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:
— NFL (@NFL) December 12, 2017
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:
Even BETTER catch.
— NFL (@NFL) December 12, 2017
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.
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill on track to be back Sunday?
It’s an encouraging Monday in South Florida, as it relates to the injury rehab for Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Now, the real question is: will we see the veteran back on the field Sunday against Indianapolis?
Coach Adam Gase met with the media Monday with the Dolphins coming off their bye week, and shared encouragement that Tannehill looks on track to be able to play soon. In fact, he’s back throwing a football for the first time since being shut down the week after the loss to the Bengals:
Dolphins Live: Coach Gase meets with the media. https://t.co/WJdtPu7WcS
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) November 19, 2018
In that game in October, Tannehill took a couple of significant hits in the fourth quarter meltdown and suffered what was eventually revealed to be an injury to the shoulder capsule. He did try to practice on the following Wednesday, and apparently the throws got worse and more painful, as the workout went along.
Tannehill ended up not taking any of the throwing reps in the Thursday or Friday practices, the Dolphins ended up hiding that point and were eventually fined by the NFL for listing him as “questionable,” when they knew he was not going to be able to play in the game with the Bears.
Veteran backup Brock Osweiler quarterbacked the team to the dramatic overtime win over Chicago that weekend, but there’s been little success since. In fact as Miami dropped two of their last three games, they had a nine quarter stretch without scoring an offensive touchdown.
Still, at 5 – 5, the Dolphins are on the verge of the AFC playoff picture and Gase has a decision to make about how soon he brings Tannehill back, as opposed to going with a healthier Osweiler at least for this week at the Colts.
Tannehill helped the Dolphins get off to a 3 – 0 start to the season, but that was with a more talented and healthy receiving corps than what they currently have. Free agent acquisition Albert Wilson has been put on injured reserve with a hip injury and the Dolphins, will also put Jakeem Grant on injured reserve with an Achilles injury suffered in their loss to the Packers eight days ago.
Veteran deep threat Kenny Stills has been bothered by a groin injury, but the hopes are that the extra week of rest with the bar I will help him for the stretch run of the season. Also, former number 1 pick DeVante Parker, who has seen his role increase with all of the injuries, had his left arm in a sling after the Packer game and his status is not known.
Back to Tannehill, as you probably know, he missed all of 2017 after ACL surgery and now, with having missed another five games to this point, there are question marks about his long-term future with the Fins?
So Gase has to weigh all of that in the decision-making of when to bring Tannehill back in a season that could still be salvaged down the stretch
Dolphins beaten up every way possible after latest loss in Green Bay
Make no mistake, the Dolphins season is not officially over at 5 – 5 headed in the bye week.
It just looks and feels that way.
Mostly, it does, because the Dolphins are banged up, not only physically, but also it appears emotionally and psychologically. So, much so, they don’t appear to have a whole lot left for the stretch run.
Let’s start with the actual physical injuries and that began Sunday with the inactives. The Fins starting offensive line was minus Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James, which were not unexpected. However, after being able to practice some this week, former number 1 pick defensive end Charles Harris was not able to play against Green Bay today, either.
Then, as the game wore on, it was one Dolphin leaving after another. Whether it was Kenyan Drake with a shoulder injury in the first half or Bobby McCain with a concussion in the third quarter or when receivers Jakeem Grant and DeVante Parker both had to leave on the same Drive, it was tough to watch the Dolphins walking wounded.
The biggest fear is for the smaller but explosive Grant, who may have torn his Achilles in the third quarter. Grant was already suffering from Achilles tendonitis and came up hobbling right away on a slant pass and could not put weight on the foot. He was then carted shortly thereafter to the Dolphins locker room.
Coach Adam Gase offered no real update on Grant’s status other than that it’s a wait-and-see. As for Parker, same thing is being hoped, even though, the media reported him walking around in the locker room after the game with his left arm in a sling. You combine those injuries with Kenny Stills being slowed by a groin injury and Albert Wilson already out for the year having hurt his hip a few weeks ago, and the Dolphins may be looking for Mark Duper or Nat Moore to come out of retirement at this point.
Bigger than just the physical injuries, the Dolphins appear spent in the figurative sense as well. The frustration mounted as Aaron Rodgers continued to carve them up throwing darts all over the football field Sunday night in the Lambeau cold. He finished with only 195 yards passing, but did have two TDs. And, they marched on the Dolphins defense, whenever he wanted.
It was almost as if Miami was just helpless to do anything against him, and they are watching their season wind down.
Consider that backup quarterback Brock Osweiler was not able to spark the team for the third consecutive game. So poor is the offensive output, that Miami has not scored a touchdown in their last nine quarters dating back to the Thursday night loss in Houston.
The Dolphins aren’t playing with any confidence, at least from the guys that are replacing the injured players. Remember, with Miami at full strength early in the year they got off to a 3 – 0 start.
So, the bye week comes now and perhaps, starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill shoulder will be healed enough that he can practice in 10 days and maybe play at Indianapolis. It’s anybody’s guess as to who, out of the names above, will actually be healthy enough to help Tannehill and the Dolphins for the final six games.
Finally, even though Miami would appear by record to be very much in the hunt for an AFC wild-card spot, they don’t look like a playoff team.
No. They’re banged up and look like a team that will be watching the postseason like everybody else.
Gameday- Dolphins travel to chilly Lambeau Field
Who: Dolphins (5-4) at Packers (3-4-1)
When: Sunday 4:25 p.m.
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
Spread: Packers by 10 points (Courtesy of VegasInsider.com)
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