Postscripts and coach/player reaction from the Dolphins’ 23-6 preseason loss to the Atlanta Falcons:
### As if we needed any more demoralizing evidence, this game reinforced how hampered Ryan Tannehill is, and will be, by not having better receiving weapons around him. (We exclude Davone Bess, who had four catches for 59 catches.)
With Brian Hartline still nursing the World’s Worst Calf Injury from Hell, the Dolphins trotted out a starting receiver tandem of Legedu Naanee (rated by Pro Football Focus as the NFL’s worst receiver last season) and Marlon Moore (who has six career catches).
Naanee (one catch, eight yards) couldn’t haul in three catchable passes from Tannehill – admittedly, Tannehill blamed himself for one of them – and got zero separation from Asante Samuel on another Tannehill pass.
Moore got no separation on two passes in his direction and had no receptions.
Julius Pruitt and Bess entered early in four-receiver sets. Pruitt didn’t get his head around quickly enough on a Matt Moore pass, as former receivers Nat Moore and Jimmy Cefalo pointed out on TV and radio. He finished with one catch for nine yards.
Roberto Wallace, who entered as the fifth receiver at best, had no catches and is far from a cinch to stick, even though the team keeps touting his physical gifts. Jeff Fuller dropped a well-thrown pass from Moore.
Clyde Gates had a nifty 17-yard reception and an 11-yard run on an end-around but caught another pass out of bounds because he ran the pattern too close to the sidelines. Still, Gates remained alive for a roster spot partly because of the ineptitude of others, excluding Bess.
Reggie Bush says Chris Hogan always gets open, but apparently that’s not good enough to get him in the game at receiver until midway through the fourth quarter. Perhaps if Bush was coaching, Hogan would have played earlier.
### If you haven’t had enough aggravation already, we should tell you that Braylon Edwards made a superb catch for Seattle tonight. Jeff Ireland has to be kicking himself for not signing Edwards when he was available a couple weeks before Chad Johnson was cut. If he isn’t, he should. Plaxico Burress and Mike Williams are available, but Miami hasn’t pursued either.
### Joe Philbin remained calm afterward, sounding very much like he did after the first two losses: “Of course I’m concerned. It’s near impossible to win if you can’t score touchdowns. We’ve got to get better in a hurry. Offensively, let’s face it: We didn’t have a whole lot of rhythm.
“When it rains, it pours. We struggled on third down, 3 of 15. It wasn’t pretty at all. There appeared to be some dropped balls. Our first-team defense played well in the first half. Today the defense looked more like we thought, at least for a while.”
### Richie Incognito told WFOR-4's Kim Bokamper: "We have a lot of work to do. We came away with more questions than answers. We've got to go back to the drawing board." But Incognito also said: "Tannehill is doing a wonderful job. He's Cool Hand Luke out there."
### Anthony Fasano, who dropped five passes all last year, dropped two (including a touchdown) and had a third dislodged that also could be considered a drop. Fasano couldn't get separation from a linebacker on another play. Charles Clay, who is supposed to be a big weapon for this team, wasn’t thrown a pass until the third quarter and had another decently-thrown Matt Moore pass sail off his hands.
### Tannehill, victimized by several drops, closed 11 for 27 for 112 yards and an interception on a tipped pass. He showed elusiveness on a 16-yard scamper on a 3rd and 4.
The perspective on Tannehill’s night differed dramatically, depending on whether you were watching the game on television or listening on radio.
On radio, Cefalo and Joe Rose were adamant that he played much better than the numbers reflect. “He looked really good,” Rose said. A couple throws to Bess were very impressive, tantalizing signs of Tannehill’s potential. Cefalo couldn’t stop raving about Tannehill’s night.
Griese is a Tannehill fan but wasn’t especially impressed with his work Friday. “I thought he was a little bit off,” Griese said. “He overthrew some balls. The receivers didn’t help him, but some of the balls were a little too hard or behind the guys. Some of the balls he threw weren’t catchable.”
### Tannehill, afterward: "We couldn't find a rhythm. We need to be more consistent in my play and the offense as a whole. There were some throws I didn't make and that has nothing to do with the receivers. There were some throws I'd like to have back. One thing we're focusing on and still haven't done is finishing off drives."
On an early missed throw to Naanee, he said, "You've got to make that throw. It's the NFL."
On Bess, Tannehill said: "I have a lot of confidence in Davone. On one fourth down, we weren't on the same page, but that's not going to happen again. We talked about it on the sidelines."
### Daniel Thomas (six carries, 29 carries) ran with power and toughness, and used a spin move to gain extra yards.
### Not a great night for Jake Long, who was beaten by John Abraham for a sack and by Kroy Biermann for a five-yard loss on a Bush run. He also was called for a holding penalty.
Rookie right tackle Jonathan Martin had some good moments but was beaten by Lawrence Sidbury for a sack, resulting in a fumble by Moore, and didn’t hold his block long enough on a Steve Slaton run that lost three yards. And he was blown up twice by Biermann.
### John Jerry, starting at right guard, appeared to play well. Artis Hicks, competing with Jerry to start, missed the game with a neck injury that isn’t considered serious.
### Richard Marshall did nothing to justify starting ahead of Vontae Davis. Marshall and Reshad Jones were beaten by Julio Jones on a 49-yard pass – “we’ve got to play the ball better,” Philbin said of that play. Marshall also was beaten by Jones and Roddy White on a few other receptions, including an 18-yarder to Jones. He whiffed on an attempted tackle of Harry Douglas. He also committed a pass interference penalty, as did Davis, whose infraction wiped out Davis' interception return for a touchdown.
### Marcus Thigpen squandered a chance to grab hold of the kickoff return job. Most of his returns were pedestrian; he averaged 18 yards on four kickoffs, and had eight yards on one punt return. Slaton had two catches for 27 yards and appears to have a leg up on Thigpen for a roster spot…. Jonathan Wade, who entered as the front-runner for the No. 5 cornerback job, was beaten for two touchdown passes (Roddy White, Tim Toone). UPDATE: WADE WAS CUT SATURDAY MORNING… Kudos to Nolan Carroll (who knocked away a deep ball to Jones) and linebacker Cameron Collins, who made several solid plays... There still wasn't consistent enough pass rush aside from Cameron Wake, who had one sack and shared another with Olivier Vernon.
### For Friday's major news on 790 the Ticket and Heat notes, see our last post.