Final Week 1 Observations

While the Dolphins are enjoying their traditional Tuesday off before beginning their preparations for Sunday's game against Oakland, we take a final look at this weekend's game. With a 30-10 final, there clearly were more negatives to point out than positives.

• Regardless, we'll start with the positive. From an individual standpoint, you have to go with the obvious of Randy Starks, Marcus Thipgen and Reggie Bush. From a team standpoint, it was the run defense and, to a lesser degree, the run offense.

• Starks has been a really solid player since signing with the Dolphins as a free agent in 2008, but don't be shocked if he really breaks out in 2012. He ended last year on a high note, and now he's back playing defensive tackle in a 4-3, which is what he did at Tennessee. He said after the game Sunday the new defense provides him with more pass-rushing opportunities, and he certainly delivered with a pair of sacks.

• Thigpen's punt return for a touchdown was the first by a Dolphins player since 2007 when Ted Ginn Jr. did it and it's nice for the Dolphins to have that kind of weapon again. It's also safe to assume Thigpen won't be as inconsistent as Ginn -- or as shy about getting hit.

• As for Bush, he ran very well, it's just that the Dolphins couldn't afford to run the ball very often in the second half after the score got out of hand.

• That the Dolphins were able to shut down the Houston running game — one of the best in the league, by the way — isn't surprising because the Dolphins have done that for a few years now. And the biggest reason continues to be Paul Soliai, whose value never gets reflected properly by stats. But the guy is a stud.

Davone Bess also had a good outing, catching everything thrown his way. And Brian Hartline came alive in the fourth quarter.

• OK, now for the trouble spots.

• Of course, the starting point should be all the tipped passes, two of which ended up in interceptions. Coach Joe Philbin said after the game and Monday that the blame lies both with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the offensive line, but it's clear it's more on Tannehill and that's something he's going to have to keep working on. Two suggestions would be for Tannehill to try avoiding zoning in on his target too quickly and the other would be for the Dolphins to use more roll-outs so Tannehill can get clearer lanes. Another benefit of that strategy is that Tannehill can take off and run if nobody is open.

• And, yes, receivers getting open is a problem for this team. For example, Legedu Naanee started and did not catch a pass. Not good.

• A big issue, and it showed again on Sunday, is the Dolphins don't have a deep threat to scare defenses. Maybe Anthony Armstrong can become that guy, but that's yet to be determined.

• The Daniel Thomas fumble was really costly, but before anyone starts jumping to the conclusion he has a fumbling problem, just remember he got nailed going through the hole and got a concussion that knocked him out of the game. That's more fluky than anything else. Of course, the argument could be made that the Dolphins should have just taken a knee at that point instead of running a play. Philbin said Monday that based on the defense Houston was running at the time, that play usually would be good for 10 yards. Well, 10 yards wouldn't have gotten the Dolphins into scoring position, so unless they were prepared to go quickly after that, what was the point?

• In the end, that fumble didn't cost the Dolphins the game because the damage already had been done.

• This was a game that started out pretty well for the Dolphins, who led 3-0 midway through the second quarter and actually could have had a bigger lead had they been more proficient on third down. They ended the game going 2-for-10 and that's not going to cut it.

• Besides the tipped passes, Tannehill also will need to improve his accuracy moving forward. The most glaring example of a throw he needs to make came early in the second quarter when he had Armstrong open downfield on a third-and-11 from the Miami 49. Tannehill was intercepted on the next series and the nightmare began.

• A lot was made of the Dolphins not being able to contain Andre Johnson, but they're not the first team he's had success against. There's a reason he's one of the three guys generally recognized as the top wide receivers in the league along with Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.

• More troubling was the inability to cover tight end Owen Daniels.

• Back to Johnson, on his touchdown catch late in the first half, Sean Smith actually had very good coverage, but he didn't turn around quickly enough, Johnson gave him a gentle nudge to create separation and then did a nice tap dance to stay in bounds in the end zone. That's more good offense than bad defense.

• The failure to turn around to look for the ball also hurt the Dolphins when Richard Marshall was called for pass interference on a pass that was underthrown and he easily could have picked off. That's something Marshall and Smith both are going to have to work on.

• Let's face it, the Dolphins have a lot of things to work on, but they get a favorable matchup on Sunday when Oakland comes to town. Not only do West Coast teams generally don't do well in 1 p.m. games on the East Coast, but the Raiders also will be coming off a short week after playing Monday night.

• After the 0-4 preseason and the 20-point loss at Houston, it's easy to start panicking, but there's enough lot of season left and it's not like the Dolphins were blown off the field by a very good Texans team. Bottom line: It's too early, way too early, to give up and concede.

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