Sunday, December 2, 2012

Observations from the Dolphins-Patriots game

I thought the Dolphins had this one in the bag. After all, the Dolphins came into today's contest 1-0 in December games against the Patriots when my dad and I have been in attendance. That has to mean something, doesn't it? Not to mention, this Dolphins team is way more talented than than 2004 squad.

Alas, it was not to be as the Dolphins fell to the Patriots 23-16. Miami is now 5-7 on the season and the playoffs aren't happening. They'll have a tough cross-country trip out to San Francisco in Week 14 before returning home for winnable games against the Jaguars and Bills.

Until then, here are some observations I had from Section 449, Row 1, Seat 23 today....

  • Ryan Tannehill really wasn't at his best today, completing less than half of his passes. He wasn't on-point with regularity and he missed a couple throws to Hartline that could have been huge. The first one probably got caught in the wind that was fiercely at his back. Credit Brian Hartline for burning the defensive backs on those throws and Tannehill for seeing it, but an elite quarterback hits him. I do like that Tannehill is using his legs more on roll-outs and scrambles, and I loved his toughness diving for a first down late in the game and taking a vicious hit.
  • Unlike recent weeks, Reggie Bush was actually the superior back and did the most with what he was given on plays where the line made its blocks. Daniel Thomas nearly gave the ball away on a fumble and didn't have many good plays, although his conversion on 4th-and-1 was nice, as was his spin out of a tackle on a pass before Tannehill scored later on that drive.
  • Seeing that expletive Wes Welker do what he always does makes me wonder why the Dolphins can't use Davone Bess the same way. Bess is every bit as good as Welker but the Dolphins really don't use him as much or the exact same way. Bess is too often running deeper routes and a playmaker he is not. Perhaps it's the fact that the Dolphins' lack of talent on offense forces him into another role, because I think on a better team he'd be an even bigger mover of the chains than he is in Miami.
  • A fairly invisible day for the Dolphins' tight ends, a week after Charles Clay went off for 84 yards and a score. I wonder if Clay will ever be more than a bit player in the Dolphins' offense.
  • It looks like Jake Long may be done for the season with a triceps injury, and as cruel as it sounds, that may actually be a blessing in disguise for the Dolphins. Long's drop-off in performance has already made  me against giving him Joe Thomas money, but I'm not even sure I can justify the franchise tag at this point. The Dolphins may be better off seeing what Jonathan Martin can do back at his old college spot of left tackle for the rest of he year.
  • Speaking of Martin, I thought he held up very well today considering he hasn't worked at left tackle since he arrived in Miami. Martin's had a very rocky rookie season but he's obviously a better schematic fit than some of his teammates so it could be good for him to get a head start on his potential 2013 position. My only concern this year in losing Long is the right tackle spot with Martin on the left side. Nate Garner used to be a useful backup but recent history has shown he just doesn't have what it takes to start in this league. I don't see John Jerry being a good fit outside and I'm curious if converted tight end Will Yeatman could be given a look.
  • Cameron Wake had another great game and he terrorized Tom Brady like he has in the past. This controversy about him being on the sideline late in the game is an interesting one, because while stopping the run is not necessarily his forte, he's not a huge liability there either and he's certainly the best athlete and top overall talent in that unit. The fact that Wake seems visibly upset is also concerning because he's really not one to cause problems. I hope Joe Philbin and the coaching staff figure out how to smooth this over, even if Wake is locked up long-term.
  • Kevin Burnett had another strong game and has easily been the most productive linebacker on the team this season. Koa Misi actually had a sack as well, but that could have been an optical illusion as it was sunny and raining at times in the stadium. I guess what I'm trying to say is, Misi sacking the quarterback (you know, what we drafted him for?) is like seeing a rainbow.
  • I heard one fan at the game scream, "Make the tackle, Dansby!" and another say, "He can't, he only has one arm," referring to his torn triceps. My question is, if Karlos Dansby can't make the tackle, because of injury or whatever, why is he out there at all? He's having a sub-par season, to put it kindly. Watching him try to guard Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker was laughable.
  • Reshad Jones had a tremendous game, with a highlight reel interception and a nice sack on Brady. The former fifth-round pick is having a breakout season and has become one of Jeff Ireland's best mid-round selections. Jones is having a career year with new highs in tackles, interceptions and forced fumbles and he's only worth a lot of consideration for an AFC Pro Bowl spot.
  • Good to see Dan Carpenter continue rolling after a rocky start to the season. He nailed all three kicks today in wind that didn't make anything a gimme.
  • I can't really be mad at John Denney or Brandon Fields for the botched punt early in the game. It had just been raining for about 10 minutes before the play so I'm sure the field was wet, and those guys are usually perfect at their jobs. The snap wasn't good and Field made the right call to eat it when he couldn't handle it cleanly on his first attempt to pick it up. It was a big play that really could have ended up changing the game, but these guys are so good it's hard to get mad at their rare mistakes.