The 2012 NFL season is finally underway, and for the Miami Dolphins it starts out with a loss to the Houston Texans. The loss comes as no great surprise considering the Texans performance last season, and after a disappointing preseason, the Dolphins were figured to be at a serious disadvantage in this matchup. Still, Miami showed up to play, and gave a great effort in Sunday’s 30-10 loss. Here are 3 positives the Dolphins can build upon for next week; Defensive effort, Ryan Tannehill, and Reggie Bush.
Although the final score reflects poorly on the defensive unit for the Dolphins, the group played very well against one of the most dynamic offenses in the league. All 24 of Houston’s first half points were the results of offensive turnovers, with 21 points coming during the final two minutes of the first half. This meltdown aside, the defense was fantastic at stopping the run, only allowing 83 total rushing yards on the day. This is no small feat when Arian Foster and Ben Tate are the opposing running backs. The secondary had a few mental lapses which resulted in wide open receivers making huge gains in the passing game.
Free agent addition, Richard Marshal, was called for a pass interference in the end zone leading to the Texan’s second touchdown, and safety Jimmy Wilson was scorched by Houston’s Andre Johnson on a couple of plays, one for a touchdown , and the other making it first and goal. These small moments aside, the defensive backs and safeties played a good game, and aside from the 2 minute fiasco to end the half, the Dolphins only allowed Houston 3 field goals all game.
After a shaky preseason, this defensive effort is just what the team needed, and even though the end result was a loss, the Dolphins should gain a lot of confidence going into their next game.
Tannehill had a rough introduction to the NFL on Sunday, throwing 3 interceptions which resulted in 17 Houston points. Two of his ill fated passes may have been tipped at the line, but it is still on him to get the ball up and past the defensive front, and he will have to make adjustments accordingly. Interceptions aside, Tannehill showed great poise, and drove the ball down the field on a consistent basis. There was an obvious chemistry with both Davone Bess and Brian Hartline, an important aspect considering the apparent weakness of the Dolphins receiving corps.
In his first NFL start, Tannehill accumulated 219 yards, which may not be a mind blowing amount, but it is more than 10 other NFL quarterbacks had in the first week, including Super Bowl winning quarterback, Eli Manning (213). The three interceptions hurt his team, each leading to points for the Texans, but Tannehill was extremely decisive with the ball, and never once did the moment appear too big for him. This is an extremely positive sign for the Dolphins moving forward, and it will be interesting to see how he does against a lower ranked defense.
After rushing for more than a thousand yards last season, Bush has not been shy about his confidence going into this season. He is on record saying he plans on being the 2012 rushing leader, and just last week said he felt the Dolphins backfield could be one of the most dominant in the league. On Sunday, against one of the best run defenses in the league, Bush began to back his talk up, running between the tackles with authority. Watching Bush run should make people sit up and take notice. He looks like the USC Trojan taken 2nd overall in the 2006 NFL Draft, only stronger and more vicious.
Bush has been knocked for being soft his whole career, but Bush looked anything but as he ran through the Texans defensive line. His longest rush was only 13 yards, but he ran for a respectable 4.9 yards a carry when he touched the ball, and had several runs where he was one block or broken tackle away from breaking free. Bush is still dangerous in the open field, and his hands are as good as ever, finishing the game with a team high, 6 receptions.
Bush’s durability will be worth keeping an eye on, but if he can stay healthy, week 1 was a good indication of what the team will be getting this year. His back-up, Daniel Thomas, only managed 3 rushes and an exciting 32 yard pass, before he suffered a concussion and had to leave the game near the end of the first half. Behind Thomas on the depth chart is rookie Lamar Miller, who was inactive on Sunday. This may cause a bit of concern, but all in all, the Dolphins run game gives them something to build on.
With a true threat in the backfield, the Dolphins will not have to put so much pressure on their young quarterback, and if the defense can keep the games close, Miami may turn out to be better than most people expect them to be. Tannehill was impressive in his first game, as was head coach Joe Philbin, who was also in his first game, and though they leave Houston with a loss, there is plenty for the Dolphins to feel good about.
Jeff Everette is a Featured Columnist for RantSports.com, covering the NFL and NBA. Follow Jeff on twitter @jeverettesports, like his page on FaceBook, or add his Google + to your circles for all of his latest articles, thoughts, and rants.