The Miami Dolphins were almost 2 touchdown underdogs against the Texans on Sunday. Judging by the final score, the Dolphins should’ve been 3 touchdown underdogs. The Dolphins stuck with the Texans for 28 minutes, but then the wheels came off….and fast. Ryan Tannehill looked impressive for the first quarter and a half of the game. After that, he looked like a rookie quarterback who had only started 19 games in college. Tannehill finished the day going 20 for 36 for 219 yards, 0 TD, 3 INTs. His QBR (3.1), according to ESPN, was the lowest of any other QB, except Brandon Weeden.
The Dolphins started out playing well, specifically on defense. The defense held the Texans to just 3 points until all hell broke loose in the final 2 minutes of the 1st half. Tannehill threw all 3 of his interceptions in the second quarter and put the defense in terrible position each time. 2 of Tannehill’s passes were tipped at the line and then picked off. The other interception was thrown to a receiver that was covered. In all, Tannehill had 4 passes batted at the line by defensive lineman, something we saw too frequently in the preseason. This problem needs to get fixed and it’s up to Tannehill, the offensive line, and the Dolphins coaching staff to fix it.
As I mentioned, the defense looked good early. But, when you lose the turnover battle 4-0, you aren’t going to win many football games. Eventually, the Texans got Arien Foster running, Andre Johnson beasting, and event got Owen Daniels 87 receiving yards. Again, the Dolphins showed that their secondary has plenty of room for improvement, specifically when facing opposing tight ends and top notch wide receivers.
Although this game was surprisingly close in the first half, once the turnovers started, it was over. The Dolphins trailed 24-3 at the half and were never able to mount any sort of a comeback in the second half. The offense needs work, considering they scored only 3 points against the Texans defense. The Dolphins only touchdown came on a punt return. This is going to be a long week of practice for the players, but they need it. They just aren’t playing good enough right now.
The players can play better, without question. However, the big question is whether or not the Dolphins have enough talent on the roster to make the playoffs. Making the playoffs is apparently something that the Dolphins owner expects this season. If they don’t, the Dolphins could be in the market for a new general manager. The Miami Herald is reporting that Jeff Ireland could be on the hot seat if the Dolphins do not have a winning record this season. Jeff Ireland has had 2 offseasons on his own and right now, the Dolphins lack talent. Look no further than the wide receiving corps that honestly has 2 receivers that are worth anything (Bess, Hartline). If you fail to give a rookie QB weapons, you are setting him and the team up to fail. If the Dolphins don’t turn things around, Jeff Ireland may be the one that has to face the music for that failure.
With all the problems the Dolphins had on Sunday, keep in mind that they faced a very good Texans team (one of the best in the AFC). The Texans had the second ranked defense in 2011, so Tannehill’s first start was not against a pushover. The fact that the Dolphins stuck around for the first quarter and a half was surprising. In reality, no one expected the Dolphins to win this game. Heck, when the season came out in April, most of us penciled in a loss for this game. The key for the Dolphins will be how they learn from this game. This season is not about winning a Super Bowl (if you’re being honest with yourself), it’s about improving for the future. Tannehill will get better….without question. The next test for the 0-1 Dolphins are the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders will be playing on a short week (they play tonight), will be flying cross-country, and will have to deal with the South Florida mid-day heat. As bad as things look right now, there is a chance that things could look a little better next Monday at this time.