(Our Chris Fischer covered the previous two Dolphin games on CBS-TV before their bye.)
Listening to sports talk radio while driving around South Florida and I noticed the calls from QB Matt Moore supporters have dissipated in the past three weeks.
While I realized then, it wasn’t what Matt Moore could do as the starting quarterback, so much as calls for change for what Ryan Tannehill wasn’t getting done. But where are the Tannehill detractors now?
This isn’t a chest beating “I told you so” about Tannehill. This is to point out, the Dolphins are a completely different team since Week 5. What’s made the difference, are the re-united starters on the offensive line.
“We were searching for an identity and they (Offensive Line) basically said ‘this is going to be our identity,’” coach Adam Gase said earlier this week.
Their impact has led to three distinct reasons the Dolphins are heading in to this showdown with the Jets on a two-game winning streak.
First, RB Jay Ajayi’s back-to-back 200-yard rushing performances are the most obvious points of pride.
Second, Tannehill has been sacked only once over the past two games (He was starting to leave body indentations on the field) and that is also related to point #1.
And third, the defense has received time to rest with the offense winning the Time of Possession battle. And that’s also related to point #1.
The success of the offensive line has come against two of the leagues’ best defenses in the Steelers and Bills. Sunday another strong defense will come to town, as the Jets bring their 4th rated rush defense to Hard Rock Stadium.
“It’s going to be about physicality, execution and all that wrapped in to one,” said continued Gase. “It’s going to be tough for us, there will not be an easy yard to be had against these guys.”
While it maybe tough treading, don’t expect Gase’s offense to deviate from Ajayi’s success as of late. The commitment to the run has been apparent over the past four games, whre only once has Tannehill thrown it more than 30 times.
“I think we have something good going right now,” said Tannehill. “We’ve seen what they (Offensive Line) could do the past two weeks both in the run and in pass protection. When those guys are rolling and set the tone early, it can set up for whatever we want to do.”
Tannehill maybe licking his chops for the opportunity to light up the Jets’ thirty-second ranked pass defense, but why? Ajayi is the guy the offense needs to go through right now. Not only will he have a “chance” to make history Sunday with a third 200-yard performance, but a chance to prove to the Dolphins he is the every down back that now retired Arian Foster couldn’t be.
A new identity, a new sense of optimism and an old rival, should make for some interesting sports talk radio on Monday.
Dolphins QB Rosen did little Friday night to win starting job
The ongoing battle for who will start the Dolphins season at quarterback took another interesting turn in Friday night’s preseason game with the Buccaneers. However, the current backup, second-year player Josh Rosen, did little to help his case to unseat veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.
New head coach Brian Flores and his offensive coordinator, Chad O’Shea, obviously challenged Rosen by having him start with the first team and play the entire first half in last night’s second preseason game.
Unfortunately, for Rosen and the coaching staff, he did a little to impress and at times, showed the same shaky quarterback play and bad throws that he did during a mostly dismal rookie season in Arizona. The final stat line read 10-18 102 yards 0 TD and 0 INT, which indicates average half of football.
And, yes there were damp conditions from pregame rain, but Rosen on multiple occasions threw behind or low towards receivers that were open for possible gains. He was also jittery against the Bucs occasional blitz package from new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and Rosen was sacked three times and knocked down several others.
A key moment of scrutiny was when Rosen was unable to get the team in the end zone after they got outstanding field position on a Buccaneers 31 yard line midway through the first after fumble buy backup running back Andre Ellington. The Fins moved inside the 10, but Tampa Bay held Miami on fourth down, where Rosen threw incomplete in the right corner of the end zone to backup receiver Isaiah Ford and Miami came away with no points.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) August 17, 2019
Later in the first half Rosen should have thrown an interception, as he threw the ball right to Bucs rookie defensive back Jamel Dean after throwing late and behind a receiver on the near sideline. However, Dean dropped the INT. Still, Miami punted shortly after.
Coach Brian Flores said after the joint practices with the Bucs this week that Rosen needed to “improve his body language” and leading the team.
Yet, while this was a dress rehearsal, he did little to inspire the Dolphins offense, which only managed 2 field goals even with great field position throughout the first half.
There will still be more opportunity for Rosen in the final two preseason games, and perhaps he will be be
Lots to watch as Bucs host Dolphins Friday night
Week two of the NFL preseason continues tonight, as the Bucs will host the Dolphins in the annual in-state preseason contest. Of course, in typical Florida fashion and typical Bucs vs. Dolphins preseason fashion, the weather is looking like rain will be a factor in the game.
With that being said, here are a few things to watch for tonight:
Dolphins QB Battle:
Josh Rosen and former Buc Ryan Fitzpatrick are still battling for the spot of QB1 for the Fins. Rosen took some first-team reps in practice, and eventually Miami will need to see him work with the ones in a game at some point. Is that tonight is the question?
Also, look for Rosen’s “body language,” as that has been a topic of discussion at the joint practices this week and has been said to be one of his worst characteristics. With the weather being an issue tonight, it will be interesting to see who plays the better game at quarterback the young gunslinger or the veteran, Fitzpatrick.
With Kenyan Drake down with an injured foot, Ballage has an opportunity for the taking tonight. Both he and Drake were sharing reps, and Ballage was expecting expanded work coming into the season. With Drake now hurt, we could see the second year Ballage put a stronghold on the position after a great week of practice.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) August 14, 2019
Bucs Secondary Depth:
The Bucs have been hit with injuries throughout the secondary positions so far in camp in particular at safety. The Bucs added a veteran safety earlier this week in former Bronco, Darin Stewart. Stewart has already practiced with the team this week and could be a nice added boost to the back end. At Corner, look to see rookie Sean Murphy-Bunting take a step forward in his second NFL game, as well as USF rookie product, Mazzi Wilkins, who will try to keep up a strong camp.
Bucs Back up QB:
Bruce Arians has said Ryan Griffin gives him reasons to keep a third QB on the active roster. Now, Griffin has to keep playing well to restore the faith. Many have thought of Griffin to be the Bucs back up, but Blaine Gabbert has come in and taken that job. Griffin will need to show Arians that a third QB should be active and that it shouldn’t go to another position.
Bucs Rookie Matt Gay has lit up with what could compared to a “bazooka” right leg. With his long 60-yard kicks in camp, fans are taking videos in practice. This is excellent news so far, but none of this means a thing when kicking in practice.
After hitting a Heinz Field record 55-yard attempt last week in Pittsburgh, Gay will look to continue his success from camp into game action as he looks to lock up the kicking spot on the roster.