Grading the Dolphins for their dreary 20-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints at London’s Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
Despite boasting so much talent at the skill positions, and despite boasting a quarterback whisperer in coach Adam Gase, Miami has scored six total points the past two weeks.
Gase turned the Dolphins around last season after a 1-4 start. He needs to pull off similar miracles starting with the home opener (at last!) vs. Tennessee next weekend.
This was the second consecutive week the Dolphins’ offense made a flawed defense look respectable. The Dolphins don’t face another defense ranked in the top 10 entering Sunday’s games until Buffalo in December — but will that even matter? The Dolphins have set an annoying trend again this season of sleep-walking through first halves. All of this isn’t Jay Cutler’s fault, but when the offense is bogged down, you need your quarterback to create a spark. You don’t need him throwing a first-down interception from the opponents’ 4.
Jay Ajayi, of course, ran hard, when he ran. But with the offense unable to establish a rhythm, he was taken out of the game plan by the second half and didn’t have nearly the homecoming he dreamed of.
For a receiving corps that wants to be considered elite, this group has put up a vanilla performance this season. Kenny Stills improperly lined up when the Dolphins went to the wildcat formation for the first time under Adam Gase. An offensive pass interference penalty went against Stills even though replays indicated it was a bogus call by Ed Hochuli’s crew, which must have pumped a lot of iron before this one. We had a sighting of TE Julius Thomas, who made a 23-yard grab to the Saints’ 4 before Jay Cutler wasted it on the next play with an interception.
Rocky day. G Jermon Bushrod’s holding penalty wiped out 14-yard gain by Kenyan Drake. RT Ja’Wuan James made a poor decision on a third-down pass, allowing Rafael Bush to storm in untouched on a safety blitz for a sack. But Thomas saved Jay Cutler’s bottom by recovering a preventable fumble. A face-mask penalty against Laremy Tunsil wiped out a 16-yard run by Jay Ajayi.
Ndamukong Suh had a nice pass break-up you don’t normally expect of a defensive tackle. It was a respectable performance by the D until the second half wore on and players were worn out, having received no support by an offense that couldn’t stay on the field.
Kiko Alonso made an outstanding tackle to blow up a screen play. Lawrence Timmons not only was in attendance, but had a few active moments. Can the defense do a little better than one takeaway through three games?
All eyes were on rookie cornerback Cordrea Tankersley, who was giving Alvin Kamara as much cushion early as the veteran he replaced, Byron Maxwell. But when Drew Brees looked to Tommylee Lewis in the end zone, Tankersley made a nice recovery for only the second pass break-up by a Dolphin this season. Takersley tightened his coverage as he settled in, but Michael Thomas (the receiver for the Saints, not the Dolphins’ DB) needs an inch of space to be considered open. Thomas pounced on that inch for a 3-yard grab that was the game’s first TD. Bobby McCain couldn’t hang with Brandon Coleman on a 31-yard gain early in the second half, but he atoned with a one-handed, open-field tackle against Kamara in the third quarter. Reshad Jones was his usual active self.
Rookie Matt Haack’s inconsistency was to be expected the first couple of weeks. Now, he needs to eliminate it. Haack can hang them up there but a 38-yard punt from deep in his own territory won’t get the job done, especially in a field-position battle. Haack needs to combine hang time and distance. Kind of like his predecessor, Matt Darr.
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