The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack


The Fins’ 2014 season is back on track thanks to an impressive 22-9 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Thursday Night Football in a match-up of two 5-4 teams both fighting to keep their season alive.  In the end, it was the Dolphins who put their playoff chances back on track.

Although game balls are usually awarded to players (and there were clearly several deserving Fins’ players) the first game ball should have been given to Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor who was faced with a tough assignment this week.  He knew that the patchwork offensive line he would have to start due to key injuries would have a tough time with the likes of Mario Williams and Company.  So he devised a game plan that enabled Ryan Tannehill to have enough success to get the win.  Give credit to Ryan Tannehill for executing that game plan well, although he did make some key mistakes which kept the game closer in the first half than it had to be.  Once again, credit goes to the defense, too, which kept the Bills out of the end zone and limited them to 3 field goals.

In executing Lazor’s game plan, Ryan Tannehill completed 26 of 34 passes (76.5%) for 240 yards and 2 TDs.  He also ran 4 times for 16 yards.  Although he did not throw an INT, he made some of the mistakes which resulted in the Fins’ scoring only 3 points in the first half. 

Coming into the game most would gladly settled for 174 net yards of offense in the first half, but few would have figured that would translate into only 3 points.  Although Lazor’s game plan was effective, the Fins’ shot themselves in the feet too often before halftime.  Their first series started at their own 12-yard line when a 37-yard return was negated by a penalty.  Although the Fins’ moves the ball, the drive was hampered by a sack that Tannehill should have avoided and was then stalled by another penalty which forced them to have to settle for a field goal.  They moved the ball well in their second series, but walked away with no points when Ryan Tannehill fumbled in the red zone.  In their third and final series of the first half, a penalty placed them beyond field goal range, forcing them to punt.  Fortunately, the defense limited the Bills to 2 field goals so the Fins were only down 6-3 at the intermission.

In the second half the Fins’ stopped shooting themselves in the foot, with the sole exception of a Jarvis Landry fumble which came at the end of an otherwise good return.  Former Dolphin Dan Carpenter bailed Landry out by missing a 47-yard field goal attempt on the Bills’ ensuing possession.  Landry himself then made up for his miscue with a touchdown reception to extend the  lead the Fins’ had taken as a result of a Tannehill touchdown to Brandon Gibson and a safety dialed up by the Fins’ defense.

Ryan Tannehill had a very good game against a tough defensive front that sacked him 5 times despite the offensive game plan which revolved around quick passes and rollouts designed to circumvent the Bills’ aggressive pass rush.  His 114.8 QB Rating was impressive.  It appears as though he is getting more consistent and that is what the Fins’ need from him.  Although he has not yet earned the quarterback-of-the-future status Dolfans would like him to achieve, he is taking more steps in the right direction.  It is rather clear that the game seems to be slowing down for him which is a very good thing for the Fins.

Lamar Miller gained 86 yards on 15 carries (5.7-yard average), but his average was aided by a 33-yard run.  Still, those 86 yards were helpful in the game.  He is clearly a better back than he was last season and, with the season-ending injury sustained by Knowshon Moreno weeks back, his contributions are much needed by the team.

Jarvis Landry is turning out to be a real bright spot in the Fins’ rookie class.  Although he has fumbled during a few returns, he plays with a lot of passion while displaying some real toughness and good hands catching the ball.  There is no question he has leapfrogged Brandon Gibson and may soon be the Fins’ top receiver.  Including his touchdown reception, he caught 5 passes for 46 yards.  Meanwhile, out of the 10 receivers who caught passes from Ryan Tannehill, Mike Wallace was the only one to have failed to connect more than one time he was targeted.  Wallace was targeted 7 times and had 4 catches.  Of course, part of that is explained by Tannehill’s persistent inability to get the ball to him when he has been open downfield.

Brandon Fields had a stronger day punting than his net average of 41.0 might indicate.  He had a 59-yarder and 2 inside the 20 punts to show for his 3 efforts, certainly a fine performance.  Once again, he has seemed to find his stride after experiencing some difficulties not previously seen during his career with the Fins.

Overall, the Fins won this game statistically, enough so that they overcame a 2-0 deficit in the turnover category which is very difficult to overcome in the NFL.  They outgained the Bills 330-237 which led to a 24-13 margin on first downs.  Their average net gain per play was 5.2 to the Bills’ 4.0.  They enjoyed a 32:22 to 27:34 edge on the time of possession.  It all added up to a win that put their playoff hopes back on track.

12 Responses to “ BACK ON TRACK ”

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