The Miami Dolphins started slowly on Friday night in their first preseason game, but they came away with a 27-10 win over the New York Giants by the end of the night. After an hour delay due to lightning, the Dolphins starting group - minus some key players, especially on defense - struggled to find their rhythm in the two possessions in which the played. The second-string players on back, however, eventually put it together to come back from the 10-0 deficit to win.
There were several players who looked good on Friday night, there were some bad moments, and there was some ugly.
There were several players who could be considered for the good category this week, with players like Chris McCain , Bobby McCain, Brandon Doughty, and Lafayette Pitts all fitting the bill. However, the story of this game is probably Jakeem Grant. The lights came on for the game, and Grant was ready to show off. He caught four passes for 68 yards, returned four punts with a 15-yards-per-return average and he returned two kicks for a 26.5-yards average. Grant did not seem afraid of anything on the field, catching screen passes and kicks and immediately accelerating to full speed. In the offseason workouts and training camp, Grant has looked fast, but when he turned it on during the Giants game, when everyone on the field is going full speed, it became even more evident just how quick and elusive Grant is. He clearly stared on Friday night.
The Dolphins defense - even taking into acount that they were without Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh, Mario Williams, Byron Maxwell, and Reshad Jones - was a disappointment, mostly because of tackling. Players would be in the right spot, like when Kiko Alonso filled the gap and should have had a tackle for a loss only to see the Giants score a touchdown, but just could not bring down the ball carrier. It is a problem that has been an issue for several years, and not a good start to this year. The team has not practiced full speed tackling thus far through training camp, so maybe getting a taste of it on Friday will allow for improved tackling through the rest of the preseason and into the regular season, but it clearly the bad for the game.
The offensive line struggled, especially the starting group which allowed quarterback Ryan Tannehill to be hit or pressured on three of his four pass attempts. Clearly Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon was keyed up to go against his former team, but the offensive line was an ugly mess for the first part of the game. The team needs to slide rookie Laremy Tunsil into the starting left guard position, replacing Dallas Thomas, and let Tunsil get experience the rest of the preseason. The line needs to grow together, and after Friday’s performance, the line they are currently using was clearly not the right answer.
This was preseason game one, so some things are definitely taken with a grain of salt and there are some things that are understandable as the team continues to prepare for the regular season. Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore did not look exactly sharp, but they will get better - and two three-and-out series with Tannehill running for his life is not exactly a chance to find a rhythm. It is also hard to say that solid performances like Bobby McCain or Chris McCain are performances that will continue through the rest of the preseason, though it clearly shows they deserve the chance to prove their positions high on the depth chart. The Dolphins should also see players like Wake, Jones, and Arian Foster start to get involved in the next couple of preseason contests, which might help both the offense and the defense.
The Dolphins will travel to face the Dallas Cowboys on August 19. Kickoff will be at 8pm ET.