Connect with us

Miami Dolphins

Dolphins appear to have overcome their identity crisis

Roy Cummings

Published

on

Photo by Frank Mattia/Icon Sportswire

With his team down 17-0 to the Falcons at the start of the second half this past Sunday, Dolphins coach Adam Gase made one of the best and perhaps most important calls of his young coaching career.

At a time when the score suggested that throwing the ball might be the best way to quickly cut into the Falcons lead and gain a little momentum, Gase opted to take the more methodical approach and pound the rock.

It was a gutsy call, but it was the right one for sure.

Though it had net them nothing in terms of points up until then, the running game had already proved to be the Dolphins most effective offensive weapon, churning out 76 yards on 13 carries.

That was 12 more yards than the Dolphins had gained through the air and Gase had a feeling that if he just stuck with the running game and in particular with Jay Ajayi, the offense would start rolling.

He was right. Of course, he was right. If we’ve learned anything about the Dolphins the past two years it’s that they are at their best when they ride the powerful legs of their Pro Bowl running back.

That was the case during their rally to the playoffs last year and it proved to be the case yet again during their rally to a 20-17 statement victory on the road in Atlanta this past Sunday.

Though Ajayi ran eight times for just 17 yards in the third quarter, the mere fact he was running the ball consistently opened up opportunities in the passing game that Cutler was able to take advantage of.

With Ajayi helping to create winnable situations for the Dolphins receivers, Cutler finished off Miami’s first two second-half drives by throwing touchdown passes of 11 yards to Kenny Stills and 7 yards to Jarvis Landry.

Those two scores got the Dolphins back in the game and Gase wisely stuck with the run-first approach the rest of the way, certain that Ajayi would eventually break off a big gainer that broke the Falcons back.

Ajayi, of course, did Gase one better. With the game tied 17-17 with 7 minutes left on the clock, he ran for 18 yards on two straight carries to get the Dolphins back into scoring range at the Falcons 30.

Six plays (four of which were runs) later, Cody Parkey kicked what proved to be the game-winning 38-yard field goal. The Dolphins defense did the rest, but Ajayi’s role in the victory cannot be overestimated.

Ajay had his busiest day of the year this past Sunday, taking the field for 48 plays and running the ball on 26 of them, gaining 130 yards. No, he didn’t score a touchdown, but he helped to create a couple.

He also helped to create the two field goals that tied and eventually won the game, proving yet again that he is by far and without question the most important piece in the Dolphins offense.

Much as they did in the early going last year, when they started out 1-4, the Dolphins had been suffering from a bit of an identity crisis the first few games this year.

They began to rediscover that run-first identity in the second half of their victory at Tennessee two weeks ago and they played to it again when it would have been easy to abandon it against the Falcons.

The result this time was four scores in four possessions and a victory that suggests that if they retain their offensive identity, this just might prove to be a special season for the Dolphins after all.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Miami Dolphins

Jon Gruden’s returns to Florida already in coaching turmoil

Florida Football Insiders

Published

on

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It may be premature to say that the “second honeymoon” for Jon Gruden with the Oakland Raiders is already over, but another defeat Sunday, and it likely is.

The Raiders are clearly struggling after dropping their second straight game last week in heartbreaking fashion against the Broncos in Denver. Oakland controlled most of the game and Derek Carr was outstanding, completing 23 of his first 24 passes on the day.

However, in the end Case Keenum rallied the Broncos and when Brandon McManus’ last-second field goal went through, the smirking critics of “Chucky” were already “sticking their chests out” about his NFL return.

Without question, some of this is self-inflicted, as Gruden clearly did not want to pay and therefore keep, linebacker Khalil Mack for the Raiders. And yes, they got a bounty of draft picks in return, but Mack has been nothing short of sensational as a pass rusher in two games in Chicago, and the Raiders defense is again mediocre-at-best.

So, that brings us to Sunday. And even though Gruden has been living in the Tampa Bay area while doing Monday Night Football for ESPN, this is the first time that he’s back coaching a game in the state since the final regular-season game of 2008. That day, ironically his Buccaneers lost to the Raiders completing a four-game losing collapse and costing his team a playoff spot-ultimately Gruden his job with the Bucs.

Now, the Raiders have come all the way East to Miami to play the 2 – 0 Dolphins. And while Gruden is in absolutely no jeopardy of losing his job, at least not until year 3 or 4 if it’s not working, owner Mark Davis didn’t make this shockwave multimillion-dollar hire to have the Raiders be one of the worst teams in the NFL.

Clearly, there was going to be some learning curve for Gruden with his new staff and new players. However, with a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback like Carr the belief was the Raiders would be solid, if not a wild card playoff contender.

It hasn’t shaped up that way as of yet.

The good news for Raider fans is: no one is going to outwork Gruden at trying to get it right.

The bad news is: the Raiders may not have enough overall talent to overcome that above-mentioned learning curve and digging themselves an 0-3 hole start 2018.

And the Fins, may be about to deal “Raider Nation” their latest lost Sunday.

Continue Reading

Miami Dolphins

Dolphins got contributions everywhere in Sunday win

Florida Football Insiders

Published

on

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

There were a lot of questions and plenty of reasons to doubt the Dolphins roster makeup, as 2018 was  getting underway.

However, two games in, the Fins have been impressive, and earned their way to an unbeaten start. Their latest effort Sunday at The Meadowlands against AFC East rival Jets saw numerous players new and old step up.

Whether it was TJ McDonald’s early interception of New York rookie QB Sam Darnold, or Kenyan Drake weaving through the Jets front seven for the early score a short time later, Miami set the tone.

And then, when Kiko Alonso knocked the ball free from Jets receiver Robby Anderson and Raekwon McMillan recovered it, it was new free agent receiver Albert Wilson capitalizing here:

It went for a 29-yard touchdown from QB Ryan Tannehill and Miami had command at that point at 14-0.

Tannehill spread the ball around to seven different receivers, and even found reserve A.J. Derby for a 19 yard touchdown, as the lead ballooned to 20-0 nothing.

Darnold ended with some decent yardage and a couple of second-half touchdowns, but the Dolphins registered four sacks and had three total takeaways to help put this one away.

Even ageless veteran Frank Gore got into the act. This as, the 35 year old moved into fourth place on NFL all-time rushing list trailing only Hall of Famers Barry Sanders Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith.

And late in the game caught a dump off pass from Tannehill and weaved through the Jet defense to pick up 3rd and 19, move the chains and allow Miami to run the clock out.

So the 2018 Dolphins don’t have Jay Cutler, Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh and some of the others from a team that struggled last year.

However, their new faces stepped in and stepped up Sunday on the road.

And Miami is now 2 – 0 for the first time since 2013, and in sole possession of first place in the AFC East.

Continue Reading

Miami Dolphins

Gameday- Dolphins renew rivalry with Jets in New York

Florida Football Insiders

Published

on

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Who: Dolphins (1-0) at Jets (1-0)

Where: Met Life Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ

When: Sunday 1 p.m.

Spread: Jets by 2.5 (Courtesy Vegasinsidercom)

Renewal of the Rivalry

There are no longer names like Shula, Namath and Marino, but the storied rivalry of the Dolphins and the Jets is five decades old. As AFC East Rivals since the early 1970’s, these teams and fan bases are familiar with each other for generations. Yes, grandads, dads and in some cases, great granddads have watched these two play. The Jets hold a 54-50-1 record all time, and that includes a decisive win in the Meadowlands last year. The Fins, however, won the rematch (Cutler at the helm) later in the year at Hard Rock Stadium.

Now, they play right away in 2018 and the winner maintains at least a tie for first in the division.

Tannehill looks to build on week one

It was a bizarre game last Sunday in the opener with Tennessee, as there were two lightning delays that lasted more than 3 1/2 hours. So, it’s tough to judge everything completely. However, QB Ryan Tannehill, off his ACL tear last August, was effective for a lot of the game (despite two picks) finishing 20-28 for 230 yards and two TDs. One was a second half 75 yard bomb to WR Kenny Stills as the Dolphins prevailed 27-20.

Will the Jets 3-4 defense be able to rattle him? Will Tannehill handle the pressure and be accurate. It’s not the only key, but a big one for the Fins.

Finally, will the Jets look like they did Monday night?

In a remarkable win on the road on Monday night, rookie Sam Darnold overcame a pick six TD in the first :20 of his NFL career to play effectively in the blowout win over the Lions. Darnold who was 16-21 with two TDs, will have to be solid in this one for the Jets.

The Dolphins pass rush led by Robert Quinn and Cam Wake will try to fluster him and create those bad throws from the USC rookie.

The Jets defense and special teams came up with big plays also against Detroit, as they pulled away in the second half for a 48-17 win. That included an interception and punt return TD in the second half.

Miami will need to keep the Jets from making the big play Sunday.

Continue Reading
Advertisement Big Savings for Big Fans at Fanatics.com

Trending