With the preseason underway, the Miami Dolphins are 1-1 having lost to the Dallas Cowboys 41-14. For many teams, the preseason simply presents an opportunity to get into shape and establish some team chemistry going into the regular season, For the Dolphins, a team clearly in rebuilding mode, the preseason holds extra importance as new Head Coach Adam Gase desperately needs to assess the team's current status and how to start putting all the pieces into place.
The one thing the Dolphins succeeded in doing in 2015 was avoid major injuries on offense. There were a few on defense, but the way the defense played with everyone healthy was so poor that the injure players were barely missed. At two games into the preseason, it's nice to report there have been no injuries of any significance to date.
In the first preseason game against the New York Giants, starting QB Ryan Tannehill played one series to shake off the dust. He then turned the ball over to Matt Moore, who looked sharp with 10/14 passing for 122 yards and 1 TD. He was also sacked 3 times, which follows suit with one of the Dolphins' major problems last year, the offensive line. Fortunately, they did a much better job of opening holes for the running game, which was led by Isaiah Pead with 50 yards on 10 carries. After giving up 10 first-quarter points, the defense looked sharp, shutting down the Giants' offense the rest of the way.
This past week against the Dallas Cowboys was a different story. First, the good news. Tannehill played most of the game and performed pretty well. He completed 12 of 20 passes for 162 yards and 2 TDs with no interceptions and only one sack. Again. Pead looked good running the ball with 48 yards on only 4 carries. At this point, he looks like a legitimate contender to take the starting job away from preseason favorite Jay Ajayi.
Now for the bad news. The defense stopped nobody. The Cowboys had 250+ yards passing, 150+ yard rushing, and seemingly scored at will against a defense that looked lost on the field. This was a huge problem for last year's squad that ended the season 6-10 because the defense couldn't keep offenses off the field.
While these two games would appear to be nothing more than meaningless preseason games, the problems identified to date show that Gase has a long way to go to help make this team competitive in a very tough division. With the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets all poised to make a serious run for a playoff spot, the Dolphins look poised to be the odd man out.
The jury is still out on a draft that focused largely on the offensive side of the ball and the future. The only player that looks capable of making an impact this year would be wide receiver Leonte Carroo. While the team did manage to sign a couple of free agents on defense, they were basically nothing more than veterans who might be sitting on the wrong side of their careers. This would include DE Mario Williams, who was brought in to hopefully put a little extra pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
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