Before phins news fans bring out the pitch forks and begin to crucify me for the ensuing comments, please know that I am not saying the sky is falling, and I understand that this was just the first preseason game. However, even though there was some signs of promise, they are still a long way from where phins news fans want their beloved Miami Dolphins to be.
Lets start with the good that came from the Tampa Bay game before we address the bad. First of all, I completely love the no huddle fast paced offense. It was a refreshing change, and will definitely catch a couple of defensive opponents gassing. Both QB’s Matt Moore and Ryan Tannehill looked comfortable running the west coast style offense, and besides a few errant throws they combined for 21 of 33 passes completed for 246 yards passing, with 1TD and 1INT. RT also exhibited a nice touch on a couple of passes, which is encouraging, because we all know this was something that Robo Henne was always missing. Also the wide receiver position which, was originally though to be a big question mark coming into the season, especially with the trading of Brandon Marshall, appeared pretty comfortable in this new offense. The trio of Roberto Wallace, Julius Pruitt and TE/FB Charles Clay, showed excellent promise catching a combined 13 passes for 172 yards. If they can parlay this performance into the regular season games, the offense is going to be able to score more points than last season. Lastly at the end of the first half I liked the calm stoic demeanor of coach Philbin when he was managing the clock while deciding to go for it on 4th and goal. Even though they did not convert for the touchdown, he made sure that he did not leave any time on the clock for the Bucs.
Then there was some things that were very discouraging. First of all it was the same old Miami Dolphins, moving up the field and then stalling out when the got into the last third of the field. Also on big third down plays, no one stepped up to make a play and keep the drive going. For example Chad Johnson dropped a sure first down on a third down play, that resulted in having to settle for a field goal, which was subsequently shanked wide by Carpenter. (Carpenter missed both field goal attempts in the game.) This led to great field position for Tampa Bay, which they parlayed into a touchdown. In addition the Dolphins defense did not look too good at all. They gave up the usual big play on third down multiple times, which enabled the Bucs to keep their drives alive, which they parlayed into touchdowns twice. The secondary still looks like a huge liability in coverage, especially our safeties who still do not try to pick of passes at their highest point, but try to field them like punts. This was in full form when Jimmy Wilson allowed a 44 yard catch by Tiquan Underwood.
The offense looked sharp, but still stalled out when it counted, and could not score enough points. Whereas the defense looked to be behind the learning curve of the phins offense, and were still susceptible to giving up the big play. Luckily, this is only the first preseason game, so there is still time for improvement, however it appears that even with the new look, the Dolphins are still experiencing their typical miscues at the most inopportune moments.