Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dolphins vs Texans

It's nice to have the NFL back. I was excited to see the Miami Dolphins play their first game. But I wasn't as excited as I probably have been in seasons past. That's because I just don't expect the team to compete for a spot in the playoffs. And that's mostly because we have a rookie in Ryan Tannehill starting at QB. Still, I enjoy the season no matter what and at least I might get to see our QB of the future develop.

Tannehill didn't look bad the whole time this Sunday against the Texans. Houston was a very good team last year and they should be as good this season. So I didn't expect us to win this one on the road. But for much of the first quarter we played well and even got the lead. That's because they really coddled Tannehill and got a decent effort from the running game and defense.

But Tannehill make a rookie mistake on a slant route that the corner jumped. That INT led to a FG that tied the game. From that point on it was all completely downhill for the Dolphins. Tannehill got several passes tipped in the preseason. For some reason, he got a bunch tipped today, two of them resulting in INTs. He's going to have to do something to stop this, whether that be pump faking or using his head and eyes more deceptively, because you can't put your defense in situations where they have a short field to defend.

You also can't do that with a defense that can't pressure the passer, which this defense couldn't do last year very well and now can't do so through the first game of this season. Cameron Wake is a very good player who can pressure the passer. But he can't do so all the time and has a bit inconsistent over the past season. Jared Odrick is just not a pass rushing DE and I'm not sure why he was forced into that role. Paul Soliai is a very good NT in a 3-4. But I'm not sure he can pressure the QB from inside in a 4-3. That's half your line that is miscast and therefore isn't adding anything to the most important aspect of your defense, which is stopping the pass. And we still can't cover TEs. Carlos Dansby is a very good LB at every other aspect of the game. But he can't cover TEs.

That's why we gave up 30 points. That's tough even for the best offenses in the league to overcome. We haven't had an offense in Miami that could overcome that with any realistic regularity since Dan Marino. And while I understand the desire to coddle Tannehill because of his inexperience and our shaky Oline, you just aren't going to move the ball downfield very efficiently and thus score points if you don't try to make big plays. The offense today looked very much like the dink and dunk offenses of the Tony Sparano era.

This isn't a time possession league where you grind out yards, kick field goals, and every once in a while score. You have to throw the ball downfield or at least dink and dunk in a way that gets a lot of yards after the catch. The Dolphins appear to be completely unable to do either of those things consistently. Until the offensive line improves and until they let Tannehill be aggressive they will struggle to gain yards and score consistently. Sure. By being aggressive you risk turnovers, especially with a rookie QB. But we have proven over the last decade or so that you don't score a lot of points without being aggressive. And we don't have a good enough defense to make up for a lack of points. Here's hoping that at least one of those things, if not both, change and we can at least make improvements while we aren't going to the playoffs.

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