The Miami Dolphins won their third consecutive game to build a two game lead in the AFC East on Sunday. The Dolphins overcame a slow start with big plays and timely turnovers to beat the Raiders 28-20. Here is the good, bad, and ugly from yesterday’s win (hint: heavy on the good):
I’ve been the first to say I’m not a fan of Adam Gase’s play-calling strategy. He still refuses to give Kenyan Drake enough touches, and his scripted first drives rarely amount to anything. But the second half, he really dialed up some game changing plays.
The shovel passes to Jakeem Grant and Albert Wilson that went for long touchdowns had not been seen through the first two games. The reverse to Wilson in which he threw a TD to Grant was definitely out of the deepest ends of the playbook. And he got the intermediate passing game working to Mike Gesicki and Danny Amendola. Overall, very positive outlook for the Dolphins offense if they can keep this up.
Tannehill’s touchdown pass to Kenny Stills in the second quarter was a thing of beauty, possibly one of the best throws of his career. Reminded me of his long TD to Stills in San Diego in 2016. He made smart, accurate throws all day, especially considering the fact the Dolphins only ran 39 plays on offense. With seemingly no rhythm, Tannehill continued to impress, especially in the mid level throws we hadn’t seen much of in the first two games.
The man is simply playing at an All-Pro level right now. Not only did he shadow Amari Cooper all game long, instead of playing his traditional side of the field, but he made two interceptions and held Cooper to 2 catches for 17 yards.
Howard’s second pick came in the endzone, blanketing Cooper, as the Raiders were driving to take the lead late in the 4th quarter. X made up for the loss of Reshad Jones in a huge way.
The running game was non existent. Tannehill led the Dolphins in rushing with 3 carries for 26 yards. Drake and Frank Gore combined for 11 carries for 15 yards. And the Raiders came into the game 31st in the league in rush defense. This was an awful performance and one the Dolphins cannot continue to produce if they hope to have long term success this season.
Unfortunately, it looked like the Dolphins suffered some legitimate injuries during the game. Already without Reshad Jones to start the game, three more starters went out with unknown severity. William Hayes was lost for the season with a torn ACL after a sack on Derek Carr (where Hayes tried not to hurt Carr, he ended his own season). Andre Branch finished the game with his knee completely wrapped in ice, and AJ Derby did not return after suffering a foot injury.
Obviously, for the Dolphins to have any sort of long term success, they cannot afford to be depleted at defensive line and tight end, so let’s hope these aren’t long term setbacks.
Jordy Nelson caught 6 passes for 173 yards, several of which were due to inexplicable coverage lapses by the secondary. I know they were missing their best player in Jones, but it was scary to see complete breakdowns lead to monster gains and a touchdown for Nelson. The coverage somewhat tightened up in the second half, and the run defense made some critical bailout stops, but those first few drives left a sour taste.
The Dolphins overcame some iffy coverage, some unfortunate injuries, and limited time of possession to get a huge win. With the Patriots loss on Sunday night, it means the Dolphins will remain in first place no matter the outcome of next Sunday’s matchup with New England. I’ll give them a B for their performance, and another A+ result.