Some great records were broken last Sunday, so take heart, Dolphin fans, for we may be 1-3 this season, but we are at the very least playing with a lot of heart and a lot of pride. There are guys on this team now who are stepping up. Sean Smith is looking better with every game this season. Brian Hartline continues to make a case for himself as a legitimate number 1 receiver, and this week he made a huge statement that will have the rest of the league taking note. Perhaps most impressive is young gun Tannehill who looks the part of a franchise quarterback more and more.
Just to put this in perspective for everyone, because this really was one hell of a performance here, these records are all the more impressive when you consider that it was achieved against one of the premier defenses in the league. Make no mistake about it, the Cardinals are not at 4-0 on account of their stellar offense. Credit where credit is due – Kolb has been playing more like the guy they thought they were getting, and thankfully for their sakes, more like the guy who warrants the incredible sums of money he is getting, but he is still a far cry from being an elite QB in this league. Heading into Sunday’s encounter, the Cardinal defense had proven to be punishing against both the run and the aerial game, and were getting the the quarterback seemingly with ease. As a result, I concluded that this game would be a low scoring bout between two very good defenses with neither offense getting much going, a game that would be decided by a field goal or less. I was at least right about one thing.
Tannehill was poised, he was cool, he was calm and he was collected. For the most part, he was everything you could want in a QB as he routinely carved up the Cardinals D. The thing to get excited about here is that he looks better with each game. I believe it is still to early to announce that the longtime search for a replacement for Dan Marino is over, but there is certainly hope. Not only did Tannehill break the record for most passing yards for a Miami Dolphins QB (previously held by Dan Marino), but he obliterated it – his 431 yards actually places him second on the NFL rookie passing yards for a single game behind Cam Newton. Newton’s total? 432 yards.
It was the play of Brian Hartline, however, that was really able to stretch those numbers for Tannehill. Not only was he able to get himself open a lot (12 receptions on the day), but he was also able to add great yards after the catch, too. Hartline, too, now holds a franchise record for most receiving yards in a single game with 253. Bess was fantastic as well, racking up a 100 yard receiving game for himself that almost seems to have gone under the radar, in light of everything else. The question marks that surround this team on the receiving end will remain as is. The receiving corps is paper thin; Bess and Hartline are not just the best receivers on the team, they are the only receivers on the team. It was a shocker once more for Naanee, whose only reception was destined to be a beautiful 19-yards-and-some-change, game-winning 1st down late in the 4th quarter. The ball was in his hands, he was open. But then, as if by magic, the ball somehow popped out of his hands and was subsequently lost. Yes, Carpenter is not doing what he is paid to do, it is extremely frustrating when he misses game-winning field goals, but for the love of god, all Naanee had to do was hold onto the ball, it was much easier than what Carpenter had to do. I cannot imagine Naanee stepping out onto the field for the Dolphins again, but that is not my call to make. Patience, however, has got to be wearing thin for just about everyone by now. (Editors note: As we now know Nannee was cut yesterday and replaced with Jabar Gaffney who is finally healthy after an off season injury.)
It was a great game; sad, really, that there had to be a loser, because I felt that both teams played a really awesome game. Kudos to Kolb and the rest of those guys, they hung around, kept themselves in it, and when it came down to it, they didn’t make the same critical mistakes as we did, instead making the key plays that they needed to.
When I reflect on the blown chances and the costly turnovers that have dertermined the fate of our season so far, it feels like a punch to the gut. With the exception of the Texans, we were well and truly beat on the day, no two ways about it. We are a team that should be sitting pretty at 3-1, not 1-3. But at the same time I take heart, because those silly mistakes and blown opportunities are from repeat offenders, so we know what we need to do to get better. We need better and more consistent play from Dan Carpenter, we need better play from our secondary, notably from Richard Marshall, and we surely need better play from any receiver on our team not named Bess or Hartline. Simply put, if none of those guys under the microscope playing those positions step up, or if they keep making the same mistakes, then next season we replace them one way or another and, with ten picks in next year’s draft, we have plenty of ammunition.
So take heart, Dolfans, because this is a team with a ton of talent, a ton of young talent, and a ton of upside. Even if we do not make it to the party this year, we are at least starting to play like a team that, if nothing else, deserves to be there.
Tags: arizona cardinals, miami dolphins, NFL, recap, ross barnes