The Dolphins get their 3rd victory of the year, making their record the same as the Patriots, Jets, and Bills in the division.
The win over the Rams, however, showed maybe as much about this team and what to expect for the future then past weeks. The run game took a back seat (forcefully), the run defense didn’t wow, and the quarterback of the future won a game in the “now”.MDD Lead Editor: Eric Galko
Miami’s Offensive Balancing Factor, the Run Game, Took a Back Seat
I’m not one to use stats to extrapolate too much info, but if you watch the game, the lack of the running game use against the Rams is evident in the stat line. Just 12 planned carries on the day, all to Reggie Bush, for a total of 17 yards.
While it was clear the running game wasn’t working all that well, as the inside of the Rams defense was quick to penetrate the line of scrimmage, the Dolphins seemed quick to focus elsewhere on offense, which as a whole, was a bit sporadic in who got involved and how they executed.
Still, the victory and the way Tannehill performed despite just 17 yards on 12 carries from running backs may be more encouraging than worrisome. If this team can win games against solid opponents without a running game, as long as they keep some balance in every game and don’t overly trust Tannehill, then imagine what they will do when they’re consistently firing on all cylinders.
Daryl Richardson and Steven Jackson Show Miami’s Defense Not Impenetrable On the Ground
Since Week 1 of the 2011 season, the Dolphins run defense has consistently been among the best in the NFL. They haven’t allowed a 100 yard rusher in that time. Few teams have even gotten close as a team to 100 yards. But the Rams certainly showed, this season at least, that the Dolphins run defense isn’t without some concerns.
Far too many runs were able to get to the 3rd level of the defense, including Daryl Richardson’s 44 yard scamper. While that run made up for a fourth of their rushing yards, he and Stephen Jackson were consistently picking up solid chunks of yards thanks to the defensive line not being as consistently active in getting to the backfield in run support.
This shouldn’t be a serious concern moving forward, as this team is allowed at least one average but better than most effort in run support. But as long as Kevin Burnett can get back to full strength soon and the defensive line can be more active in run support, this defense should be fine for the future.
Tannehill Goes From Rookie QB to Flashing Young QB to Now, Game Closing QB
The progression of Ryan Tannehill as a starter was supposed to go from struggling rookie to solid starter with upside, and then maybe by season’s end, a quarterback who can win some games. That progression has been bumped up by about 10 weeks.
While he didn’t have a stellar game, he did two things well that were the difference in this game: Just three “3-and-outs” in the game (only one, maybe two seemed to be his fault), and having a 10 play drive killed around 7 minutes in the 4th quarter, allowing for Sam Bradford to have little time to lead his team at the end of the game, starting from the St. Louis 9 yard line.
In this game, Tannehill was lucky to be able to trust his defense to win this game for him after punting with under 2:00 left in the game. That was a luxury, but a well-earned one. If Tannehill can have a lead with under 3-4 minutes left in the game, and the opposing team has a long drive to score, he can feel safe.
While I’ll look forward to seeing Tannehill lead a touchdown drive for a victory to see what he’s really made of now that he’s taken the next step, it’s certainly encouraging to see the quarterback of the future winning games for his team in the now.