Game 1 has come and gone and success has been achieved. All right, the Fins did lose 16-10 to the Falcons, and the line-backing group may somehow have more questions now than it already had coming into last Friday night’s game. The defense, which is supposed to be the strong side of this team, looked erratic, and unprepared throughout the contest. These may make it seem like the opening of the pre-season was a failure for the Miami Dolphins, however that isn’t true at all. These numbers are why the first game of the pre-season for the Dolphins was an ultimate success: 7, 6-6, and 11. Those numbers signify the opening drive touchdown of 7 points to start the pre-season the Fins recorded. 6-6 is Ryan Tannehill’s attempts and completions on his lone drive in the game. Finally 11 is the number of plays ran in that opening drive for Miami, which led to a Ryan Tannehill to Brandon Gibson passing touchdown.
The season for the Dolphins will be judged by the Dolphins offensive success, considering they are a team that scored over 30 points only once last season. The firing of Mike Sherman, and hiring of Bill Lazor is supposed to be the difference in quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The defensive issues pale in comparison, the Dolphins will have one of the best defensive fronts in football, and the secondary even with Reshad Jones’ 4 game suspension; also will be strong. The defense will be ready for primetime come week 1. The offense is where the questions marks have truly lied over the tenure of Joe Philbin, and beyond. The lone drive where a majority of the starters were in the game showed the glimpse of what could be for the Fins. The fact Ryan Tannehill was perfect, this is a guy with turnover issues, problems over/under throwing receivers, and a player with issues taking sacks, this shined a small light on the possibilities for this offense.
One drive is just that, as small a sample size as you could have but for an organization that hasn’t scored an opening drive td in a first pre-season game in years, it was the perfect start. Tannehill was without his top 3 targets in Charles Clay, Mike Wallace, and Brian Hartline yet was able to find new weapons and move the ball easily down the field. Bill Lazor’s newly minted offense was on full display, as Ryan Tannehill the athletic mobile signal caller, was put on the move. Tannehill was amongst the league leaders in throwing outside of the pocket. Now you cannot have a QB live on the run and have him survive the duration of a NFL season. However, you can use varying degrees of movement to take advantage of that area of ability your quarterback possesses. That is exactly what happened, the option read was used; Tannehill was put in the shotgun and under center. The signs of a wide-open, quick paced, and vastly differentiated offense were there for everyone to see. Just think of what could happen when Mike Pouncey is back from injury, Knowshon Moreno has some carries under his belt, plus the full receiving core is in place. There is a lot left to be seen, and with pre-season Game 2 on the horizon Tannehill and the starting offense will play anywhere from a full quarter to two quarters. This will allow for a much bigger sample size for s to examine. The start though was exactly what this team needed.
The pre-season is just that, an exhibition season of glorified practice. Where players who will never see a legit game give all they have in the hopes of just making the team. Where veterans get a touch of game play to work out of the off-season, and into full football shape. Where ballyhooed rookies get showcased, but not really tested. The pre-season isn’t what you celebrate as a point of football fact. What you can take from the pre-season is a feel, a vibe from players to situations. The vibe that came from the first game for this Dolphins team was growth and positivity. This is the make or break year for Ryan Tannehill, he is expected to lead this team into play-off contention, if not the actual playoffs. He is expected to grow into a top 15 quarterback in this league. He is expected to become the quintessential leader of this team. It was just one drive, but that drive demonstrated signs of maturity for Tannehill. The signs that the Bill Lazor offense could be perfectly tailored for #17 were there against the Falcons. Don’t go and buy your tickets to Arizona just yet, but if that first drive is at all indicative of the future Miami Dolphins then it should finally be the end of the boring field goal settling offenses South Florida has become so accustomed to the last 15 plus years! That is something all near and far should celebrate.