The Dolphins opened their 2013 season with two games on the road. No one would have thought that, after those two games, we’d be seeing a 2-0 team. Although the Dolphins’ performance has far exceeded the expectations of many fans, there’s still lots of room for improvement.
Ryan Tannehill again showed how improved he is over last year’s rookie campaign. In his second game, Tannehill threw for over 300 yards, something that has happened only twice in the past two seasons. Through 2 games, Tannehill’s 591 yards is already better than the first three games of last season. He has shown tremendous growth, yet still has enormous up-side. Ryan Tannehill is beginning to show why the Dolphins spent last season’s first round pick on him.
On special teams, the most refreshing success story has been Caleb Sturgis. The rookie kicker has been rock-solid, and it showed on Sunday. Sturgis drilled a 54-yard kick to end the first half – TWICE. Both kicks were dead-center and had about 10 yards of extra length. Sturgis has been a success story this season, and is proving why the release of Dan Carpenter was the right move.
The Dolphins appear to continue to struggle covering the opponents’ tight ends. The defense let Coby Fleener look like Tony Gonzalez, hauling in 4 catches for 69 yards and a TD, not including another 15 yard TD nullified by penalty. In the previous week, the Browns’ Jordan Cameron tallied 9 catches for 108 yards and a TD. The Dolphins definitely need to shore up the coverage on the tight end in order to have success next week against one of the all-time best.
While the running game was improved this week, the offensive line still needs to improve on pass protection. Tannehill ate the ball 5 times on Sunday. They also were unable to get any push on short yardage plays to help pick up first downs. They are going to need to gel as a unit to continue to beat teams.
Its difficult to pinpoint something as ugly when you pull out a big win against a tough opponent on the road. Enter Dion Jordan. One of the most hyped pre-game stories last week was how Dion Jordan said he never lost to Andrew Luck, and didn't plan to start now. But, this Sunday, the rookie pass rusher made a rookie mistake, foregoing a potentially drive-ending sack and allowing Andrew Luck to pick up a critical 3rd and 12. Jordan’s two-hand-touch on Luck made him look foolish. A dominant defensive player needs to be salivating at the change to bury his shoulder into a QB’s ribs. But Jordan pulled up and tapped him on the shoulder while running by.
Later, Jordan said he thought Luck already got rid of the ball. With that in mind, the behavior makes sense. With all of the present-day rules about hitting QB’s, Jordan obviously pulled up to avoid hitting Luck. But, you need to be more aware of the ball in critical situations. This was a rookie mistake that must not be repeated.
Overall, the Dolphins’ performance in Indy was much improved over Cleveland. Over 100 yards rushing, over 300 yards passing, not a single penalty. You can’t really ask for much more against a team that made the playoffs last season. Let’s hope they further build on this performance and are prepared for Atlanta coming up in the Dolphins’ home opener in week 3.