The Miami Dolphins are 3-3 and share a lead of the AFC East with the New England Patriots, New York Jets and Buffalo Bills, who are all also 3-3. Led by rookie head coach Joe Philbin and a rookie quarterback named Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins are on the rise.
After winning two games in a row, Miami now has a bye this week. Since six games are in the books, now is as good a time as any to take a look at how the Dolphins have performed thus far.
Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been very impressive for the Miami Dolphins through six games. Outside of the first game of the season against the Houston Texans (where Tannehill threw three interceptions), the young quarterback has looked like anything but a rookie. Rookie quarterbacks tend to throw more interceptions than touchdowns and Tannehill has done that so far but it is his progression week to week that has fans of the team so excited for the future. Tannehill gets a favorable grade of an A so far, as a result.
Running Backs: B
After doing a great job of running the football in the first couple of weeks, Miami’s ground game has come to a halt, in part due to starter Reggie Bush’s knee injury. In the past two games, Bush has rushed 31 times for just 65 yards. Rookie Lamar Miller has shown some promise in limited action but has not yet earned the coaching staff’s full trust. Backup Daniel Thomas has had a rough start to the year as he has fumbled twice and suffered two concussions, as well. Rookie fullback Jorvorskie Lane has been very good in his role. Miami’s ground game gets a solid B because it was very good during the start of the year. They obviously need to pick it up again, though.
Tight Ends: B-
Starter Anthony Fasano has had a good start to the 2012 season as he has continued to block well when brought in for protection and has been a safety blanket for Tannehill as he has 22 receptions so far. He also leads the team with a pair of touchdowns. Backup Charles Clay has been a disappointment for the team as he only has 5 receptions while dropping a few passes, as well. They need him to be more involved.
Wide Receivers: B+
Starters Brian Hartline and Davone Bess have been great targets for Tannehill. Although he failed to record a reception last week against the St. Louis Rams, Hartline is among the league leaders with 29 receptions for 514 yards. Wide receiver was looked at as a problem for the Dolphins after they traded away Brandon Marshall and both Hartline and Bess have shown that they are capable of putting up good numbers with a good quarterback. They both deserve an A rating. The group as a whole gets a B+ because, other than a good game by Marlon Moore last week, there has been no help for Tannehill from any of the other receivers.
Offensive Line: B
Center Mike Pouncey leads the unit as he has been the most impressive player so far. Left tackle Jake Long has looked bad at times this year but has also managed to recover. As a whole, the offensive line has been pretty solid.
Defensive Line: A
The Dolphins defensive line is their strongest unit. Defensive end Cameron Wake, one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers, leads the team with 6.5 sacks and defensive tackle Randy Starks is right behind him with 3.5. Fellow starters Paul Soliai and Jared Odrick have both been good and backup rookies Kheeston Randall and Olivier Vernon have contributed, as well. The unit is the reason why the team is allowing just 78.2 yards per game on the ground.
Miami’s line backing core has been solid but not spectacular. With names like Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett, fans rightfully hope that they could make a few more impact plays than they have.
Miami’s secondary is, by far, their weakest unit. It would be even worse without starting corner Sean Smith and starting safety Reshad Jones, who have both been pretty good. Free agent pick up Richard Marshall has been somewhat of a bust and has been injured the last few weeks, to boot. The Dolphins are allowing 284.8 yards per game through the air, which is among the league’s worst. For all intents and purposes, the secondary has been the weak spot for the Dolphins since the early 2000s when Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison were roaming back there.
Dan Carpenter has had a very shaky start to the season and his two missed field goals against the New York Jets could very well be the reason why Miami is not 4-2. He has made just 7 of 11 field goals on the year. He obviously needs to pick it up.
Brandon Fields is among the NFL’s best punters and could finally get rewarded with a trip to the Pro Bowl at season’s end.
After two heartbreaking overtime losses to the Jets and Arizona Cardinals in back to back weeks, the Dolphins went on the road and beat the Cincinnati Bengals, who were a playoff team last year. They then took care of business at home against the St. Louis Rams the following week. Rookie coach Joe Philbin has done a great job preparing this team and handling Tannehill. A few questionable play calls by offensive coordinator Mike Sherman knock a point off of the board for the staff but, all in all, the coaches have done a great job so far.
There you have it. It is still early in the season and it has only been six games but, as they say, anything can happen in the NFL. Here is to hoping that the Miami Dolphins continue to surprise in 2012.
Sources: http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/teams/mia/stats, http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/stats
Michael Pellegrini is a lifelong fan of the Miami Dolphins. His first real memory is actually of Joe Montana throwing an interception at the goal line in Miami’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1994 Wild Card round.