The Miami Dolphins dropped their second preseason game of the year, losing to the Carolina Panthers 23-17. The game was filled with frustration as, on both sides of the ball, and not matter which player groupings were on the field, the team seemed to struggle.
The best performance of the game may have been undrafted free agent Derrick Shelby, who tallied the team's only sack, along with a forced fumble. Shelby also had four tackles on the night.
But the story of the game is still quarterback Ryan Tannehill getting his first start of his career. In the first half, the rookie clearly was dealing with nerves, but did settle down to direct a very effective drive, ending with a Daniel Thomas touchdown run. Tannehill completed his reps going 11-for-23 for 100 yards.
In comparison, Matt Moore played the third quarter, and most of the fourth, going 5-for-15 of 57 yards against the Panthers' second and third team defenses.
Pat Devlin went 13-for-20 for 118 yards, a touchdown, and a last second interception, in a little over six minutes of play.
Neither quarterback looked great, and there's still a tough decision for head coach Joe Philbin to make heading into next week's third preseason game. According to a quick reactions poll in the second half thread here on the site, about 60% of the fans still think Tannehill should start, while 40% would give the ball to Moore.
For the games, the Dolphins ran the ball just 12 times, for 37 yards and a touchdown. This came was all about the quarterbacks, and which one could perform.
Four Dolphins wide receivers caught two passes each, with rookie Jeff Fuller leading the team with 27 yards receiving.
The Dolphins have a ton of work to do over the next two weeks before they open the season at Houston. Someone has to step up as a receiver to help out whichever quarterback (read, Ryan Tannehill) wins the starting job.
Maybe more importantly, however, is someone needs to wake up the defense. Even taking into consideration that the team was without starters Cameron Wake, Karlos Dansby, and Kevin Burnett, this defense looked horrible. The secondary could not cover, they couldn't produce pressure until Shelby got into the game, and they gave up an average of over 4-yards per carry.
The game also seemed to star the referees tonight. There were a combined 17 penalties on the night, including a pass interference call on Sean Smith that was flat out a bad call, as well as a personal foul on Vontae Davis. Both of those penalties featured Steve Smith as the Panthers' member of the call, with him pulling Sean Smith's arm for the PI call, and somehow getting the personal foul call, despite ripping off Davis' helmet.
The Dolphins have to turn something around in practice this week ahead of the dress rehearsal game one week from tonight. Getting your starters back - and naming a starting quarterback - will be the first step in solving the problems the team has.
But no matter what - remember, this is the preseason. Nothing really counts right now, and there is still time to right the ship.