How good are these Dolphins? They are on a 4 game winning streak. Three of those games came against teams that were considered on a “hot streak.” The last one included a west coast trip, where east coast teams have historically not played as well. Facially, everything points to a team that is playing well, but how well are they actually playing?
One of the biggest developments has been the play of the defense during the 4 game winning streak. During the streak they also played 3 running backs who had been playing at an elite level. Suh is playing at very well right now, and during the 4 game streak has 14 tackles and 2.5 sacks while constantly taking double and triple teams. He’s playing so well that Kiko Alonso almost looks like he is a capable starting MLB. Teams are still attacking the secondary, so several of the times Miami had teams under 80 yards while still allowing almost 10 yards a carry. The secondary though has held up against a couple very good qbs. Both Big Ben and Philip Rivers had less than spectacular days, with the Dolphins secondary picking off Rivers 4 times in the 2nd half. What the defense has been doing well is being opportunistic, taking advantage of getting off the field on 3rd down, and not consistently giving up the big plays that were killing the team earlier in the season. The re-emergence of Cam Wake has shored up both the run and the pass game, and being on the field less has allowed them to be more rested. This Dolphins D is still not very good, it’s where the stats say it is, which is right around the middle of the pack. A pick 6 will always make you look good though.
This has obviously been talked about on this board and across the NFL in general. Ajayi is pretty darn good. The running game has changed the dynamic of the entire team. Consistent Oline play from a healthy group has been enormous for this team. They just aren’t as good when an Olineman is out, going 1-3 when missing a starter and 4-0 with the healthy line. The oline and great running game has given Ryan Tannehill something he has rarely seen in his 5 years in the NFL, time. Tannehill has taken advantage by posting over a 100 passer rating, 67% completion rating, 7.5 yards per attempt, 3 out of 4 games with a pass over 50 yards, and 4 TDs to 0 turnovers during that stretch. By any standard these are good numbers. He has been making the throws that he was ridiculed for not making, continuing drives, and looking more comfortable in the pocket.
Gase started this season by consistently being out coached at the start of games, then making great half time adjustments to allow the Dolphins to get back into it. Recently he hasn’t been out coached to start the game, and his adjustments have come earlier than half time. He is coaching well. Gase has used the running game to allow his QB to take advantage of his skill sets, finally making a concerted effort to keep him on the move and keep him in his comfort zone. The team has responded by playing at a higher level in almost every phase of the game.
Miami got a huge run back for a TD during the Jets game that allowed them to put away the comeback attempt. That’s where the positives end. Special teams have been horrific for Miami this year. Continually turning the ball over, giving up bad field position, and allowing teams to get back into the game when they should not have been in them. The TD return versus the Jets is obviously going to be remembered, but do not forget the punter dropping a snap, something that doesn’t show up in the stats othan than it’s a turnover on downs. Even during the streak, big play after big play has been giving up on the Special Teams, and at one point it will come back to hurt the Dolphins.
I wrote about this during the losing streak, the Dolphins were going to end up looking a lot better than they actually are during the 2nd half of the season. It’s why I bet that there was no way they end up with a top 8 draft pick. A lot of what is happening is because Miami is playing one of the softest schedules down the stretch after starting off with one of the hardest. Miami has been lucky in both opponent and opponent health, and has finally capitalized after failing to do that in the past. At this point, Miami should likely favored in every game down the stretch, outside of week 17 versus the Patriots. It’s an enjoyable ride, but may end up hurting the long term development of the team as we are bound to play a harder schedule next year. When I wrote of the Moore effect I didn’t expect it to be this profound, and it should be interesting to see how it plays out. Not surprisingly, Fins fans seem much less likely to become enamored with Tannehill than they did with Moore.
Fisher is the most over rated coach in the NFL, and I believe one of the most over rated in NFL history. On the plus side for the Dolphins he is bringing in a rookie qb for his first start against the Fins. One the negative, Brandon Albert is out, and as I stated Miami is 1-3 when at least one starter misses. They also spent the entire week on the west coast, and for some reason that stuff does matter historically. The spread right now is even, a testament to how people for some reason love Fisher for no reason. Take Miami. They should win this game even down a starting Olineman. Gurley hasn’t been very effective this year and Cam Wake is likely looking forward to this week very much.
This is How I See It
Social Media has never been more fun than this week.
If Gronk plays in two weeks, I will start believing they are harvesting little Gronk for Big Gronk.
Vinny, there are pretty women in Miami offering 20g to marry them for citizenship, in case you are looking for a rebound.
I don’t have much new this week, but kids, pay attention to sources, don’t fall for fake news, don’t perpetuate stupidity, and don’t believe everything you read online. This goes for both sides. This online instant gratification needs to stop, journalist need to be called out, and bloggers don’t care about the truth, just the clicks.