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.
Dolphins lose DE William Hayes for season with torn ACL
The news is not all good on Monday morning at for the Dolphins after their 28 – 20 triumph over the Raiders. This after head coach Adam Gase revealed at his day after the game news conference that defensive end William Hayes has suffered a torn ACL and will be going on injured reserve.
Hayes, who did not start the game, but did have a sack and two tackles, has been a reserve defensive end for the last two seasons in Miami. He was originally a member of the Titans for four seasons before playing for the Rams for five years and then coming as a free agent to Miami in 2017.
Hayes had also been playing with a cast on his hand with an injury suffered in the week 1 game with Tennessee.
Hayes was injured trying to sack quarterback Derek Carr late in the first half Sunday. Gase told the media that in reviewing the coaches tape, it’s obvious that Hayes was trying not to land on Carr, when he planted awkwardly on his knee tearing the ACL.
Joe Schad, Dolphins beat writer for the Palm Beach Post provided more visual insight here:
This is a photo of the play on which William Hayes was lost for the season with a knee injury. He attempted not to put his body weight on Derek Carr. (PHOTO CREDIT: ALLEN EYESTONE) pic.twitter.com/aTcUeRYKUe
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) September 24, 2018
The new rules and point of emphasis on not driving quarterbacks, specifically, into the ground on hits is already creating fury among pass-rushers all over the league.
Green Bay’s Clay Matthews was flagged for it Sunday for the second consecutive week after he put a hit on the Redskins QB Alex Smith. He landed on him going to the ground drawing a 15-yard penalty. Mathews was very outspoken after the game about how the league and the officials were now going to hamper a pass-rusher is ability to do his job by having him account for not wrapping up or landing on a player that they are actually tackling.
Again, that goes to the point of how Hayes apparently injured himself and will be lost for the rest of the year
The Fins obviously have players like Robert Quinn, Cameron Wake and former first-round pick Charles Harris that can still rush the quarterback.
Dolphins hit big plays against Raiders to remain unbeaten
Another Sunday of big plays and another win for the Dolphins, who for the first time since 2013 are 3 – 0. This after dealing the Raiders their third straight loss in a 28-20 come-from-behind victory at Hard Rock Stadium.
After Oakland scored almost immediately, when quarterback Derek Carr hit Jordy Nelson on a long completion and then with a red zone touchdown pass, Miami found themselves trailing quickly 7 to nothing.
But from there on, the Fins began to hit the Raiders with one big play after another. That started with a 34-yard beautifully thrown touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a streaking Kenny Stills to tie the game 7-7.
The Raiders actually took a 10-7 lead into the locker room and then put together a lengthy drive capped with a Marshawn Lynch up and over touchdown in a 17-7 lead.
However, the Dolphins were not fazed and 2 minutes of clock time later had marched into Raiders scoring territory. That’s when Jakeem Grant took an inside flip hand off from Tannehill (above) and raced around the right end to cut the lead to 17 – 14.
Next, head coach Adam Gase went into the” bag of tricks” and after a double hand off, receiver Albert Wilson fired this long pass to Grant down the right sideline:
SOME TRICKERATION TO TAKE THE LEAD!
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 23, 2018
The 52-yard trick play touchdown, gave Miami the lead for the first time at 21-17.
The Raiders tried to mount a go ahead drive but Derek Carr’s the pass for Martavis Bryant was picked off by Xavien Howard ending their threat.
Next, Wilson caught another short pass from Tannehill and did the rest, racing around the left sideline for a 72-yard score at the 2-minute warning, which put the game away.
Tannehill finished 17-23 for 289 yards and the three TD passes. Carr had 345 yards and a TD in the losing effort, but also two costly interceptions.
The Dolphins are 3-0 for the first time since 2013. That team finished 8-8 and still missed the playoffs.
The Raiders fanfare of hiring Jon Gruden out of the Monday Night Football booth is over, as they are now 0-3 and already three games behind the Chiefs, who won Sunday.
Gameday- Dolphins host Raiders looking to remain unbeaten
Who: Dolphins (2-0) vs. Raiders (0-2)
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens
When: Sunday 1 p.m.
Spread: Dolphins by 3 (Courtesy Vegasinsider.com)
Miami has opened by winning the first two games for the first time since 2013 and now has a golden opportunity to get to 3 – 0 today. Here’s what we’re watching
Progression of Ryan Tannehill
Coming off a solid start by spreading the ball around to numerous receivers, Ryan Tannehill will look to keep it up. The Raiders defense is obviously reeling after the trading of Khalil Mack on the eve of the season, and Tannehill may be able to take advantage of the Oakland secondary.
Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson as the deep threats could do significant damage later today. Look for coach Adam Gase and coordinator Dowell Loggains to test them early.
Does Derek Carr follow up last week’s performance?
Oakland’s 5th Year quarterback was tremendous for much of the Denver game a week ago, completing 23 of his first 24 passes. With the Raiders getting acclimated to Jon Gruden’s new offense and terminology, it’s still obvious they want to get the ball out of Carr’s hand quickly with short throws.
Another part of Oakland’s offensive success is the early running of Marshawn Lynch, who is questionable for this game with an injured shoulder. They would like to set up play action with Lynch or backup running back Jalen Richard. If Miami can stuff the run, it will help greatly in stopping the Raiders attack.
Dolphins defense continues its optimistic play?
Whether it was surviving the two lengthy weather delays two weeks ago against the Titans with key sacks and takeaways, or last week in New York with frustrating rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, Miami has been able to make plays at times.
That needs to continue on Sunday. Safety Reshad Jones will be a game-time decision with his injured shoulder and that could affect their defensive scheme for coordinator Matt Burke.
If Miami’s pass rushers, Robert Quinn, Cameron Wake, Charles Harris, Etc can get to Carr it will make life easier at Hard Rock Stadium.
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