Ryan Tannehill and the new-look offense in Sunday’s season opener against the Patriots. (More…)
  • Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Gibson spoke about the difficulties of playing against the talented Patriots secondary, led by All-Pro CB Darrelle Revis. (More…)

Dolphins Make Roster Move

  • The team made a roster move on Thursday, bringing in a former Patriots player ahead of Sunday’s game. (More…)

Friday, 9/5

Opening Salvo

  • Finsiders Columnist Andy Cohen broke down the meaning of this week’s opening game. (More…)

Behind Enemy Lines

  • Dolphins.com’s Alain Poupart broke down the New England Patriots. (More…)
  • Check out what’s being said by Dolphins players on their Week One opponents. (More…)
  • Here’s a look at the final injury report of the week, with Miami announcing an update on the status of linebacker Philip Wheeler. (More…)

Dolphins Unveil New Stadium Elements

  • In a press release, the Dolphins announced new experiences coming to Sun Life Stadium in 2014. (More…)

Top Videos Of The Week

Top Photo Galleries Of The Week


Please Note:
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.
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By on September 5, 2014 at 5:55 am

140905_AC_AMAndy Cohen In The Morning appears on dolphins.com every Monday through Friday, except for the bye week, until the end of the season. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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It’s dangerous to put too much significance on one regular season game, especially the first game. The NFL season is a marathon more than it is a sprint and the things that transpire on the first Sunday of September often are long forgotten by the last Sunday of December.

But this is the New England Patriots. This is a home game. This is a sold out stadium. This is Ryan Tannehill matching passes with Tom Brady. This is a new-look offense against a Bill Belichick defense. This is a chance to wipe away the sour memory of how the 2013 season ended. Indeed, this is a measuring stick. This is a chance to make an early-season statement, a chance to send notice that the AFC East is no longer, by and large, a one-team division.

Important? You bet it is.  From the day the NFL schedule was first announced last April, it was clear to everyone involved in the Dolphins organization that this season-opener offered a unique opportunity, a real chance to gauge progress, a game that could have far-reaching ramifications for a football team trying desperately to grow up in a hurry.

On Tuesday of this week, Joe Philbin stood at the podium at Dolphins training camp and spoke candidly of how his team must respond if beating the Patriots is going to become a reality. How they must be in midseason form. How there can’t be silly mistakes or confounding penalties. How there must be poise and precision.

“We’re going to have to be on top of our game,” Philbin said. “We’ve got to be 11 guys on the same page every snap playing hard and playing good sound football.”

Can the Dolphins beat the Patriots? Sure they can. The weather, the crowd, all the intangibles will be on their side. But it’s more than that. This is the most talent Philbin has had in his three seasons here. The offensive line, now totally reshaped, figures to be more proficient. The running game now has Knowshon Moreno. The receivers are deep and talented.

The new offense could very well be the wild card. I expect to see a lot that we didn’t see in the preseason. A quicker tempo. More imagination. Different sets. Exploit mismatches where they exist. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor was smart in showing very little in August. Now, I expect him to unleash a large chunk of that playbook against the Patriots. That’s probably worth the price of admission all be itself.

“Everyone around here is so excited,” said rookie receiver Jarvis Landry. “You can just see it in everyone’s eyes.”

Can the Dolphins beat the Patriots? They need to take advantage of a sweltering day. They need good fortune. They need to force turnovers. They need to keep Brady where he can do the least damage, and that’s sitting on the bench watching the Dolphins eat up the clock. It’ll probably take 24 points and some anxious moments, but this Dolphins team, in my humble opinion, has the ingredients to do it.

You want one key that towers over all others? It’s the pass rush against Brady. I have seen this veteran quarterback devour a defense when he has the time to dissect it. That simply can’t happen on Sunday. It’s a recipe for a long afternoon. The Dolphins must make Brady uncomfortable, must keep him off balance and must force him to move around, something he doesn’t like to do, especially at 37 years old.

The Dolphins have the tools to make this happen. They have two of the top bookend rushers in the league in Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon. They have an excellent push up the middle from Jared Odrick, Randy Starks and Earl Mitchell. They have an assortment of blitz packages. The best scenario, however, is to get there with the four-man rush. That makes things more palatable for the rest of the defense.

“We know what we have to do,” said Wake. “We understand the challenge.”

So the stage is set. The stakes are clear and undeniable. The opponent represents where the Dolphins want to go. Think what a victory would mean. Think of how it would validate everything that has transpired so far this summer. A 1-0 record is always nice. A 1-0 record against the Patriots would be about as sweet as it gets.

(On Monday, AC in the AM breaks down the opener against the Patriots.)

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Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
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.
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By on September 4, 2014 at 5:56 am

140903_AC_AMAndy Cohen In The Morning appears on dolphins.com every Monday through Friday, except for the bye week, until the end of the season. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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Break it down all you want. Talk about the running game, the offensive line, the defense. All are important. All will have an impact on the success of this team. But all of those things pale in comparison to the importance of a third-year quarterback trying to take his game to another level.

This year, in so many ways, is about Ryan Tannehill. It’s about whether he can continue to grow, whether he can rid himself of some of the mistakes that slowed his progress in past seasons, whether he can refine his game to become one of the elite quarterbacks in the league.

We’re all carefully watching, all waiting to find out, all wondering whether the positive signs we have seen this summer can flourish into more of a finished product.

“No more rookie mistakes or second year mistakes,” Tannehill said Wednesday at his weekly press conference. “I just have to go make plays, have to find a way.”

I have carefully followed Tannehill over the past six weeks. I have seen how he has taken to this new offense. I have listened intently to his words in every press conference. He is not backing down. He is not in any way diminishing his importance. I can’t count all the times he has uttered the sentence: “This is a big season for me.”

Big and telling. The Dolphins have introduced him to a new offense, a quarterback friendly offense, with some intriguing possibilities. They have surrounded him with more talent, a proven back in Knowshon Moreno, a revamped offensive line and a deep core of receivers. All will help define Tannehill’s season.

But at the end of the day, beginning Sunday against New England, it is up to Tannehill to make everyone around him better. It is up to Tannehill to show us that he can connect on the deep ball, that he can avoid forcing errant throws and that he can develop a sense of comfort in the pocket.

I like his leadership. I like his determination. I like his work ethic. I admire his passion. None of that can truthfully be questioned. But there is more than that to becoming a complete quarterback. Tannehill must produce on Sundays. He must lead the Dolphins to touchdowns and to big plays and to fourth quarter drives that often make-or-break a season.

We’ve heard so much about the deep ball to Mike Wallace and that, you can be sure, will be held under a microscope every time they try to connect. But it’s more than that. It’s producing far more touchdown passes than interceptions. It’s sidestepping a pass rusher in order to buy another tenth of a second. It’s looking off one receiver to find another. Indeed, it’s the entire package that must improve.

I like Tannehill’s chances. I really do. You look at the things you can measure and they are all there: The size. The arm strength. The intelligence. The raw athletic ability. You watch some of his throws and you see things you can’t teach. The challenge now, the biggest challenge Tannehill faces, is finding a level of consistency and staying there.

How important is Tannehill to this offense? Consider this stat: The Dolphins are 12-1 when his quarterback rating is 90 or higher, but 1-12 when his quarterback rating is 80 or lower. It’s safe to say, as Tannehill goes, so go the Dolphins.

No, it’s not all about Tannehill. He’s got to get support. He can’t be sacked 58 times again. He must have a running game that, at the very least, can be a nuisance. His receivers must break tackles, his tight ends must find creases. But it’s got to start with Tannehill because players have a tendency to feed off what the quarterback does.

The challenge, beginning Sunday against the Patriots, is as clear as the look in Tannehill’s eyes. It has been 13 years since the Dolphins were a top 10 team in points scored, 19 years since they were a top 10 team in yards gained. Only once in Tannehill’s last 25 starts have the Dolphins scored as many as 30 points. The numbers don’t lie; the production needs to get better.

Sunday can be a springboard for Tannehill. Think of what a strong performance would mean against a Bill Belichick coached defense. Think of the confidence he could gain, the momentum he could build.

This is an important time for Ryan Tannehill, an important moment in his development.  He has so many things you are looking for in a quarterback, so many things this franchise covets. Now, it is up to him to take the next step. So much is depending on his ability to do just that.

(On Friday, AC in the AM asks the question: Can the Dolphins beat the Patriots on Sunday?)

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Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
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.
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