October 08, 2016

Why the Dolphins third down offense is so terrible

I know some pundits that include former coaches and players would have you believe football is a complex sport. And, yes, it has it's own language and culture. But when it comes down to it, the NFL is about matchups and your playmakers beating their playmakers.

The team that exploit matchups typically win.

The team that gets the most plays from its playmakers typically win.

And that is why the Dolphins are 1-3 today. (They'll be 2-3 tomorrow evening, but that's for another post). As I wrote in my column today, the Dolphins are not getting enough plays from their playmakers. Indeed, I'm starting to wonder how many playmakers this team really has.

DeVante Parker is not making enough plays.

Kenny Stills is not making enough plays -- indeed he makes one extra play this year, the Dolphins beat Seattle and they're 2-2.

I list the so-called playmakers that aren't producing enough plays for the Dolphins. And, yes, Ryan Tannehill is among the list of guys not making enough plays for the Dolphins. It is just true.

Think about this:

The New England Patriots have not seen Tom Brady on the field four games into the season. They've played with backup Jimmy Garoppolo and third-stringer Jacoby Brissett. And yet the Patriots have not thrown an interception this year.

The Dallas Cowboys have not seen Tony Romo on the field four games into the season. They've played with backup rookie quarterback Dak Prescott. And yet the Cowboys have not thrown an interception this year.

The Vikings lost their starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in practice before the regular-season began. They started backup Shaun Hill and then traded for Sam Bradford who took three minutes to learn the offense before he got rolling. And yet the Vikings have not thrown an interception this year.

The Eagles traded Bradford. They're starting rookie Carson Wentz, who missed much of the preseason with an fractured rib. And the Eagles have not thrown an interception this year.

The Dolphins? With Tannehill? He's thrown more interceptions than Cleveland Browns quarterbacks.

This is not sustainable. He must be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. He must be a playmaker for the Dolphins.

And this isn't just a Tannehill issue. This isn't a running game or passing game issue. It's an everybody issue.

Miami is 31st in the NFL in running first downs. Miami is 26th in the NFL in passing first downs.

It's also not a offense-only issue. The defense needs to make more impact plays.

Turnover margin is one measure of impact plays.

The Dolphins are minus five. That's 29th in the NFL.

The Miami defense has four take-aways. Buffalo has twice as many. New England has seven.

Giveaways?

Miami has nine which is 26th in the NFL. Miami's four lost fumbles in four games is horrible!

I will say this: I note in my column how horrible Miami's offense is on third down efficiency. The defense, interestingly, is pretty good. The Dolphins' D is allowing third down conversions only 31.7 percent of the time and that's second-best in the NFL.

So on the big money down, the Dolphins defense is making plays. That's great.

The problem is the offense stinks.

Example: The Miami D held Cincinnati to 3-of-15 (20 percent) in their last game, versus Cincinnati.

The problem is the Miami O was worse than Cincy's O. The Dolphins converted only 2 of 11 third downs all game, including none in five tries the first half. The 2-of-11 rate is 18 percent. So, awful.

Again, the NFL is about matchups and playmakers making impact plays.

The Dolphins are so far terrible at getting impact plays from their playmakers.

October 07, 2016

Xavien Howard undergoes (another) knee surgery, is week to week

The starting cornerbacks against the Tennessee Titans Sunday for the Miami Dolphins?

Tony Lippett and Byron Maxwell.

Indeed, that will be the starting cornerback tandem for the next few weeks because Xavien Howard is out Sunday and will miss 3-6 weeks after having his meniscus repaired this week. The surgery was to the same knee that required surgery in June and caused Howard to miss all of training camp and the preseason.

Howard injured his knee in practice this week. He will remain on the active roster as the team is calling him "week to week."

Coach Adam Gase confirmed Howard had the surgery. Gase also confirmed Maxwell, who was benched last week at Cincinnati, is back in the starting lineup.

The Dolphins are thus in bad shape at cornerback. Lippett isn't good enough and Maxwell is trying to play to the form the Dolphins thought he'd have when they traded for him in the offseason.

The situation is serious enough that Gase said when Chris Culliver, who is rehabilitating from serious knee reconstruction, is able to come off the physically unable to perform list after the sixth game of the season, "he'll be in the conversation very fast."

The Howard issue might not necessarily be a disaster this weekend. The Titans are the NFL's 27th ranked passing offense, averaging 221 yards per game. But later, when opponents such as Pittsburgh and San Diego come around, that could present a major problem for the Dolphins.

Howard is one of three players the Dolphins officially listed as out for Sunday's game. Tight end Jordan Cameron (concussion) will miss his second consecutive start as will linebacker Koa Misi (neck).

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said Friday Donald Butler would start in place of Misi.

Running back Arian Foster (hamstring) is listed as doubtful. Don't expect to see him in this game as the Dolphins are likely to be cautious in his return from a hamstring injury. Foster has already missed two of Miami's four games.

By the way, the Carolina Panthers today cut 6-foot cornerback Bene' Benwikere Friday. Benwikere was a Carolina starter until this week when he was cut in the aftermath of allowing Falcons receiver Julio Jones to gain 300 yards on 12 catches in last Sunday's game against the Panthers. Benwikere was assigned to shadow Jones throughout the game.

It obviously didn't go well. No one is confusing Benwikere with Deion Sanders.

But these are desperate times. So why not put in a claim for a 25-year-old player?

Dolphins moving forward toward Sunday at Hard Rock until further notice (updated)

The people who refurbished (rebuilt) Hard Rock Stadium to its current form will inspect the facility today to make sure it suffered no structural damage during Hurricane Matthew. If that inspection shows the facility is undamaged, the football games scheduled for tomorrow and Sunday will be held there as planned.

The Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles are scheduled to play at Hard Rock on Saturday night. The Miami Dolphins are scheduled to host the Tennessee Titans at Hard Rock at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

By all outward appearances Hard Rock suffered no damage.

[Update: The stadium has passed inspection. The games are on!]

Matthew did not come ashore in South Florida and northwest Miami-Dade County where Hard Rock sits saw only minimal tropical storm force winds and some rain. The facility is designed and constructed to withstand hurricane force winds.

So the scheduled inspection is considered unlikely to turn up any issues. The Dolphins nonetheless want to be detailed in every facet of this issue.

But this: The Dolphins fully expect to move forward and play the Titans at home on Sunday. They've made plans for this and will continue to implement those plans today unless and until someone (the inspection) says otherwise.

Those plans include a walkthrough practice at 2 p.m. followed by an hour-long or so practice at 3:05 p.m.

Dolphins players were off Thursday but that was planned well ahead of the storm and would have happened even if there was no storm. Coaches were told to stay home Thursday and did exactly that because of the storm. The team has re-gathered at its Davie, Fl., practice facility today.

That facility, by the way, also suffered no ill effects from Matthew.

 

October 05, 2016

Xavien Howard injured in practice Tuesday, uncertain for Sunday

The Dolphins hoped the extra days they get following a Thursday game last week would give them an opportunity to get healthier. That hasn't necessarily been the case.

Coach Adam Gase announced cornerback Xavien Howard "got tangled up" during practice Tuesday and suffered an injury that has put him under care of doctors. The coach said team doctors have been examining the rookie but others might be looking at him later on.

Gase gave no certainty that Howard is missing the game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday. He also gave no certainty Howard would be available to play.

"We're dealing with both contingencies," Gase said. "That's ball."

The Dolphins planned to give Byron Maxwell, benched last week against Cincinnati, a chance at playing time Sunday. He would be starting if Howard cannot play. It would be Maxwell and Tony Lippett starting.

If Howard can play, which reading between the lines doesn't sound like the most likely possibility, it would be Howard and Lippett with Maxwell working in.

On the bright side of the injury front, Gase said Branden Albert seems likely to go Sunday.

He will be reported as an illness and ankle injury on the injury report but the illness is the reason he has missed practice is the illness.

Gase addressed the Arian Foster situation and repeated the philosophy I reported on the matter a couple of hours ago.

Arian Foster, Jordan Cameron unlikely to play Sunday

Arian Foster continues to rehabilitate the groin/hamstring injury that has forced him to miss two games so far this season and right now the team is moving forward with the thinking he is not likely to play Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

Foster practiced at least on a limited basis Wednesday after missing practice Tuesday. Those two are the primary preparation days for the team this week prior to playing the Titans. The club will not practice Thursday at all and players won't even be at the Dolphins training facility due to the threat from Hurricane Matthew.

Foster could conceivably practice again Friday and still play Sunday but the Dolphins have so far been extremely cautious about putting valuable players back on the field with only limited practice when they're returning from injuries.

Coach Adam Gase doesn't like risking players re-aggravating injuries and missing more time than if they sat out a bit longer. So the more likely scenario is Foster is held back for the Pittsburgh game Oct. 16.

Interestingly, the injury that's keeping Foster out of games is not the same one that knocked him out of the New England game Sept. 13. Foster left that game with a left groin injury.

He has missed the past two games because of a left hamstring injury. Foster dealt with a hamstring injury during training camp.

Foster has historically suffered soft tissue injuries throughout his career.

Foster this season has 16 carries for 47 yards. That's a 2.9 yard per carry average. He's caught three passes for 62 yards. He has not scored.

Left tackle Branden Albert, tight end Jordan Cameron and linebacker Jelani Jenkins missed practice Wednesday.

The Dolphins are moving forward with the expectation that Cameron will miss Sunday's game due to the concussion he suffered against Cleveland Sept. 25.

Branden Albert missed practice Sunday with an illness and ankle injury. He missed last week's game at Cincinnati because of the same ankle injury. The Dolphins are hopeful Albert will be back against Tennessee on Sunday.

Linebacker Jelani Jenkins also did not practice on Wednesday. He missed last week's game with a groin injury. It is unclear what his status is for Sunday.

 

 

Dolphins craft answer to Hurricane Matthew

The Miami Dolphins have already been impacted by Hurricane Matthew.

The team has decided to close its offices on Thursday in advance of the storm that is threatening parts of Florida, including parts of South Florida.

Players were supposed to be off on Thursday anyway, so there is no change there. They practiced on Tuesday, which is typically an off day.

Coaches, however, were expected to work Thursday. Now they also will be off and not expected to turn up at the team's Davie, Fla, training facility.

The team expects to be up and running on Friday.

The tarps used to cover fan areas and other outside tie-downs have been taken down by the Dolphins.

There has been discussions about what to do with Sunday's scheduled game in the event this storm hits the general area -- affecting power and roads. The Dolphins continue to monitor that but I'm told the team has no desire to play this game at Tennessee.

 

October 01, 2016

Would Jay Cutler be a serious possibility for the Dolphins?

The answer is no.

No.

No!

"Never happening," is what I've been told by folks familiar with the Miami Dolphins thinking. "Has never come up. Never happening."

And so if you are thinking the Dolphins are about to dump Ryan Tannehill by the November 1 trade deadline or after this season to replace him with Jay Cutler ... no. Just no.

Why is this a topic?

Well, my friend Mike Florio asked me about it on his highly entertaining (at least when I'm on) PFT Live radio show on NBC Sports Radio. Then he wrote about on ProFootballTalk.com and then radio shows elsewhere picked it up. And then it got onto some social media circles.

And now it's a thing because Tannehill didn't play great in a 22-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday night.

Except it is not a thing with the Dolphins.

They haven't discussed it. The salary cap ramifications are moot because it is not being considered. The Dolphins, at least, aren't planning for it. They are not going to do it, based on what I've been told.

Next....

PFF Week Four grades: Reshad Jones a stud again; CBs terrible; Tannehill terrible; Pass Pro except for Urbik terrible

The Dolphins' grades coming out of Thursday night's loss to the Bengals', courtesy my friends at ProFootballFocus.com, have come in about where you'd expect. The defense, which held Cincinnati to one touchdown, was mostly good although there is room for improvement. The offense, which had one first quarter touchdown and nothing else, was not good.

To wit:

The Dolphins' defense was once again led by safety Reshad Jones, who posted the best grade on the unit with a 84.5. He graded out well in run defense once again, posting six tackles and three stops on the night. For the season, Jones leads his respective position in both tackles on running plays (17) and stops (10).

By the way...stops are what PFF judges to be tackles that prevent an offensive success, defined as gaining 40 percent of required yardage on first down, 60 percent on second down, and the entire required yardage on third or fourth downs.

Jones, by the way, turned in the highest grade of any Dolphins player for this game. He is also rated the No. 5 safety in the NFL by PFF according to their grades.

DT Nkdamukong Suh and DE Mario Williams shut down the left side of the line on run plays, as their six combined tackles were all run stops. Andre Branch joined the stop party as well, posting three of his own on runs to the right side of the defensive line.

Suh had an inconsistent game, grading out well in run defense and adding three more tackles and stops giving him a total of 17 tackles and 14 stops in run defense for the year. That is tops for all nose tackles and defensive tackles in the league. However, he had three penalties on the night and recorded just one QB hurry on 31 pass rushing snaps.   

CBs Tony Lippett and Xavien Howard were targeted a total of eight times when covering Bengals WR A.J. Green, and it went about as you'd expect. That is to say, poorly. Against the two young players, Green posted seven catches for 142 yards and the lone TD of the night for the Bengals off a missed tackle by Lippett. 

Howard, a rookie second round pick, was picked on for most of the first half, allowing four catches on five targets for 78 yards, highlighted by a 51 yard catch by AJ Green. He has now recorded 22 tackles in pass coverage which is the most in the league and has just two in run defense.

What do those numbers suggest? Teams are coming after Howard and forcing him to make plays or, as in this game, to not make plays.

The Bengals, by the way, seemed to chase Howard as if it was in their game plan to go after him moreso than veteran Byron Maxwell. When the Dolphins surprised everyone by benching Maxwell, the Bengals didn't change the plans and still looked to throw to their right more than to their left where not-ready-for-primetime Tony Lippett was playing cornerback.   

Dolphins LB Spencer Paysinger's coverage numbers don't look awful on paper, as he gave up two catches on three targets for 22 yards. However, he missed tackles on both receptions he allowed, and missed a third on a run. All three missed tackles resulted in key first downs for the Bengals. 

One week after being the most productive 4-3 defensive end rushing the passer, Cameron Wake saw little action against the Bengals, playing only 15 total snaps. He recorded one QB hurry which gives him 12 for the season, most at his position. His pass rushing productivity (a formula used to measure QB sacks/hits/hurries relative to pass rushing snaps) of 16.0 is the best for 4-3 defensive ends as well.

These numbers suggest, no, not suggest ... These number scream that Wake is still productive but the Dolphins are not getting enough productivity from him because he's not playing enough on a consistent basis. 

LB Kiko Alonso continued his solid season with the Dolphins, recording six more tackles including four stops and one QB hurry on the night. He was Miami's second highest rated player with a grade of 84.3, and has yet to record a missed tackle in 134 run defense snaps on the season. His biggest weakness so far has been his pass coverage, where he allowed six receptions on six targets for 42 yards against the Bengals.

One nitpick on run defense for Alonso: He's not a downhill player. He's excellent chasing sideline to sideline but he needs to improve slightly in filling holes in the middle of the defense as they happen at the line of scrimmage. Of course, that would turn him into perhaps the best MLB the Dolphins have had since Zach Thomas. He's not there yet, but good so far.

Offensively ... yikes.

After starting the season strong and ranking among the Top 10 quarterbacks, Ryan Tannehill struggled Thursday against the Bengals, posting a grade of 45.0. Although he was effective facing no pressure (12-of-15 for 160 yards and one touchdown), under pressure was a different story.

Tannehill was 3-of-10 for 29 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and five sacks taken under pressure.  

First round rookie Laremy Tunsil made his first career start at LT against the Bengals filling in for an injured Branden Albert. It was an uneven debut at the position. In 45 total snaps (31 passing), Tunsil allowed one sack, one hit on Tannehill and one hurry. The sack was significant because Tunsil had allowed none in three games while playing at left guard.

Through four games, Tunsil has allowed the one sack and seven QB hurries in his 230 snaps. He has also graded out better run blocking than pass blocking thus far which is strange because coaches said he'd better as a pass blocker early on. Tunsil figures to be the LT of the future in Miami and he showed potential in his first career game there. Indeed, so far, Laremy Tunsil has played very well considering he's a rookie and is likely going to get even better.  

C Kraig Urbik stepped in and made the start at center with all of the injuries along the Miami offensive line. He was the only player to post a strong grade (79.3) and did not allow a single QB hurry/hit/sack on the night. The rest of the offensive line combined to allow five sacks, two QB hits and seven hurries.

I have no idea how Urbik did communicating the protections, if he did that at all. But for a third-string center, this was a pretty good outing all things considered.  

WR Jarvis Landry was targeted 10 of the 21 total attempts a Miami wide out was targeted against the Bengals, while Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker were each targeted only three times. Landry was able to turn his 10 targets into 7 catches and 61 yards and added to his league leading yards after catch (YAC) with 24 more. He did have one drop, per PFF.

For the season, Landry now ranks 5th for WR in yards per route run at 2.58.  

TE Dion Sims made the start for the injured Jordan Cameron and had a rough night against the Bengals. He was targeted twice and turned in one catch for nine yards while struggling in the blocking game, something he has done a great job of his time in Miami, particularly last week against the Browns. Sims was one of five Dolphins to allow a sack on the night and he wasn't able to help Miami sustain any consistent success on the ground.  

September 29, 2016

Cincinnati Bengals steamroll Miami Dolphins, 22-7 (with Tannehill, Gase reaction)

CINCINNATI -- I'm not ready to call for the benching of Ryan Tannehill. But this was bad, folks. Really bad.

Hey, the Dolphins lost 22-7 and Tannehill had a rough day.

"Not a lot worked," Tannehill said. "We really didn't do anything well. It was one of our worst performances from our offense in a long time. We did some decent things in the run game, we just couldn't get anything going in the passing game. No consistency. No execution. Too many mistakes. It was bad.

"We have too get it fixed soon, and I mean Monday. It's gone on too long. It's got to be important to everyone who steps on that field. We have to get it fixed right now."

Tannehill completed 15 of 25 passes for 189 yards with one interception and one touchdown. A lot of those yards came in garbage time when so many of Tannehill's yards have come this year.

Yeah, it's not one person or group," Tannehill said. "It's everyone, including me. We have to get better. We have to execute. Can't have mental mistakes."

Gase, interestingly, did not absolve Tannehill of his poor performance, either.

"The entire offense struggled," he said. "Obviously, he missed a couple of things early. His missed a third-and-one on a naked and was behind on the throw to Jarvis Landry. When things start going bad, you want him to find that one throw where he can spring us loose. But tonight was one of those nights where he only had two opportunities early that maybe could have sparked us.

"It's hard to play that position. You're trying to make plays, and if you're a quarter of an inch off and the ball is behind, then they're going to play tight defense. And that's what these guys do. There were some good things he did and a couple of times he had some great plays. But not everybody was on the same page. All of the sudden he looks like he doesn't know what he's doing. I know he's going to come back and work and figure out a way to get this thing turned around."

It was depressing.

Tannehill was sacked five times. The offensive line that didn't have any depth a year ago?

It has no depth this year.

That is now proven.

"Some of the plays were not ideal, as far as what we were doing," Gase said. "Some was busted protection. Ryan has to step up on the fumble. It's everybody taking their turn. I don't think it really mattered who was out right now. We couldn't get out of own way."

Laremy Tunsil struggled at left tackle. Billy Turner was terrible at left guard. I mean, Dallas Thomas has been a better left guard. And Ja'Wuan James remains in a funk.

About that play where Tannehill was stripped. I asked him why he didn't step up in the pocket.

"Yeah, I looked at the pictures, there was definitely a pocket there I should have stepped up into," Tannehill said. "I had my eyes downfield and was about to let it go. But the fact is the tackles did a good job of pushing the guys past the depth so I have to step up. That's on me."

The defense continues to disappoint.

Andy Dalton to A.J. Green just went for another first down. Green caught 10 passes for 173 yards and one TD.

The Dolphins are 1-3. Season is not over. But ...

 

 

Huge amount of lineup changes forced by injuries and performance.

CINCINNATI -- It's a nightmare, folks.

The inactives tonight include Branden Albert, Jelani Jenkins, Koa Misi, Anthony Steen, and Jordan Cameron -- all of them starters.

Arian Foster and Mike Pouncey are also inactive.

Cornerback Byron Maxwell, healthy but not playing up to standards, is also not starting.

So that is six starters on the bench at the start of this game and that doesn't even include Mike Pouncey, who is also not starting.

Laremy Tunsil will move from LG to LT and start for Albert. Spencer Paysinger will start for Misi. Donald Butler will start for Jenkins. Tony Lippett will start for Maxwell. Billy Turner starts for Tunsil at left guard, Kraig Urbik starts at center for Steen and Pouncey and Dion Sims starts at tight end for Jordan Cameron at tight end.

Damien Williams start at RB for Foster this week. Last week, Kenyan Drake started for Foster.

Wow.

Shocking! Dolphins players with injury histories are injured

CINCINNATI -- The Miami Dolphins injury report this week is a cynic's dream.

The cynic looks at the group of players on Miami's report that includes a third of the team and says, "I told you so."

And you know what? It is hard to dismiss the criticism because so many of the injured Dolphins this week came to the Dolphins or have been with the Dolphins with a history for injuries.

Running back Arian Foster is the most prominent name on Miami's injury list. He is a poster child of injury history. He's missed 19 games in the past five seasons, and tonight will mark his 20th missed game in that span. He missed 12 games last season and has missed two of four this season. He's had hamstring, groin and last year's Achilles' injury.

Who is surprised Foster is hurt? No one.

So the Dolphins have no excuses for relying on him.

Misi is out with a neck injury. And that means he will not play all 16 games this season. That's expected because he has not played all 16 games in a season since his rookie season in 2011.

Misi finished the 2015 season on injured reserve. He finished the 2011 season on injured reserve.

Misi has battled back and abdomen injuries (2015), a serious ankle injury (2014), a knee injury (2013) and a shoulder injury (2011).

Koa Lisiate Foti Analeseanoa Misi has battled almost as many injuries as there are letters in his full name.

Jelani Jenkins is listed as doubtful for this game. He has a groin injury. He had a knee injury in August that required surgery. He has not missed games this year yet, but his history suggests he will because he hasn't played a full season since his rookie year in 2013 when he was only playing on special teams.

Jenkins had recurring ankle issues in 2015 that found him starting games he could not finish because of the injury.

And while that credits the player for being tough and resilient enough to make it to the game despite the injury, it actually hurts the team because coaches make plans and adjust their inactive lists, counting on the player to contribute. Then he goes out and suddenly the plans have to be shredded.

Interestingly, that is exactly the situation the Dolphins find themselves in tonight with Jenkins. Frankly, I'd sit him.

Mike Pouncey is about to miss his fourth game of the season because of a hip injury suffered August 19. And I reported this was likely on Sept. 16. Pouncey's season debut will come on Oct. 9 against Tennessee, barring another setback.

Pouncey has not played a full season since 2012.

Last year Pouncey battled foot, hip and knee issues. The foot injury ended his season prematurely. In 2014, Pouncey needed surgery on his other hip in the offseason and that forced him to miss the first five weeks of the season. in 2013, Pouncey had an issue with food poisoning that forced him to miss time.

The concern now is the hip. He's had surgery on both the left and right hip. And his latest hip injury -- to the left hip again -- now suggests that side is a problem.

Tight end Jordan Cameron will miss this game with a concussion. The Dolphins are hopeful Cameron can return to the lineup by the Oct. 9 home game against Tennessee. But to say that is the plan is not accurate.

No one knows for certain when Cameron will be back because only the neurological tests that players must take and pass to get back on the field will determine that.

And Cameron, a smart, thoughtful guy who has a family to think about, is almost certainly not going to rush the matter. He's not going to tell doctors he feels good if he knows he's not yet 100 percent -- something some players actually do.

The Dolphins signed Cameron in 2015 knowing concussions were an issue with him. Jordan had three concussions in three seasons with the Cleveland Browns.

He suffered a concussion in practice in 2012 and missed two games. He suffered a concussion in Week 15 of 2013 and missed Week 16. He suffered a concussion in Week 8 of 2014 and missed three games.

Cameron has also had shoulder, rib and hamstring issues since 2011. The hamstring issue in '11 forced him to miss eight games. But it is the concussion injuries that shout concern.

Miami gambled and won on the issue in 2015. Cameron played all 16 games. But that was the first time in his NFL career he was able to complete a full season.

Miami's luck, and that seems to be all it was, has apparently run out on that front. 

The Dolphins have other players on this week's injury report that raise red flags. That injury report, which included 15 injured players, had names we've seen on injury reports in the past.

DeVante Parker has had hamstring injuries this entire season and dating back into the offseason. That comes after the foot problems he had in college and with the Dolphins last season. He's expected to play tonight despite being questionable with a hamstring injury, but the point is he has a hamstring injury. Again.

Kiko Alonso missed his entire second season in 2014 with a knee injury. He missed time last season with the Eagles because of a knee injury and a concussion. He has so far been healthy with the  Dolphins but he is questionable tonight with a hamstring injury. Yes, he's playing.

But as with all these guys, the injury history is the injury history.

And it should not be overlooked.

September 28, 2016

Dolphins without four starters for Bengals game Thursday nite.

The final injury report of the week for the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals is out and four Miami starters are officially out.

Center Mike Pouncey, running back Arian Foster, linebacker Koa Misi and tight end Jordan Cameron will not play Thursday against the Bengals.

Backup center Anthony Steen, who has started all three games in place of Pouncey this season, is listed as doubtful with an ankle injury that has limited him this week.

Linebacker Jelani Jenkins is also listed as doubtful with a groin injury.

That means:

Kraig Urbik will start at center if Steen cannot play or finish the game.

Donald Butler will start at the strongside linebacker spot (SAM) in place of Misi.

Neville Hewitt will play the weak side linebacker spot (WILL) if Jenkins cannot.

The Dolphins will go with the running back-by-committee approach that they used against Cleveland last Sunday when Foster was not able to play because of his groin injury. So some combination of Jay Ajayi, Kenyan Drake, Isaiah Pead and Damien Williams will carry the rushing attack.

At tight end, Dion Sims is the starter and MarQueis Gray will also be active and be used if the Dolphins employ double tight end formations.

The Dolphins today waived wide receiver Justin Hunter. That opens a roster spot to promote an offensive lineman (perhaps Jamil Douglas) or a linebacker from the practice squad to give the team the necessary number of available players at eithe position.

There is good news for the Dolphins. The team expects left tackle Branden Albert to play. He had missed the first two days of what would have been practice time (the Dolphins only did walk-thru work this short week), but Albert was able to participate on a limited basis Wednesday.

That suggests more of the improvement coach Adam Gase hinted Albert made on Tuesday. 

The Dolphins reported in their final injury report that right guard Jermon Bushrod did not practice on Wednesday but it was not injury related. Bushrod was excused for family reasons and did not even fly on the team charter to Cincinnati.

He is scheduled to join his teammates in Cincinnati by Thursday afternoon.

The Bengals are not without their injury issues. Tight end Tyler Eifert, who has not played this season because of an ankle injury, is doubtful. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick is also listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury.

Ryan Tannehill seemingly a tale of two quarterbacks so far this season

There's a growing perception that Adam Gase doesn't criticize Ryan Tannehill.

My frienemies at another newspaper (not actually frienemies as I tolerate them well enough) recently wrote a whole post about it. And I've had people in other cities tell me they're wondering when Gase will unload on Tannehill for thus far mediocre play.

Well, I can tell you there are unseen things that happen in a game that never get talked about or complained about and those exonerate Ryan Tannehill from blame. There are moments we don't know about that are simply there. Many such moments came during the Cleveland game when Gase pointed out Tannehill got the team out of bad plays at the line of scrimmage or adjusted the protection at the line of scrimmage to salvage plays.

There were other plays that look bad on tape and seem as if Tannehill is performing poorly when in fact his protection is breaking down and gives him no time to operate. Another time a receiver rounds off his route and so a pass goes incomplete, or there's a dropped pass, or there's an altogether wrong route run.

I'm not saying Tannehill is faultless. But it is a team sport and there are 10 other offensive players on the field.

So he's not the only one messing up.

That's why Gase said this week, "everybody was taking their turn," messing up.

And so in the last seven paragraphs I've made it clear it is not all Ryan Tannehill's fault.

But here come a few paragraphs that does indeed put it on Tannehill ...

He's the quarterback. He is the face of the offense if not the franchise. He has to play better.

Him.

Tannehill.

He needs to be better than he has been so far in 2016.

And it's not a general thing. He specifically has to play better sooner in the game. What I mean by that is he has been a poor quarterback for the Dolphins in the first half of games this year. He has. It wasn't his offensive linemen. It wasn't the receivers. It wasn't the play-calling.

Tannehill.

That first half against Cleveland on Sunday was atrocious. He threw two interceptions. And one of those was on the first pass of the game. No bueno.

Let me get out my No. 2 pencil. Doing some figuring here and Tannehill's first half numbers so far this season are as follows: 30 of 51 (58.8 completion percentage) for 311 yards with one TD and three interceptions.

Sharpening my pencil after doing all that figuring. In the second half of the three games so far this season, Tannehill has completed 48 of 58 passes (70.7 completion percentage) for 531 yards with four touchdown passes and one interception.

Tannehill's averages 6.10 yards per completion in the first half. He averages 9.16 yards per completion in the second half.

His first half quarterback rating is 58.5. His second half quarterback rating is 114.9.

So there you have one -- not all but one -- reason the Dolphins have not started fast in games so far this season. The quarterback.

“We haven’t played well in the first half," Tannehill said when asked specifically why he hasn't played well in the first half. "I think that’s plain to see. It doesn’t take any long division to figure that out. We just have to come out and execute. I think it all just comes down to execution of the total offense – just being on the same page, doing the right things and being in the right spot."

Again, this is a team sport and the Dolphins are trying to install a new offense for everyone. That includes the quarterback and all the other players, plus the offensive coaches. It takes time. I wrote on Aug. 31 this would happen, explained why and told you how long it might take before it gets right.

So no one is surprised.

But the frustration here is that if players can do certain things in the second half of games, they should be able to do it in the first half.

That includes Ryan Tannehill.

September 27, 2016

Donald Butler gets opportunity if Misi can't play; Albert ankle a concern; Joseph explains defensive players freelancing

Short week for the Miami Dolphins and so the team's coordinators are speaking to reporters Tuesday rather than Thursday. And it was a newsy few minutes with defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen.

Joseph said Donald Butler will be the starting SAM linebacker if Koa Misi (neck) cannot play and Neville Hewitt will start and play if Jelani Jenkins (groin) cannot play.

"It's his chance, his turn to show us what he can do," Joseph said of Butler.

My sense is the Misi injury is such that the Dolphins are planning to go with Butler and then if Misi suddenly recovers, all the better.

Christensen said Ja'Wuan James remains the team's starting right tackle despite the fact he struggled on Sunday, giving up strip sack and being benched eventually. But James is back at his spot against the Bengals.

"Yeah, I think he's still our starting right tackle," Christensen said. "He's no different than anyone, we're looking for the right combinations who can do it day in and day out. Probably like a baseball pitcher, he's a starter, but sometimes you have to give some guys relief. Sometimes it's short term but that doesn't change thgt you're a starter.

"He's a good player. He's an athlete. And the thing everyone wants out of him is for him to establish himself as an elite right tackle and to be a leader. We're dying for guys to be owners in this thing and this is my unit, my franchise, my team. Follow me. Do what I'm doing. We're looking for guys to be owners. The good teams they have veteran good players that take ownership of the thing ... That's what we want to see out of him and what we want him to see out of himself."

Christensen said he was still holding out hope center Anthony Steen, who is nursing a high ankle injury, could play. Steen said in the locker room he expects to play. Christensen sounded less optimistic that either Mike Pouncey and Arian Foster would play. Christensen said it would be "on the miraculous side" for Pouncey to play.

We already know Jordan Cameron is not playing.

Interestingly, Christensen spoke about left tackle Branden Albert in the same terms he did as Steen. Albert injured his ankle on the Cleveland game's final play but there was no suggestion his injury was as serious as Steen's -- until now.

"The truth of the matter is it's a short week and it's hard," Christensen said. "And the hardest thing is who you give the reps to. The hard thing is you can't count on 'em. You put them out there and then all of the sudden in the first quarter they can't go. That's the complicated question. You put Steen and BA up and all of a sudden in the first drive they say, 'Hey, I tried and I can't go.' Now you're stuck because the other guys are inactive. That's the tricky part and that's where coach Gase and the front office will have to make a tough decision."

The decision on these players is as simple as this: If they start, will they finish?

If the answer is yes, they play. If the answer is uncertain, then they probably do not.

"Having two starters in the same predicament is extremely complicated," Christensen said. "It makes it extremely sensitive."

I told you earlier this week that the Dolphins are getting more mistakes on defense than anyone thought they'd get because the defense is not exactly a lesson in rocket science. The Miami defense should be easy enough to learn.

Joseph agrees. 

"I don't think it's super hard but you have to be detailed," the defensive coordinator said. "We've had a lot of errors. We practice very well each week but in the game we have a lot of errors. We've had probably eight to nine plays a game where we've had critical errors that cause explosive plays. Aside from those 8-10 plays it's been pretty good. I think It's a case of a new system. It's a case of having some young guys playing out there. That's what I have to attribute it to. It's a system where it's almost the same job whether it's pressure or zone so I'm not sure why there's a lot of error right now. But it's got to be fixed. Quickly. But again, it's been 8-10 snaps where there's error and the other 60 snaps it's been pretty good."

I also explained there was freelancing by some defensive linemen going on and that needed to stop. Joseph agrees.

"Yes. Yes," Joseph said. "That happens when guys are pass-rushing every snap. We've got to play blocks better. Every snaps can't be a pass rush. When you're pass rushing, you can be softer in your gap. But you still have to be in your gap. It's soft so it gets moved so for the linebacker instead of it being a smaller gap it becomes a big gap.

"We've got to recognize run and pass better and play blocks better up front. And that's an issue when you're an attack front. We've preached, 'Attack, attack, attack.' but in the same aspect they've got to play blocks better."

PFF Week Three grades: DeVante, Jenkins, Maxwell, OL and DTs not named Suh were bad; Jones, Landry, RBs good

The Miami Dolphins effectively have three starting wide receivers. And they're happy with the effort of two of them, following Sunday's victory over the Cleveland Browns.

The Dolphins are pleased with Jarvis Landry.

The Dolphins are pleased with Kenny Stills.

DeVante Parker caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the first quarter. But I'm told the Dolphins are not pleased. It seems coaches want more production and more effort from Parker.

Parker was targeted six times on Sunday. He caught two of his three targets in the first half. He had one catch in three targets in the second half. But it's not about the hands, here. It's about the route-running and the effort the Dolphins want to see improved.

In some regard I guess you can say Parker is making strides. A couple of weeks ago the Dolphins were merely trying to get him on the field and through a game healthy. Now they want more.

The grades from ProFootballFocus.com today reflect a win but obviously not an impressive one. And that's exactly what Sunday's 30-24 overtime victory over Cleveland was.

Per PFF:

Rookie running back Kenyan Drake (70.8) put in a solid showing on the ground in spite of getting little help from his offensive line. His 37 yards on nine carries may appear meager but he gained 62.2% of his rushing yards after first contact (2.6 per carry), compared to a team average on the day of 54.7 percent.

While Tannehill was only sacked once and hit twice more, three of the Dolphins' offensive linemen (Branden Albert, Laremy Tunsil and Jermon Bushrod) surrendered five hurries apiece. Only Ja'Wuan James had allowed that many in the first two games of the season combined for the Dolphins' offensive line.

Ndamukong Suh earned an overall grade of 82.4, third best on the Dolphins' defense, but was the only Dolphin defensive tackle to earn a grade above 60. So maybe now you understand why the Browns were able to rush for 169 yards and averaged 5.3 yards per run. The play of the Dolphins' other defensive tackles and the linebackers behind them helped the Browns gain 4.25 yards per carry on runs between the tackles.

Cameron Wake played a season high 35 snaps and was a force as a pass rusher from the outset with strip sack on the opening drive. Wake's seven pressures (one hit, six hurries) were his most in almost a year and helped him earn the highest overall grade on the Miami defense this week (85.3).

(It's good that PFF rewards Wake with the highest grade. My eyes told me Wake was the second-best player on the Dolphins on Sunday. Reshad Jones was better.)

Wake topped the NFL in Week Three in pass rush productivity -- which measures pressure created on a per snap basis with weighting toward sacks -- at 25 percent after collecting seven quarterback pressures and a sack during 22 pass rushes.

Safety Reshad Jones racked up six defensive stops, tied for the second most in a single game in his entire career. Jones was a force around the line of scrimmage against run and pass, particularly early in the game when the Browns first started rolling in Terrelle Pryor at quarterback. Jones also notched his first sack since Week 10 last season against the Eagles (another six stop performance).

CB Byron Maxwell was a key piece to the Philadelphia Eagles' acquisition of Miami's 2016 first-round pick that they would use to acquire the No. 2 draft slot to select QB Carson Wentz. While Wentz has excelled beyond expectations, Maxwell's play has left plenty to be desired after surrendering five receptions for 84 yards to Cleveland WR Terrelle Pryor. Through three games, Maxwell has permitted 1.43 yards per coverage snap over 129 coverage snaps. In 2015, only 17 of 79 cornerbacks defending at least 50 percent of passing snaps allowed 1.43 yards per coverage snap or more. Not good. But not surprisingly, Maxwell was one of those.

So the Dolphins have gotten exactly what they must have seen from Maxwell in Philadelphia.

Miami LB Jelani Jenkins recorded the Dolphins' lowest PFF grade (37.3) in Week Three. Jenkins recorded one tackle in defense of 24 rushing attempts compared to two missed tackles. He allowed his lone coverage snap to gain 10 yards after the catch while missing a third tackle and was flagged for a roughing the passer penalty during seven empty attempts rushing the quarterback.

Jenkins had more missed tackles (3) than he made solo tackles (2). Despite playing 150 snaps thus far this season, Jenkins has only recorded five solo tackles and ranks as PFF's worst 4-3 OLB in run defense.

(I would say Jenkins is playing hurt. He obviously has not been the same coming back from the knee surgery he had in August. Having said that, Donald Butler is coming. Jenkins needs to play better or he'll be replaced).

Tannehill was consistently targeting Jarvis Landry on longer-developing crossing and intermediate routes. The two players connected on four passes thrown outside the numbers to the intermediate level (10-19 yards downfield).

Tannehill was effective at throwing the ball downfield against the Browns. He completed 11 of 16 passes to the intermediate level of the field (10-19 yards downfield).

(But, as I wrote a couple of days ago, his uneven performances need to stop. It is a 60 minute game. He needs to show up in the first half.)

Jarvis Landry terrorized the Browns’ defense all day. Landry caught 7 of 12 targets and had receptions against six different Browns’ defenders in coverage. He also had 46 yards after the catch. Landry had 120 receiving yards rand a touchdown against the Browns. He was the most targeted WR so far graded by PFF in Week Three along with Denver's Emmanuel Sanders.

On the season, Landry has been targeted 32 times -- also most in the NFL.  

After starting TE Jordan Cameron left with an injury after just 12 snaps, Dion Sims took over and played 60 snaps and was the highest graded player on the team (tied with Landry). He was exceptional as a run blocker, grading out as PFF's  No. 1 run blocking TE in Week 3.

(Yeah, what did I tell you about him replacing Cameron in my post Monday? This is what I told you).

The Miami offensive line struggled all afternoon, as all five starters graded out very poorly. They allowed a ridiculous 19 total pressures on 40 passing plays, although Tannehill was only sacked one time. Facing no pressure, Tannehill was 16-of-22 for 207 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception and a NFL QB Rating of 113.3. Under pressure, however, he was 9-of-17 for 112 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a rating of 68.7.

The running back by committee Miami employed worked out well against the Browns, as the ground game produced 115 yards on 25 carries (4.6 avg.) and the game-winning touchdown. The backs were able to force a combined four missed tackles and had 63 yards after contact.

Rookie cornerback Xavien Howard struggled some in coverage on Sunday after impressing in the first two weeks of the season. He allowed five receptions on six targets for 68 yards and was beaten by the Browns' Terrelle Pryor multiple times for first downs. He continues to be impressive in run defense with his tackling, recording six more on the afternoon from his cornerback position.

September 26, 2016

Dolphins offense and defense suffering same growing pains but one upgrade (in my opinion) on the way

Adam Gase and Vance Joseph sat down late Sunday evening and watched tape of the Dolphins defense against Cleveland, and as they talked, they got this feeling that they have the same problem. That's right, the team's top offensive coach (Gase) and top defensive coach (Joseph) have more or less the same problem.

And that problem is everybody on their units are taking a turn stinking.

 “We need to be on the details," Gase said when asked about the run defense that is today 32nd in the NFL, one day after giving up 169 rushing yards to the Cleveland Browns.

"Sitting there with Vance last night, we were watching it and understanding. We keep talking … It’s almost like mirror images of each other as far as offense and defense on certain things on offense compared to defense. When we talk about stuff, I feel like we’re both saying the same things on different sides of the ball. If we can clean up the little detailed things of doing your assignments -- staying in your gap, making sure that we’re fitting everything right.

"Give us a chance to actually evaluate the scheme before we say, ‘We’ve got to do something different.’ If we do things right to start with, that’s going to give us our best chance to evaluate it and understand if we’re good or if we’re not good. Right now, I would say we’re not doing it well enough to say, ‘We need to move away from the scheme,’ or, ‘We need to do something different.’ If we can clean up some of these little tiny details, it would stop all these bigger runs that are happening. Instead of having nine-yard runs, it would probably be a two- or a one-yard run if we would get our fits a little better."

On defense, the Dolphins are having an issue they had some problems with last year. Some unnamed defensive linemen are freelancing.

"We had a rough go this last game, for sure," Gase said. "We’ve got to clean a lot of things up. It just seems like one person is taking their turn. It’s a new guy every play and we just have to kind of get back to basics and we have to get back to some of our fundamentals of being very gap sound (and) making sure everybody’s doing their job.

"We can’t have anybody freelancing. That’s a bad mix for a defense as far as if one guy is off in his zone, it kind of throws the linebackers off. Now all of a sudden our fits are wrong and that’s when you’re getting these 8-, 10-, 12-yard runs. The biggest thing, at least in my experience, is when you play a defense that is tough to run the ball against – they’re very sound, they tackle well – and really it’s that group, that seven or eight guys that are working together to make sure that everybody is doing their job correctly."

Gase, who is the team's offensive play caller, is also frustrated with his offense.

The offense he installed is not taking. Said another way, everybody gets it but because everyone is new to the system, there are mistakes. And it's not always the same guy making the mistake. And the mistakes obviously come on different plays.

So different guys making mistakes on multiple plays.

Trouble.

“I think right now, the stage we’re at is really getting comfortable with the offense," Gase said. "There are some moving parts that occur from week to week. It’s easy to say, ‘Should development occur quicker?’ But when you’re counting on 10 other guys to do their job in a first-year system, we’re going to have our bumps, and we’re going to have our missteps just like (in) this last game.

"Everybody was taking their turn. But as far as [quarterback Ryan Tannehill] coming along as a passer, making decisions – things like that – I feel like I’ve seen a guy that has gotten better from the time I’ve gotten here in the spring.

"I see a guy that really wants to work at it and make sure that he’s part of the solution. We’re going to keep developing. That’s what we have to do. We’ve come out of the gate and out of our (first) four opponents, three of them were in the playoffs last year. It’s a good measuring stick for us to at least see where we’re really at."

The Dolphins offense right now is an unbalanced attack. The Dolphins are 10th in the NFL in passing and 25th running the football. Yes, yes, yes, running the ball the first two games was not going to happen based on the opponent and the game situations. The 30-24 win over Cleveland presented a more balanced attack in which Miami gained 115 rushing yards.

Still, much improvement is needed because the Dolphins are tied for 20th in the NFL in points per game and that's the money statistic. That 21.3 points per game average must climb if this team is going to be relevant in 2016.

One area that you might see improvement this week?

Are you ready?

The tight end position.

Starter Jordan Cameron is out with a concussion so the Dolphins will thrust Dion Sims into a bigger role than normal. That means the Dolphins are effectively subtracting a better threat in the passing game while adding a better run and pass blocker.

Except in this case the switch is not equal. Although Cameron is better in the passing game, he hasn't been producing like it on a consistent basis. Sims is consistently a good blocker.

So, in my view, the Dolphins are exchanging an inconsistent pass game threat for a more consistent blocker. I would argue that is an upgrade.

Jordan Cameron, Arian Foster out of Thursday game at Cincinnati; team injuries shouldn't surprise

The injury news is not good for the Dolphins for Thursday night's game at Cincinnati.

Coach Adam Gase said today tight end Jordan Cameron is out because he does indeed have a concussion and he's in the NFL concussion protocol. There simply is not enough time for Cameron to be cleared from the protocol by Thursday.

So Dion Sims and MarQueis Gray will be the active tight ends Thursday.

Gase also said he's not inclined to let running back Arian Foster play in a short week as he's not yet recovered from his groin injury and he won't get a chance to practice this week.

The Dolphins also have Anthony Steen, dealing with a high ankle sprain, on their list of walking wounded. He's unlikely to play.

That means Kraig Urbik would likely start at center for the Dolphins.

Yes, Mike Pouncey is a thought. But here's the problem with that:

Pouncey has not practiced since Aug. 19 when he suffered his hip injury. He obviously isn't going to get much if any practice time in pads this week because the Dolphins are going to be mostly doing walk-thru work and light jogging practices the two days they have to work before Cincinnati.

So putting Pouncey out there without any real football work in over a month is hard to fathom. Gase said as much.

I must say ... this Dolphins roster is starting to look, well, fragile.

And it should surprise no one, least of all the Dolphins.

With few surprises, the Dolphins players who have been injured came to the team or have been on the team with injury histories.

Running back Arian Foster missed Sunday's game with a groin injury. Gase said he might not play Thursday. Not shocking. He came to the Dolphins with an injury history that notably included soft tissue injuries.

Cameron suffered multiple concussions in 2014, which is the reason the Cleveland Browns didn't push to sign him until after he was a free agent. Cameron obviously is dealing with a concussion now and will miss this game.

Pouncey has had hip surgery on both hips. Before this year. He's missed three starts and is about to miss his fourth with, of course, a hip injury.

September 25, 2016

Terrelle Pryor was giving everything he had, were all the Miami Dolphins? (updated with complete snap count info)

The most impressive player on the Hard Rock Stadium field Sunday after was Cleveland's Terrelle Pryor.

He played receiver and caught eight passes for 144 yards. He played quarterback and completed 3 of 5 passes for 35 yards. He also ran four times for 21 yards. Yes, he was tired after the game but he didn't beg out of the game once because the game is important to him.

"There's God, Jesus, my son, then football, and that's it for me," Pryor said after the game. "Football -- this game means the world to me."

And I'm wondering how many Dolphins players play like the game is everything to them.

Byron Maxwell? He trailed Pryor across the field all afternoon. Obviously it was not a great day for him. Maxwell had seven tackles because, well, somebody had to tackle Pryor after he caught all his passes. He had three passes defensed. Not a great day for Maxwell.

Reshad Jones? Jones was the second best player on the field Sunday. He led the Dolphins with 10 tackles, had half a sack, three tackles for losses and one pass defensed. He was simply outstanding.

"He’s really shown me what a really great defensive player looks like," coach Adam Gase said. "I don’t know if I’ve ever been around one that good in his prime. I know I was around Brian Dawkins there, but that was later in his career. Just watching Reshad day in and day out…the way he plays, I wish all our guys played with as much effort and heart as that guy plays.”

Jones has told me numerous times he simply loves to play football. He doesn't need motivation. He doesn't need gimmicks. He just needs the game and it's on for him. 

“I’m just trying to be consistent and do everything I can to help the Miami Dolphins win football games," Jones said Sunday. "I think that’s what I’m doing.”

Jones, by the way, sat out the much of the offseason camps and conditioning program because he was unhappy with his contract. He's playing like he working for a new contract.

My hope is the Dolphins start working on this now rather than next spring or next season. Send Jones a message that you are indeed a priority. And by the way, it wouldn't hurt to send that message while the price for extending him is lower rather than higher -- which it will be by next offseason.

Buy lower now, with now being defined as this year.

Had the Dolphins done that with Lamar Miller or Olivier Vernon -- making a good offer on them in 2014 instead of after 2015 -- they might have kept one of those guys. Hopefully the team has learned the lesson.

If you listen to Gase, and he said things Sunday that make me believe he's going to get this team franchise right eventually, you hear hints of guys not trying enough or not grinding enough or not straining enough to be better and play better.

That troubles me.

Who is he talking about?

I know Gase is not thrilled with right tackle Ja'Wuan James right now. James got benched in overtime.

He had given up a strip sack to Corey Lemonier that almost cost the Dolphins the game in the fourth quarter. Billy Turner took over at right tackle for James.

I'm not sure Gase is loving the effort he's getting out of DeVante Parker, either.

(Peanut Gallery led by Ger Flanders: "Armando please!!! Not many offenses run well against Seattle. Oh, that was Saturday before I read your column that said not many offenses run well against Seattle. I'm sorry, I don't know anything. But DeVante scored a touchdown.")

Ah, yes, Ger Flanders I'm glad you finally recognized how poorly it looks to criticize the author of the blog when he has addressed the issue you raise in his column, which you obviously did not read before commenting. As to the Parker TD catch Sunday ...

Yes, Parker had a touchdown catch. But if you watch him run pass patterns it's sometimes done the way the coaches want and sometimes done ... like it's a spring practice. If DeVante Parker is going to reach his potential he needs to play 100 MPH every snap whether he's going to get the football or not.

Mario Williams had a tackle Sunday. The tackle was for a loss. He also had a QB hurry. Forgive me for saying this, but I expect more from Williams. No, I don't need a sack every game. But Williams should be felt every game. Cleveland left tackle Joe Thomas, admittedly an outstanding player, practically erased Williams on Sunday.

What follows is not a Gase concern or worry but rather a Salguero one:

Ryan Tannehill needs to be better.

Once again Tannehill delivered an uneven performance that suggested he's two different guys. He was horrible in the first half on Sunday, throwing two interceptions, including a pick six. His line was 12 of 19 for 126 yards with the two picks and one TD.

In the second half, he was 13 of 20 for 193 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Tannehill was a ghost in the first half against New England last Sunday and then came alive in the second half. He was a ghost in the first half against Seattle and got much better in the second half.

Football games have two halves. It's been this way for a long time. It's not a new NFL rule. The quarterback needs to show up in the first half as well as the second. I kind of let it go the first couple of games because, well, Seattle and New England.

I'm not grading on the curve against Cleveland. That first half was not winning football by Tannehill.

-----

The Dolphins seem to have addressed the problem with Cameron Wake getting enough snaps.

Wake played a season high 36 snaps in Sunday. He played mostly on passing downs but also was in the game in critical situations on early downs.

Wake played one more snap than presumptive starter Andre Branch. That was the first time this season that happened.

Image

Dolphins beat Browns 30-24 in overtime

The Dolphins won this one in overtime when Jay Ajayi went 11 yards for a touchdown. And the crowd roared.

And Miami is 1-2.

But, here comes the ugly truth part, nothing about this game was inspiring if you are a Dolphins fan. Nothing about this game should make anyone feel great about the Miami Dolphins.

Nothing.

The Browns botched three makeable field goals -- by the kicker they signed two hours ago because their starting kicker got hurt Friday in practice. The third of those, from 46 yards out, sailed short and left as time ran out.

It would have given the Browns the victory.

The Browns defense gave up ground. Because they also had multiple players out due to injury and, lest you forget, Jamar Taylor is starting in the secondary and he's not good. And yet the Dolphins made him look like a solid player. He had an interception. He had a pass defensed on third down late that caused him to dance on the field.

And yet when the game went into overtime, Cleveland coach Hue Jackson won the coin toss ... and elected to kick off.

Talk about disrespect.

Talk about no on wanting to win this game.

The Dolphins defense was good in overtime. But, again, during four quarters of play, that unit again played bad enough to lose.

The Dolphins get their first victory at Hard Rock Stadium. They get their first home victory of the season. They get the first victory of Adam Gase's career.

I'm not feeling it, folks. Sorry.

Not Ryan Tannehill's finest half to christen Hard Rock Stadium

This is not Ryan Tannehill's best half of football. That is certain.

The Miami Dolphins quarterback has done little in the first half of this 2016 Miami Dolphins home opener to convince Dolphins fans he is the answer at quarterback this franchise needs.

Tannehill has thrown two interceptions in the first half, including one that Briean Boddy-Calhoun returned 27 yards for a touchdown. Tannehill had already thrown an interception to former Dolphins cornerback Jamar Taylor on Miami's first series of the game.

That was actually the first pass ever at Hard Rock Stadium.

(Well, first regular season pass since the naming rights went to Hard Rock).

The Browns lead the Dolphins 13-10 at halftime. And yes, Tannehill did have a moment of clarity amid the dark times.

Tannehill completed a 26-yard touchdown pass to DeVante Parker that gave the Dolphins the lead in the game. That was before the Miami offense gave the lead back, of course.

All said so far, Tannehill has completed 12 of 19 passes for 126 yards, two INTs and the one TD in the first half. That included a garbage time 28-yard completion to Kenny Stills as time ran out in the half.

Tannehill has a 60.6 quarterback rating.

The Miami defense has been no prize, either, by the way.

Terrelle Pryor, playing some at receiver and some at quarterback, has been hard to stop. Cody Kessler just authored a go-ahead field goal drive with less than two minutes to play in the half.