The Miami Dolphins bounced back after a rough opener in Canton by blowing out the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-3 on Friday night.
Joe Philbin’s squad made plays in all three phases of the game and left northern Florida feeling much better about the direction of the team than when they arrived.
But did the Dolphins play exceptionally well or simply benefit from facing one of the league’s worst teams? Let’s grade their performance unit by unit.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s fourth and final series featured two beautifully thrown balls to tight end Dustin Keller that totaled 46 yards and a touchdown. It was a much-needed drive for the Dolphins’ starting offense and it appeared as if the new-look unit finally began to settle in.
The offense’s first three possessions, however, were concerning. Right guard Josh Samuda gave up a sack and a handful of pressures and even when Tannehill had time to throw, he often bailed on the pocket prematurely.
Tannehill never looked comfortable behind Miami’s offensive line and missed several open receivers when he was on the run. Some of that was Samuda’s fault, but Tannehill needs to have more poise in the pocket and hang tough to deliver shots down the field.
Protection remains an issue, but left tackle Jonathan Martin wasn’t to blame. Securing the right guard spot with a healthy John Jerry or Lance Louis, or Nate Garner until one of the two return, should help alleviate some of the pressure.
Dolphins fans can only hope Tannehill’s scoring drive will get the second-year quarterback and his starting offense clicking on all cylinders.
Preseason GPA: 1.65
The Jaguars’ offense isn’t very good. Blaine Gabbert might be–if he remains the starter–the worst QB one in the entire league and the team’s top running back Maurice Jones-Drew and top receiver Justin Blackmon didn’t play.
But I’m not so sure it would have mattered.
The Dolphins dominated the Jaguars up front, forcing quick, errant throws from Blaine Gabbert and giving the Jaguar running backs absolutely nothing to work with.
One Dolphin who flashed on film was new middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. Ellerbe was fast and instinctive, diagnosing screen plays and taking away running lanes.
The jury is still out on whether the unit can be a top-five defense in 2013, but they certainly looked the part against an anemic offensive attack. They should be tested next week in Houston, though.
Preseason GPA: 2.85
Matt Moore threw an ugly interception that looked as if it was intended for Jaguar cornerback Dwayne Gratz, but the Dolphins’ second and third-team offenses were able to protect the football otherwise.
The reserve offensive line didn’t open up many holes for Miami’s stable of backs, but Mike Gillislee and Jonas Gray made a few plays to keep drives going and the clock moving.
The Dolphins didn’t ask their quarterbacks to do much with a big lead, but Matt Moore made a few nice throws despite the pick and Pat Devlin did an adequate job considering he was held out of practice all week with a hand injury.
A fourth and fifth receiver haven’t ran away with the final openings at the position yet, but Chad Bumphis made a couple difficult catches over the middle and Brian Tyms had a 28-yard catch and run.
Overall, it wasn’t a prolific offensive night for the second and third stringers, but there wasn’t a whole lot to complain about either.
Preseason GPA: 2.7
There were some missed tackles here and there once again and some leaky coverage and run defense. But Nolan Carroll and Will Davis each picked off a pass and the Jaguars only managed three points all game.
Anytime you can keep an offense out of the end zone, it’s a great night defensively.
I would have liked to see more from first-round pick Dion Jordan, however. Jordan didn’t play much and was a non-factor outside of a play where he laid the wood on Denard Robinson, who was attempting to run out of the Wildcat formation.
I get the feeling Miami is shelving Jordan some until the regular season when they will unleash him as a pass-rushing specialists alongside Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon.
Preseason GPA: 2.85
The Dolphins recovered two muffed punts on Friday night. That’s probably more of an indictment on the Jaguars than anything spectacular Miami did, by still, it was nice to see for a team that had a difficult time recovering fumbles a year ago.
Rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis proved his worth as a fifth-round pick, making both of his field-goal tries, including a boot from 58 yards out. Sturgis also boomed his kickoffs deep into the end zone, allowing only two returns on six kicks. He’ll be the starting kicker this season barring anything unforeseen.
There were a few missed tackles on punt coverage and a muffed punt by Chad Bumphis that the Dolphins recovered, but other than than, an exceptional night for Miami’s special-teams units.
Preseason GPA: 3.35