Yesterday was not pretty. 54 minutes of uselessness before the Dolphins finally woke up, but it was exactly what they needed when they needed it most, and it came from Ryan Tannehill! I have always been a supporter of his, but the Cinci game was when I really started to wonder if he'd ever get it together and started thinking about who we might be able to replace him with next year.
Well... yesterday he did something that I did not think he'd ever be able to do. At the end of the game, with Albert and Pouncey ("Ow muh hip!") hurt for the eight-millionth time and Tunsil out for the rest of the game, and with a patch-work O-line, he picked the team up on his shoulders and charged down the field against one of the best defenses in the league....and he did it TWICE.
Not to take away from the defense; they kept the team in the game. Just like Tannehill, the defense didn't do anything spectacular, but did exactly what they needed when they needed it most.
The Rams' front seven were nasty all day. Maybe the win would've been prettier if the O-line had all it's starters, but with all those backups in, Tannehill rarely had time to do anything and Ajayi was getting bottled up behind the line more often than I've seen since he became the starter.
We all know what the outcome was so I won't recap anymore, but I wanted to share some things I noticed that were easy to miss if you were too busy staring at the floor and shaking your head.
1. We can survive without Albert. Tunsil is already very good at LT. I only saw one instance where he blocked right to double-team a DT that really didn't need to be double-teamed and the DE went right around his left side and got to the QB, and that could've just been the design of the play. Other than that, he was great up until the injury. We have an all-star LT for years to come. I think we can cut Albert lose unless he's willing to take backup money. The guy is always.... AAAAALLLLLLWAAAAYYYYYSS hurt anyway and I'm tired of it.
2. Tannehill made a bad throw to the end zone that was picked off. I was furious....at first. Then I watched the play again... and then watched it again... and I noticed something wrong. He had no out on the play, meaning, he had no "security blanket" or "escape hatch," if you will. It was a three WR set, with all three going deep and everyone else staying back blocking. So, when the Rams were STILL able to get to Tannehill, he had nobody to dump it off to and really nowhere to run. He could take the sack, throw it away (which may have resulted in a flag for grounding), or throw deep to the MOST open receiver. He chose option 3, and honestly, if he had thrown it a little better it would have looked like pure genius. I'm actually going to let that throw slide, because the point of the play call was to go for the jugular immediately after the Rams turned the ball over, which I LOVE. That's what Tannehill tried to do and it just happened to not work out. I put this more on the coach who called the play for not giving Tannehill an out on the play.
3. The defense is MUCH better at tackling and they handle the fatigue of ugly games like this very well. I believe they have the ability to keep us in the game against any team in the league.
This wasn't like the game against the Browns. This was a struggle against a team who's actually pretty good (at least defensively) and the Dolphins, and more particularly, Ryan Tannehill, were clutch... about as clutch as any of us have seen for years. This win was more than a win, it was a message that the Dolphins are not a fluke. They can fly all the way out to the West coast and beat two teams on the road back-to-back. They can play ugly against a tough defense and pull it together at the very end to turn what USED TO BE a sure defeat into an exciting victory.
I know a lot of you are thinking about how we could still win the division championship. I have to say curb your enthusiasm. I'm honestly still not sold that we'll make the playoffs at all this year. We still have some tough games to play and I still say 8-8 or anything better is a HUGE improvement as long as the Dolphins stay competitive in every game.
I do worry about the status of the O-line. Aaron Rodgers is showing us that the elite QBs of the league in fact DO NOT always "find ways to overcome and win even with a banged up line." No support, no playoffs. Period. I don't care who you have at QB.
But we should all be proud of this team and of Adam Gase. Win, lose, or draw, this has turned into a good season and Miami is officially a GOOD FOOTBALL TEAM.