(Our Chris Fischer is working the sideline for CBS-TV coverage again this week of Dolphins-Steelers with Spero Dedes and Solomon Wilcots)
Where do the Dolphins go from here?
They were bad last week against the Titans. I mean really bad.
It was such a deplorable effort by the offensive line that yesterday coach Adam Gase took a torch to it, cutting Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas. Both were forced in to playing positions they were rather unfamiliar with on the left side (Normally they play on the right). That’s no excuse, but neither is the fact that QB Ryan Tannehill has been sacked 11 times in two games. One thing that seemed disturbing for “Fins Fans” is when Gase told me exiting the locker room at half “we’re already max protecting, we’ve got to do a better job of keeping pressure off our quarterback.”
According to Pro Football Focus “Tannehill has faced pressure on 43.4% of drop backs so far, most in the NFL.” And yet, fans in the stands are calling for back up quarterback Matt Moore.
“I know when we have 18 drop back passes and he is hit or sacked on 9 of them and the completions we do have, he has guys in his face,” said Gase. “I’m supposed to blame (Tannehill) for that.”
Gase has been preaching accountability to the locker room. He threatened to cut guys for doing a poor job and he delivered on that promise.
Prior to Sunday’s game we learned Left Guard/Tackle Laremy Tunsil was placed on the inactive list, for slipping in the shower and injuring his ankle. “It’s one on thousand, one in a million type deals,” said Gase. “It’s a bad deal, talk about unexpected, that’s an unexpected thing to happen.”
I noticed on the sideline that Tunsil wasn’t there alongside Branden Albert, who was also on the inactive list. Tunsil took X-Rays on Sunday, and Gase said yesterday he’s walking around without crutches.
Conspiracy theorists now have something work with in regards to the Tunsil injury.
No Wake zone, Defensive line doesn’t make a splash.
They were there, I promise. I saw the Dolphins defensive line playing football on Sunday. However, Tennessee went in with the number one offensive line according to Pro Football Focus and the Dolphins couldn’t do anything against them. That’s head scratching with a unit that features Ndamukong Suh and Mario Williams.
Cameron Wake was moved to an off the edge linebacker threat on passing downs. No matter what Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph dialed up, the defense couldn’t get to Marcus Mariota. The Titans utilized a lot of play action roll outs to get Mariota out of the pocket.
This week the defensive line will get a more stable pocket passer in Ben Roehtlisberger, but expect the Steelers’ game plan to deviate.
This week’s Match-up
Black and Yellow will take over the empty aqua seats at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.
Pittsburgh will put their fifth ranked offense up against the 29th ranked Miami defense. And while the Steelers come in with the 26th ranked defense, it’s rather misleading. Pittsburgh has given up more than 17 points just once this season.
For the Dolphins the game plan must be simple. Keep the pressure off of Tannehill and use double coverage on Antonio Brown. But, even that might not be enough to help.
“I just think we have a rough start to the quarter of the season, it will get better,” said Albert.
With an offensive line and secondary in shambles, Miami will need to figure out a way to win the Time of Possession battle. Which means they’ll have to try something new, bucking their 31st ranking in third down conversions.
The line is already 8 points in favor of Pittsburgh, but Sunday could prove to be another line in the sand game for the Dolphins locker room.
Dolphins DE Quinn was one of few bright spots Friday night
It was largely a lackluster and at times, poor performance in preseason game #2 for the Dolphins Friday night 27-20 loss in Charlotte.
However, one of the bright spots is a guy that they are counting on for veteran presence and quarterback pressure in Pro Bowl veteran DE Robert Quinn.
Quinn made a couple of impact plays right away and introduced himself to the Panthers Cam Newton here:
Robert Quinn takes down Cam. #MIAvsCAR
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) August 18, 2018
It’s no secret in Matt Burke’s defense that they need Quinn and fellow Pro Bowl vet Cam Wake to get pressure of the ends. And while it was only a preseason game, it still had to be good feeling for all involved to see it.
Quinn spoke to the media post game about his potential impact and Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post was there:
“Just trying to do my job,” Quinn said. “That’s always been my motto. Just trying to do my job. Add my piece to the puzzle. Today was just a stepping stone. Trying to get back and make sure I can be a productive player to help this team win.”
Quinn said he feels a responsibility to stay healthy and perform at a high level for the Dolphins, particularly because they traded for him.
“I feel pretty good,” he said. “Getting older. But, I feel pretty good. Been working out. A little more stretching. Especially coming off the injury years. I’m not trying to set myself back. And also the commitment this team made to me I’m not trying to shoot them in the foot, also. Trying to do whatever I can to stay on the field.”
He had 8.5 sacks a year ago under new first defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, as the Rams won the NFC West in 2017. However, the Rams made a series of acquisitions trading for DBs Marcus Peters from the Chiefs for draft picks and the same with Aqib Talib from Denver. They also signed former Dolphin Ndamukong Suh to a large one year contract.
Yet, Quinn did not fit into their plans or under the L.A. salary cap.
He does in both cases for Miami and they hope they see a lot more of what they saw Friday night.
Three things to watch as Dolphins battle Panthers Friday night
The Dolphins have traveled north to Charlotte to take on the Panthers in their second preseason game of 2018.
Here are three things we will be watching on Friday night:
Progress of Ryan Tannehill/the offense with him
We only saw a small dose of Tannehill (one possession) last week and there were some positives in his first game action in 18 months. Tannehill ran the Fins no huddle early completing 4-6 passes for 32 yards. He mixed some throws to Kenny Stills and Danny Amendola and Miami moved into field goal range before rookie Jason Sanders misfired from 53 yards out.
Now, it’s expected that Tannehill will play at least the whole first quarter, as he works his way back from his ACL surgery.
Kenyan Drake got the start in the backfield last week, and veteran Frank Gore was inactive for the game. The 35 year old Gore is expected to see his first action against what is a stout Carolina front seven on defense. The Dolphins attempting to establish some kind of ground attack will be key not just Friday night, but moving forward.
It’s a good test of the progress that Tanehill, the offense as a whole and new coordinator Dowell Loggains have made.
Handling Christian McCaffery
The Panthers have made no secret that they want to get second year RB and former first round pick, Christian McCaffery, many more touches this season. And McCaffery may be a better receiver out of the backfield than runner, especially between the tackles. McCaffery debuted (above) with four carries for 11 yards and two catches for 29 yards in Buffalo last week.
We suspect that he will play much, if not all of, the first half against the likes Cam Wake, Kiko Alonso, Davon Godchaux and Raewkon McMillian.
It will be a great test for Miami, which had trouble stopping the Bucs’ Peyton Barber in the first half last week, to try to handle the small but explosive McCaffery.
Dolphins focus and attention to detail
Dating back to their “dress rehearsal” practice at Hard Rock Stadium before preseason game one, the Fins had trouble keeping their poise, not committing silly unforced penalties.
How sharp will they look tonight? Are there false starts? Will there be dropped balls, missed assignments, blown coverages, etc.?
It is, after all the second preseason game and there should be some improvement in these areas.
You need to have some levity to get through rigors of training camp, and Tuesday coach Adam Gase provided some in the form of 1980’s “B Comedies” and his team’s no-huddle offense.
The Dolphins showed part of that up tempo offense on the first series of their preseason opening game with the Bucs last Thursday night. And, QB Ryan Tannehill was effective running it on that opening drive.
However, we haven’t seen the fastest version of the Fins hurry up….it’s known in their lingo as “Ludicrous Speed.”
Now, unless you are a huge fan of the Sci-fi “spoof” movie from 1987, “Spaceballs,” that reference is likely lost on you. The movie stars Mel Brooks, Rick Moranis, John Candy, Bill Pullman and Daphne Zuniga, and is primarily mocking the the ultra popular “Star Wars” series of the late 70’s and early 80’s.
The reference to “Ludicrous Speed” comes from this scene, where Moranis, as the faux Darth Vader, is ordering his ship to chase after the “good guys.” Whether you’ve seen it or haven’t here goes:
It’s one of several memorable silly slapstick humorous scenes in the flick.
And that brings us to more humor with head coach Adam Gase being asked about “Ludicrous Speed” at his Tuesday post practice press conference.
Dolphins Live: Coach Gase meets with the media. https://t.co/nYDl8GiKvJ
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) August 14, 2018
Gase, laughed and knew that QB Ryan Tannehill had described that version to the media of the no huddle, where the team races to the line to run the same play, and try to catch the defense off guard or substituting, etc.
He was then, asked if it actually came from the movie?
“You know it? (Gase to a reporter)…. Yeah. There’s a lot of 80’s terms. You gotta remember, when we started this thing, who the quarterback was. The only problem was no one else knew what we were talking about. So it was good between me and him, but nobody else.”
The “who the quarterback was” is reference to soon to be Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, and the terms from when they were together in Denver a few years ago.
Manning, a child of the mid-late 80’s, obviously would use some of these terms or references as code words in the terminology for teams.
We say, Bravo to that.
And, Bravo to keeping guys and gals like Moranis, Pullman, Zuniga, and of course the late John Candy relevant a little longer.
Jacksonville Jaguars6 days ago
Jaguars defensive line mates Fowler and Ngakoue tried to fight Sunday
Tampa Bay Buccaneers1 week ago
Bucs Win Thursday Night Opener
Jacksonville Jaguars6 days ago
Jaguars suspend Dante Fowler and Jalen Ramsey after Sunday behavior
Tampa Bay Buccaneers2 weeks ago
Bucs release first depth chart with few surprises
NFL1 week ago
Jets backup QB Teddy Bridgewater ups trade value in preseason debut
Tampa Bay Buccaneers1 week ago
Report- Bucs DB Vernon Hargreaves out at least two weeks
Tampa Bay Buccaneers2 weeks ago
New Bucs D-line coach Buckner- “You have to make team every year”
Tampa Bay Buccaneers6 days ago
Bucs coach Dirk Koetter very pleased with Monday workout