The Miami Dolphins dropped their second straight game to start the 2016 NFL season, losing to the New England Patriots on Sunday 31-24. The team rallied back from a 31-3 deficit to close to within a touchdown of the Patriots, then drove down the field to have the final pass from Ryan Tannehill into the endzone with a chance to tie the game. Unfortunately, the pass was intercepted rather than completed and the Dolphins fell to 0-2 on the season.
Looking back on the game, it was an ugly first half followed by an offense that awakened in the second half, but a defense that could not get stops when it needed them. We take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly for the Dolphins against the Patriots.
We are going to do something a little different this week. We are not going to limit any category to just one entry, but rather allow multiple players/events to take a spot on the list.
Ryan Tannehill - A lot of people are complaining that Tannehill only puts up his numbers in “garbage time.” Unless the Patriots’ defense was allowing Miami to climb to within a reception of tying the game, this really was not a “garbage time” situation. Was the game out of reach at 31-24? It was not garbage time. There is also a complaint that the Dolphins only came back because they were playing against a third-string quarterback. Unless Jacoby Brissett was doing something to change Tannehill’s play, I do not believe his presence in the game had any impact on the offense. Tannehill and all of the offense struggled in the first half, but they found themselves in the second half and got after it. Miami’s quarterback appeared to be in charge of the offense and put the team on his shoulders to try to come back in the second half. He finished the game 32-for-45 for 389 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions, and a 93.7 passer rating.
Jarvis Landry / DeVante Parker - Like Tannehill, the two receivers came on strong in the second half and put up some really nice numbers. Landry caught 10 passes for 137 yards while Parker had 8 receptions for 106 yards. It was a good sign that the Dolphins offense finally had two receivers working in the offense. Now, they just need them to do it in the first half.
Jordan Cameron - Admit it, Jordan Cameron’s game surprised you. He caught five passes for 49 yards with a touchdown. Yes, he dropped a pass early in the game, but somewhere he found his hands for the first time this year and he started catching the ball. Maybe it was the fact that Tannehill was throwing the ball hard enough to make it stick inside someone, but whatever the case, Cameron had a good game.
Pass blocking - The offensive line allowed no sacks on Sunday, after allowing five against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1. That is worthy of a “good” mention.
Arian Foster’s injury - It did not take long for the injury bug to bite Foster this year. He is “day-to-day” right now with a groin injury, one that had him take an MRI Monday morning. It is not a good sign that Foster is already ailing. Will the team be able to find the “next-man-up” in Jay Ajayi, Kenyan Drake, Damien Williams, or Isaiah Pead?
Run blocking - When Ryan Tannehill is the leading rusher by over 20 yards, it is not a good day for the run blocking. Yes, the injury to Foster was a part of that and the team needing to throw so much being down big so quickly was another part, but the run blocking just was not up to the same level as the pass blocking on Sunday.
Kick/Punt returners - It was not a good day for the returners for the Dolphins. Jarvis Landry did not catch a punt return cleanly. Jakeem Grant did not catch a kick return cleanly. Damien Williams took a kick out of the endzone from five yards deep and slipped at the 10-yard line. It was not the best day for the returners.
The defense - I do not know that the entire defense was ugly, especially Ndamukong Suh who recorded 12 tackles and was a force, though the team kept having to take him out of the game to rest because the defense was playing too much in the first half, but it sure felt like all of it was ugly. The cornerbacks played too far off the ball, allowing way too many short passes. The Patriots ran the ball outside when Suh was on the field and Miami could not stop it. The Patriots ran the ball up the middle when Suh was off the field, and Miami still could not stop it. The Dolphins allowed Jimmy Garoppolo to look like a future Hall of Fame quarterback, throwing for 234 yards and three touchdows in less than a half a game, then could not find a way to stop the Patriots offense when it was being helmed by a third-round rookie quarterback who clearly was using a limited playbook (Jacoby Brissett was 6-for-9 for 92 yards). LeGarrette Blount rans for 123 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. Michael Thomas and Jason Jones did both have sacks, but where were Mario Williams, Cameron Wake, and Andre Branch?