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Miami Dolphins

Numbers show just how impressive Dolphins were Monday night

Florida Football Insiders

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, Dolphins fans are still savoring their 27-20 Monday Night Football victory of the defending champion Patriots, and they should. They were impressive in almost every facet of the victory and the following numbers bear that out:

Running the ball

Remember when coach Adam Gase “called out,” and eventually traded star RB Jay Ajayi to the Eagles in October? Well, the Fins have continued to consistently get strong production out of the backs that remained behind and that included Kenyan Drake Monday night.

Drake (photo above) carried it 25 times (a career high) for 114 yards and a 4.6 ypc. average. It was his second straight 100 yard game and clearly, even with the Dolphins issues with injured and restructured offensive line, Drake has been able to not only make people miss but explode for big gains:

That “X-box”-esque move sprung his 31 yard run and led directly to the Fins first touchdown late in the first half.

Drake also added five catches for the game and had 193 total yards from scrimmage. Obviously, this was the kind of production Gase was envisioning. Plus, Drake and the now-injured Damien Williams are both better pass blockers for Jay Cutler than Ajayi ever was and that has helped Miami’s offense come to life over the last month.

Brady under siege all night

Not only did the Fins offense have success with the Patriots, but the defense, led by a strong effort from the defensive line, was in Brady’s face from the beginning.

Brady had an 0-4 first quarter for obviously, 0 yards, an interception and an a 0.0 Quarterback Rating. Ouch.

It did not get much better from there.

As this article from SI.com laid out postgame, Brady was hit, harassed and knocked over the Hard Rock Stadium turf all night. Officially hit six times and sacked twice, the 40 year old looked his age at times, and could not get away from the rush/blitz in key situations.

Brady was just 7-13 in completions while being pressured/hit, and for the first time in his career New England had ZERO third down conversions on the night. 0 for 11.

A Pats game without a third down conversion actually hadn’t happened since 1991, when Brady was in junior high school in California.

Finally, Cutler was dynamite

The final numbers for veteran QB were 25-38 for 263 yards 3 TDs and a QBR of 112.1, but there was more to it than that.

Cutler put zip and touch on the ball at the right times and for the right throws, including this beautiful one late third quarter to Jakeem Grant:

Cutler completed passes to eight Dolphins receivers and was able to lead scoring drive after scoring drive as Miami built the 27-10 lead in the second half.

ESPN’s Jon Gruden gushed at one point, “this is the best I’ve seen him play in three years” (going back to Bears games).

Needless to say, it was a big night for Miami.

Still, they are just 6-7 and have to win out. Then, hope and pray for a lot of losing in front of them in the AFC Wilcard picture.

But on Monday night, they looked, and the numbers show it, like a playoff team.

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Miami Dolphins

Jon Gruden’s returns to Florida already in coaching turmoil

Florida Football Insiders

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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.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins got contributions everywhere in Sunday win

Florida Football Insiders

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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.

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Miami Dolphins

Gameday- Dolphins renew rivalry with Jets in New York

Florida Football Insiders

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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.

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