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Congemis Takeaways: Week 11
By on November 16, 2012 at 5:18 pm

The Dolphins were unable to overcome a slow offensive start on Thursday night, falling to the Buffalo Bills, 19-14.

Some of the same problem areas returned on Thursday night — turnovers, struggles in the running game, pass protection — forcing Miami to play from behind. A stronger defensive effort kept things close, but a pair of late interceptions ended the Dolphins’ comeback attempt.

Here are my five key takeaways from last night’s 19-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills:

  • Running Game Nonexistent: It doesn’t help the continuity of an offense if it doesn’t have balance. Success in the running game can open up the passing game and vice versa. Last night, the Dolphins not only lacked balance, but also didn’t have much of a scoring threat. They finished with just 60 yards rushing after a really tough start on the ground (eight carries for 12 yards in the first half). It seems like any threat of allowing Reggie Bush to take over a game has been stymied by inconsistencies in providing ample space for him to operate. He’s been bottled up before he’s really been able to get anything going.
  • Marcus Thigpen Was A Bright Spot: With the Dolphins in an early hole after a Leodis McKelvin punt return touchdown, it was nice to see Marcus Thigpen answer, igniting a team that was looking for a spark. His 96-yard kickoff return was really the only time the Dolphins offense threatened to score until the fourth quarter — the offense hadn’t moved into Buffalo territory until the second half. He’s only the third Dolphin in franchise history (Freddie Solomon and Ted Ginn Jr.) with both a punt return TD and a kickoff return TD, and he’s the first to do both in the same season. Every time Thigpen touches the ball, you feel like he can make a big play, whether it’s on a kickoff or a punt return.
  • Turnover +/-: It seems like there have been multiple games where the Dolphins have had a chance to come away with a momentum-changing fumble recovery, or play center field and grab an interception, but they came away empty. Last night, there was again examples of both. Late in the first quarter, with the Bills up 10-7, Sean Smith was able to knock the ball out of Bills TE Scott Chandler’s hands after a big gain. But nobody in an aqua jersey was anywhere near the play, allowing Chandler to recover. Then, of course, there was the ball that went through Jimmy Wilson’s hands in the waning seconds of the first half. It was reminiscent of Smith’s near INT a couple of weeks ago in Indianapolis that may have altered the outcome. These two plays were no different; if either play is made, the Dolphins may have been able to jump back in the game much sooner. On the flipside, the Dolphins offense has been in a giving mood lately. The past two games the team has a discouraging -7 turnover margin.  Needless to say, that’s not where you want to be. Not only will you lose, it won’t even be close. Tennessee proved this last week, turning a +4 turnover margin into 20 points in their 37-3 win. If the offense hadn’t settled in a bit in the fourth quarter, the fate would have been similar. Instead, though, they had a chance late in the game, but those hopes were dashed by two more late turnovers.
  • Need Better Pass Protection: I’m not sure what needs to be done to provide Ryan Tannehill more time to throw the football, but right now it’s all a guessing game in the pocket for the young quarterback; from drive to drive, even play to play, Tannehill’s time in the pocket has been varied, at best. One play he’ll have a relatively clean pocket in which to operate; the next, though, he may be pressured immediately. Sometimes a running game can help an offensive line create a little extra time, because a pass rushing specialist can’t key in on a quarterback, forcing him to stay back and play the run. The Dolphins have become far too predictable in this regard, and as a result, the Bills’ defensive linemen, including Mario Williams and Shawne Merriman, were able to pin their ears back and collapse the pocket. For whatever reason, Tannehill consistently had more time in the fourth quarter. This is going to need to be a constant through the first three quarters, though, for an offensive turnaround.
  • Reshad Jones Comes Ready To Play: It wasn’t just that Reshad Jones‘ name was called multiple times, but it was how he played: You could tell he was in the right mindset to get a win on the road. Not only was he productive in the open field — his 11 tackles lead the team — but the third-year safety played with emotion that should be contagious for the rest of the defense; Jones’ energy jumped off the screen all night, whether he was snuffing out a run in the backfield or breaking up a pass. You hope that not only he but the rest of the team feeds off of that spirited play to get some confidence during the long week leading into next week’s Seattle’s game. There were others — Cam Wake, Brian Hartline, Davone Bess — whose energy level and effort were high. But if the Dolphins are going to have success going forward, it can’t be just a handful of guys — everyone needs to be flying around the field.

Please Note:
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.

6 Responses to “Congemis Takeaways: Week 11”

  1. TX-Fin says:

    “Need Better Pass Protection: I’m not sure what needs to be done to provide Ryan Tannehill more time to throw the football”

    Watch Pouncey; look at QB, head up, snap ball. Same every time, with no change in rythym. If I’m a D-Line guy, I’m saying thanks for the head start.

  2. pettinat says:

    In the past three games the O line has been terrible both in running and pass protection. I think they must have gotten together and bought a very large insurance policy on Tannehill’s life, they are going to get the kid killed! I am 67 and I think I could speed rush our tackles and get to the QB

    • Brodyboy09 says:

      They have been terrible.. But Joe Philbin has got to get his head out of his a**, and get Reggie Bush back on the field. How can we be productive with our best offensive player on the sidelines? If we want this O-Line to get better moving forward, we have to replace Richie Incognito, and keep building via the draft. Rebuilding year or not, we had a solid chance to make the playoffs this year (we still have a slim chance, believe it or not). Jake Long has got to step up and be a leader, and make everyone accountable for their assignments (even when he blows his and D.T. has to pick up his man). Ryan Tannehill is the guy for us, that I am sure of, but we need a HEAVY dose of REGGIE BUSH to help him out, b/c without a running game, opposing defenses can focus on shutting the passing game down more efficiently.

      On the other side of the ball, our defense is playing well. Unfortunately, we traded Vontae to Indy, so we don’t have many veteran leaders (at all) in the defensive backfield. Richard Marshall has been FAR from the answer, and the inexperience on the back end makes our pass defense suspect. We know we can stop the run, but we can only stop the pass SOMETIMES; when that is, we have no indication. I’m sure they will get better in the future, but again, I think we will continue to steady the position in the upcoming draft.

      That is one thing that I can say, that I am pretty happy about; we are learning to build through the draft, instead of free agency. That is how you build teams for the long-haul (i.e. Patriots), and we are doing just that. It does make me happy to think about the future of our beloved Fins, knowing that we are going to be a great team for years to come.

      Even if this year doesn’t play out too well for us. With 6 tough games left on the schedule (two of which are the Pats), I guess we will see. Here’s to keeping the faith!!

      Now, let’s get ready for a playoff push! Fins Up!!

  3. armyfin78 says:

    This is a rebuilding year and my main concern is keeping Tannehill healthy. The O Line is getting pushed back on thier backs and there are no weopons for Tannehill. Take Jeff Fuller off the parctice squad and Bryan Tyms too. To many players riding the bench that could be on the practice squad like Egnew for example. We have got to shake things up untill we have a 2013 draft and get some more paly amkers on this team!!!!!!

  4. ken says:

    I agree, we” Need Better Pass Protection”, look at QB, head up, snap ball. Same every time, with no change in rythym. If I’m a D-Line guy, I’m saying thanks for the head start. Tannehill needs to change up almost everytime stop folling the guy who he’s going to throw too. You can’t give it away, they follow his head and eyes. We need a deep threat guy, lets look at some of the guys on the parctice squad, we got to find that right combination of players that will takes us to the next level. I know we have it we can go all the way.

  5. mikelouis70 says:

    ok! the fans here who do not think we need to change the logo are completely missing the point. we already changed the logo in 97! just change it back! we used to be much better before 97! right?! retro design is part of what made the NFL great in the 70?s.
    and the Dolphins were a big part of that. it’s subtle. just look at the old dolphin stensil. it totally symbolizes the tradition of this fabled organization. lets dig deep and move forward my fellow Dolphins.

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