Ryan Tannehill didn’t play well, but well enough to pull out the win, running game gets back on track, Charles Clay starts to emerge, the run defense returns, and a Week 13 preview.
Ryan Tannehill Didn’t Play Well…But Well Enough to Pull Out the Win
It wasn’t his prettiest game as a Dolphin. Tannehill certainly didn’t wow for much of the game to give future defensive coordinators nightmares anytime soon. But for a young quarterback, he doesn’t need to. He needs to make steady progressions. And, for a team still with playoff dreams, he needs to his best not to lose games.
Tannehill still showed some of the same concerns of struggling with level throws and breaking down post-snap the middle of the defense. But he continues to thrive on quicker outside throws, makes progressions well outside of the hashes, and has consisntently improved his timing and ball placement on outside-in breaking routes deep downfield, showing that ability when utilizing Davone Bess in this game.
It wasn’t his best game when looking at each individual throw. But he lead his team 65 yards in 1:32 on the last drive to give his team a win over a Top 10 NFL defense. He ran each play from the no huddle. He finished the drive 3 for 3 for 51 yards along with a 15 yard rush. He ran the less-than-2 minute offense to perfection against a proven defense. Literally, perfection. The day will come when Tannehill is as effective an entire game as he was in that 1:32 drive. But until that time, I’m okay with him being able to win games in that fashion.
Running Game Gets Back on Track and Charles Clay Starts to Emerge
It’s crucial for the Dolphins running game to get back on track. It allows for less double coverage on Hartline and Bess in the secondary. It gives Tannehill easier 3rd downs so he doesn’t have to make those progression reads over the middle. And it opens up throwing lanes for the tight ends.
All three of those happened this week thanks to the play of Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas. Maybe to the shagrin of fantasy owners, it seems the Dolphins are going to run both of these running backs fairly equally, albeit not nearly enough times. They combined for just 23 carries, but 147 yards. They didn’t break off big runs, thanks to the play of the Seahawks secondary, but the offensive line consistently gave him a 3-4 yard break and Bush and Thomas consistently broke free.
Bush looks like he’s back on track, but based on the past two games, the team is very comfortable using Daniel Thomas out of the backfield as well.
Along with those two coming back into the fold on offense, a new tight end has appeared for the Dolphins in Charles Clay. This offense has been needing an athletic tight end, a void that hasn’t been filled by Anthony Fasano nearly well enough. One game isn’t enough to hop on Charles Clay as a fantasy stud or the long term option at tight end, but he’s certain a better fit for what the Dolphins want to do on offense.
Run Defense Gets Back on Track by Great Play Outside the Hashes
The Dolphins run defense returned to its previous level, containing Marshawn Lynch to just 2.4 yards per carry on 19 carries. While Russell Wilson continued to pick them apart in the short area, but with the running game contain consistently, the Dolphins were able to allow just two catches over 25 yards.
The run defense never was an issue, but holding Lynch all game long is a worthy thing to appreciate for the Dolphins defense. The credit goes to the defensive line, which consistently flushed Lynch away from his initial hole and contained him as he worked to the edge. It was the best game I’ve seen Jared Odrick play at the defensive end spot all year long, using his length and strength to hold the edge.
The linebackers still struggled in the short area in coverage, but Koi Misi (especially) and the rest of the linebackers stepped up in the run game well, finished tackles in the box, and didn’t allow Lynch to set the edge. All in all, it was a solid day for the Dolphins front seven, and they’ll need to continue that to make their playoff push.
Week 13 Quick Preview
Next week is the first time the Dolphins will face the AFC East leading (and arguably best team in the AFC) New England Patriots, this one at home. They’ll face them against in New England on Week 17. The Dolphins have a tough road ahead these next two games, but need to either win this week or the next to stay in the playoff hunt, as more than 7 losses likely means no playoff shot at all. The Patriots will be a tough test, but they are depleted on the defense line, and the Dolphins need the running game to step up to maximize those concerns. Tannehill will have his hands full against Belichek, but he’ll need the defense to contain the Brady-lead passing game to some extent for Tannehill to have a shot.