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3 posts from August 9, 2013

August 09, 2013

Dolphins beat Jaguars, 27-3

JACKSONVILLE -- Congratulations to Joe Philbin on the first preseason win of his career. Yes, this 27-3 victory was only preseason, but it beats the alternative, no?

This was a solid performance for the most part.

The starting defense played three series and yielded only 14 yards. Cameron Wake looks ready for the season. Dannell Ellerbe was active with three tackles.

The Dolphins, stressing turnover margin this training camp, won that battle with a plus-3 for the evening. They had one turnover and plucked four, including interceptions for Nolan Carroll and Will Davis.

Matt Moore threw an interception and that was Miami's only turnover, although Chad Bumphis was sketchy as a punt returner, muffing a punt but not losing it. Moore was 5 of 9 for 58 yards but that interception he threw was a poor decision. His passer rating on the night was 35.6.

The Dolphins punt team has things to clean up. It gave up two punt returns of 22 yards. Not good.

Some quickie impressions:

Dallas Thomas played much better at RT this week and then played at LT last week. He hasn't necessarily found a home but the kid is much better off on the right side. (Personally, I think he should be a guard).

Mike Wallace played but didn't have a catch. Indeed, he didn't even have a target. Truth is quarterback Ryan Tannehill didn't really look at him downfield. It's tough, I'm sure, to look for the deep threat when you're scrambling trying to not get sacked, but even when Tannehill had time he didn't look for Wallace.

Tannehill and Dustin Keller are in synch. That's a done thing. They combined for two completions and 46 yards. Tannehill struggled early but recovered nicely. He finished 5 of 9 for 75 yards with a touchdown. His passer rating was 120.1. He did throw a couple of passes that more accomplished corners might have intercepted but the bottom line is those balls fell to the ground and his 22-yard pass to Dustin Keller in the end zone didn't.

Josh Samuda didn't look good. He struggled. Sen'Derrick Marks beat him to the QB.

Ryan Tannehill apparently didn't notice because after the game he said the starting OL "did a good job."

Rookie cornerback Will Davis continues to impress me. He's always around the ball. He batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage on a corner blitz and had an interception.

That 58-yard field goal by rookie Caleb Sturgis and his repeated ability to kick the ball in the end zone (6 for 6) and get touchbacks (4) seems to give him an edge currently in the kicking competition. Good night for him. Tough night for Dan Carpenter, who didn't kick at all.

The battle for the third RB job has been joined. Mike Gillislee is the favorite but Jonas Gray is making him quite valuable as a short-yardage and goal line producer. Gray scored two touchdowns from 1 yard out tonight. He ran hard.

For the night, Gray gained 32 yards on 14 carries. Gillislee gained 37 yards on 12 carries. Tough competiton.

Chris Clemons, who left the game in the first quarter and went to the locker room, said after the game he is fine.

By the way, the Jaguars are a mess. They had an issue on the sideline with players arguing. One of the guys arguing was wide receiver Justin Blackmon, who wasn't even playing and is suspended for four games. Are you kidding me?

 

Live blog with Wallace playing

JACKSONVILLE -- Mike Wallace is playing tonight.

That's the first thing you should know. So will Brian Hartline, as I reported earlier in the weeks. So the Dolphins will finally have their starting QB-to-WR battery this preseason.

QB Ryan Tannehill will play about a quarter tonight.

This is live blog night. That means get aboard and see you there.

Fast start, sure, but Dolphins need more than that

By now you know Joe Philbin was asked what he's looking for tonight as the Dolphins play the Jacksonville Jaguars in their second preseason game. "Fast start," he said.

That was it.

Next question.

I sort of get it. Last week in the preseason opener against Dallas, the Dolphins got off to anything but a fast start. The starting defense gave up some yardage that flipped the field on the opening drive and then the offense, starting from their 9 yard line, fumbled on their first play.

The Cowboys then converted the turnover into a touchdown.

7-0.

And that was after the Dolphins defense picked up a pass interference penalty in the end zone. And it soon became 17-0.

So, yes, the Dolphins don't want to make a habit of starting that slow anytime, not even in the preseason.

But as Philbin says he's looking for a fast start, I'm looking for more.

How about flipping the turnover margin? The Dolphins have invested a lot of time and energy and focus on winning the turnover battle every game this season. They preach ball security to the offense. They preach stripping and intercepting and taking the ball away to the defense. They even have footballs hanging in every defensive meeting room hanging from walls and alike so that players punch at them and get used to snatching them.

Well, last week, the Dolphins lost the turnover margin to Dallas. And two of those -- the Lamar fumble and an interception by Matt Moore that was returned 75 yards for a score -- led to points for Dallas.

So the focus the team has put on turnovers needs to start paying dividends.

From a team perspective I also would like better tackling. The tackling was bad last week. It was, as noted earlier on this blog, so bad that Dallas gained 93 rushing yards after contact on the Dolphins. That's got to get cleaned up before the season.

And then there is the rush defense. Last week the Cowboys gained 170 rushing yards. No, Randy Starks didn't play. Neither did Jared Odrick or Olivier Vernon or Dannell Ellerbe. I expect all of those except Starks to play today. With Maurice Jones-Drew not playing tonight for Jacksonville, the situation is set for the Dolphins to improve their defense against the run.

[BLOG NOTE: Check back later for the live blog and I'll update you on the status of Mike Wallace for the game.]