There are very few things in football more satisfying than beating a division rival on the road. The Miami Dolphins not only did that by beating the Jets 20-12 Sunday, but moved into sole possession of first place in the AFC East, after the Jaguars beat the Patriots later in the day. Its early, but c’mon, lets enjoy this.
While it was by no means a pretty display on either side of the ball for the Dolphins, the result is all that matters. Miami was able to take advantage of two first half Jets turnovers and turn them into touchdowns, something we haven’t seen nearly enough of in the past.
While most of the first half was a defensive struggle, the offense clicked late for the Dolphins, with a five yard touchdown run from Kenyan Drake on a 3rd and 1. The second quarter featured a touchdown pass to Albert Wilson, who turned about a five yard reception into a 29 yard touchdown with his blazing speed.
Then, following another defensive stand, Tannehill led the offense back down the field, concluding a 62 yard drive with a 19 yard touchdown to AJ Derby.
Although the offense didn’t produce another point the rest of the game, the defense managed to hold the Jets offense to just 12 points. I’ll get to them in a bit.
At the end of the day, there are plenty of criticisms to be made. The play calling at times leaves much to be desired from Adam Gase. He refuses to commit to the running game, even when both Drake and Frank Gore have been excellent to start the season. He is reluctant to let his QB throw the football down the field or even over the middle with much consistency at all. And excluding some late game creativity (which in his defense, sealed the victory), he hasn’t used the read option game with Tannehill nearly enough.
Mike Gesicki is still nowhere to be found. He’s been left on an island blocking at times, which clearly is not what he was brought in for, and he had exactly zero targets in the passing game yesterday. Where’s the second round pick everyone raved about as a red zone and short yardage threat?
The offensive line struggled at times, specifically the interior of the line. They clearly missed Josh Sitton’s presence, and I’m afraid this may be further exposed as the season progresses. Daniel Kilgore needs to improve his snaps. He had one go off his own leg, and at least two more that were low to Tannehill in the shotgun. The run blocking was solid.
Tannehill made enough plays through the air when given the opportunity, and proved his rushing capabilities once again, with a 20 yard run on the first play of the game, and another 8 yarder on a third down conversion to seal the game.
Defensively, I thought the Dolphins were opportunistic and aggressive. But Sam Darnold threw for 334 yards in his second start ever, and routinely torched the secondary, which somehow got rave reviews from Pro Football Focus. I know Bobby McCain and Xavien Howard often won their individual matchups, but make no mistake, the linebackers again struggled in coverage, the safeties took bad angles on several big run-after-catch plays, and the Jets turned the football over three times.
Credit where its due. Xavien Howard made an enormous interception in the endzone on the first play after a Dolphins turnover in the third quarter. Kiko Alonso made 13 tackles and forced a huge fumble late in the first half which led to a Dolphins touchdown. Robert Quinn was outstanding and the interior of the line benefitted from Quinn’s consistent pressure. And Reshad Jones made a touchdown saving tackle at the 1 yard line to end the first half. Cameron Wake, Charles Harris, and the other defensive ends really haven’t had much of an impact through two games.
In a league where 16 games is all you get, you savor any win. I will not complain about a victory, especially on the road, and especially against the Jets. At the end of the day, the Dolphins turned in a C+ performance, and got an A+ result. Fine with me.