Dolphins 10 (0-1)
Seahawks 12 (1-0)
Tom Petty calls his ragtag band of rockers The Heartbreakers. The Miami Dolphins one-up the six-piece group with 53 men dedicated to shattering the hearts of Phins’ fans every Sunday. After struggling all game long and hearing the misguided and knowledge lacking cheers of the vaunted “12th man” (a.k.a. twenty-12ers) the six Dolphins fans in my row completely rejoiced after the go ahead touchdown.
All in all, the Seattle fans were mostly welcoming. I’m sure being the NFL’s heaviest favorite, by a landslide, on opening weekend created a more relaxed atmosphere.
Relaxed is an adjective Russell Wilson wasnt able to use throughout the entire day. He was under duress from a four-man pressure all game. The Miami defense came to play. An all new scheme, a few additions in personnel and much better fundamentals and play calling allowed the star power on the defense to show out.
Reshad Jones continues to play at a level beyond elite – but that’s a known commodity. Isa Abdul-Quddus is far and away the best safety Jones has played alongside in Miami and it allows him much more freedom. I don’t even know if I would call Jones a safety anymore because he lines up all over the field and makes plays at every level.
Quddus showed great range on the interception, had a fantastic pass break up on a 4th and one and was a sound tackler all game.
I can’t specifically point to any one defender that had a bad game. When the Seahawks picked up chunk yardage in the passing game, it was usually Xavien Howard in coverage. He’s still raw but you see the aggressiveness and length and he’s a sure tackler. Kiko Alonso played much better but he was slow to the spot a couple of times – including the Baldwin reception to the two yard line before the game winning score.
The wide nine is going to work for this team – the personnel are perfect for it. Getting into those passing downs, the offense has to decide between doubling Suh on the inside, Cameron Wake off the edge (and that burst is still there), or Mario Williams on the other. The Seahawks offensive line is bad, but those three will not be held in check being blocked one-on-one for an entire game.
Jason Jones and Andre Branch both had good games, but Jordan Phillips exploded onto the scene from the interior. We’ve wondered all camp who would be the interior nickel rusher – but that job has decidedly been won. With Julius Warmsley getting some wins, I wouldn’t be surprised if Earl Mitchell is cut in the near future.
The defensive line never had to send heavy blitzes and relied upon pressure from the front four all day. It was obvious that the Seahawks had no interest in challenging the Dolphins up front. The first two plays of the game were quick bubble screens right from the jump. Even the last two plays from the two yard line came from the shot gun. If this continues, the Dolphins defense is going to be dangerous all year.
Koa Misi had a very good game and Jelani Jenkins matched his effort in terms of setting the edges. Misi looks stronger and is playing more downhill – he needs to stay healthy.
Russell Wilson played an absolutely dreadful game. If Ryan Tannehill committed the turnovers that Wilson did, in that fashion, Dolphins’ Nation would be up in arms about the urgency to cut the Miami quarterback.
Is it okay to talk about Tannehill now? I’ll probably get accused of playing the coulda-woulda-shoulda game, but if Kenny Stills hauls in what is essentially a punt dropped from the heavens in the open field, Tannehill’s passer rating goes from 74.8 to 102.8 (that’s’ factually stat checked, so go ahead.)
This was the first time I saw Ryan Tannehill play live so I can’t compare what I saw to previous years. But I was right behind the Dolphins bench and I saw a man in command. He was chewing out players when necessary including an instance with Anthony Steen. Steen took to his stance over the ball and the refs weren’t ready for play. Tannehill wanted to change the protection and Steen couldn’t hear Tannehill barking at him. Tannehill went behind Steen, slapped him on the side of the ass and got it corrected.
When things didn’t go well, like the missed field goal for instance, he was clapping his hands and picking up a dejected offensive line that worked hard for those three points.
On the 87 yard touchdown drive, he completed four of five passes for 85 yards and rushed in the go ahead touchdown. He did this in the most hostile stadium football has to offer. How many quarterbacks are capable of doing that?
Speaking of the rushing touchdown, we take a quick pause for me to do a humble brag. When I saw Arian Foster flex out wide and the linebackers vacate the middle, I screamed, “DRAW!” Can someone get a copy of my resume to Adam Gase?
There isn’t a tougher quarterback in the league. He gets absolutely brutalized on some of those drop backs and he never misses a snap – I’m proud that he’s ours.
This isn’t to say he played a completely flawless game – not by any stretch. On the blocked field goal drive, he ran a naked boot for six yards down inside the 15 yard line but Kenny Stills was all alone with a chance to score and Tannehill didn’t see him.
The skill players really let the offense down. Tannehill was under pressure a lot, but it was never pass protectors getting beaten straight up one-on-one. Literally all the sacks came on stunts or over-load blitzes. That’s something that will get cleaned up with rookies Anthony Steen and Laremy Tunsil gaining a bit more seasoning.
The running game never got going but it’s clear who the best back on the team is. Arian Foster got 45 offensive snaps, Damien Williams saw six and Kenyan Drake had one. Foster still has “it” – we really need him to stay healthy.
The receivers were the worst position group on the field today for the Dolphins. Richard Sherman was almost never tested and Miami failed to win routes off the line of scrimmage and Tannehill consistently had to come off his first and second read before trying to buy more time.
Jarvis Landry got free a few times but Kenny Stills was stuck to like a glove all game while Leonte Carroo had a difficult time as well. Open windows in the passing game were very few and far between before the lone touchdown drive.
Special teams were good in coverage, committed too many fouls on returns, and field goals from under 30 cannot be missed under any circumstances.
That field goal leads me into my complaints with the officials. Not that it mattered, but that blocked kick was held by Matt Darr at the 17 and the Seahawks were given the ball at the 20 yard line to start the next drive. It didn’t make a difference, but it showed the level of incompetence the refs displayed all day.
EDIT: The rulebook states that any kick missed with the hold being placed inside the 20 will have the ball brought out to the 20 yard line. This must’ve been the first missed FG from under 30 yards I’ve seen in my 20+ years of watching this game.
There were plenty of flags thrown against the Seahawks, but that’s because they’re a highly undisciplined team. They lead the league, or come close to it, in that category nearly every year.
How that secondary goes an entire game without a single pass interference, illegal contact or defensive holding infraction is mind-blowing. Those lack of calls were almost more shocking than the blatant missed holding penalties all day on Cameron Wake. The late hit Wake put on Wilson occurred immediately after he was literally tackled to the turf.
Speaking of offensive linemen tackling pass rushers, take a look at Jordan Phillips on the 4th down conversion on the winning drive. He is wrangled around the neck and brought down. Unbelievable.
I do like that the NFL scheduled 10 of this weekend’s 16 games cross conference. Teams are getting kinks worked out and it makes sense to play the less important games early on. At a minimum, I’m a firm believer that there should be no divisional games in the first month, especially not the first week.
As good as the team played in an extremely difficult environment, we’re 0-1 and already behind the Patriots in the AFC East. Fortunately, that’s who Miami draws next and can put itself right back at the starting line with a victory in Foxboro. Come back on Thursday to read the preview for that game as I break down the Patriots on film and give you all the key match-ups.
Stars of the day include:
Reshad Jones, Ndamukong Suh, Mario Williams, Cam Wake, Jordan Phillips Koa Misi, Isa Abdul-Quddus
Duds of the day:
Kenny Stills, Jordan Cameron, Laremy Tunsil, Xavien Howard, Andrew Franks, Devante Parker (it’s on him for not being there and we need him, badly.)
You can follow me on Twitter @Travis_Writes
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Also, if you were at the Perfectville pre-game tailgate, I will be getting those pictures up later this week. Thanks to all that turned up.