My advice after Sunday’s big win against the Buffalo Bills (5-5) is to smile and enjoy the ride! It’s been a long time since the Miami Dolphins (3-7) have won back to back games inside of Sun Life Stadium, and the fans of the Dolphins should be allowed to feel down-right giddy about the three game winning streak. The same can’t be said for the players and coaches who may have enjoyed the win, possibly through Sunday night, but now are hard at work to preparing for their Thanksgiving Day match-up with the Dallas Cowboys. I have the flexibility to do both, so here’s my view on what I learned about this football team winning their third game in a row!
1) Matt Moore Is A Talented Quarterback– In sports the saying goes that winning cures everything and that phrase holds true, especially when your quarterback is playing at the level of Matt Moore! The pulse and tempo of this offense has been significantly better over the last three weeks because of the consistency and efficiency of the quarterback play. Moore has been able to throw accurately (70.8% over the last three games) and on time, moving the offense up and down the field. No longer has the offense stalled when it approaches the red-zone (four for four versus Buffalo on Sunday) and it finishes with touchdowns instead of settling for field goal chances. Moore has thrown six touchdowns and only one interception during this three-game winning streak, and the offense has started fast instead of playing from a two score deficit. Anytime you can start 11 of 14 for 148 yards and three touchdowns in the first half (quarterback rating of 150.3), you should feel good about your chances in the third and fourth quarters! If Moore can continue to spread the football around and play to his strengths, this offense will continue to get better, and this team will be hard to stop!
2) Defense Is Setting The Tone – Pressure and shutting down the run has drastically improved over the last month. The inside line-backing core of Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett have stepped up their play and have been around the football consistently making plays for this unit. The sack total has seen a steady increase (10 over the last three weeks), and it’s come from the secondary, linebackers and defensive front! On Sunday, it was a little bit of young guns and old school pressuring Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Defensive end Jared Odrick and linebacker Jason Taylor registered one sack each, but the entire defense played aggressive, looking for the big play. Two interceptions (one by cornerback Nolan Carroll and one by Yeremiah Bell) came from the constant pressure, and that’s a sign of things to come for this defense!
3) Special Teams Gets Into The Act – Anytime our special teams can contribute to the final score in a positive way, it’s more than worth noting. Tony Sparano has said in numerous press conferences this season that his punt return unit has been close to getting their hands on a block. Sunday against the Bills, safety Chris Clemons blocked one that resulted in a touchdown. Running back Lex Hilliard was the player who gets credit for the touchdown, but several players were around the football when it reached the end zone! Also, punter Brandon Fields has been nothing less that sensational for the Dolphins this season. Whatever has been needed out of the kicking game, Fields has provided and then some averaging 48.5 percent, with a long 0f 70 yards and 22 kicks inside the 20 yard line!
4) Confidence Is Growing – It seems like the ball is bouncing in the direction of the Miami Dolphins lately, and this team is finally taking advantage of the opportunities their earning as well. One look at this team play over the last three weeks and you can tell that they have a common goal and singular direction that has resulted in wins! Offensively, converting on third down is no longer an issue and red-zone touchdowns (four for four against the Bills) are starting to become routine instead of a struggle. Staying on the field and converting third downs allows offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to experiment and keep the defense on their heels. The defense is bringing the heat, which makes the coverage in the secondary that much better. The mentality on one day, one game at a time is easy to say and much harder to accomplish. This team is beginning to learn how to win and you can tell by the players actions on the field, and the turnaround feels pretty good!
5) Everyone Is Getting Involved– Another quality of a good team is winning without getting their main offensive threat involved. If I were to tell you that wide receiver Brandon Marshall only had one catch for five yards, you would probably say that the Dolphins had trouble moving the football and scoring. Well, the offense found a way to spread the ball around to everyone, getting big gains through the air early and often. Rookie Charles Clay had four receptions for 69 yards and his first career touchdown as a pro. Clay showed that he can also stretch the field hauling in a 46 yarder that set up a Reggie Bush five-yard touchdown run. Wide receivers Brian Hartline and Davone Bess also contributed in the victory with Hartline catching a back shoulder throw for 21 yards and Bess scoring from four yards out, his first touchdown of the season. Tight end Anthony Fasano should his toughness inside the red-zone catching a one yard-er after play-action from Moore. The more that Marshall can impact the offense is obviously a plus, but it’s nice to see others make the most of their opportunities!
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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