After one entertaining game in Los Angeles, the Miami Dolphins are on top. They have earned their first win to begin the season. The Dolphins emerged victorious despite horrendous playcalling in the first half, bad pass defense, and settling for field goals often.
However, this Dolphins team is resilient. They came to play today and showed the grit that landed them in the playoffs last season. When thinking of a face for this win and for the team’s attitude, running back Jay Ajayi comes to mind. That’s because as the game goes on, Ajayi only grows stronger. The Dolphins rode Ajayi as the game went on and it paid dividends. Ajayi finished with 122 yards on 28 carries.
The other face for today’s win belongs to kicker Cody Parkey. Parkey came through big-time today as he nailed a 54-yard field goal with just over a minute left in the game. This tied for his career long and it shows that Miami’s front office made a great choice in picking him up.
Miami’s offense started off slowly, mostly due to poor playcalling. The entire first half had many questioning head coach Adam Gase’s judgement. However, the Dolphins got it together immediately in the second half as they marched down the field for a touchdown on the opening drive. Wide receiver Kenny Stills made a great adjustment to the ball as quarterback Jay Cutler scrambled around looking for an open man.
Cutler threw for 230 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. The connection between him and DeVante Parker was astounding. Parker finished with four receptions for 85 yards, while Jarvis Landry finished with 13 receptions for 78 yards.
Miami’s offense was relatively balanced, and looked at it’s best once the run game was established, as expected. The offensive unit started off slow and ended hot. The defense would have a bit of an up and down day as well.
At a glance, the Dolphins did well on defense. Holding the Chargers to 17 points is no easy task with the wealth of talent that quarterback Philip Rivers has at his exposal. However, there were certainly areas that need improvement. Most notably, the pass defense. When Rivers wanted to, he carved up Miami’s secondary. They were often out of position, late to react, or just playing soft coverage.
As poor as the secondary was, Miami made up for it in other ways. One of which was its rushing defense—a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. The Dolphins held running back Melvin Gordon to 13 yards on the ground and one touchdown. The touchdown is forgivable, as the Chargers had three chances on the one-yard line.
This is certainly encouraging going forward, as Miami faces a tough slate of running backs this year. This was especially impressive considering the fact that outside linebacker Lawrence Timmons was a non-participant today.
Overall, Miami did show up a bit rusty as expected to begin the game. It was their Week 1 and the Chargers’ Week 2. However, the Dolphins were able to put together a tough, gritty game in order to grind out a win. This is huge for morale and momentum for the team. To begin the season with a win on the road after facing a hurricane, many season-ending injuries, and knowing that they’ll be playing 16 games in a row is certainly a good feeling.
Look for the Dolphins to make it two in a row as they face the New York Jets away from home next week.