(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.