The Dolphins had an excellent bye week . They got some much needed time off to heal while gaining ground in the playoff race with the Colts, Titans, Jets, Bills, Browns and Ravens all losing. Speaking of the Ravens, I got a chance to look at the game again. It was brutal. There were lots more things to dislike then like, even with the game coming down to the final minute.
Things I Liked:
· You know it is a tough day when your first positive note in a game is “Brandon Fields is a weapon.” By the way, Brandon Fields is a weapon.
· Olivier Vernon easily had his best game all season. He continually applied pressure on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and picked up a sack along the way. He also made some nice plays in the backfield and in the open field.
· Paul Soliai’s lunging tackle of Ravens running back Ray Rice, causing a fumble.
· Koa Misi had a very good game.
· Ryan Tannehill made 2 big plays rolling to his left. The first one on 3rd and 10, to Brian Hartline, to pick up a big first down on the touchdown drive before half. The second on the big play to Brandon Gibson on 4th and 10 to give the Fins a chance to tie or win late in the 4th quarter.
· Dion Jordan’s athleticism and enormous wingspan caused the interception returned for the touchdown.
Not a whole lot to like, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Things I Didn’t Like:
· Careless clock management cost the Fins. Burning a timeout in the 1st quarter, on your first possession on 3rd and one is unacceptable. Not getting the first down made it even worse. Late in the game, on 3rd and 14, the offense was obviously confused, up against the play clock they burn another one. The next play the Dolphins give up a sack. That wasted timeout cost the Fins on their final drive when they needed a time out instead of spiking the ball.
· Why have Lamar Miller carry the ball twice on short yardage (and not make it ) but have Daniel Thomas as the target for a screen pass on 3rd and 16 (and not make it)? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
· Dolphins came out flat.
· 3rd and 5, the Fins give up 41 yards to Torrey Smith. On 3rd and 11, they give up 11. 3rd and 5, Flacco scrambles for 14. 3rd and 10, the Dolphins give up 22. See a pattern? Dolphins 3rd down defense let them down.
· It’s difficult to pick out which offensive lineman played worse. Richie Incognito looked lost on several plays. Jonathan Martin was manhandled a couple times during the game. Tyson Clabo continues to remind Dolfans of Marc Columbo. John Jerry got pushed around. Poor, poor, poor.
· Tannehill needs better pocket awareness. Though the offensive line play was bad, there were a couple of times when he held the ball too long, and he could have taken off and scrambled for positive yards.
· Tannehill and wide receiver Mike Wallace still need lots of work on their timing.
· Too many drops the entire game, especially on the final drive when Miami needed someone to make a play.
I could list a couple more things I didn’t like, but why harp on the negative. That’s what bye weeks are for, to get the team moving in the right direction and forget the past.
Things To Look For Against The Bills:
· Mario Williams. The offensive line is going to have its hands full all day with him. They need to account him on every pass play or it could be a very long day for Tannehill.
· C.J. Spiller is the type of small, fast back that has given the Fins defense fits. Darren Sproles anyone? Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle needs to come up with an answer for him.
· The Bills are ranked 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards per game. Stopping the Bills running attack will be key if the Dolphins are going to win.
· Look for the Dolphins to try and give Tannehill more time. That could be tight end Dion Sims staying in to block, a running back to chip block, or both.
· The Bills are ranked 28th against the run. Look for the Fins to try and pound the rock. Could Miller get his first 100-yard game of the season? Maybe we see an end around with Mike Wallace or Marcus Thigpen.
· Kevin Coyle has had 2 weeks to prep for a rookie QB in his 2nd start. I expect to see some exotic looks to try and confuse him and cause some turnovers.
This game makes me nervous. It is the type of game the Dolphins should win, but have lost in the past. The Fins have been outgained on offense in every game so far this year, I expect that trend to be reversed. The rest does Miami good. Prediction: Dolphins 24 Bills 10. Everyone have a great weekend and enjoy the game!
Carl C. Crowley