Ryan Tannehill

Eventful Sunday

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Al Diaz/Miami Herald

“Here’s a Christmas present. You don’t have to ask me anymore. He has one year left on contract and is coming back.”

Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross to reporters regarding head coach Joe Philbin. The announcement that the head coach would return was only the last item of an eventful Sunday for the hometown team.

Earlier in the day the Dolphins were officially knocked out of the playoffs when the Pittsburgh Steelers held off the Kansas City Chiefs 20-12. By that point a playoff berth was little more than a pipedream. The disappointing performances over the last month truly sealed the Dolphins fate before the Steelers put the last nails in the coffin.

While everything else was going on the team managed to have an exciting game with the Minnesota Vikings. A blocked punt for a safety won the game for the Dolphins 37-35, not that they did not try to give the game away. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill had an excellent game throwing for 396 yds and 4 touchdowns. After bringing the team back to a 28-20 lead Tannehill watched as the Vikings marched right down the field to tie it up. Worse still, a fumble by Jarvis Landry gave Minnesota the ball at Miami’s five yard line which quickly became a lead. Tannehill once again tied the score with a minute left. Rookie Terrance Fede won the game with a timely punt block for a safety with only 41 seconds left.

The game was symptomatic of the entire season. Good plays followed by bad. At times they looked among the best of the league, other times they looked horrible. The sixty-minute game still eludes them.

The arrow is still pointing up. While some were calling for change knowing the status of the coaching staff can only be good moving forward. Now the team and the fan base can look to the future together without wondering who was steering the course.

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Categories: AFC East, Football, Head Coaches, Miami Dolphins, NFL, Ryan Tannehill | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens: Five Things

Al Diaz/Miami Herald

Al Diaz/Miami Herald

When the Miami Dolphins came out to a 10-0 lead against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday I felt pretty good, that feeling did not last. Of course I felt good the defense had stuffed the Ravens offense for three straight drives, the offense seemed to be able to move the ball on Baltimore’s defense as well. All seemed well.

It was not.

The cracks began to show and you saw what followed. The Ravens dominated the rest of the way, outscoring the Dolphins 28-3.

So here are Five Things.

1. The season is not over, it just feels like it is. Mathematically the Dolphins still have a shot at the playoffs, a shot. Most likely they need to win out, which means beating New England in Foxboro.  They will need a lot of help. A lot of teams need to lose at least once in the next three games. I hate depending on other teams. They should have just taken care of business themselves.

2. Defense: Where did the run defense go to? Once upon a time the Dolphins boasted a top-ten run defense, not anymore. Getting pushed off the line of scrimmage, bad angles, missed tackles just plain bad. They have given up over-650 yards in the last three games. That makes things even easier for upper echelon quarterbacks like Joe Flacco, what will it do against Tom Brady.

3. Injuries: These are players that left the field at some point Sunday- Jared Odrick, Koa Misi, Jelani Jenkins, Samson Satele, Charles Clay and Louis Delmas. Add those names to Branden Albert, Knowshon Moreno, Dannelle Ellerbee, Michael Thomas, Will Davis, Jamar Taylor and Courtland Finnegan. The team is looking like a mash unit. The loss of Branden Albert hurt the offensive line badly but the secondary may have been hit the worst.  Delmas may be gone for the season and only Finnegan looks to return anytime soon to help. RJ Stanford was one of our starting corners this week, let that sink in.

4. Mike Wallace. Many fans are upset about the lack of shots deep by the offense. Wallace should be a weapon deep but watching the game it does not look like Ryan Tannehill has the time to even attempt a deep pass let alone complete one. The bigger concern is the occasional lack of effort by Wallace. Commentators claim that Tannehill missed a touchdown pass to Wallace in the second half. That simply did not happen. The ball was right where you want it away from the defender towards the pylon, the receiver has to make that play. If Wallace had tried to get to the ball and could not that would be one thing, he gave up on the play. Gave up. Unacceptable.

5. Coach Joe Philbin has been criticized for a lack of emotion. He is so even-keeled sometimes you wonder if he has a pulse. The problem is when he does not seem to get the team ready to play. Watching the second half I found myself wondering if the team knew how important this game was. That is on the coach. Yes there are three games left and a slim chance to make the playoffs still exists but this game mattered. It would be nice if the coach understood that.

Yes there are other things to complain about. Bad calls from the officials: two questionable ineligible man down field calls and the reversal of a game changing fumble. The team inexplicably giving up on the run in the second half. But that is nitpicking. The team got beat down. We all saw it. Only one question:

What happens next?

On to New England.

Categories: AFC East, Baltimore Ravens, Football, Miami Dolphins, Mike Wallace, NFL, Ryan Tannehill, sports | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just One

Jim Rassol/Sun-Sentinel

Jim Rassol/Sun-Sentinel

Just one.

Just one play changes a win to a loss. One throw, one catch. One stop.

Single plays throughout the course of a sixty-minute, sometimes longer, game mean all the difference. These plays separate pretender from contender. These plays build a champion.

On Sunday, the Miami Dolphins just needed one play from their defense. They needed one stop that is all. One field goal instead of a touchdown. Just one more tackle, one pass batted down, one sack. Any of these would have gotten the job done.

That did not happen. If it had this would be a much different column.

Going into the Denver game defense was not the concern. No one worried if the defense would do their job. This was a top-5 defense, they had gotten it done all season long.

The question was if the offense and more importantly quarterback Ryan Tannehill would do their part. They did and then some. Tannehill went shot for shot with Peyton Manning going 26 of 36 for 228 yards and three touchdowns. The offense scored 36 points, the fourth time this season the team had scored over thirty points.

36 points should have been enough for the Dolphins defense to win two games. Not this time.

The defensive line, a strength of this team all season long, rarely pressured Manning. He would go on to throw for 257 yards and 4 touchdowns, three of them to wide receiver Demaryuis Thomas. Even worse they allowed the Broncos to run over them for 201 yards. There were receivers running free throughout the secondary and runners fighting for extra yards.

All the Dolphins needed even after all of that was one stop. Just one.

The offense had put in its work. The defense simple was not up to the task this day. One stop would have given them a chance.

These are the growing pains of a good team getting better. This team has shown that it belongs on the field with the best. Now they need to show that they can beat them, consistently.

 

Categories: Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, NFL, Peyton Manning, Quarterbacks, Ryan Tannehill, sports | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Showdown at Mile High-Miami Dolphins v. Denver Broncos

Snow game

Sunday afternoon the Miami Dolphins take the field against the Denver Broncos in the most important game of the 2014 season. At this point in the NFL season every game is the most important game. Each game sets up the next as teams jockey for playoff position.

This particular game sets up a faceoff with the New England Patriots on December 14th. Win this game and the Patriots game could be for the AFC East title, it could also be for the best record in the AFC. Lose, lose and it may be time to fight and claw for a wildcard berth.

The advantage heading into the game with the Broncos is simple: Everyone expects the Dolphins to lose. All over social media, across the television dial, pretty much all the national media has already given the win to Denver. This does not come from some matchup advantage or even some deficiency on the Dolphins part. No apparently Denver will win because they are Denver and oh yeah because “Peyton Manning”.

Fortunately for the Dolphins the games are played on the field. On the field Miami has a chance, actually they have a really good chance.

Denver is beat up. Tight end Julius Thomas and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders are recovering from injuries, while their offensive line is just bad.

“It’s worse than bad — it’s horrendous,” ESPN analyst and ex-Broncos Pro Bowl offensive lineman, Mark Schlereth said to the Denver Post. “If I was grading, giving an F would be kind.”

Coming to town are the Dolphins with the 2nd ranked defense in the NFL. The pass rush led by Cameron Wake and his 8.5 sacks will try to harass Peyton Manning throughout the game. Getting pressure on Manning is the only sure way to disrupt the hall-of-fame quarterback and Denver’s potent offense.

On the other side Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is on a hot streak. Since the game against the Oakland Raiders in London, Tannehill has posted four games with over a 100-quarterback rating. This brings his rating up to 92.2 for the season, a nice improvement over last season 81.7.  It seems as if offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s offense is finally clicking, with the rest of the offense pulling their weight as well.

For the first time in far too long it seems as if the Dolphins are playing as a complete team. The timing could not be better.

No game against Peyton Manning is every easy. This week however the Dolphins can walk onto his field with no fear.

 

 

Categories: AFC East, Denver Broncos, Football, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, NFL, Peyton Manning, playoffs, Quarterbacks, Ryan Tannehill | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Four Quarters: Miami Dolphins v. Green Bay Packers

Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald

Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald

Sunday morning I decided I would do things a little different this week. Instead of the usual review/preview I thought I would try to write about my thoughts as the game was going on. Quarter by quarter. So here goes…

Four Quarters: Green Bay Packers v. Miami Dolphins

First Quarter.

Green Bay started out with the ball. They moved down the field with ease. The Dolphins secondary were playing off the receivers and Aaron Rodgers made them pay with a touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson.

After a great return by rookie Jarvis Landry the Dolphins started in Green Bay territory. The Packers defense came to play forcing Miami to settle for a Caleb Sturgis. The score now sat at 7-3 Packers.

After blocking a punt the Dolphins once again had good, no make that great field position. Unfortunately even after getting the ball down to the Green Bay one yard line they could not find the end zone. Missing out on a scoring opportunity against a team like Green Bay is dangerous.

The good news as the quarter ended was that the defense had finally come to play, bad news was the running game was stuck in neutral.

Second Quarter.

Both teams defenses stood tall. The Packers struggled to move the ball and Aaron Rodgers began to feel the effect of the Dolphins pass rush. On the other side Green Bay forced Miami quarterback into two interceptions costing the Dolphins the opportunity to put points on the board.

I feel there are three types of interceptions: 1. The receiver simply fell down on his route, offense has no chance. 2. The defense just makes an incredible, highlight-reel kind of play. and 3. The quarterback had no business throwing that ball whatsoever. The first two are forgivable offenses, the third-well the third you want to kill the qb. In this case the defense simply made a great play on a contested ball. It could easily have gone the other way.

Needless to say the half ended with the Packers up 10-3

Third Quarter.

The Dolphins started the second half with the ball. Ryan Tannehill hoped to erase the memory of the first half quickly. On the second play of the drive he took it himself and ran 40 yards, surpassing the Dolphins rushing total of the first half. Watching this first drive you would never think that this was the same team from the first half. Jarvis Landry caught his first NFL touchdown pass to tie the game. Both teams would trade drives during this quarter leading to a tie game at 17-17 early in the fourth quarter.

Fourth Quarter.

Rodgers is not simply one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, he is THE best. On this afternoon Ryan Tannehill showed he could stand toe to toe with the best the NFL has to offer. This is something Tannehill’s critics should remember.

Sadly we tend to remember what we saw last.

What we saw last was Aaron Rodgers being Aaron Rodgers and the Dolphins defense falling apart when they were needed most. With a 24-20 lead the Dolphins failed to get a first down and gave the ball back to Rodgers with 2:04 left in the game. It would be just enough.

There was blame to go around on the last drive. Brent Grimes falling down while covering Jordy Nelson. Cortland Finnegan trying a very lackadaisical tackle of Davante Adams inside the ten yard line. Worst of all was the coverage by Philip Wheeler on the touchdown play. It is not that he got beat by the tight end for a touchdown that will happen. It was that he did not even try to engage Anthony Quarless until he was already in the end zone. By that point he had already lost. If he made contact before Quarless entered the end zone he may have had a chance. It was not to be.

A great comeback fell just six seconds short. All of the good things we saw in the second half came of naught. Time to move onto the Bears.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, NFL, Quarterbacks, Ryan Tannehill, sports | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Play the team in front of you.

Tim Ireland/ AP

Tim Ireland/ AP

The scene was set at Wembley Stadium in London, Sunday September 28th. Perhaps the most important game of this young season for the Miami Dolphins. It was an important game no doubt. The Dolphins were not in must win territory but a win(or loss) here could go a long way in determining how the rest of the season would go. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill had struggled early in the season with the new offense and head coach Joe Philbin did no one any favors by refusing to name his starting quarterback early in the week. Things were on edge, something had to give. Win this game and the team can move forward, lose it and it could be a train wreck.

Thankfully the team came together across the pond. They dominated. The defense intercepted their first three passes of the season, while also returning a fumble for a touchdown. The running game came alive rushing for 157 yards. And the much-maligned quarterback? Ryan Tannehill played his best game of the season. He played confident, decisive. Tannehill threw for 278 yards and two touchdowns, he added another 35 yards on the ground. This was the full-team performance many had been waiting for. Time to exhale, all was right with the Dolphins world.

Not so fast…apparently.

In what should be a time a joy complaints could be heard. Some fans and even some media complained:

‘It’s only Oakland, It doesn’t really count.’

It doesn’t count?!

The Oakland Raiders are still members of the National Football League, right?

Yes they are. The truth is you play the team in front of you. That is all. 16-0 or 0-16 you play the team in front of you. These players are the top 1% of all football players on the planet. No game is given to you. Everything is earned. We do not get to choose which games we count and which we don’t.

Yes some teams are clearly better than others, but that changes from week to week.

You play the team in front of you.

Sometimes it is not so much about the team across from you. Sometimes it is simply about executing the offense, making the plays on defense. That is exactly what Miami did that Sunday. It is a start

Now it is time to build upon that.

Categories: Football, Miami Dolphins, NFL, Oakland Raiders, Ryan Tannehill | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Miami Dolphins Week Two Review

The Dolphins came back to earth very quickly. After an emotional home opener against the New England Patriots, Miami traveled to Buffalo where they promptly dropped the ball.

It is easy to assign blame for the 29-10 loss. Special teams were far from special. The defense gave up chunks of yardage. On offense they simply could not find a rhythm. Any one of those reasons would do for why they performed so poorly. There is of course another reason. Emotion and Intensity. Buffalo had it, Miami did not.

It is understandable that the Bills had emotion on their side. The sale of the team had been finalized keeping the team in the Buffalo area, Hall-of-Famer Jim Kelly attended the game cancer free and if that was not enough the Bills honored beloved recently passed owner Ralph Wilson during their home opener. They came out of the locker room with all the emotion and intensity in the world, Miami simply never matched that intensity.

On paper the Dolphins have the better team, that only matters if you are playing the game on paper. Under Joe Philbin the team has struggled against teams playing with emotion. It happened last season against the New York Jets. The best way to combat that is to put together a solid drive from the get go. The offense did not cooperate for most of the first half, by the time the offense woke up it was too late.

As far as the actual on field issues the fixes are not that difficult. Both the special teams and the defense will be helped dramatically when Koa Misi returns from injury and Jason Trunsik can return to special teams where he belongs. While he did an admirable job filling in as a starter at linebacker, his absence on special teams was glaring. As far as the offense they need to regain the confidence they lost against Buffalo. Usually this is where I say “run the damn ball!”. While the ground game is essential it is the passing game that needs the boost. Starting the game with easy completions should let quarterback Ryan Tannehill get in a nice rhythm, something that was missing against Buffalo.

The sky did not fall last Sunday. The season is not over. Time to get serious and put in work.

Categories: Buffalo Bills, Football, Miami Dolphins, NFL, Ryan Tannehill | Leave a comment

Everyone Loves the Backup Quarterback.

Al Diaz/Miami Herald

Al Diaz/Miami Herald

There are times when I think the fans are the ones who need to be drug tested.

This is one of those times. Over this past weekend I have heard fans suggesting that the Miami Dolphins start Matt Moore over Ryan Tannehill. This was after Moore gifted the Dallas Cowboys with a pick-six during their preseason game Saturday night, against the backups no less. I can understand getting excited by Moore moving the offense down the field, he is an excellent backup quarterback. I even understand the frustration of Tannehill having difficulty connecting on the long ball with Mike Wallace(perhaps the receiver should receive some of the blame). But start Moore over Tannehill? I do not see it.

Do these fans remember the last time Matt Moore played during the regular season?

I will remind you. Moore took over for an injured Tannehill during the 2nd half of the Buffalo Bills game. He manage to complete 2 out of 6 passes, worse still he completed the same number of passes to the Bills. Two completions and two interceptions. It was a bad day for Moore. Not that he cannot do better, he has, but with that memory is that who you want replacing a very promising young quarterback?

Fans love the backup quarterback.

Last season I had a friend of mine suggest that Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions should be benched for his backup Shaun Hill. Matt Stafford who has thrown for over 17,000 yards and over a hundred touchdowns should be benched for Shaun Hill.

It seems ridiculous. But it is understandable. Every fan wants that elite quarterback, they want Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. The problem is there are only so many of those going around.

It is not that Matt Moore or Shaun Hill are not starting quality quarterbacks, they would easily start for the Houston Texans or Oakland Raiders this season. It is that in those situations, behind Ryan Tannehill and Matthew Stafford, they understand their role as the backup. While Moore and Hill have tremendous ability, Tannehill and Stafford have that extra something that puts their ceiling just a little higher.

Enjoy your backups, cheer for them when the time does come for them to come into the game. Just try to have some perspective. Understand there is a reason they are the backup and the other guy is the starter.

 

Categories: Football, Matt Moore, Matt Stafford, Miami Dolphins, NFL, Preseason, Quarterbacks, Ryan Tannehill | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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