So far, the Miami Dolphins have shown that they are the same team they were last season. At first, the Dolphins on the opening drive took 7 minutes to get a mere three points. Even from the one yard line, they couldn't just punch it in with any type of running play. Following that effort, a special teams miscue occurred as Nolan Carroll doesn't have the wherewithal to notice how close he is to Marcus Thigpen who still attempts to make a fair catch and then gets blocked into him by the Tampa Bay gunner. For the Dolphins, that's a poor choice of positioning and for Tampa, that was a heads up football play.
In addition, on 3rd down inside the 30, Brent Grimes commits a costly pass interference penalty to give the ball to Tampa inside the 10 leading to a rushing touchdown by 7 year journey man Brian Leonard who dragged defenders to the one yard line. Where was that stout goal line defense? Sure Grimes was trying to prevent Mike Williams from catching the ball, but would he have caught it?
If you ask the average Dolphin fan, they are going to say the Dolphins looked good because Ryan Tannehill did. Tannehill was 17-27 with a touchdown and no interceptions, with two dropped touchdowns by his receivers and lead the team to a touchdown with 10 seconds remaining in the half. However, peel the layers of this onion and look deeper at this team, and this team is failing to show it can be a contender, but rather a sneaky version of last season.
The defense for one, is fast as ever with Dannell Ellerbe leading the charge against the run. The pass rush seems fine tuned inside and outside with Jared Odrick and Olivier "OV" Vernon collecting a pair of sacks. However, the corner back position still seems a bit shaky. Even though Grimes made a mistake, he played solidly. However, where was this ball hawking ability that both Patterson and Grimes possess? Why wasn't Will Davis given an opportunity to go after a shaky quarterback in Josh Freeman who was erratic and placing him in a Jet uniform might not make a difference. Is this the corner back tandem fans expect to be game-changers?
Ask yourself as a fan, if this were versus New England, would the first half have been so close?
Lastly, Marcus Thigpen did not impress and his miscues will be reverberating out of coach Rizzi's mouth during the weekly film session. Thigpen is getting paid to do one thing. Catch the ball, secure it and make something out of nothing. Two turnovers were solely on him and if catching the ball is impossible he has to make a quick decision and get out of the way. Costing the team two opportunities to put points on the board should get him cut. He should change his cell number just to be sure.
Ask yourself again, if the opponent was the Steelers, would this game be in favor of Miami with two turnovers?
So, heading into next week, the Dolphins play one more game that means more for non-starters. However, as a more than a knowledgable Dolphins fan, many of us rather see Ryan Tannehill and his receivers get more work on catching passes more consistently and driving down with an opening touchdown. Sure it poses a risk, but what was the difference last season when he played one series with starters?
In Miami, the spots on the 53 are no sure thing, and the players who think they've solidified their spot should know they are all replaceable. Only coach Joe Philbin can answer the media's tough questions heading into openning week and the rest of the season as the teams they face will capitalize heavily on all mistakes as somewhere, someone could be pounding their fists on a boardroom table in New York and wondering why 200 million spent in one off season was a good idea.