Tuesday, November 27, 2012

10 observations from the Dolphins-Seahawks game

It certainly wasn't pretty the entire time, but the Dolphins' run defense performed extremely well and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill showed the resiliency and clutch traits you'd hope for him to have as the Dolphins pulled out a last-second victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 12.

Here are 10 thoughts I had about the Dolphins' performance in this one...

1. Ryan Tannehill certainly wasn't on the entire game, and the throw across his body into the end zone that was picked off only to be called back on a questionable roughing call was the kind of decision and throw you just can't make in the NFL. That being said, he really stepped up late in the game with a beautiful touchdown to Charles Clay and a flawless drive for the game-winning field goal.
2. I think Tannehill was finally given more help by Mike Sherman's play-calling, which has been frustratingly conservative at times. In his defense, it's possible the offensive line, both in terms of run blocking and pass protection, hasn't allowed to do all the things they would have liked. But it was great to see Tannehill given the chance to throw downfield more and Sherman did a great job setting up plays late in the game with end-arounds, fakes and play-action.
3. Reggie Bush had another patented USC touchdown run, but I was really impressed with Daniel Thomas in this one. He ran extremely hard, pushing piles and breaking tackles, and covered the ball up. (I'd like to point out that he hasn't fumbled since Week 3 when he had his second in two games to start the season.) He needs a big final month of the season, because he's really auditioning to make Bush expendable this offseason.
4. Davone Bess had another beast of a game and, while limited physically, is one of the league's more underrated slot receivers. I also thought it was interesting that Rishard Matthews played 22 snaps to Marlon Moore's six, though Matthews had a penalty on his watch and never caught pass. Realistically, neither will ever be a long-term fixture in the Dolphins' passing game.
5. Mike Pouncey continues to be one of the brightest spots of the Dolphins' season. He started the season strong and has rebounded from a rough game against Indianapolis in Week 9. Honestly, his athleticism might be as good as any center's on the league and his ability to get to the second level as a run blocker has really impressed me.
6. On the flip side, Jake Long continues to be a huge problem on the field. He allowed another sack this week as well as four total pressures. (The rest of the offensive line allowed three pressures combined.) I can't explain his drop-off in production, but the Dolphins would be crazy to give him elite money in the offseason and at this point he might not even be worth the franchise tag.
7. The Dolphins' run defense was absolutely perfect in this one, holding Marshawn Lynch to rushing 46 yards. (His 2.4-yard average was his worst since Week 15 of last season.) It honestly seems like he got stuffed every play, and even on his best runs I saw some blatantly holds that were not called. All credit goes to the usual suspects, Randy Starks and Paul Soliai, as well a a surprisingly strong performance from Tony McDaniel.
8. Benefitting from the defensive line's performance, this may have been one of the best games of the season for Koa Misi and Kevin Burnett at linebacker. Total faker Karlos Dansby continues to struggle and my only hope is the team can find some way to get out of his contract in the offseason.
9. As good as the run defense was in this one, the secondary was a bit concerning. Reshad Jones continues to be the only bright spot with his breakout season, but the rest of the group is struggling. Sean Smith can't stop anything right now and Russell Wilson was able to complete passes with regular ease. With Smith a free agent at season's end, I honestly don't know how you fix this secondary.
10. I was particularly glad to see Dan Carpenter nail the game-winning kick in this one. I was one of the people trying to settle things down after he missed some potentially game-changing kicks early in the season, but I'm not surprised to see him get back on track because he proved himself to me a long time ago. Still, it will be interesting to see if he returns in 2013 or at least faces training camp competition at such a high salary.