The Tape Don’t Lie: Miami Dolphins vs. Oakland Raiders, a review

 

Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake is smooth like silk. (Andres Leiva / The Palm Beach Post)

Dolphins coach Adam Gase says, “The tape don’t lie.”

So each week, I’ll give the game tape a closer look.

Here are some things I noticed after watching Miami’s home loss to Oakland on Sunday night:

  1. Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams can be exciting, explosive weapons. The trading of Jay Ajayi for a fourth-round pick was not a popular one, obviously. But an under-discussed part of the reasons to move on from Ajayi is Gase wanted to see more of Drake and Williams. In this game, the two totaled 12 catches and each made a thrilling play that somewhat rewarded Gase’s confidence. Drake cannot fumble, as he did in the second quarter. But as demoralizing as that play was, Drake has the ability to exhilarate with his blinding speed. This adds a dimension that Ajayi just did not offer. The play to remember for Drake came in the third quarter. It was a 2nd-and-10 at the Miami 35 and Drake exploded through the middle, headed right, picked up key blocks from Anthony Fasano and Kenny Stills, threw a defender to the grass with a stiff-arm and dashed down the right sideline for a 42-yard gain. This is why Drake, given 10-14 carries in any given game, is likely to pop at least one for 40 or more, driving up his yards-per-carry average. Miami needed more big plays. On two other plays in the second quarter, Drake showed off dangerous pure speed and acceleration (on a swing pass) and a stronger-than-advertised physique and mentality (plowing through the middle and breaking a tackle on an inside run). Also in the second quarter, Williams showed why he is a favorite of Gase. Williams can be slippery but he can also pack a surprising punch. Williams’ first start of the season of course provided a remarkable second-quarter score. Williams brings an energy, relentlessness, spark and spunk the Dolphins have seemed to be missing. Jay Cutler rolled to the right and Williams caught the ball at the Raiders’ 10. Williams ran toward the right sideline and braced for a hit at the 3-yard line. Two Raiders put their heads down and one slammed in Williams’ shoulder pads. But Williams has an uncanny ability to stay on his feet after contact. He possesses great balance. Williams spun away and back inside after the collision, as if he were a pinball, stepped over a fallen Jarvis Landry (key block) and fully extended on a dive over the plane of the end zone for the score. It was extra effort. It was the ability to believe that a play does not end when contact occurs. It was, to say the least, encouraging.

    Damien Williams as, Superman. (Andres Leiva / The Palm Beach Post)

  2.  Miami must find a way to neutralize opposing tight ends. If I knew the Raiders would try to capitalize on Jared Cook against the Dolphins linebackers, then surely Gase and defensive coordinator Matt Burke did. Yet Cook torched the Dolphins (8 catches, 126 yards) in a manner similar to the way we’ve seen athletic pass-catching tight ends torture the Dolphins for years now. In this game, Derek Carr obviously felt he had an advantage in any matchup involving Cook and linebacker Kiko Alonso. In the first quarter, Carr connected with Cook for two first downs on 3rd-and-9, one for 35 yards and one for 14 yards, once in man coverage on Alonso and once in a zone coverage involving Alonso. Later in the first quarter, on a 2nd-and-9, Carr attacked Alonso with Cook again. In the second quarter, it was humiliating how wide open Cook ran on a completion. How in the world could Miami not have been devoting more resources to stopping #87 at that point? Unless a key adjustment is made, tight ends are going to continue to abuse Miami the rest of the season.

    At the top of the screen is TE Jared Cook vs. CB Kiko Alonso. I mean, he’s not a CB, but…

  3. The Dolphins must find a way to balance aggression and limit penalties. It was clearly a point of emphasis for Miami’s offensive line to be more aggressive, be more physical and just be tougher. But… in the first quarter, left guard Jesse Davis was called for holding. On the next play, he was flagged for a false start. In the first quarter, Mike Pouncey was flagged for holding and in the fourth quarter, it happened again. In the first quarter, Ja’Wuan James was flagged for illegal formation (which may have been questionable) and it negated a third-down conversion from Jay Cutler to Jarvis Landry. In the second quarter right guard Jermon Bushrod was flagged for holding. And in the fourth quarter, Bushrod, trying to aid a beaten right tackle Sam Young, was flagged for holding to negate a key fourth-down completion from Cutler to Julius Thomas. Miami allowed only one sack, and it was after an injury to James, but the line must find a way to compete while committing fewer penalties. That said, the Dolphins were on the short end of some poor officiating Sunday night. For example, there was an incredibly bad unnecessary roughness call on Reshad Jones on the right sideline in the fourth quarter. It was ruled a hit on a defenseless player, but that is an absolute joke. In fact, the Raiders receiver, Seth Roberts ripped off Jones’ helmet by grabbing his facemask at the end of the play. Seconds later, Miami was penalized very fairly, however, when Xavien Howard simply grabbed the jersey of Michael Crabtree in the end zone at a critical moment. Miami’s young corners did a decent overall job in this game. And Howard is at his best when physical. But that appeared to be a panic move from the second-year corner.

    Xavien Howard wants to play physical corner, but… umm…

  4. Jay Cutler and DeVante Parker were barely affected by sore ribs and an ankle. Miami lost this pivotal game, so it will be somewhat lost that Cutler passed for 311 yards with three touchdowns, but — Cutler passed for 311 yards with three touchdowns. Cutler has seven touchdown passes in his last eight quarters as a Dolphins quarterback, which is a breakthrough warranting more attention, especially when he had three touchdowns in his first eight quarters with Miami. By not asking Cutler to do too much, he’s able to do more. By using Drake and Williams out of the backfield (something he couldn’t do as much with Ajayi) it takes a bit of pressure off of Cutler. Opposing teams will have to account for the high number of screens Gase will call until they’re stopped. It was also clear again in this game that Parker is Cutler’s downfield security blanket. Cutler is completely comfortable throwing it to Parker in any scenario and with good reason. In the first quarter, on a 3rd-and-5, Parker showed off his strength and value on a first-down conversion. In the second quarter, Cutler really showed an improved confidence and threw the ball with assertiveness and authority. It was amazing considering he was playing with broken ribs. Cutler found Parker for 19 yards on a crossing route after the quarterback bought some extra time in the pocket but kept his eyes downfield. Of course the greatest Parker payoff came late in the fourth quarter, when Parker hauled in an incredible right sideline grab with one hand. This is a random thought, but I wonder if watching what Cutler does (what works and does not work) will benefit Ryan Tannehill when he takes back the keys to the car next season.

    Hi. I’m DeVante Parker. D-E-V-A-N-T-E.

  5. EXTRA POINTS. Who is Miami’s short-yardage back? Well, it may be tight end MarQuies Gray, the former college tight end. Gray converted a 3rd-and-1 in the second quarter. He’s sure-handed and big enough to do it. Smart, outside-the-box thinking by Gase… As devastating a hitter as safety T.J. McDonald is — and Gase can hardly contain his excitement about his return this coming Monday night at Carolina — it’s worth wondering how he will mesh with Reshad Jones, as both players are strong against the run and dangerous near the line of scrimmage. In other words, how do those guys do when one or the other has to run with track star speed?… Lawrence Timmons missed a key tackle, which led to a 22-yard touchdown run up the middle by Marshawn Lynch. Timmons has still had an overall positive impact on Miami’s defense, but he’s missed a few more tackles than he would surely like recently… There was a fourth-quarter incompletion ruled a completion to Michael Crabtree that perhaps could have or should have been challenged. We understand why Miami would not want to risk losing a time out in that spot, and Oakland snapped the ball quickly, but it was definitely another missed call by the officials…  Incredible individual effort by Ndamukong Suh. Miami was down just 20-16 near the start of the fourth quarter as Suh leaps toward Derek Carr and forced a fumble with a chop while in mid-air. The combination of Suh and rookie Davon Godchaux has, generally, served Miami very well this season… Matt Haack entered the weekend 11th (of 16) in the AFC in punting average and net average. Haack was also tied for 14th in the AFC in punts inside the 20. On Sunday, Haack had two solid fourth-quarter punts, placing the ball at Oakland’s 10- and 13-yard lines…  Julius Thomas topped three catches for his first time as a Miami Dolphin.

RELATED COLUMN: Miami Dolphins appear headed in one direction, and it’s not the playoffs

5 Miami Dolphins Snap Conclusions from loss to Oakland

Reshad Jones and Miami Dolphins D yield 295 passing yards

Miami Dolphins K Cody Parkey: ‘I put our team in a bad spot.’

Have you visited The Daily Dolphin Facebook Page? It’s really, really good

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reader Comments 0

0 comments