The Miami Dolphins came out of Saturday night's Preseason Week 3 contest against the Atlanta Falcons with their first exhibition season victory of 2015. The starters played most of the first half, with some lasting into the third quarter, and while the offense appeared sharp and the defense was again dominant, not everything was perfect on the day. We take a look at five things that went well, and five areas that did not, this morning.
1. Ryan Tannehill
Is there any doubt that Tannehill is ready for the regular season? He was 15-for-19 passing on Saturday, throwing for 145 yards with a touchdown, giving him a 116.0 passer rating. That continues a hot start to the preseason for Tannehill, who appears to be fully in control of Bill Lazor's offense and is making the right decisions with his throws.
2. No sacks of Tannehill
Remember way back to Friday when all the concern was that left guard Dallas Thomas, who would kick out to left tackle for the game against the Falcons, was a liability that would get Tannehill killed? Remember when there was no chance the team could pass block at all, especially with the guards a mess? Well, Tannehill has only been sacked once this preseason, and that was actually allowed by a tight end, and was not touched on Saturday. The starting line did allow a sack of backup quarterback Matt Moore. The offensive line may not be perfect, and they may be waiting for a key player like Branden Albert to return, but it has been at least solid.
3. Dolphins defense gets to the quarterback
Matt Ryan was sacked three times, as was Atlanta backup quarterback T.J. Yates. The Miami defensive front was everywhere on Saturday, with Cameron Wake, Jelani Jenkins, Earl Mitchell, Mike Hull, Anthony Johnson, and Chris McCain/Terrence Fede all recording a sack. Mitchell was a terror, adding a tackle for a loss and continually getting into the backfield. Ndamukong Suh looked exactly like the player Miami will need him to be this year, plugging the middle of the line and constantly disrupting the pocket. The Dolphins defense will be able to get after the quarterback all season, and Saturday pretty much proved that.
4. Lamar Miller
Miller continues to play well in the Preseason, demonstrating that he is ready to carry the ball even more this year as he looks to backup his 1,000 yard season last year. Miller picked up 22 yards on six carries on Saturday, along with a team high five receptions for 31 yards. He is running hard, he looks fast, and he is setting up his blocks. Miller appears ready for the regular season.
5. Sun Life Stadium
The Dolphins debuted a renovated Sun Life Stadium on Saturday, a stadium that is half-way through its $400 million upgrade. While some of the bigger changes, like the canopy and new scoreboards, will not happen until next offseason, the new chairs look great, the 10 rows added to the stadium, bringing the fans closer to the field are incredible, and the stadium has a ton of new concessions and options. Everything appeared to go well for Sun Life Stadium in its first test of the year.
1. Mike Pouncey injury
Miami's center sustained a knee injury in the first half against the Falcons, though he says it is not serious. Pouncey returned the game after the injury, but then was taken back out. An MRI is scheduled for Sunday, and the Dolphins need to hope it comes back negative.
2. Penalties and Turnovers
After the game, Tannehill expressed frustration that the offense was not "clean" for the entire time he was in the contest. That includes penalties, of which Miami is getting way too many in the Preseason. The Dolphins had seven accepted penalties against the Falcons, giving up 50 yards. The team also fumbled the ball away once and Moore threw an interception. All of these mistakes have to be corrected before the season begins.
3. Tight ends
Where are the tight ends? Jordan Cameron caught one pass early in the game, gaining six yards. Jake Stoneburner added two receptions later in the contest, while Tim Semish had one catch. But that was it for the tight ends, and that has been the story of the Preseason thus far. Where are Miami's tight ends, and why are they not getting involved int he offense? Practice reports have indicated Cameron and Dion Sims have looked good this year, but they are not getting involved in the offense so far.
When your quarterback goes 15-for-19, you have had a good day. When you add in two passes that hit receivers in the hands, but were dropped, it is an even more impressive day. The Dolphins have had a problem with drops in recent years, and, while it was one game in the Preseason, it was still worrisome to see the balls hitting the ground. The receivers need to make sure they are securing the ball and helping out Tannehill.
The Dolphins' first team offense had six possessions on the night. They punted four times, turned over the ball on downs on a fifth punt that had a bad snap, and scored a touchdown once. The offense is moving the ball, Tannehill is making the right decisions, Miller is running hard, but the points just are not coming yet. Maybe it is a matter of the offense not fully using the playbook yet, but the Dolphins have to start putting points on the board more than once every six possessions.