This post was submitted by our very own Tony Nicoletti. Enjoy!
I know the preseason is over and that Lazor had to do everything he could to keep much of Miami's new offense under wraps. (Especially with the Patriots coming to Miami to open the season). But I have to wonder....
Perhaps I am an incurable, overly optimistic fan. A hopeless homer of sorts. Someone that doesn't just believe the glass is half full, but sees it's contents being almost full of my favorite Koolaid, too. I'm about to offer an extremely hopeful, rose colored view point of what one could garner from this, "cloak and dagger" preseason. And what might be in store for us Dolphin aficionados.
Tannehill only played in 3 games. But in those 3 contests, this is what could be construed as the results:
The very first preseason outing, he goes 6 for 6 and drives the team down and scores a TD. He gets yanked after the first quarter. I can almost hear Lazor on the sidelines talking to Ryan after that glowing sample of work. "Easy kid". "Cool your jets"! (Excuse the, "Jets" pun, there). "You are setting yourself up to give these fans too much to hope for". "We don't want the new and improved Tannehill/Dolphins to appear too good to be true".
Now in his second appearance, Tannehill comes down to earth with a much more realistic, yet favorable showing. 9 of 14 for 110 yards. He has a fumble, (not necessarily his fault) due to a blown assignment, allowing McCoy to bust through the line to disrupt the play. He stays a couple of series and takes them down for a field goal before getting pulled so Moore can get his turn. Lazor is probably relieved Ryan has performed closer to what everyone is accustomed to seeing. But for two games Tannehill is still 15 of 20 for a 75 % completion rate.
Tannehill's third and final game, (the so called, "dress rehearsal") he plays into the third quarter and goes 13 of 21 for 116 yards. Seems pedestrian enough for him. He manages to bring them down for a field goal on an early series. Then he drives them down into enemy territory twice and throws an INT on one occasion, (at the 5 yard line). Another series stalls when Dion Sims catches a pass from Ryan for a first down, but fumbles at the 25 yard line. (Again, while Tannehill has them driving down field and well inside field goal range).
The point to all this is that Tannehill winds up completing 68.2 % of his passes against mostly, opposing first string defenses. (Considerably better than his 2013 stat line of 60.4 %). Though, there is still the issue of scoring, he is moving them down the field relatively well. (Even connecting on some long passes, just not to Wallace). He's getting the ball out quicker. Looks confident, decisive and the offense around him appears to be more exciting.
This is what happens when your top QB only gets sacked once in 3 games. And in 4 games the OL only gave up 3 total sacks, too. Testimony which indicates Bill Lazor is calling the right kind of plays to get the ball out before bad things happen.
In the three games where they had difficulty running the ball in the first half, the second half produced considerably better rushing totals. This demonstrates Lazor's unwillingness to give up on the run. Instead, he finds creative ways to not take what the defense is giving him, but spread the defense and exploit their weaknesses. I believe Lazor gets it. I think he understands the importance of trying to achieve a balance and at least have a decent running game that the defense has to respect.
And after two sub par rushing performances, (52 and 46 yards) Miami explodes in a big way, (be it against a weak Dallas defense) for 200 yards? (Once again, tipping their hand as to what kind of potential they have). But of course, this has to be followed by a weaker preseason tally of 79 yards in their final scrimmage. Who are you kidding, Bill?
As far as meaningless victories are concerned? We lose a winnable opener in Atlanta, 16 to 10. Easily beat a Buccaneer team that has a very good defense, 20 to 14. (Put the brakes on now, Bill Lazor). Then we come from behind late in our final two games to win. (25 to 20 versus the Cowboys and 14 to 13 against the Rams). And naturally, they would be home games that saw us scoring two touch downs in the fourth quarter in each of them. (With second and third string personnel, no less)? Grand standing much are we, Mr Lazor?
I mean......Are the Dolphins playing possum?
First, you have Ryan Tannehill coming out of the gate like his dorsal fin is on fire. Better throttle him back before people start thinking he's the second coming of Nick Foles of the Eagles. Like....We all know Dolphins can give the appearance of being able to walk on water. But not our young QB. I don't care if his tail fin is on fire or not.
Then after two outings that did not amount to a 100 yards of rushing you decide to pacify us by game planning 200 yards? Sure Moreno finally got to play, but he only accounted for 64 of those yards and perhaps, did set the tone for the other RB's to follow. Yeah, it was against the Cowboy's porous defense. But it seems all the RB's had a field day and not one of them wound up scraping cow paddies of their cleats in the process. Could this have something to do with your play calling?
And all of the sudden, the Dolphins become cardiac kids? Coming from behind to win 2 games in the fourth quarter. And not with an occasional field goal, mind you. With multiple, needed TD's.
But this is a work in progress. A team learning a new playbook that is still supposed to be an off shoot of the West Coast Offense. I ain't buying it.
If this is what we can expect from this new group of Dolphins then I can understand why Belichick is snatching our recently released players off the waiver wire to pick their brains. I honestly don't think it will do him much good. The Philadelphia Eagles had some success against New England last season with their Kelly/ Lazor offensive scheme, and Belichick remembers.
As creative as you are and how well you have this offense trying to down play and stymie our opponents with our true talents and abilities, you will only change up and adapt to the Patriots defensive sub packages. And nothing would be more satisfying than really ticking old Belichick off. That and a win!
And I haven't even mentioned how much better our defense has played during the preseason. I'll try to have a few words about them in an up coming piece. Maybe, before we play New England this weekend.