The Miami Dolphins came into their week 4 matchup against the 3-0 Arizona Cardinals needing to bounce back after last week’s debacle against the New York Jets. They needed to come out against one of the better teams of this young NFL season and show that they are more than just a rebuilding bottom feeder. Regardless of the outcome, that is exactly what the Dolphins did.
Miami has gotten more media scrutiny than normal this year, and from what they have shown during the first quarter of the season, they deserve the attention. There is no doubt the Dolphins are in a rebuilding stage, but they are showing promise that many people thought would be a year or two away. They are trying to find their identity under a new coaching regime and who they are is already starting to emerge.
Despite starting a rookie quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, no big threat wide receiver and a depleted secondary, the Dolphins have shown that they can compete with most teams in the NFL. While they have been placed in the bottom five of nearly every NFL Power Rankings out there, the way they took the field against the Cardinals should make the world take a second look.
During the first three games of the season, the Dolphins rushing attack had taken center stage, but throughout it all, the rookie Tannehill kept showing flashes of the quarterback he could become. On Sunday in a hostile environment, Tannehill took center stage, throwing for over 400 yards, leading the offense on drive after drive and overcoming every let down the team experienced throughout the game.
He has to take better care of the ball. He could easily be the best of the five rookie quarterbacks that started the season if it were not for the concerning number of interceptions he has thrown.
What Tannehill is accomplishing in the passing game should not be taken lightly. The wide receivers were a huge concern coming out of training camp, yet he has connected with Davone Bess and Brian Hartline for 755 yards through four games. The offensive line is holding up better than expected and will look more cohesive as the weeks go by.
The defense finally started getting pressure on the quarterback this week, but the secondary still gave up too many back breaking plays, including a Cardinal 4th down score at the end of regulation. Despite picking Kevin Kolb off twice in the game, they were not able to make a stop when it matters the most.
The Dolphins have now suffered two heartbreaking losses in consecutive matches decided in overtime. In both cases, Miami had victory in their grasp, but could not make the plays to preserve or retake the lead.
Some of the blame for this falls on player performance and some blame surely goes on the play calling, but either way, the Dolphins have continually been on the cusp of pulling off the win. If the Dolphins had been able to establish a better balance between the run and pass, there is a strong possibility the outcome would have been different, but until Miami puts both phases of the offense together, all we can do is guess.
The pieces are obviously there for the ‘Phins. They look much better than was expected after what was seen in the preseason. They may not be there yet, but it won’t be long.
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.