And the results have been tangible, as Miami sits at 2-0 for the first time since 2010 as they prepare for this weekend’s home opener against the Atlanta Falcons.
Needless to say, Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin is pleased with where his ball club stands heading into week three.
“It was a great team win,” Philbin said of Miami’s win in Indianapolis during his weekly show with The Finsiders. “A lot of different players contributed to the success. I thought all three units had a play in it, and I give a lot of credit to our staff. I thought we had our players ready to go.”
Ryan Tannehill had another stellar outing, completing 23 of 34 attempts for 319 yards and one touchdown. However, one of the more notable improvements was that of the running game. After hardly being able to muster up any ounce of yardage against the Cleveland Browns, Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas combined to produce 99 yards on 24 carries against the Colts.
Philbin, who will always point to the big picture when you ask him about a specific facet of the game, credited the Dolphins’ offensive line for the ground production’s turnaround.
“When you look at the film, there was less penetration,” he said, “so that enabled our backs to really get on course more than they had the prior week. We covered up the color of the opposition much, much better.”
Philbin added Miller and Thomas also did a good job hitting holes and picking up yards after contact, both of which are good signs for Miami’s offense moving forward.
But while the play of Tannehill and the running backs were encouraging for the Dolphins, there were also aspects of Sunday’s game that might go unnoticed by many, but carried just as much weight in the equation of the final outcome.
One of those phases was that of penalties. For just the sixth time in franchise history, the Dolphins did not commit a single penalty throughout the entire 60 minutes of the contest.
“We talked to the guys and one of the things we said was that got to go out there and play clean and we have to play fast, and play with discipline.’ We’re on the road, we’re potentially in a very loud environment. Our communication has to be good and we just have to play football by the rules,” Philbin said of the feat. “And there’s a lot of good pictures in the tape of guys where we could have taken a quarterback to the ground, we got our hands on them, we kind of let up a little bit. I think they took the coaching to heed and did a nice job in that area.”
The other phase was the strong finishing of the halves, which has long been a point of emphasis for Philbin as Miami’s head coach.
After allowing a touchdown with less than two minutes to go in the first half, Tannehill and the offense went to work with just 1:26 on the clock. And they did so quickly and efficiently, moving the ball 44-yards on seven plays to set up Caleb Sturgis with a 54-yard field goal attempt.
The rookie kicker nailed it twice, showing unwavering focus despite Colts head coach Chuck Pagano’s attempt to ice him.
“We had talked all week about we have to play better at the half,” Philbin said.
“We kicked the field goal, he did it twice,” he continued. “He absolutely drilled that second one. I mean, just a huge play in the football game. I told the team at halftime, ‘Remember those three points. It’s going to be big.’”
Looking ahead, Philbin and the Dolphins will be looking to build off their hot start with a tough test this weekend against the Atlanta Falcons. The New Orleans Saints loom the following week, as Miami will head to the Superdome for a Monday night showdown. The Dolphins then return home for a meeting with the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Baltimore Ravens, before finally catching a break with a bye week.
“We have to do a better job on offense,” Philbin said when asked where he would like to see improvement. “Our ball security—the ball was on the ground too much. There’s no question about that. And we still have pass protection, we have to show some consistency in the run game and shore up our pass protection.”
Philbin also mentioned cutting down on the amount of explosive passing plays allowed by Miami’s defense. The first instance that comes to mind was Colts quarterback Andrew Luck hitting a streaking T.Y. Hilton over the head of Brent Grimes for a 47-yard gain in the first half of Sunday’s game.
And with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White coming to town next weekend, limiting explosive pass plays will definitely be a focus for the Dolphins’ defense throughout the week.
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.