The Miami Dolphins lost to the Houston Texans last night, dropping the second of three preseason games thus far in the 2013 exhibition series. As it is for every preseason game, the result really does not matter, but, instead, it's the positives and negatives that come out of the contest. Last night's game is no different, and there are several of both.
Positive: Ryan Tannehill, quarterback. Tannehill was sharp throughout the first half, playing until 1:49 remaining in the second quarter. He went 10-for-15 on the day, with two of the incomplete passes being drops, one from Lamar Miller and one from Brian Hartline. Tannehill finished the game with 141 yards and a touchdown, giving him a 119.0 passer rating. He currently has a 106.5 passer rating this preseason, making him 11th in the league among the starting quarterbacks, and he has not thrown an interception through three preseason games. Nothing is saying Tannehill will set the league record for most passing yards in a season, but he is playing well and is moving in the right direction for the season.
Negative: Dustin Keller, tight end. Is there a bigger negative for the Dolphins from this game? I won't go over the three torn ligaments and dislocated knee again, but the loss of Keller is a big set back for the Dolphins. What makes it worse is that none of the other tight ends seem to be ready to step up in Keller's place. The team has been using Charles Clay more and more like a fullback, Dion Sims has practiced well but it is not translating into a complete game yet, and Michael Egnew is showing more and more flashes, but is not consistent enough yet. Someone has to step up for the Dolphins this week if Tannehill is going to have a chance to develop the chemistry that seemed to have been built between him and Keller.
Positive: Mike Wallace, wide receiver. This one makes the list not because Wallace did anything special, but because Wallace made his first three receptions as a member of the Dolphins, and it should appease the fan base, at least for a week. Wallace had three receptions for 58 yards and the touchdown from Tannehill. And, he did it with three different types of receptions. He caught a nice, possession-receiver type of play on a 16 yard first down conversion. Then came back with a 33-yard gain on a defense stretching long route. And, finally, he sat down between the zone on a perfectly placed goal line catch a nine-yard touchdown.
Negative: Penalties. The coaching staff is going to have a long talk with safety Jimmy Wilson this week. For the second straight game, Wilson was flagged for a personal foul. Last week it was a late hit as Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mike Kafka ran out of bounds, leading to a fine from the NFL for Wilson. This week, he got called for taunting while on punt coverage. While it would be concerning for Wilson if he was the only one showing a lack of discipline during the game, there were six total flags on Miami during the game. It was three fewer than Houston, but six penalties are still too many.
Positive: Starting offensive line. I know, it's hard to see the offensive line as a positive, but I really think it is. Josh Samuda struggled on some plays, and does not seem ready to start yet, but he was not horrible, and was better than he was against the Jaguars last week. Other than Samuda, the rest of the offensive line seemed to play well, with no one really noticing any of the players. John Jerry is expected to return to full practice this week, which will likely push Samuda out of the starting lineup, and could give the Dolphins a good offensive line.
Negative: Matt Moore, quarterback. Something is not right with Moore right now. He is inaccurate with his throws and simply has not been able to move the offense. It started last week against the Jaguars, and continued on to last night's game. Part of it could be the lack of time the second string offensive line was giving him, but wgatever the case, Moore is spraying the ball all over right now, leading to stat lines like last night's 3-for-11 for 15 yards and a 39.6 passer rating.
Bonus Positive: The first team defense was impressive. From Brent Grimes pulling in a pick on the third play from scrimmage to Cameron Wake tallying a sack, the starters smothered the Texans and did not let them move the ball over their first two-and-a-half possessions, holding the Texans to abut 40 yards over that span. The Dolphins know what they have in the defense, only giving them 13 snaps on the day, while the offense was out there for 30. The Miami starting defense is going to be scary this year, and last night they flashed exactly why.