Reasons for optimism and pessimism

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With the dress rehearsal out of the way, the first cuts being made and only one game left before the real games start, there are reasons for both optimism and pessimism. For those who missed it, can't watch it, I shall provide a generalized recap of the first half (the starting offenses came out in the 3rd but not the starting defenses).

Let’s start with the offense shall we.

The game started nicely enough with a nice run up the middle by Bush for 18. Two offsides penalties then gave Miami another first down saving them from a Naanee drop and a poorly blocked run to the right. Jake got beat badly to allow a 5 yard loss on a run by Bush which led to a 3rd and long and an attempted screen play for no gain.

The next drive began with a decent 4 yard run by Bush making people miss. A nice scramble up the middle by Tannehill for 16, capped by a SLIDE, moved the chains. Another pass went through Naanee’s hands to bring up 3rd and long and then 17 failed to see the linebacker who tipped his attempted pass to Bess resulting in an interception.

Drive three started with a nice run up the middle by Thomas for 9, followed by a quick out to Naanee for the first giving the defense no time to even lineup really. This was followed by a pass behind Naanee that went incomplete and then a drop by Fasano. Bess saved the day by getting the first and coming right back with a nice catch for 28. The 1st quarter ended with a dump off to Lane who bulldozed through defenders for another first. The 2nd quarter began with another nice run up the middle by Thomas for 9, who then gained enough for the first on the next play. The drive came to an end with Thomas getting flipped during a hurdle attempt and finally a drop by Fasano in the endzone, forcing Miami to kick the field goal.

The 4th drive saw a first down pass to Fasano followed by what seemed to be some confusion (it looked like in there hurry to catch the defense of guard that they thought Fasano was a yard short so they handed it to the full back up the middle for a yard to try and get the first, but the refs did give Fasano the first down so what resulted was a waste of a first down play. If that makes sense to those reading). The line then failed on back-to-back plays forcing a throw away and a sack (with a fumble but recovered).

Drive 5, Mathews came in for a quick 5 yard catch. Thomas came back in for a short gain and Miami couldn’t convert on the following 3rd down attempt to go 3 and out.

Drive 6 started with poor field position, inside the 10, thanks to a penalty on the kick off. First down saw another drop by Fasano after getting hit, followed by a quick pass to Bess. Bess then got open again on third down to prevent Atlanta from getting the ball back with nice time left in the half. Slaton came back with a quick slant for another first down. Gates then saved an interception on a tipped pass knocking the ball away from Grimes. The offense couldn’t do much else. A pass to Fasano came up short on 3rd down and Miami decided to go for it on 4th and 2, but were unable to get it.

As for the defense.

Atlanta's first drive began with a couple short runs by Turner. Guyton dropped an interception on third down but a holding penalty on Smith kept the drive going. A bunch formation picked of Marshall allowing White to get another 3rd down conversion. Jones then got open for another first on Marshall. From there the defense dug in and forced a turnover on downs.

Atlanta’s next drive started with a dump off to Turner who got 20 up the sideline to move the ball into Miami’s territory. However, from there the defense prevented another first forcing Atlanta to kick a long field goal.

The next drive began with another penalty, pass interference by Marshall, a bad call in my mind considering the pass was deflected before he bumped the receiver. Back to back passes resulted in first downs. Thankfully Jones dropped a would be touchdown pass, as he got away with a push off on Davis who was running with him downfield. Marshall then missed an open field tackle and Vontae threw the receiver to the ground on 3rd and 1 (so he could get the interception, which he did catch, he seems to be the only one in the secondary capable of catching the ball...) drawing a PI call but a holding penalty by Atlanta off-set the penalty. Marshall then gave up the short pass for the first. The defense then held their ground to keep Atlanta out of the endzone, capped with Wake coming up with a sack on third down to force the field goal.

The forth drive saw the defense force a 3 and out, aided by a false start on 1st down, and highlighted by a nice pass break up of Smith matched up on White.

Drive 5 opened with a deep pass to Julio Jones to get the ball inside the 50, thanks to some poor ball judgment by Marshall and Jones who were covering on the play. This was followed by a dump off to Turner for 7 but the defense prevented another first down forcing another field goal.

Drive 6 lasted one play. A combined Wake/Vernon sack brought an end to the half.

Now to sum it up.

3 points in the half isn’t what you want to see from the offense, especially after the last few years. Thankfully the defense kept it close this week, the score just 9-3 at half (and a dropped pass away from being 9-7). That is pretty much what we’re going to need until the offense finds their grove. The defense is going to have to keep the score close, and low. Holding a high-powered squad like Atlanta to just 9 points, and more importantly no touchdowns, is a good start.

The lack of running in the first two games had been worrying fans. Game 3 was much more balanced with the running game showing up the passing game for much of the half. Bush had a couple nice runs, but a pretty bad loss messed his average up. Thomas also came in and ran hard, breaking tackles and not going down at the first hit. If he stays healthy he’ll have a good year, probably more so than Bush (at least in the rushing department).

As for the receivers, let’s just say, all we have to do is throw to Bess every play and we’ll be fine… But that’s about all I can say for last night. Naanee was targeted often but only had one catch that I remember. Fasano dropped several passes including a would-be touchdown. All the receivers who needed to separate themselves, apparently never got the memo. If they can sure up the drops, the offense could still be pretty decent until some better help at WR comes along.

The line was disappointing, and much better this week at the same time. By this I mean, it really wasn’t the right side of the line making you cringe. They had their moments, but the main disappointment came from Long who just didn’t play well. I’m not worried there but you just don’t expect it.

Tannehill had his rookie mistake but certainly needs more help. He learned to slide, a vast improvement already, and had a nice 78-yard drive that should have been a touchdown. It’s his show now so he just needs to keep getting better. I think there were also some timing issues with him and his receivers that will improve with time.

The defense was what you expected them to be, unlike the last two weeks, even without Burnett and Dansby. They never allowed Turner to really get going and I believe only allowed one TE catch in the half (a vast improvement over their usual average of like 30…). They bent at times but stood their ground when it mattered most. The biggest mistake came on the deep ball to Julio, something the secondary really needs to work on. The coaches might want to come up with some kind of deep ball/jump ball drill. They need it.

As for special teams, Fields is still the man. And I think it’s safe to say, we just aren’t going to be exciting in the return department.

Random notes,

Jerry might have not only saved his job but may have earned his starting job back as well. As for other starters who lost their jobs, I think it’s only a matter of time before Vontae reclaims his spot. He’s been playing much better lately, his only real boneheaded plays the past two weeks being the ‘Steve Smith’ penalty and his PI call that got offset. Other than that, he’s been sticking with the receivers and making sure tackles. That’s more than I can say for Marshall. Sure he moves in to the slot a lot, making life much more difficult, but he’s allowed catch after catch for first down and seems to consistently make poor diving tackle attempts. We'll see how things go from here, I just wouldn't be surprised to see Vontae and Smith back as the starting corners.

Now, ready or not, can we start the regular season already? I want some real football back in my life…


This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Phinsider's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of The Phinsider writers or editors.

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