The Miami Dolphins have been searching for an identity for more than a decade, ever since the departures of Don Shula, Dan Marino, and the high-octane weaponry in their downfield passing game. Since those days, there has been an endless parade of mediocrity at coach and quarterback. In an effort to halt the parade, the Dolphins front office has tried and failed numerous times to make big-splash coaching hires, including a lengthy pursuit of Rams coach Jeff Fisher.
Fins fans hope that those days may be finally over with the arrival of Joe Philbin and Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill has been very impressive in the early going despite getting far less pre-season buzz than fellow rookies Andrew Luck and RGIII. Philbin's offense has made Miami surprisingly competitive. Their last three games have been decided by a total of ten points, and despite a 2-3 record they find themselves only a game out of contention in the AFC East.
The Rams appear to be back on track as well, adding a surprising amount of buzz and swagger to this early season matchup. To get more insight on the Dolphins, we reached out to Mick from PhinsPhocus.com, the excellent Dolphins fan site here on Bloguin. Here are our questions and his responses.
Q: Reggie Bush has been playing a little sore since his injury against the Jets but has played every game. What do you expect from him this Sunday against the Rams improved Defense?
Reggie is probably the hardest worker on the Dolphins. He runs sprints and does more field work after practice. Reggie will probably be used in I formation where the Dolphins will pick key moments to run misdirection plays, plays to the outside, and draw plays. I expect Reggie to be set out wide for a pass on a slant or any empty set. Reggie will be a factor all over because hes versatile and quite dangerous in space.
However, without Daniel Thomas due to a concussion he sustained last week, expect Reggie to get plenty of carries along with Lamar Miller, 1st year out of Miami, to be a factor. He's elusive and has more burst that Reggie Bush. Lamar Miller already has a TD this season.
Q: Is Tannehill really a franchise caliber QB and is HE good enough to win a game outright if called upon to do so?
Personally, the jury is still out on Tannehill. He has yet to throw more than 1 Red Zone TD this season. 2 TD to 6 Interceptions is not exactly Andrew Luck, RG3 territory. With that being said, Tannehill has the pocket presence and poise to be the starter in Miami. He has progressed faster than most rookies at QB.
His intangibles -- changing plays, formations and leading the offense -- are off the charts. If he gets on a roll throwing the ball, look out. He has an incredible completion percentage on third down. He trusts Davone Bess and Brian Hartline only. He targets to Anthony Fasano even when he's covered, but really the Dolphins have yet to establish a 3rd receiver. Maybe Jabar Gaffney will be the difference for this week. Biggest jump for Tannehill is can he produce in the red zone and find the right target? Again, time will tell.
We have yet to see Tannehill get a kill and win a game in the 4th quarter without help from the defense!
Q: Is the Dolphins WR corps going to be enough against a Rams secondary averaging at least one take away a game and near the top in the league regarding pass TD’s allowed?
First of all, the Dolphins receiving corps has no well -known stars. That being said, the Dolphins have Davone Bess and Brian Hartline healthy and ready. They will pose problems for the Rams provided the running game gets going. You can't rule out Anthony Fasano and his presence over the middle and in the red zone.
I would argue that the Rams have played 1 team with premier talent at WR, the Redskins. They played well. However, it's a small sample. Dolphins should find a way despite the lack of depth at receiver. It comes down to finding a 3rd receiver out of the lot of receivers. Will Jabar Gaffney emerge as that guy? Historically, he might given he had a fantastic season last year with the Redskins.
Q: If the Rams are able to shut down an sore Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas is a no-go who will the Dolphins look to on offense?
Dolphins will depend on the passing game. Look for plenty of passes to Hartline, Bess, and Fasano. Keep in mind, the Dolphins are not afraid to look down field at big bodied Jorvorskie Lane and Charles Clay at H-Back. Both pose a threat. Lane can run the fullback dive as well.
Q: Who wins the battle of Robert Quinn versus Jake Long?
Jake Long is a 3 time Pro Bowler. Robert Quinn is an edge rusher with 7 sacks who can match up well with Long. However, Quinn took advantage last week of an experienced Arizona line.
Long doesn't fare well versus a strong edge rusher. However, Long keeps his ground and has had a good season. Long might get beat once, but he's good and he'll make his adjustments. I am sure that OL coach Jim Turner and a line guru like Joe Philbin will be ready for Quinn. Ryan Tannehill typically gets rid of the ball quickly, so sacks are not as much a problem for Long or the line as a whole.