The Miami Dolphins are coming off a 23-20 loss to the Colts in Indianapolis that dropped their record to 4-4 on the season. The Dolphins scored 17 points on their first three possessions, but struggled to move the ball in the second half and lost on a field goal by Adam Vinatieri midway through the fourth quarter.
After the jump, what I saw of the Dolphins last week, and the others of their games I've seen.
1. Coming out of college, the eighth overall picked in the 2012 draft drew a lot of comparisons to the eighth overall pick in the 2011 draft. Ryan Tannehill had little experience as a pro-style dropback quarterback, having played wide receiver at the start of his college career before switching back to quarterback. His offensive coordinator with the Dolphiins is Mike Sherman, his collegiate head coach, and he's running the same offense. That familiarity has allowed him to hit the ground running and, combined with some better consistency in mechanics, have allowed him to play very well for a rookie quarterback. To date, I'd say he's put together consistently better stretches of play than Jake Locker has at any point in his career. He throws with good anticipation, which really helps given the quality of the receiving corps, and isn't bad outside the numbers.
2. Reggie Bush is totally like a real running back now. He had a pretty spectacular 18-yard run you probably saw on the highlights. He runs like the better version of Chris Johnson, doing just enough between the tackles but preferred to run outside. He's more agile than CJ but I don't think he has quite the same long speed. He started the season playing a lot, but is now sharing time with last year's second-round pick Daniel Thomas. Thomas last year was a difficult watch, a power back with little speed who wasn't running with power. He's better this year, but that just means mediocre instead of terrible. I share the general draftnik affection for third-stringer Lamar Miller, an interesting one-cut runner with some speed. It's easy for me to see backup fullback Jorvorskie Lane, who has an awesome name, running through Titans tackles the same way Isaac Redman of the Steelers did.
3. Your weekly tight end question: Anthony Fasano. His career high is 107 yards in a game, set against the Titans two years ago. I recall him mostly victimizing Stephen Tulloch. Fasano has 24 catches this year, which is on pace to better his career high of 39. Chance of at least 60 yards and/or a touchdown: pretty good.
4. The receiving corps is somewhere around Jacksonville-level. Brian Hartline is a better player than I thought he'd be coming out of Ohio State; he seems to be in the right place at the right time and can catch the ball, though he doesn't necessarily gain much separation. He had a zillion yards against the Cardinals against this year. Davone Bess is the #2; he's a good slot receiver playing outside because, well, Marlon Moore has the third-most catches of any receiver, with four. Yes, given that they're playing the Titans, the Dolphins will probably run three receiver sets to force the Titans to nickel anyway and run the ball between the tackles. The Bears did this, though they actually do have three receivers.
5. Left tackle Jake Long is having a bit of a down year and really struggled against Dwight Freeney, whom you may recall not doing much against Mike Otto a couple weeks ago. Rookie right tackle Jonathan Martin is having a decent season, though Robert Mathis abused him on the speed rush for a sack last week. Overall the line was fairly meh against a Colts front that, beyond Mathis and Freeney, lacks particularly good players. Left guard Richie Incognito over the years has earned his vote as the NFL's second-dirtiest player.
6. There's been a fair bit of discussion this week about Randy Starks. His defining moment in a Titans uniform for me may have been the fourth down play in a loss to the Quinn Gray-led Jaguars where he got blown off the ball, but he's turned into a heck of a defensive tackle. He gave both Texans guards fits in Week 1 and consistently got penetration against the Colts as well. The other starting defensive tackle is Paul Soliai, who was a nose when the Dolphins played their 3-4 and is still difficult to move.
7. I remember when Cameron Wake was coming to the NFL and the Titans were trying to sign him. Having him would be pretty cool. He had the Dolphins' only sack of Luck, forcing a fumble in the process, and two of their six quarterback hits.
8. Karlos Dansby is the big name at linebacker, and I sometimes struggle to see him make an impact. About the only play he stood out to me was where he had a chance to intercept a pass over the middle and get a return; not as bad as McCarthy's drop against Luck the week before, but not great. Then again, this was a day where the Colts threw the ball, not a running day.
9. Two weeks ago, Ryan Mouton was Luck's pigeon. Against the Dolphins, it was corner Nolan Carroll and sub package safety Jimmy Wilson, though other corner Sean Smith wasn't quite as immune as Jason McCourty seemed to be.
10. I still hate Colts fans for getting Andrew Luck.
I don't mean it to sound like the Dolphins have some sort of great team. They have, I think, a better quarterback, albeit a rookie who could have a terrible game like Cam Newton did against the Titans last year, and two defensive linemen better than any the Titans have. The Titans are a pretty bad team with the capability of playing better than they have; if the Titans were actually playing like that, the line for this game would probably be something like the home edge of 2.5 points. Instead, the spread is MIA -6. Once again, I think that line probably flatters the Titans by a couple points, though in the vagaries of the real world NFL the hypothetical Tom who bets wouldn't put money on anything over -6.5.