The Miami Dolphins ended Thursday night with a 17-6 win over the Atlanta Falcons as the NFL looked to showcase Orlando’s Camping World Stadium, this year’s home for the Pro Bowl. The game was a good one for Miami, who used their dress rehearsal contest to show some rhythm on offense and begin bringing pressure with their attacking defense. Everything was not perfect on Thursday for Miami, but there were a lot of things that were really good for Miami, especially when compared to the first two preseason games.
What were the good, the bad, and the ugly from the game?
This category actually has multiple possibilities this week, and it is hard to choose just one. The offensive line was really strong, with no sacks allowed during the game and plenty of time being given on passing situations. They also picked up their run blocking, giving a pretty good all-around performance from the line, highlighted by Ja’Wuan James and Branden Albert. Laremy Tunsil again started at left guard, with Jermon Bushrod at right guard, and Anthony Steen started at center in the place of the injured Mike Pouncey.
Arian Foster deserves some consideration, though he only had 10 yards on five carries, but he did score his first touchdown as a member of the Dolphins. Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry were both really active in the passing game, though Landry did have a horrible drop when he was wide open and looked like he tried to turn up field before he actually caught the pass.
Ndamukong Suh looked good out on the field, especially when he read a screen pass, broke off his rush and moved out to make the tackle just after the pass arrived.
The linebackers, especially Koa Misi, looked better as well. Misi recorded four tackles, but more importantly, seemed to always be in the right spot to fill a running lane.
The good for the Thursday night game, however, goes to quarterback Ryan Tannehill. With the time the offensive line was giving him, Tannehill was decisive with the ball and he was throwing it hard and accurately (for the most part, there were a few passes that got away or the offensive line deflected - including his interception). Overall, Tannehill looked good in the pocket, he made his reads, and he was 20-for-29 for 155 yards with the interception. He drove the field for a touchdown from Foster and put the team in position for a field goal late in the first half, directing an effective two-minute drill, but kicker Andrew Franks knuckle balled the kick and the team picked up no points. Tannehill also used his legs on Thursday, picking up 22 yards on two carries, as well as rolling out of the pocket or with moving pockets to change the throwing lanes. It was a great performance from the fifth-year quarterback, but it was clearly one he will have to consistently replicate throughout the regular season.
Jordan Cameron clearly has something wrong. Maybe it’s “the yips” maybe he is just over-thinking it at this point, or maybe there is something physically causing an issue, but Cameron continues to be a drop machine for the Dolphins this preseason. Cameron was targeted four times in the contest, making one reception, dropping on pass on third down, and having one pass bounce off his helmet in the endzone. He also had an odd play where Tannehill rolled right, with Cameron open and clearly as the primary receiver, only to have the tight end look away from Tannehill just as the quarterback attempted to throw him the ball. Luckily, Tannehill adjusted and found tight end Dion Sims for a nine-yard gain. It was not a good night for the starting tight end, and, unfortunately, it is continuing a string of not-good nights.
I really liked this game, and thought the Dolphins played much better than we have seen this so far this year. The team looked like they had successfully game planned for the Falcons, with teams typically putting in a true game plan for the first time in Preseason Week 3, and they looked like they were executing. Things were not perfect, and the team will address them this week, but overall, there was not a lot of “ugly” in the game.
Unless you look at injuries. There were a lot of injuries for the Dolphins, and it involved some of the team’s biggest names. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury, as did linebacker Jelani Jenkins. Running back Isaiah Pead injured his hamstring in the third quarter and did not return, while defensive end Chris McCain hurt his shoulder in the fourth quarter and did not return. All four of those players were initially called “questionable” to return to the game. Terrence Fede, meanwhile, was immediately ruled out of the game when he injured his knee in the fourth quarter. The Dolphins probably need all of these players this season, especially if the defensive line continues to sustain injuries all year, so hopefully most of these injuries are minor and the team just held them out in order to protect them during a preseason game, and they would have been available if this were the regular season.