The first half of Friday night's preseason game between the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys is over and the results are mixed.
Mixed as in offense pretty good.
Mixed as in defense pretty bad.
Good first? Ryan Tannehill was sacked on the first series and it was partly because starting right guard Jermon Bushrod got twisted up and partly because Tannehill didn't get rid of the football to an open DeVante Parker quickly. And so that series was three-and-out.
But afterward, the unit got cooking.
Tannehill connected with Kenny Stills on a 55-yard bomb their next series. Before it was over, Tannehill had connected with Stills for a short scoring pass, but not before tight end Jordan Cameron and receiver Jarvis Landry had dropped apparent TD throws on earlier passes.
Cameron must, must, must be better than what he's showing. He had a definite matchup advantage in a one-on-one situation. He beat the smaller man on a slant. The ball was delivered in his hands. And he dropped it.
Oh well, TD anyway.
Tannehill wasn't done. Oh, Adam Gase wanted to pull the first team offense out, but the players asked him to keep playing. So they did. And the Dolphins got some help from some questionable Dallas Cowboys defensive play that led to penalty flags (more on that in a minute) and that put the unit in a position for another another score.
And the offense converted a red zone trip with the TD when Tannehill found Stills on a pick route. It was a truly excellent pass.
Tannehill finished the half and presumably the game 12 of 20 for 162 yards and the two TD throws. His QB rating was 119.2. Excellent. Good decision making. He showed his usual toughness in the face of a rush.
"It was pretty good – everything as advertised as far as how tough he is and just battling," Gase said of Tannehill. "I liked the mentality that he had going into that first half. I liked the fact that the ones wanted to stay in and do another series. That’s what I wanted to see."
Yes, there were a couple of moments where he seemed to hold onto the ball in the pocket, but Tannehill's accuracy tonight was impeccable. Had it not been for those drops, his stats would look better.
Stills, who coaches have been saying is the first in the building in the morning and last to leave, really flashed his ability and future potential. He had three catches for 71 yards, including that 55 yard bomb. Small nitpick? Don't let yourself go out of bounds, Stills. Score on that throw!
"I should have stayed inbounds and scored," he said after the game.
The running game was nothing to write about so I won't. Suffice to say that both Jay Ajayi and Arian Foster got opportunities and neither seemed comfortable. Isaiah Pead continues to be Miami's most impressive running back in the two preseason games so far if you're going by, you know, production.
It should be noted that second string QB Matt Moore is injured. He took something of a cheap shot blow to the head as he was sliding after a scramble late in the first half. He went in for concussion protocol tests. My guess is they'll be positive and if that is true, his status for next week's game against Atlanta in Orlando will be in question.
[Update: Moore has a concussion and is in the protocol. But speaking with reporters, Tannehill said in passing, his teammate "is going to be alright."]
Brandon Doughty, impressive last week, came into the game and immediately held the ball too long and was hit and fumbled.
And the Cowboys converted that to points.
So impressive in practice and in the first preseason game, Doughty regressed this outing. He was 2 of 3 for seven yards with the fumble in this one.
That leads me to the defense. Not good tonight.
"On defense, we just got to do a better job of stopping the run," Gase said. "We just got to get some negative plays, get our hands on some balls and when we do, we have to finish it with a turnover. That’s why it is preseason. We have to figure everything out.”
Gase said his team got "drummed." Actually, the Cowboys took sticks to the Miami defense and banged on that unit like a set of drums for 60 minutes. Thus the 41-14 score.
Tony Romo and company sliced and diced the Miami defense early in the game. The Dallas QB completed 4 of 5 passes for 49 yards and led a TD drive on one of the two drives he played. He finished with a QB rating of 107.5. The thing is the Dallas offensive line dominated up front against a defensive line that started its stars save for Cameron Wake. There was no pressure on the QB. None.
Mario Williams was a non-factor in his Dolphins debut. The breakdown is here.
That wasn't the most worrisome issue.
The run defense, poor a year ago in finishing 28th in the league, was poor tonight with both the first- and second-teamers. Alfred Morris had six rushes for 44 yards against Miami's starting defense and finished the half with 85 yards on 13 carries. That is simply not NFL run defense.
The Dallas offense went punt, touchdown, touchdown, field goal, field goal in five first half possessions.
That means the second-team defense was also not good enough.
By the way, Tony Lippett had a pass interference call. Byron Maxwell gave up a TD to Dez Bryant. Miami's cornerbacks must get better.
The breakdown on Maxwell's Dolphins debut is here.