I watched the Dolphins 20-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a second time today. Miami still loses. Imagine that. And while there were some good points the Dolphins will probably emphasize for public consumption, there was also a troubling theme to this game:
Nobody that the Dolphins are counting on this year made a big play.
"Look, we’re looking for guys who can make great plays," coach Joe Philbin said after the game. "Whether it’s impact plays, whether it be third down, whether it be a defensive end beating an offensive tackle, sacking a quarterback, a receiver beating a corner in a one-on-one match up, a running back eluding a tackle and making a play, those types of things.
"I don’t think we had enough of them. Tampa Bay had more of it."
Some proof of that?
The startingdefense gave up a 92-yard drive to Tampa Bay's second-team quarterback Dan Orlovsky. That's a long way to go without a play being made. The starting offense didn't score.
Chad Johnson, who is supposed to deliver big plays this season, dropped the only pass thrown his way and the painful thing is it came on third down.
Even Ryan Tannehill, who was among the best Miami players in the game, had Marlon Moore open in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown in the second quarter and he hurried his pass and skipped it just ahead of Moore instead of delivering on target.
"I had Marlon on a great route, my eyes got big and didn’t set my feet (and) threw the ball into the ground," Tannehill said. "That’s one I’d like to have back. He ran a great route, was wide open. There’s no reason I shouldn’t get him the ball there and score a touchdown. I was really upset with that one there. I just got a little antsy and threw the ball in the dirt. You’ve got to score. To win games, you’ve got to put points on the board. It doesn’t matter how many yards you throw for, what your completion percentage is. You’ve got to score points. (I) definitely want to work on that and finishing drives in the red zone next week.”
Some other notes from the game rewind:
Rookie RT Jonathan Martin: He played every snap into the third quarter. He didn't give up a sack. But he did pick up two false start penalties. He also yielded a quarterback pressure.
Fourth down inside the 5 yard line: Tampa Bay had it once in that situation and converted. Miami had it once in that situation and a Ryan Tannehill pass to Charles Clay was tipped away incomplete.
Kick return: Marcus Thigpen has to be kicking himself (pardon the pun) because he was supposed to get a lot of work returning kicks. But he was injured and did not play. So Lamar Miller and Rishard Matthews got the work instead. And while Miller didn't impress, Matthews was very good. Matthews had a 45-yard return that opened some eyes. Miller, a source tells me, needs to practice better. He's kind of just going along instead of attacking each practice session. He kind of played that way Friday.
Special teams note 1: Dan Carpenter only missed five field goal attempts last year. He missed two Friday night.
Special teams note 2: Jason Trusnick was Johnny on the spot when he recovered a muffed punt. Good work.
The line of scrimmage battle: it was won by Tampa Bay on both sides of the ball. The Dolphins created zero quarterback pressure. They had no sacks. Tampa Bay only had one sack but there was pressure. That's one reason Maat Moore had a couple of passes deflected at the line of scrimmage. As for run blocking? Pat Devlin was Miami's leading rusher on the night. Enough said. On the other hand, the Miami defense lost contain a couple of times. On one, LaGarrette Blount gained 16 yards on a run wide left when Gary Guyton got blocked downa dn Cameron Wake didn't contain on the edge.
Most impressive WR: That would be Roberto Wallace. He caught passes . He broke a couple of tackles. Yes, he dropped a TD pass. But Wallace feasted on the Tampa Bay backup secondary. Afterward, however, he was thinking of the missed TD and I supose that's what led him to say, "I left a lot of food on the table."
More on wide receivers: The Dolphins want, indeed need, one or two of their younger receivers to step up.Wallace (4 catches, 71 yards) did that. Julius Pruitt (6 catches, 52 yards) did that some. They seriously helped themselves.
Jimmy Wilson inexperience: He is a converted cornerbck. He still reacts as one at times and that was the case on Tiquan Underwood's 43-yard catch between Wilson and Smith. The ball should have been intercepted by Wilson but as the ball came down he waited to catch it with his body rather than reach for it at his highest point. That gave Underwood the chance to snatch it for the reception.
Missed tackles count: Three. Sean Smith had two, Koa Misi had one. But I must confess, I stopped counting when the starters left the field. Sue me.