The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

FINS REMAIN A WORK IN PROGRESS

Last week Ryan Tannehill and the first team offense (minus some receivers) were perfect in their lone drive before giving way to the backups.  That resulted in a bunch of Lazor-mania among Dolfans.  This week, the results were not quite as good for Ryan Tannehill as he reverted to some old ways.  He did not get the Fins into the end zone in his 3 drives, he fumbled the ball away in Dolphins’ territory (when Dallas Thomas did his best imitation of a turnstile, an imitation that was repeated all too frequently until he was pulled from the game) and left the game with the Fins barely leading   (a 3-0 lead that they would relinquish a few plays later thanks to his fumble).  Basically he did little to contribute to the 20-14 win for which back-up quarterback Matt Moore deserves much credit.

Although Dallas Thomas has been given every opportunity to win the starting right guard position, his horrendous showing against Tampa leaves one to wonder if he will even make the roster.  We will have to see how he bounces back from this very disappointing performance, assuming he is given a chance next week when the Cowboys come to town.  Nothing is guaranteed after his embarrassment in Tampa Bay.

Obviously, o-line issues lead to running game issues and the Fins had a real problem trying to run the ball against Tampa.  In the first half, they actually had minus 5 yards on 9 attempts.  Even Lazor-ball will not be able to overcome such ineptitude as defenses will not have to respect the run at all.  It is true that the running game was limited because Lamar Miller was the only real choice with Knowshon Moreno, Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee wearing street clothes.  But losing almost 2 yards per carry is beyond embarrassing.  Even in the one good drive last week the rushing attack was only marginally effective.  This week it was totally inept.  Either the Fins find a way to turn this around or any hope for respectability this season goes out the window.

As for Tannehill, he was 9 of 14 for 110 yards, no TDs and no INTs.  His fumble hurt as it rather directly resulted in a Buccaneer touchdown.  He threw to Mike Wallace 3 times, but completed none of those attempts.  He still needs to learn how to get the ball into Mike Wallace’s hands.  Their chemistry together is sorely lacking, which is disappointing heading into their second year playing together.

Back-up Matt Moore was more effective, completing 13 of 19 for 158 yards.  He threw 1 TD pass and did not turn the ball over.  He sent a real message to GM Dennis Hickey who recently signed Brady Quinn to come in and compete for a position.  Replacing Matt Moore with Brady Quinn would likely save a bunch of salary cap dollars, but such would not seem a wise move given the way Moore performed.  Brady Quinn saw some action as well and completed all 4 of his attempts, but for only a total of 22 yards.   By the time Quinn got into the game, the defenders on the field would hardly be characterized as players likely to make the Bucs’ final roster this season.

On the other side of the field, the defense held Tampa to 14 points (7 of which came on a short field after Tannehill’s Thomas-induced fumble) and limited Tampa to 250 net yards.  This sounds promising enough, but don’t overlook the fact that Tampa was dead last in the NFL last year in both rushing and passing.  The fact that the defense played well against this weak sister is fine as far as it goes, but the question remains just how far does that go?

With Mike Pouncey still unable to play due to injury (and not likely to return to action for a number of weeks), it was especially scary to see his temporary replacement, Sampson Satele, go down in the first quarter.  Fortunately Satele was later able to return to action.  The o-line has its share of problems even without having any more injuries to further complicate matters.

Speaking of injuries, place kicker Caleb Sturgis has been battling a groin pull and remains sidelined.   Moreover, following a practice attempt he was seen in obvious discomfort, leading one to conclude that he once again aggravated his groin injury.  One has to question whether he will be ready for the season opener in 3 weeks.  Meanwhile, his replacement de jour, John Potter, was 2 for 2 on field goals of 48 and 51 yards, both career records.

The optimism following the preseason opener has been doused by the return of the field goal as Ryan Tannehill’s chief method of scoring.  He went from 7 points in one drive last week to 3 points in 3 drives this week.  That could not be classified as heading in the right direction.  It does reveal precisely why the Fins’ need to give him more playing time before the preseason ends.  But with the tradition of having first stringers sit for most of the last preseason game, Tannehill and Company might get barely more than a half of game action before the regular season opener against the Patriots on September 7.  That might not be the best thing for an offense that remains a work in progress.  Too bad that Tom Brady & Company are anything but a work in progress.

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