After a bit of a sluggish start on offense, Miami hit its stride, pulling away from Jacksonville with impressive ball control and some timely big plays.
Here are my four key takeaways from the Dolphins’ 24-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars:
- Dolphins are Offensive:…and I mean that in a good way. It took a while for them to generate a big play. But in the second half, the Dolphins came up with six plays of 15 yards or more–they only had one in the first half. Leading 10-3 at halftime, Miami’s offense wasted little time getting on track. Ryan Tannehill took the first offensive play from scrimmage and found a wide-open Brian Hartline for 37 yards to build on the little momentum they created right before the half. He followed that up three plays later with a 20-yard completion to Marlon Moore, and then he went back to Hartline, this time for 16 yards. Reggie Bush joined the fun, sprinting 53 yards on the next Dolphins possession, which ended with a 30-yard Dan Carpenter field goal. Later in the quarter, though, it was all Tannehill, again finding Hartline for 17 yards and using his athleticism for a 30-yard run himself. If you take out two quick possessions when the Dolphins were trying to run out the clock with a few QB kneels — right before the end of the first half and to end the game — they had five consecutive drives 60 yards or more. In fact, 280 of the Dolphins’ 389 yards of total offense came in the second half.
- Defense Shuts Down Henne: It was nice to see the Miami defense hold the Jaguars to only three points on Sunday afternoon. The unit was expected to shut down former Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne, and they didn’t disappoint. It was a complete defensive effort, from the back end to the front seven. Chris Clemons led the way with 10 total tackles. Linebacker Kevin Burnett was all over the field, registering eight total tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss. Pressed into duty by injury, reserves like Jason Trusnik, R.J. Stanford and Bryan McCann all made big contributions. Also, Jimmy Wilson, who has been shuffled all over the secondary this season, had a heavier-than-usual load with starting cornerback Nolan Carroll knocked out of yesterday’s game. Although the defense didn’t take the ball away — the unit only has one takeaway in the past seven games — it was perfect in the red zone, keeping Jacksonville out of the end zone all day (0-for-4) –that’s a positive sign. In his return to South Florida, Henne, making his fourth consecutive start, finished with a pedestrian 73.3 quarterback rating.
- Tannehill, Efficient and Effective: On a day when the Dolphins honored the ’72 undefeated team, Ryan Tannehill was close to perfect. His decision making and overall awareness in the pocket led to one of the most efficient days of his young career. Tannehill completed 78.6 percent of his passes and had a career-high 123.2 passer rating, both indicative of a relatively error-free game. His play allowed Miami to play with more tempo and pace, keeping the Dolphins on the field for more than 35 minutes, six more than their season average. His 52 yards rushing also added a dimension to the offense that teams will need to worry about when facing the rookie quarterback.
- Congratulations, Brian Hartline: Because of his uncertain status in the summer, I’m not sure many in South Florida would have predicted that Brian Hartline would become the eighth Dolphin in team history to reach 1,000 receiving yards in a season. His five catches for 77 yards came on an afternoon when the Dolphins offense needed playmakers to step up in the absence of Davone Bess. There’s definitely a trust factor between the rookie quarterback and the veteran wide receiver. And given the offseason he had, amid all of the difficulty he had getting and staying on the field, a lot of the credit should be given to Hartline.
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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