One of the most impressive facts about the Miami Dolphins 2014 season?
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill survived.
That's right, after 1,095 snaps during this season, Tannehill walked away with his head still on his shoulders and all his limbs intact. He also started every game for the third consecutive year. That is no small feat considering Tannehill has been sacked 105 times the past two years.
That is the most sacks suffered by any NFL quarterback over that span.
And yet Tannehill displayed amazing toughness. Again. This goes somewhat overlooked when viewing the Dolphins through the prism of the team's major issues. You know, things like the highest paid player telling the coach he was taking himself out of the game.
(Still cannot believe that one).
Bill Parcells told me once that durability is an ability.
And Tannehill has shown he has plenty of that. But general manager Dennis Hickey must not continue to let the franchise play Russian Roulette with the quarterback's health.
Dennis, assuming you're reading this ... I know there are linebacker and cornerback and safety and other issues on the roster. But you need two top-notch guards. Mike Pouncey wants to move back to center. You have two solid offensive tackles in Branden Albert (assuming he returns to health) and Ja'Wuan James.
You must fill those two guard spots with quality players -- not throw-away draft picks or free agent projects on the cheap like last year.
The reason is Tannehill may be ready in 2015 to make the leap in his second year in Bill Lazor's offense into something special. But he cannot do it if he is on his back. And he cannot do it if his luck runs out and cannot play.
Anyone not buying into what I'm saying, please watch the tape of Sunday's loss to the Jets. They had a season-high seven sacks against the Dolphins.
The Dolphins play in a division where the Buffalo Bills have three Pro Bowl players on the defensive line. They play in a division with Bill Belichick.
They must, must, must figure out a way to protect Ryan Tannehill in 2015.
As to the end of the 2014 season, it came in a 37-24 loss to the Jets and ProFootballFocus.com did its weekly tape review. I added some of my insights as well.
Billy Turner got his first career snaps on Sunday, filling in for 17 plays when Ja’Wuan James went down. Jason Fox went from RT to LT and Turner substituted for Fox at RT. He performed well, not allowing a single pressure on 12 pass-blocking snaps.
This is not to be dismissed on a day the Dolphins allowed seven sacks.
Third-down back Damien Williams had 10 snaps and they came exclusively on passing plays, setting him up as a possibility for the same role in 2015.
Mike Wallace played 32 snaps before his issues with the quarterback and the coaches. Brian Hartline took on 68 of 72 snaps, Jarvis Landry saw 51 snaps, and Brandon Gibson saw 44 snaps.
The Dolphins did take some "shots" on Sunday. Tannehill was 3-of-6 on passes of 20-plus yards downfield for 67 yards and a TD.
Tannehill was under pressure on half of his 46 drop-backs. Daryn Colledge, no doubt playing his final game for the Dolphins, was bad, allowing three sacks. New York Jets coach Rex Ryan sent the blitz on 24 of 46 drop-backs.
Lamar Miller’s big run came off right tackle, but he was also productive on middle runs too, piling up 47 yards on six carries behind center Samson Satele.
Miller’s struggles came on runs to the left, netting just 12 yards on eight carries to left end and left tackle. It has been clear for some time that tackle Ja'Wuan James was solid in pass protection but needs to improve his run blocking.
Hartline’s biggest day of the season came with minimal yards after the catch. Hartline collected 1 YAC -- which I supposed is better than a Llama but not great.
Jarvis Landry caught all four targets when matched up against David Harris and Calvin Pryor, matchups he should win in the passing game.
Although the Miami defense embarrassed again, they missed just one tackle on the day. Imagine if they'd struggle tackling also?
Dion Jordan capped off his suspension-shorted season with two more quarterback pressures. He produced at least two pressures in each of the final three games of the season.
Jordan Kovacs played the most defensive snaps of his career -- 29.
Cortland Finnegan, meanwhile, could not finish the game. He was benched when it became clear the Jets were targetting him and Eric Decker was simply too much for him.
Finnegan has made vague suggestions about retiring but Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said Finnegan had made no mention of that on Monday when the two met. If Finnegan does not retire, he will likely be cut for salary cap purposes.
Brent Grimes, Finnegan, and Jimmy Wilson all took their turns attempting to stop Decker, but could not. He hauled in all three of his targets against each of them.
Jelani Jenkins held down Johnson, Ivory, and Amaro, allowing two catches on three targets, but for -3 yards. Jenkins did get lost in the wash (or picked, depending on one's perspective) on a crossing route that TE Jeff Cumberland caught for a TD.
Geno Smith only attempted seven passes over 10 yards, but completed them all, including five of 20-plus yards for 223 yards and two scores.
The Dolphins came with a blitz on nine of Smith’s 29 drop-backs, sacking him once, but allowed 7-of-8 completions for 154 yards and two TDs.
Geno Smith, you must remember, had a 0.0 quarterback rating against the Buffalo Bills earlier this season. He had a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating against the Dolphins on Sunday.