The Miami Dolphins proved to the football world that their 1-3 start to the season was not an accurate reflection of their competitive play thus far as they leave Cincinnati with a 17-13 upset win over the Bengals.
The first quarter of the game felt like a movie that Dolphins fans have unfortunately seen many times before, costly turnovers that lead to points for the opposition. It started with a muffed punt by Reshad Jones midway through the opening quarter who ultimately was bailed out by the stout Dolphins defense which held the Bengals to a 42 yard field goal and only a 3-0 lead. Miami followed that up with what looked to be a promising drive for the offense, only for Jorvorskie Lane to fumble in the red zone and kill the Dolphins momentum.
It wasn't until the second quarter that the Dolphins offense began to click. With four minutes to go before the half, running back Daniel Thomas capped an impressive 9 play, 63 yard drive with a one yard touchdown run. The score gave the Dolphins a slim 7-6 lead heading into the half.
Instead of letting up, the Dolphins came out strong to begin the second half of play. Randy Starks' fourth career interception handed Miami the ball at the Bengals 40 yard line and it was only a matter of time until Bush found the endzone from 13 yards out to extend the Dolphins lead to 14-6. On their next drive, Miami settled for a 46 yard Dan Carpenter field goal to put Miami ahead by a seemingly comfortable 17-6 lead.
Once the clock hit the seven minute mark of the third quarter, shades of the Dolphins heartbreaking overtime loss at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals took shape. Carpenter's struggles continued as he missed a 53 yard field goal that would have put Miami up by 14 points. Although a kick from that distance is no chip shot, it is well in the range of the usually relaible Carpenter. The missed attempt gave the Bengals life, just as it did against the Cardinals, and Cincinnati took full advantage. Dalton found Green from 2 yards out to cut the Dolphins lead to a mere 4 points.
However, the 17-13 scoreline was as close as the Bengals would get as Reshad Jones sealed the win with an interception late in the fourth quarter. The Dolphins offense wasn't nearly as electrifying as in the loss to Arizona but they did enough to come away with the upset. Although Ryan Tannehill's numbers of 17-for-26, 223 yards and a 92.3 QB rating didn't break any records, his abililty to make key plays and avoid throwing a costly intereception, put his team in a great position to emerge victorious. The same went for the running game which played the game with grit when the gaping holes closed quickly. This is evident in the stats of Reggie Bush who finished with 48 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown along with Daniel Thomas who wrapped up the game with 29 yards on 10 attempts and a score. The Dolphins nine rush touchdowns in the first five games of a season is the most since 2002.
The story of the game though was the Dolphins defense which ranked 1st in the league in stopping the run entering week 5. This trend continued as the Dolphins held the Bengals featured back Benjarvus Green-Ellis to a mere 14 yards on nine carries. Miami also kept Andy Dalton from finding his groove by keeping consistent pressure on him and dragging Dalton to the turf a total of three times. The play of Miami's corners has gone unnoticed the past several weeks as both Nolan Carroll and Sean Smith stepped up in a big way. Smith has become the top cornerback that the Dolphins need, limiting pro bowl wide recievers Larry Fitzgerald and AJ Green to under 100 yards in back to back weeks.
The win improves the Dolphins record to 2-3 on the season with a chance of moving to .500 in next week's matchup against the 3-2 St. Louis Rams. Although it wasn't pretty, the Dolphins grit earned them a well deserved victory and proved that Miami can compete with any team in the NFL. If the rest of the AFC East manages to lose this weekend, the Dolphins may find themselves in a tie for first come Tuesday morning.
In March, the Miami Dolphins preceded to trade away their alpha receiver in Brandon Marshall. This season, the Miami Dolphins have finally made Brian Hartline the receiver he has strived to be and they guy that fans want to see bewilder secondaries on Sundays.
Although his year got off to a rocky start with outsiders wondering if the Dolphins would release or cut him because of his calf injury, Hartline healed and was ready for action by week 1.
Making tough catches has always been Hartline's appeal to the Dolphins. He's a hard worker that works an opposing secondary catching balls when he's not open wherever the ball is thrown.
Last week was Brian Hartline's career game catching 12 balls and 1 TD for 253 yards. Those pundits who screamed at the front office for trading one number 19 for Miami last year, can now trust in number 82 who does nothing but catch the ball. In all, Hartline has 25 receptions and 455 yards receiving. Remarkably, he performs better in losses (16 REC, 344 YDS) than he does in wins (9 REC, 111 YDS).
His mastery of the new and improved Dolphins West Coast Offense is simply amazing since he missed so much time during training camp. The mere fact that he's become a go to receiver to Tannehill on third and long proves that he's clutch and makes catches when it matters.
Even though the Dolphins failed to win the past two weeks, his reception and run for 80 yards turning on the jets for 6 points shows that Brian Hartline is ready for the big time and the big contract. The expectations are going to rise after last week's performance, but should Hartline stay consistent he'll see a major payday and be a potential Pro Bowler at receiver.
With Hartline emerging as the star receiver, we'll all soon forget that #15 in Chicago.
Update: According to The Miami Herald-Hartline and the Dolphins are talking extension. If Hartline keeps this up, he'll have a bigger contract and be the first Dolphin to exceed 1,389 yards receiving since Mark Clayton. Hartline is on pace for 1,820 yards this season!
The Miami Dolphins play the Cincinnati Bengals this week but I am not here to talk too much about that. Too much bad and ugly went down Sunday for the Dolphins that I’ve thrown in “the Good” since that’s how the common saying goes. Not our saying; you may be surprised by this comment, but as Jason Taylor tweeted, “good performances mean nothing without the end results.” The big W.
Stop: the Long giveaways
I never thought I would say this: perennial pro bowler Jake long has been incredibly average this season. For a player of his status, caliber, and salary the three sacks he has allowed up to date should have simply not happened. There has been an obvious decline in Jake’s play and while he has not been 100% percent healthy he should be locking down Tannehill’s blindside. Does this mean we will trade him? The first round value is extremely tempting as the trade deadline approaches…
I’m not going to beat around the bush here, but Legedu Naanee is NOT an NFL receiver. Davone Bess and Brian Hartline are. Heck, I bet Rishard Matthews could be, get him in pads Sunday. 2 of Tannehill’s interceptions have been thrown his way and his mind boggling, physics-defying, game-altering GAFFE defines his nightmarish start to the season. Sure Sean Smith bailed him out, but a fully-horizontally extended 6”3 cornerback will not always be there to bail him out. Legedu Naanee is a very good special teams player; that is exactly where he should stay.
Start: Focus and Protect
After 5 hours of sleep, sitting in the middle of a stifling lecture hall, I could make less mental errors than the Miami Dolphins did this Sunday. Brief recap: Javorskie Lane missed blitz pickup on the game tying drive. Sean Smith misplay on the game-tying touchdown when Marshall had the inside coverage. Legedu Naanee’s failure to tuck the ball away. Jeron Mastrud blocking nobody on a Tannehill sack. Reggie Bush running sideways and backwards too often; dude this isn’t college anymore! The point I’m making is that despite the offensive explosion, the Dolphins have WAYS to go as a football team. The protection was poor. Tannehill had only been sacked 3 times in the first three weeks, until the Cardinals put him on the floor 3 more. Personally, I would like to see a little more physicality out of rookie right tackle Jonathan Martin. But on the bright side, John Jerry seems to finally have found his niche at right guard alongside the breakout play of center Mike Pouncey (PFF: 10.8).
Continue: Get out of Jail Free Card
I don’t know if Ryan Tannehill couldn’t roll doubles to get the handcuffs off, or an injury to 22 was needed, but the 6”4, orthopedic surgeon-bound stud from Texas A&M was unleashed Sunday afternoon in Arizona. Tannehill posted 431 yards, including an 80 yard, in stride, bomb to Hartline. I haven’t seen that kind of throw from a Miami uniform since Ronnie Brown shocked us with a left handed toss to Anthony Fasano. Common Sherm! Keep it coming. This aerial explosion reminded me of Nagasaki when the A-bomb hit. Teams can no longer play the Miami Dolphins so one-dimensionally—stack the box and Tannehill will shred you. He is smart, his command of the offense, ability to recognize coverages and make the right checks at the line of scrimmage is frightening…Frightening for other teams that this is only his fourth career game in a lackluster offensive lineup. In the words of dear friend Jake Rashkovan “to be a franchise quarterback, you gotta be good looking”—And damn is RT a looker!
I’m going to change it up this week since nothing was Incognito about the Dolphins’ performances Sunday. Therefore the Cognito Dolphin of the Week is Cameron Wake. Wake made D’Anthony Batiste and rookie Bobby Massie beg for mercy each and every down, accumulating 4.5 sacks, 5 stops, and 7 QB hurries for a PFF rating of 11.4. Wake is the #1 rated 4-3 DE on PFF by more than double the next guy (27.4 to 13.3)
Update: Legedu Naanee has been released, Jabar Gaffney is now a Miami Dolphin.
“Naanee nanee, nanee nanee, hey heeeeeyyy goodbye”.
Until next week,
I woke up this morning to an interesting article posted on PFT saying Mike Pouncey apologizes to Dolphins fans. The link is posted below.
After reading the article, certain thoughts came into my head. First and foremost, I like and respect the sentiment from Pouncey. Pouncey is holding this franchise to a higher standard and statements like this help change the culture in Miami. Pouncey comes from a winning college team in the university of Florida where he was a part of the winning Tebow magic. Pouncey like most players believe this team can compete and while the team has come up short the past two week it is nice to know that as much as the effort is their the main goal is still focused on getting W’s every Sunday.
While this was a mere simple response to from Pouncey, it is a continuation of the Dolphins trying to be more transparent with the fan base. Joe Philbin also displayed some transparency after Sunday’s loss calling out players on specific plays and indicating to the fans and media where players need improvement. Some might dispute where why weren’t player held accountable on Sunday rather than on Monday on the press room and we might have seen the message loud and clear this week when Naanee was released.
In terms of Pouncey, he has nothing to be apologetic over; he is currently ranked the number 1 center in the NFL by PFF and has been lights out so far this year and well his whole pro career. Pouncey has been a true professional and has the look of a 10 year pro bowl vet. Pouncey has been amazing, blocking defenders in the run game and hardly quarterback pressure. Pouncey has shaped up to being everything and more the Dolphins could hope for when they drafted him 15.
I have loved everything I have seen from Pouncey on and off the field, so don’t be sorry Mike but I just like you would love to see more W’s.no comments
The Dolphins finally listen to the loud fan base and have released Legedu Naanee. Naanee was all but a goner after his week 4 embarrassing fumble against the Cardinal’s. While on the Dolphins Naanee was rated per snap the worst WR in the NFL according to PFF.
The signed hopefully have solved their number 3 WR issue by signing Jabar Gaffney. Gaffney a proven vet who has recently struggled with injuries will look to prove his worth in Miami and if healthy could be of a real aid to a Dolphins offense in serious need of more help at WR.
Gaffney had 947 yards and 5 TD’s in 2011 with the Redskins and 875 yards for 2 TD’s in Denver in 2010. Gaffney is a clear upgrade to what the Dolphins had at WR3.
So the Dolphins signed Jabar Gaffney. No brainer all along. He just had to get healthy -- but that should be a nice addition to the WRs
Just spoke with Gaffney. Said he wasn't healthy enough to play when he worked out with the Dolphins earlier. Is now.