The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

TANNEHILL’S FOG LIFTED IN LONDON

It has been as though Ryan Tannehill was playing in a fog this season, but when he took the field against the Raiders in London, that fog lifted and the skies were suddenly clear.  Following a week in which the rift between him and Coach Philbin was widely reported, Tannehill put together his best game of the year to lead the Fins to a 38-14 win over the Raiders.  Although there had been speculation on whether back-up QB Matt Moore would get the start in place of Tannehill this week, Moore only got onto the field for some late-game mop-up duty.

Only time will tell how much of Tannehill’s performance was him showing his moxie in response to being undermined by his Coach this past week or whether it had more to do with the ineptitude of the Raiders’ defense.  Nevertheless, Tannehill made a strong statement with a 23 of 31 performance (64.5%) for 278 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT.   His 23 completions were spread out over 9 different receivers and he completed 3 passes over 20 yards.  He even added 35 yards rushing on 5 carries.  His QB rating of 109.3 was by far his best of the season (his average rating for the first 3 games was 74.6).  It was a statement he needed to make going into the bye week, otherwise, the intensity of the rift with Philbin would have taken on a new dimension over the next 2 weeks.  Now, quiet will instead prevail as the team likely gets a few days off before starting to get ready to face the Packers at home on October 12.

Tannehill was not the only player to make a strong statement, although his statement indeed echoed the loudest in Wembley Stadium.  Daniel Thomas, the disappointing second round pick cut before the season started and resigned after Knowshon Moreno was injured, had 60 yards on 6 touches.  He ran 5 times for 35 yards and caught one pass for 25 yards.  Thomas, too, needed to make a statement with his play, a statement that he deserves a roster spot when Knowshon Moreno is ready to return to the active roster.  His numbers were clearly better than either Orleans Darkwa or Damien Williams, the 2 undrafted rookies who made the team coming out of training camp.   

Lamar Miller rushed 12 times for 53 yards (5.3 yards per carry).  The Fins’ rushed for 157 yards (and if you discount the 2 times Matt Moore took a knee to kill the clock, the team ran 33 times for 159 yards, an average of 4.8 yards per carry).  For the day the Fins managed to put up 435 total net yards of offense while scoring 38 points.  But give credit to the defense which had 4 takeaways, including the first 3 interceptions of the season.  The defense surrendered a game-opening touchdown but then shut down the Raiders until garbage time, allowing the Fins’ to score 38 unanswered points in between.

So what does this win mean?  For one thing, it means the Fins don’t have to go into the bye week with a 3 game losing streak.  It means that for now Coach Philbin will not have to make any tough decisions about his starting QB.  It means that for now Stephen Ross won’t have to make any difficult decisions about Coach Philbin.  It means that the players can enjoy their time off before getting back to the grind. 

But it does not mean that the Fins are suddenly headed for the playoffs.  Hopefully, it is a game to build upon, but one must remember it was only the winless Raiders.  The real meaning of this game lies ahead.  For if the Fins’ lose to the Packers in 2 weeks, the meaning of this game will be marginalized.  On the other hand, if they can beat the Packers, then this win will be validated.  For now, just remember that the Fins’ have completed the first quarter of the season and stand at 2-2.  Such a start is more indicative of another mediocre season than an end to their playoff drought.

We may not know how Ryan Tannehill will play against the Packers or beyond that for the rest of the season, but we do know that at least for now Tannehill’s fog lifted in London.

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