The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack


The third preseason game is traditionally the most telling in that it is the game in which the starters see the most action.  It is viewed as the final tune-up before the regular season starts.  In that sense it was truly a mixed bag.

First, the good.  The defense did a fine job holding Tony Romo & Company in check through the beginning of the second half when they exited in favor of the lower part of the Cowboys’ preseason roster.  The defense held the Cowboys in check with an effort that would keep the Fins in almost any game.  Romo was only 10 of 18 for 87 yards with no touchdowns.  Holding him to 4.8 yards per pass attempt was impressive.  And holding Demarco Murray to 3.0 yards per rush was likewise impressive.  In limiting the Romo led Cowboys to 6 points, it was the kind of defensive effort which should have been enough to give the Fins the lead when the first teamers called it a day in the third quarter.  But this was a mixed bag because the offense did not hold up its end of the bargain.

The first team offense managed only 3 points by the time Matt Moore and the other back-ups took over.  Ryan Tannehill was particularly unimpressive, going 13 of 21 for 119 yards with no TDs and 1 (horrendous) INT.  Even with the running game actually working for a change, Tannehill could not get the Fins in the end zone.  And he should have as he overthrew Mike Wallace who was in the clear for an easy touchdown.  Tannehill has yet to learn how to get the ball deep to Wallace when he is streaking alone toward the end zone.  It is turning into the Dolfans’ version of Ground Hog Day, seeing Tannehill miss a wide open Wallace again and again. 

The failure of Tannehill to lead the first teamers into the end zone may not be a new problem, but it is decidedly a problem.  In fact, but for the game-opening touchdown in the first preseason game, Tannehill has not gotten the Fins into the end zone again all preseason.  It may be a new-look offense under new Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor, but it is beginning to look like the same old Fins’ offense in the outcome department as they are once again scoring by threes.  That is not a formula for success in the NFL.

The brightest spot on the offensive side of the ball was the rushing attack, two words not usually juxtaposed together when referring to the Dolphins over the last decade plus.  But in his first effort in a Fins’ uniform Knowshon Moreno looked like the best thing in the Fins’ backfield since Reggie Bush.  He started with a 19-yard gain and did not stop until he had gained 64 yards on 10 attempts (a neat 6.4 yard average).  He hit the holes fast, made great cuts, broke tackles and displayed quickness for all to see.  In short, he made all the talking heads who said he would not succeed in an offense that was not spread out with Peyton Manning under center.  Lord knows, Ryan Tannehill is no Peyton Manning.

The offensive line did a good job opening up holes for Dolphin running backs who totaled an impressive 200 net yards against the Cowboys. Of course, the Cowboys are one of the weakest defensive teams in football so one cannot get to giddy by the Fins’ success on the ground.  The offensive line was obviously aided by the absence of Dallas Thomas (last week’s goat) from the starting lineup.  When he was called upon to spell starting right guard Shelley Smith, he once again looked like he belonged on the bench.  With preliminary cuts coming this week and final cuts coming next week, Dallas Thomas may have reason to sweat.  What may well save him is the overall lack of depth on the offensive line.

Meanwhile, Matt Moore was likewise a mixed bag.  Although he guided the Fins’ to 22 points in a come-from-behind 25-20 win, he also threw a horrible pick six that gave Dallas a 20-11 lead midway into the fourth quarter.  But then he led the Fins to 2 touchdowns, the second coming inside two minutes to pull out the game.

So in the final analysis, the first team defense showed it is ready for the regular season, while the first team offense showed why the defense better be ready to dominate for the Fins’ to have any meaningful hope this season.  And that, Dolfans, is truly a mixed bag.

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