It wasn’t a perfect game by any means, but the Miami Dolphins found a to fly up to Met Life stadium and take a 20-12 victory over the New York Jets. And after a disappointing weekend for the rest of their AFC East rivals, the Dolphins now find themselves at 2-0 sitting atop of the division.
Here are some takeaways:
– Dolphins stopped run, forced QB Sam Darnold to beat them:
The Jets rushing attack, which accumulated 169 yards on the ground, helped quarterback Sam Darnold reach his first NFL victory as a rookie in Week 1, but the Dolphins took that away in Week 2.
The Jets were only able to rush for 42 yards on the day, and this forced the Jets to beat Miami with a rookie quarterback. In doing so, the Jets also fell into many 3rd & long situations which played to the strengths of the Dolphins pass-rushing unit. Darnold was sacked 3 times and suffered 5 QB hits.
Although Darnold had his moments, it wasn’t enough to overcome the lead the Dolphins built during the afternoon.
– Dolphins 31 attempts, 135 yards rushing:
As a Dolphins fan, you may have learned by now that quarterback Ryan Tannehill plays his best when he has a running game to work with, and yesterday was no different.
The Dolphins rushed 31 times for 135 yards and 1 touchdown. In effect, Ryan Tannehill threw for 168 yards, 2 TD’s, and 0 interceptions. He earned a passer rating of 123.1.
Tannehill was also the team’s 2nd-leading rusher (8 carries for 44 yards), behind running back Kenyan Drake (11 carries for 53 yards).
The Dolphins rushing attack didn’t exactly pop to the eyes of the casual fan (Miami’s longest runs of the day were both for 20 yards) , but it did have an underrated effect of wearing down the Jets defense, chewing clock, and creating 3rd & short/manageable situations.
Tannehill suffered his share of punishment yesterday as the Jets defense came after him for 4 sacks and 7 QB hits.
That was to be expected as the offensive line was under a lot of pressure yesterday facing a Jets passrush that destroyed Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford in Week 1.
Backup Ted Larsen was filling in for starting left guard Josh Sitton who landed on IR with a shoulder injury. And the O-line was responsible for at least 1 turnover when center Daniel Kilgore had a bad snap in the closing minutes of the 3rd quarter that the Jets recovered.
The other turnover occured when Tannehill made a play-action bootleg and was caught under pressure by a Jets defender. Tannehill tried to throw the pass but the ball slipped out from his hand in a backwards motion.
It looked ugly at times for the offensive line, but they did provide enough protection and push to get enough chain movement and chew the clock. Gase’s confidence in Larsen was backed up for the most part. The backup guard didn’t appear to be a liability and did a serviceable job in the game.
– Tannehill’s deep chemistry needs work with his new receivers:
If you are a Dolphins wide receiver not named Kenny Stills, chances are you’ve been missed by Ryan Tannehill on a deep throw thusfar in the season.
WR DeVante Parker has missed the first 2 games of the 2018 season with a finger injury, this has led to backups Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant taking snaps in games. Tannehill has missed both players on deep routes during the last two victories. This could be due to a lack of familiarity with Wilson’s and Grant’s speed. Tannehill has only played 2 games with Wilson and Grant compared to his several seasons with Parker and Stills in whom he has a better connection. Head coach Adam Gase feels this is bound to change with time.
– The Bootleg is back, Baby!
It feels like quite a while since we’ve seen Ryan Tannehill use his legs as a weapon in games. Sunday was reminder of what the quarterback can do when defenses forget about his mobility.
Tannehill ran for more rushing yards than the Jets had as a team, and made many fans confident the strength in his knee is back.
The Tannehill bootleg and read-option plays seemed to have died down since the Joe Philbin days, but it’ll be interesting if the Adam Gase regime makes this part of their weekly offense in 2018. However, the Dolphins must keep in mind they cannot risk the safety of their quarterback as we’ve seen the uglier side to that story in last year’s 2017.
– Dolphins showing resilience:
In the last 2 games, the Dolphins have been caught in tough situations. But they are showing their willingness to not give up when the chips are down– much like their first season under Adam Gase in 2016.
In Week 1, it was the lightning delays which forced the Dolphins to play the longest game in NFL history. But the team remained focused and came out with a victory.
In Week 2, it was the defense that was caught in some bad situations, but came out on top.
At the top of the 3rd quarter, the first turnover that slipped out of Tannehill’s hands put the defense’s backs against the wall, but an interception by Xavien Howard in the back of the endzone bailed the team out of a Jets score.
After the Daniel Kilgore fumble, the defense held the Jets to a field goal.
After the Dolphins went 3 & out with under 10 minutes to go in the 4th QTR, the defense held the Jets to another FG.
And when the Jets were 8 points behind with under 6 minutes to left in the game and looking to get the ball back, it was the Dolphins offense that came through with a 12-play, 58-yard drive chewing up the remaining time on the clock for the win.
This team is back to showing the strong mental makeup they had two years ago. They are believing in each other and playing for each other.