Earlier this week I was able to interview cover32 Miami Dolphins writer Michael Serrania to talk about Sunday’s Steelers-Dolphins matchup. It’s part of cover32′s “Behind enemy lines” feature wherein writers from each team will interview each other about the upcoming matchup between their teams.
Michael has some interesting takes on Ryan Tannehill, Mike Wallace, and the Dolphins chances of making the playoffs.
QC: After such a great start (3-0), why have the Dolphins sputtered to a 6-6 record? Has it been because of the rift caused from the Richie Incognito incident? Is Tannehill in a sophomore slump? What do you think?
MS: Much of the reason the Dolphins have sputtered is turnovers. The Dolphins in their first few games turned the ball over very few times. Then, they had a stretch of losing four in a row and were seemingly left for dead. They had critical losses to New Orleans (four turnovers—three were interceptions by quarterback Ryan Tannehill), to Baltimore (one interception and one fumble by Tannehill), Buffalo (four turnovers, three interceptions by Tannehill), and lastly to New England (a fumble and two interceptions). After that last loss, the Dolphins got on a roll versus Cincinnati in an overtime thriller, San Diego, and last week versus the Jets. Granted, the Dolphins don’t make wins easy wins when they should be. They shoot themselves in the foot from time to time. For instance, had they run in New England in the second half and made two field goals versus Baltimore, they’d be in the driver’s seat at 8-4 and destined for possibly a division championship. However, the Dolphins just can’t overcome turnovers in a game combined with untimely fourth-quarter sacks. An alarming statistic is the lack of touchdowns in nine games during the fourth quarter. That right there has killed Miami at the end of games and have shown that while they can get stops at the end of games defensively (wins versus Indy, Atlanta, Cincinnati, and San Diego), the offense has yet to close out a close game by running out the clock.
As far as the rift between Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin, it only made the offensive line better. Even though there were some adjustments that had to be made to protect Ryan Tannehill, the line has played better than when Incognito and Martin lined up next to each other. If you remember back to the Bengals game, the Dolphins ran over Cincinnati much of the game for 157 yards and 5.2-yards per rush. That line included the insertion of Nate Garner at LG after Richie Incognito left the game in the first quarter with a neck injury. After that moment, the line seemed to hold up and countered the Bengal’s defensive line. In addition, versus the Buccaneers, the Dolphins gave up two sacks. Next the Dolphins gave up less sacks versus the Chargers. Finally, versus the Carolina, a few more sacks. While Tannehill is still getting sacked, the rushing numbers have improved steadily each week and the sack numbers have decreased slightly without Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito. Versus the Jets, the two sacks sustained and number of quarterback hurries decreased as well. Lastly, the losses forced guys like Tyson Clabo who’d given up seven sacks in five games and John Jerry to play better. All in all, the line is in much better shape than expected and the adversity has brought the team closer as a whole.
Tannehill, and I’ll address him in a bit, is actually playing better statistically, based on career highs in touchdowns, and might throw for 4,000 yards this season. He should eclipse 20 TDs, but the question is how many more interceptions? Last December he had one interception the entire month.