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After a $97 million dollar contract to franchise quarterback Ryan Tannehill the obvious questions surrounding the price tag was “Is he worth it?” Well it sure seemed that way given his opening drive on Thursday evening. Tannehill went for 6-7 for 56 yards and touchdown for a 136.9 passer rating. He led the team to a 14 play drive that found itself in trouble twice with penalties but was able to finish with a 2 yard touchdown reception to Jarvis Landry. And even though it is only a preseason game against last years 30th ranked defense, the Dolphins starters showed why the Miami Dolphins fans are looking forward to the coming season. That excitement is not just limited to the fan base either as the Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel stated “The opening drive told the tale why we’re so excited.”
Even though Ryan Tannehill impressed in his opening drive, what really should get fans out there working on the parade floats was the offensive line. The biggest question heading into this season has been at the guard position and the looming free agent Evan Mathis. I was one of the biggest proponents for figuring out a way to get him into a Dolphin’s uniform as quickly as possible. The pleasant surprise was how well Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas played keeping Tannehill upright and Turner opening up a massive hole for running back Lamar Miller to explode a 27 yard run. Granted there are still some issues to work out and yes, playing against a defense that is switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 with new coaches and schemes makes for an easier outing but that still doesn’t take away the fact that all in all the offensive line held and held very well in their debut.
The Dolphin’s starting defense also put their mark on the field and Suh was clearly as advertised. The Bears starters left the field with just 3 plays and 2 yards. Even with out a few starters like safety Luis Delmas and Koa Misi the defense as a whole was very solid. The rest of the night belonged to testing players in situational positions hoping some will rise to the challenge and answer questions at backup roles. Some made a case for themselves like Jordan Tripp who left the field with an ankle injury but others just simply where as awful as anyone can be like Josh Freeman. The once released and then re-signed 3rd string quarterback finished 5-16 with an interception. It’s fair to say Freeman will find himself released once more by the Dolphins.
All in all what Dolphin fans hoped for and expected happened. Suh’s presence was noticeable and respected to say the least as he was double teamed allowing for Wake to register a sack (not counted due to penalty call). The starting offensive line kept Tannehill upright and the pocket clean the entire first drive. They allowed Miller to garner 10.7 yards per rush and 7.2 yards per offensive play. Tannehill showed why he received an extension on his contract by connecting with 4 different receivers in the first 10 plays and scrambling for a 1st down. Yes, once again, it is preseason but neither team played at full strength but if that is Miami at 90% or even 80% without rookie DeVante Parker and Branden Albert in their lineup, one can only assume that at 100% they will be a force to contend with.