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Dolphins-Falcons recap

Based on what I’ve read on Twitter and other places today, I have a feeling this recap won’t be too popular!

Don’t get me wrong—I’m ecstatic the Dolphins are 3-0 and I like a lot of things about this team. But there are still plenty of things that concern me and I’d be lying if I said I was particularly pleased with the way the team play—albeit without some key players—before the game-winning drive.

Be warned: If you’re looking for a magical place full of magic and unicorn and sparkles where all we do is talk about how awesome the Dolphins are and how they’re a lock for the Lombardi Trophy come February, this is not the article for you. I don’t see the point in being illogical or overly optimistic while turning a blind eye to anything concerning, because I am a realist.

Therefore, these are my realistic observations from the Dolphins’ victory over the Falcons in Week 3…

  • Let me say this now—I like Ryan Tannehill and I believe he has elite upside. I hope he becomes what we all want him to be. And I give credit to him for a great game-winning drive, capped off by a great touchdown pass that he called. But before the end of the game, I think this was one of Tannehill’s worst games in Miami. He didn’t handle pressure well (admittedly, there was a lot of it), his accuracy was off and he held onto the ball too long at times. I expect him to bounce back, but I’m anxious for him to play like a really elite quarterback—and not just on the final drive.
  • The Dolphins’ timeshare at running back continued and Daniel Thomas justified it as a rusher with a touchdown and quite a few nifty runs. That being said, Thomas allowed at least two sacks but my count as a pass protector and that’s inexcusable. Lamar Miller was less spectacular as a rusher aside from his 49-yard run, but he’s the better player and needs a bigger piece of the pie of Thomas can’t even block.
  • It was an odd-numbered week, which apparently is when Mike Wallace disappears from games. A ding-up, aging Asante Samuel took him out of the game with safety help, but the other Dolphins’ receivers were more productive as a result. Rishard Matthews had the best game of his career and honestly might have more upside than Brandon Gibson does in the slot, while Brian Hartline was dependable as always and made a great adjustment on a poorly-placed throw from Tannehill for a touchdown.
  • Let’s all take a moment to applaud 2012 third-rounder Michael Egnew for making his first NFL catch late in the game, just 19 games into his pro career. Guess you have to start somewhere.

 Dolphins Falcons recap

  • Also, great one-handed catch by rookie Dion Sims on the game-winning touchdown, and that’s despite blatant pass interference that curiously was not called. It wasn’t all good for Sims, however, as he allowed Tannehill to be destroyed on a sack that resulted in a turnover. Charles Clay remains by far the Dolphins’ best and most versatile option at tight end, despite a few drops himself today.
  • The offensive line was absolutely terrible in this one. I can only pray the Falcons think Tyson Clabo looks familiar and takes him back to Atlanta on the plane home. John Jerry continues to struggle, creating a right side of the line that is just useless. Combine their incompetence with our inadequacies in pass protection from the running back and tight end positions, and things aren’t easy for Tannehill.
  • The defense suffered a big loss early in the game when Cameron Wake exited with a knee injury and did not return, but I was still perplexed at out inept the pass rush was against a very weak offensive line for the second straight game. Olivier Vernon continues to be a joke as an NFL starter and you have to wonder why it’s taken so long for Dion Jordan to play more. Jordan’s athleticism alone will accidentally net him more of a pass rush than Vernon will, so it’s time to play your prized first-rounder a bit more.
  • Today, we saw exactly how valuable Paul Soliai is clogging up the middle of that line. Even in his absence, I still came into the game confident against a Falcons’ rushing attack missing Steven Jackson, but Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers proceeded to ram the ball down our throats for the entire first half. I honestly don’t know why the Falcons didn’t continue to pound the ball in the second half (and find Tony Gonzalez, who disappeared after the opening drive) but it was serious mistake.
  • It’s only Week 3 and already I’m trying to figure out how the Dolphins can get out of Dannell Ellerbe’s contract. (Answer: $11.6 million cap hit in 2014 if we cut him in the offseason. So looks like we’ll be seeing plenty more of him.) Ellerbe and the rest of the gang missed so many tackles I can’t even count and he continues to be a disappointment after his big contract. Philip Wheeler also had a poor performance after a notably strong one in the Week 2 win against Indy. Still, I like Wheeler much more than Ellerbe this this point.
  • The Dolphins kept their corners isolated to specific sides of the field today, which meant that Brent Grimes was rarely thrown at while Falcons’ receivers feasted on Nolan Carroll and nickel man Jimmy Wilson. I was also absolutely horrified with how Chris Clemons played in coverage and missing tackles. Either the secondary needs to improve or the pass rush needs to get a lot better, but things cannot continue as they are.
  • Caleb Sturgis continues to perfect start to his career, including a 50-yarder drilled today. And you have to love seventh-rounder Don Jones on special teams, who had a huge forced fumble covering a punt. Dion Jordan is great on special teams too, though I’d prefer to see him make his mark on defense. Ya know, as a first-rounder and all.

 

Like I said at the beginning of this article, I’m glad Miami is 3-0. It’s a great situation to be in and a great starting push for playoff spot. If Tannehill and the Dolphins improve as the season goes on, especially with the schedule lightening up some during the season, then we might be looking at a playoff berth and that’d be an incredible accomplishment.

But I’m especially concerned heading into Week 4 because I feel like this was the team’s weakest overall performance yet. We saw how vulnerable the defense is when it’s missing some key components. The offensive line continues to be a problem with no hope in sight. And Ryan Tannehill was off his game and made some poor decisions before his beautiful game-winning drive.

The Dolphins face a huge test in New Orleans in Week 4 and it’s not one where I’d initially project them to come out on top. It’s good that the Saints have no running game, but they’ve never really needed one and I’m scared to think what Drew Brees can do against us. Jimmy Graham, in particular, presents a lot of problems given our issues this season with young, athletic tight ends.

Be happy the Dolphins have the record they do, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it’ll continue if things don’t improve. Winning an individual game doesn’t indicate the chance of future wins, and hoping the team has finally “arrived” doesn’t necessarily make it so. There is work to be done, and let’s hope it gets done.

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Dolphins-Falcons recap, 3.2 out of 5 based on 17 ratings
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Chris J. Nelson

Production Assistant at Turner Sports
Chris is a production assistant for Turner Sports in Atlanta, working on such properties as MLB, NBA, NCAA March Madness, PGA and more. Prior to March 2013, he operated his own blog, The Miami Dolphins Spotlight. He has a Bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from Georgia State.
no avatar Dolphins Falcons recap

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4 Responses to Dolphins-Falcons recap

  • Hi Chris, after reading your post comments about certain players being: useless; struggling; a joke as an NFL starter; and dump his contract, I thought you were recommending another rebuilding season. The players you belittled were Tyson Clabo, John Jerry, Olivier Vernon, Dannell Ellerbe, Nolan Carroll and Jimmy Wilson. I didn’t think I’d misunderstood your harsh reprimands, so I am puzzled by you wondering who you felt were not deserved of their roles.

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  • Thank you for your critique of the 2013-14 Miami Dolphins play in game 3. It is not necessary to be positive all the time.

    While you have some valid points such as Tannehill holding the ball too long, his protection evaporating, and some positions that might require attention, overall, your synopsis is far too harsh. No player is perfect. All players have good games and bad games, good plays and bad plays. This team plays and wins as a team. They have the strength, stamina and awareness to make adjustments and win the second half of games. Wins and good health are all that counts.

    Do you seriously think that those six players you’ve pointed out, should be replaced? With whom? Trades that may lose other assets? Rookies? Maybe you aren’t serious about terminating them, but rather recommending the coaches work with these players to improve their weaknesses? While the Dolphins staff works on making this team better with the tools they’ve got, you’d rather throw away some of their tools? Do you blame your tools when they don’t work well in certain situations?

    Armchair quarterbacks have it easy, compared to coaches who need to get what they can from what they’ve got. I believe in Coach Philbin, Ryan Tannehill, Caleb Sturgis, Cameron Wake, and so many more. I never for a minute worried about the Dolphins ability to come back in all 3 games. I was only anxious for when those big drives, turnovers, or field goals would get started or happen… then they did.

    This is a team that may lose 4 or 5 games this year. That should get them to the post season. Anything can happen from there. :smile:

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  • BOOOOOOOO!!! HIIIISSSSSSS!!! Get off the stage!!! (Starts throwing tomatoes.)

    Just kidding :-)

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