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Postscripts, reaction from Dolphins' loss at New Orleans; Heat notes

Postscripts from the Dolphins’ discouraging 38-17 drubbing Monday night at New Orleans:

### Joe Philbin’s take: “We have to do better on defense. We obviously don’t want Jimmy Graham running down the field wide open for touchdowns.” (You don’t say?)

On the inability to slow Darren Sproles: “We tried zone, we tried man, we tried some pressures. Sproles is very good. We tried different combinations.”

Philbin said Ryan Tannehill (who now has an NFL-high six fumbles) has to “hold onto” the ball "better. He’s got to get down earlier” on scrambles.  

On the bright side... “I love the balance we had at halftime,” Philbin said. “We punted once in the first half. I thought we were executing well on offense except the two giveaways in the first half.” But his team unraveled in the second half.

With Baltimore visiting Sunday, “We’re going to find out a lot about our team with how we respond.”

### Tannehill had his first poor game of the season: 22 for 35 for 249 yards, with three interceptions, a key fumble late in the first half, and a 57.9 quarterback rating.  (On a SMALL positive note, he ran for 48 yards on four carries. And he threw one touchdown pass, a three-yarder to Charles Clay.)

“What really started it [downhill] was the fumble I had,” he said. “You have to hold onto the ball.” Curtis Lofton stripped Tannehill, who was holding the ball carelessly.

On the three picks: “First one, I held the inside guy with my eyes and [Jabari Greer] jumped the route. Not much we can do about it. Next one, got bumped a little bit and led Mike Wallace too far. Last one, I got hit as I was throwing.”

Tannehill said one problem was this: “When we got behind, we had to back off on the running game. It hurt us, not being able to use the run like we wanted to.”

### ESPN’s Jon Gruden said Tannehill and Wallace “don’t look like they’re on the same page. They need to have a conversation on the sidelines and make these corrections. They’ve got to get Wallace straightened out in this pass offense.”

Tannehill threw seven passes to him; only three were completed, for 24 yards. Another was intercepted. And the only deep ball thrown to Wallace went through his hands.

Brian Hartline also had a relatively quiet night, with three catches for 34 yards. Brandon Gibson caught six for 71 (with a drop). Charles Clay had six catches for 42 yards and is on pace to set the single-season receiving yardage record for a Dolphins tight end.

### Purely from a Dolphins fan perspective, watching the Saints’ offense might be more exasperating than watching any other team because the Dolphins passed on or passed up every significant skill position player on this offense.

You all know about Miami passing on Drew Brees – twice. Miami took John Jerry instead of Jimmy Graham, had no interest in drafting seventh rounder Marques Colston, drafted Ted Ginn ahead of Robert Meachem and signed Reggie Bush (then let him leave) instead of Sproles, though that move can be justified because Bush was a generally effective starter for two years.

### Brees dissected the Dolphins, completing 30 of 39 passes for 413 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 144.5 quarterback rating.

He threw to Graham only four times, and all four were completed for 100 yards, including two touchdowns.

Sproles torched the Dolphins, with seven receptions for 114 yards and four carries for 28 yards.

The Dolphins tried a variety of personnel on Graham and Sproles – with no success. Reshad Jones was beaten badly by Sproles on a 48-yard pass early in the game. Rookie cornerback Jamar Taylor, in his first regular-season game, had decent coverage on Graham’s first touchdown reception (a 27-yarder), but Graham still caught it by simply out-jumping him.

Linebackers Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe were victimized several times in coverage. And Graham beat Chris Clemons for his second touchdown, a 43-yarder.

### Taylor struggled mightily to cover Colston, who beat him twice for receptions. Colston ended up matched up against Wheeler on another play and torched him, too. Nolan Carroll made two impressive breakups in coverage but was beaten at least three times.

### The Saints averaged just 2.8 yards per carry on 24 attempts, but it hardly mattered, with Brees carving up the Dolphins’ secondary. And this was a killer: Brees and his weapons converted five of their first seven third-down chances, for 89 yards.

### Dolphins left tackle Jonathan Martin allowed two sacks and right tackle Tyson Clabo one. That means the Dolphins’ starting tackles have now permitted eight sacks in four games – four by each of them. Unacceptable! Gruden noted that Clabo has struggled handling power rushers.

With guard John Jerry also allowing a sack, the Dolphins have relinquished 18 sacks in four games and are on pace to allow 72 -- which would easily shatter the franchise record of 53.

### Worst call of the game: Mike Sherman opting to pitch to Daniel Thomas instead of having Tannehill run a sneak on third-and-an inch or two early in the game.

“It was a play we practiced all week,” Philbin said. “We liked it. I knew we were going to call it. They made a better play than us.”

As much as the Dolphins want Thomas to be an effective short-yardage back, he remains unreliable in those situations. Thomas closed with five yards on four carries, while Lamar Miller was far better (11 carries, 62 yards, 5.6 average).

### Positives, besides Miller? Paul Soliai, returning two weeks earlier than doctors expected, was terrific. Jared Odrick did good work, including a sack…. Marcus Thigpen, given a few snaps on offense, caught a pass for 50 yards….

Caleb Sturgis (34 yard field goal) remained perfect on the season…. And defensive tackles Marvin Austin, signed to replace Vaughn Martin, gave the Dolphins some impactful snaps.

### Gruden noted that “injuries had a lot to do with this” result and “I like the state of the Dolphins.” Of course, Miami played without Cam Wake and Dimitri Patterson and Koa Misi played but seemed less effective than usual.

Wake would have helped on a night Miami had just two sacks (Odrick and Olivier Vernon). Patterson would have helped on a night Miami’s coverage was porous. But this margin was too lopsided to believe that any one player would have made a difference between winning and losing.

### By the way,the Dolphins have played the most Monday Night Football games of any team and are 40-39 in those games.

### Please see the last post for a full report from Heat media day... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz                    

 

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