This is going to be a long post, so be prepared. I have gotten to the point where I have to vent all of my frustrations. Being a die hard Dolphin's fan for the 18 short years of my life has by no means been easy, but right now it is extremely difficult. At least in 2007 when the Dolphins were 1-15, we knew they weren't going to be that good. They had a mediocre quarterback at best, and everything else was sub par. Looking at the team now, we have a pretty solid squad, minus a couple tough positions. I don't know about everyone else, but to see a team with so much potential play like they are a high school team is hard, especially when the AFC is so weak this year. They Dolphins had a great chance to make the playoffs, and maybe they still have as slim chance, but there are many things that are holding them back from being a great team.
First, lets start with the topic everyone likes to discuss, the positions that we need to improve in. In my opinion, the number one thing we need to improve is our secondary, more specifically our cornerbacks. Our safeties have not been playing bad, and Reshad Jones has actually had some big games for us. Our cornerbacks on the other hand, are terrible. Before the Tennessee game, our pass defense was ranked 30th in the league. If we can bring this up, combined with our 3rd ranked rush defense, it would be very difficult to score against us.
Another position that I feel needs to improve is our offensive line. For starters, Jake Long isn't looking like the Jake Long we have known for the past four seasons. His performance is declining. With a rookie quarterback under center, the offensive line needs to play up to their potential, and they are not doing so at all. There are too many missed blocks and too many holding calls.
The rest of our team is pretty solid. Our defensive line is set. Our linebackers have been playing well, except for the coverage of tight ends. Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas make up a nice backfield. Tannehill is the man at this time, and that won't change anytime soon. Our receivers are also pretty good, except we are missing a true number one. If we could improve in the secondary and our offensive line, our team would look pretty solid.
Now to talk about one of the major topics of discussion, the rookie quarterback. Ryan Tannehill has had a good season up to now, especially for a rookie. He hasn't looked much like a rookie except for the game against the Titans. I love his pocket presence and how he isn't afraid to take a hit. He handles pressure very well. There are a few things I am not a fan of. He hasn't scrambled much when the pocket collapses. He seems to be more willing to take a sack than to scramble out. Being that he has a history of being a wide receiver and that he is a pretty mobile quarterback, I expected him to scramble a little more. Another thing is his 3rd down passing decisions. The majority of time a pass is called on third down, it seems like Tannehill throws to a receiver that is in front of the first down line. There have been many times where we have been a few yards short because the receiver caught the ball in front of the first down line. That is one of my pet peeves. Overall, I feel like Tannehill has shown a lot of potential and I believe that he is the future of the Dolphins offense.
Another thing that needs improvement is the play calling and the way that the Dolphins play. The Dolphins are only aggressive when they are down by a lot. Most of the time, there are very conservative play calls. Today against the Titans, there was a little over two minutes left in the half, and the Dolphins were down by 21 on their own 9 yard line. They proceeded to run two rushing plays that gained little to no yards. With ninety yards to go in just about two minutes and down by 21, I wished that they would throw the ball and try to get it down the field. Instead they brought it to the two minute warning. The only time I saw the Dolphins play like they wanted to win was in the fourth quarter when the game was already out of reach. They showed a lot more tempo on offense and had some great plays. If they played like that the whole game, who knows what could have happened.
The offense has a few problems too, but the major one is the run game. The running game needs to step up. The first couple of weeks were huge for Reggie Bush, and he was leading the league in rushing. Then, all of a sudden, our run game collapsed. Reggie Bush is a major problem right now. He started to get back to his old style of running, where he dances around and goes east to west rather than north and south. He also has been having ball security issues. He needs to step his game up. Another major problem on offense is the turnovers. Tannehill has thrown way too many interceptions, even for a rookie. Fumbles have also killed us in games. Our turnover differential is at -3. There is no way to win a game if we cannot hold onto the ball.
On defense, the major thing that bothers me is the tackling. It seems like everyone forgot how to tackle. Back in 2nd grade football, you learn to wrap a player and bring him down. Now all players try to do is ram their shoulder into a guy. The tackling has been horrible. The best tackle I think I have seen so far came from no other than Ryan Tannehill. After Tannehill through his third interception against the Titans, he cut off the defensive player and made a beautiful tackle to save a touchdown. Put him out on defense.
A problem on both sides of the ball has been third downs. The defense used to be big when it came to third downs, and would rarely allow a first down. Recently, the defense has given up many third down conversions, especially in situations where a punt would help us greatly. On offense, third downs have been a huge problem. The passes generally come up short and the runs have been getting stopped. Another problem on both sides is the missed opportunities. In the Titans game today, there was an opportunity for a big sack, but the unblocked defender missed the tackle on Jake Locker and it ended up with a first down for the Titans. There have been a lot of big opportunities for the Dolphins that have been missed.
Lastly, I would like to address the playoff situation. In the words of Jim Mora, "Playoffs? Don't talk about playoffs." Everyone needs to stop worrying about the post season. I was very optimistic of this team coming into the season and I had hopes of making the playoffs, but at this point, I have come to the realization that we are still in a building phase. We can't keep on making all these scenarios that would put us in the playoffs. In reality, if we cannot beat the Titans, how are we going to be able to beat the Ravens in the playoffs? If we make the playoffs and have to play the Texans again, I don't see us winning it. We need to worry about this season one game at a time. We still have a chance to make the playoffs, but after back to back loses to teams we should have beaten, it isn't very likely.
This Dolphins team is very tough to watch this year. It's hard to lose to teams that we should beat in overtime, or by slim margins. The Dolphins have a lot of potential and I am very excited to see what they will do with it in the future and how they will build this team. I expect to be a playoff contender within the next two years, and a Super Bowl contender soon after. Things are looking up for the Dolphins. Thanks for reading my rant.