AFC East: Brandon Gibson

DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins officially put a bow on their 2014 offseason last week following the conclusion of mandatory minicamp. Miami had three consecutive days of spirited practices and ESPN.com's Dolphins blog was there to take in all the action.

Here are five things we learned about the Dolphins in minicamp:

1. Tannehill, offense shows growth

[+] EnlargeOlivier Vernon and Ryan Tannehill
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeAfter struggling on Day 1 of minicamp, Ryan Tannehill and the offense made strides.
Thoughts: To put it bluntly, the first day of minicamp was a disaster for Miami's offense and third-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins gave up four sacks, threw three interceptions and was sloppy overall in team drills. Even the mild-mannered Tannehill became frustrated and yelled at his receivers. It appeared the defense would dominate the offense during this three-day camp. Miami's defense mostly has been together for three seasons, while the offense is in transition under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. But Tannehill and the offense showed growth in Day 2 and Day 3 with more even performances. Lazor's group must continue to make strides in training camp in order to not become the weak link of the team to start the regular season.

2. Hope for second-year players

Thoughts: It is well documented that the Dolphins got very little from their rookie class last season. Miami had the third fewest snaps from rookie players in 2013, and many in South Florida had written off players from that class as draft busts in the making. But as the offseason progressed and peaked at minicamp, second-year players such as guard Dallas Thomas, defensive end Dion Jordan and cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis made more and more plays in practice, proving that there is hope for Miami's much-maligned 2013 draft class. Miami's second-year players could play a key role in whether the Dolphins make the jump this year from an average team to a team with playoff potential. All the aforementioned players had a productive offseason.

3. Offensive line still a work in progress

Thoughts: The Dolphins' two offensive lines in the white-and-aqua scrimmage allowed seven sacks. That stat was reminiscent of last season, when Miami's offensive line allowed a franchise-record 58 quarterback sacks in 16 games. The Dolphins invested a lot of money and resources into this group with the expectation that the pass protection with be much better. Miami paid $47 million for Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert. The Dolphins also spent a first-round draft pick on rookie right tackle Ja'Waun James and signed guard Shelley Smith in free agency. With four new starters, Miami's offensive line must get on the same page in training camp.

4. Dolphins in relative good shape

Thoughts: This is the time of year when freak injuries happen in the NFL. Around the league there have been several injuries during the offseason program. The Dolphins are fortunate to not be one of those teams to suffer anything catastrophic. Miami did a good job with maintenance of veteran players such as cornerback Cortland Finnegan, defensive tackle Jared Odrick, wide receiver Brandon Gibson and linebacker Koa Misi. The only player to keep an eye on in the next month is running back Knowshon Moreno. The Dolphins kept him out of minicamp and has been mum on his injury, but Profootballtalk.com reports Moreno has an ailing knee. Moreno is competing for a starting job at running back with Lamar Miller and must be healthy in order to win the job.

5. Receiver position toughest to gauge

Thoughts: Miami's coaching staff will have a tough time in training camp narrowing the roster down to six receivers. The Dolphins currently have a deep group of 13 receivers led by starters Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline. But it's the various receivers behind them that will make it a tough decision. The Dolphins had various production from receivers at different times in minicamp and organized team activities. Players such as Gibson, rookie Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews, Damian Williams, Armon Binns and Matt Hazel all had their moments. Miami will be looking for the most consistent receivers to step forward in training camp. The three-way competition at the slot position between Gibson, Landry and Matthews is particularly intriguing. It's been close the entire offseason.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins took the field for the first of three practices during mandatory minicamp. It was a high-energy first session in what serves as a preview to training camp.

Here are seven observations from Tuesday's practice:
  • It was a strong day for the Dolphins' defense. Miami's defense was disruptive all practice and, by my count, recorded three interceptions and at least four would-be sacks. (The defense is not allowed to hit quarterbacks in practice.) The Dolphins' defense has been together for three seasons and has been well ahead of the offense on days practice was open to the media. “There's going to be days where one side of the ball has the upper hand,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “It looked like the back end and the linebackers, we were doing some good things from a coverage standpoint.”
  • Miami receiver Brandon Gibson continues to make progress from last year's season-ending patella tendon tear. Gibson participated in team drills for the first time this offseason. He still doesn't look 100 percent but is moving around relatively well. At this point Gibson looks well on pace to be ready by Week 1.
  • Dolphins cornerback Jamar Taylor had arguably his best practice of the offseason. Taylor, who got reps on the first team, recorded a sideline interception off Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Taylor also showed some athleticism by blowing up a running play. Taylor was injured must of last year but is making strong strides this offseason.
  • The Dolphins' coaching staff is putting several veterans on the maintenance program during minicamp. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, defensive tackle Jared Odrick and cornerback Cortland Finnegan sat out team drills Tuesday. It is unknown if that will change during the week.
  • After a plan to renovate Sun Life Stadium was passed by the Miami-Dade County Commission in a 7-4 vote, Philbin credited owner Stephen Ross. “Most important to me is it shows the commitment our owner, Stephen Ross, has to making this a world-class organization,” Philbin said.
  • Miami rookie defensive end Terrence Fede had the play of the day. Fede, who is 6-foot-4 and 277 pounds, dropped in coverage and made a leaping interception off Dolphins backup quarterback Matt Moore. Fede then advanced the ball about 10 yards as his defensive teammates celebrated.
  • Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan continues to flash in practice. He had another would-be sack on Tannehill coming off the corner. Jordan put on about 17 pounds of muscle since last year and looks ready to make a second-year jump after an ineffective rookie year.

Miami will continue its three-day minicamp on Wednesday morning.
DAVIE, Fla. – On the first day of rookie minicamp, new Miami Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry worked on routes needed as a slot receiver, an outside receiver, played gunner on special teams and even discussed the possibility of returning kicks. It could be that kind of rookie year for Miami’s second-round pick.

[+] EnlargeJarvis Landry
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeReceiver Jarvis Landry could see immediate playing time as a rookie because of his versatility.
The Dolphins ignored bigger needs earlier this month and drafted Landry because he’s a versatile and hard-nosed football player. He’s a wide receiver with the toughness of a hard-hitting safety. In fact, Landry was among LSU’s leaders in special-teams tackles during the early part of his collegiate career. That helped him earn the status of team captain last season.

But finding a role in Miami as a rookie will be one of the challenges for Landry and the Dolphins' coaching staff. The team already is deep at receiver with veteran starters Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, in addition to quality backups Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews and Damian Williams. Landry could be as high as third on Miami’s depth chart by the end of training camp or as far back as fifth or sixth.

Rookie minicamp and organized team activities are valuable for Landry to begin finding his niche.

“It’s been a little bit of everything, just trying to learn the system as much as I can and trying not to be so one-dimensional,” Landry said Friday after his first practice. “[Coaches] have been putting us in different positions, making us learn every position on the field. It increases our chances of having success no matter where we line up.”

Special teams is a sure-fire way for Landry to get playing time in his rookie year. Landry was a strong gunner at LSU and also sure-handed enough to return kicks, despite the fact he doesn't have blazing speed.

If Landry or another rookie (Matt Hazel?) proves they can return kicks, it could put specialist Marcus Thigpen on the hot seat. The Dolphins like players with position flexibility and Thigpen hasn't provided much as a backup running back or wide receiver.

“There are a lot of guys that have those [return] skills, and that’s what we’re out here doing, just kind of further investigating,” Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said. “It’s one thing to do it at the college level. It’s another thing to do it at the NFL level. That’s what our coaches are working with these guys.”

Learning multiple positions as a rookie is not easy. It is difficult enough making the physical transition from college to the pros. However, Landry must be on top of the playbook at multiple positions mentally, as well.

“It’s very challenging, but the coaches, they give tasks and they expect them to be met,” Landry said. “It’s my job to study the way that I need to be on the field and have an effective offense.”
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins added depth to their receiver group by signing free-agent Damian Williams Thursday to a one-year, $800,000 contract, a source told ESPN.com.

Williams, 25, is a former third-round pick of the Tennessee Titans in 2010. He caught a career-low 15 receptions for 178 yards in 10 games last season.

The Dolphins are searching for healthy veteran wide receivers to add depth behind starters Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline. Backups Brandon Gibson (knee) and Armon Binns are both coming off season-ending knee injuries.
The Miami Dolphins continue to bargain hunt in free agency. The Dolphins will host free-agent wide receiver Nate Burleson on Thursday, a league source confirmed to ESPN.com.

Steve Wyche of the NFL Network first reported the visit.

Miami has solid depth at wide receiver. But it’s clear first-year general manager Dennis Hickey is looking to add as much competition as possible across the roster. Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline are Miami’s starting receivers. But Brandon Gibson, who is returning from injury, Rishard Matthews, Armon Binns and others are competing for roles.

Burelson, a 12-year veteran, caught 39 passes for 461 yards and one touchdown with the Detroit Lions last season. He’s also suffered various injuries each of the past two seasons.
Last year in free agency the Miami Dolphins were all about the flash-and-splash on offense.

Speedy receiver Mike Wallace, slot receiver Brandon Gibson and athletic tight end Dustin Keller were all part of then-general manager Jeff Ireland's plan to build Miami into an explosive, high-scoring offense. The Dolphins also re-signed 1,000-yard receiver Brian Hartline to put as many skilled receivers and tight ends around budding quarterback Ryan Tannehill as possible.

Albert
But Ireland and the Dolphins forgot one fundamental rule in the NFL: In order to have a high-powered offense, you must first protect the quarterback.

Miami did little to invest in its offensive line in 2013 and, as a result, set a franchise record for quarterback sacks allowed with 58. Despite various weapons, the Dolphins often lost in the trenches and had the NFL’s 27th-ranked offense. That was a major reason Miami finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.

Tuesday’s high-profile signing of Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert signifies a shift in the team’s thinking. The Dolphins opened their wallets during the start of free agency and agreed to a five-year, $46 million contract with Albert, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Miami got the best player available at the team’s weakest position: offensive line.

After another disappointing season in Miami, new general manager Dennis Hickey replaced Ireland in January and is wasting no time learning from his predecessor’s mistakes. The Dolphins must consistently win in the trenches if they want to become a playoff contender. Pairing Albert with center Mike Pouncey gives Miami two Pro Bowlers to build its offensive line around.

The Dolphins also agreed to terms with free-agent defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, according to Schefter, which fills another need in the trenches on defense following the departures of defensive linemen Paul Soliai and Randy Starks.

There is still work to be done for Miami. But it is clear the Dolphins have a plan, and this is a solid start.

QB Watch: Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill

October, 30, 2013
10/30/13
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A weekly examination of the Miami Dolphins' quarterback play.

Tannehill
Rewind: Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill continues to be turnover-prone. He threw two interceptions and lost a key fumble in Sunday’s 27-17 loss to the New England Patriots. Tannehill now has 10 turnovers during Miami’s four-game losing streak. He is clearly suffering through a sophomore slump in his second season.

Fast-forward: Things do not get easier for Tannehill and Miami’s offense. The Dolphins will host the first-place Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) on Thursday, which is Halloween night. Cincinnati has a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. But the Bengals have a particularly aggressive and talented defense that poses a lot of problems. Cincinnati rattled and confused New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith this past Sunday during a 49-9 blowout.

Losing targets: Tannehill lost one of his favorite receivers in Sunday’s defeat to New England. Slot receiver Brandon Gibson will be out for the season with a knee injury. Gibson was a reliable target for Tannehill over the middle of the field and recorded 30 receptions for 326 yards and three touchdowns. Tannehill has now lost two safety valves for the year due to knee injuries: Gibson and tight end Dustin Keller.

Prediction: Cincinnati is coming into this game with a lot of momentum. The Bengals are on a four-game winning streak, and the Dolphins are on a four-game losing streak. These are two teams heading in opposite directions. It will take a big performance from Tannehill to change that. Although it is possible, Tannehill is on a bad turnover streak and could continue that against a good Cincinnati defense.

Upon Further Review: Dolphins Week 8

October, 28, 2013
10/28/13
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A review of four hot issues from the Miami Dolphins' 27-17 loss to the New England Patriots:

Slumping Fins: The Dolphins lost their fourth game in a row and second straight to an AFC East opponent. All the good vibes from Miami’s 3-0 start has been completely erased, and now you must question this team’s confidence. The Dolphins continue to show good effort. But do they have enough talent and focus to overcome this slump? Or will this team go in the tank after such a bad losing streak? Miami hasn't won a game since Sept. 22.

[+] EnlargeMiami's Bryant McKinnie
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)Bryant McKinnie held Chandler Jones to zero sacks and helped the Dolphins to 156 rushing yards.
Revisiting McKinnie decision: Miami made a risky decision to start new left tackle Bryant McKinnie after just three practices with the team. The Dolphins acquired McKinnie on Oct. 21 in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. He got his first start Sunday and played relatively well. McKinnie held New England’s best pass-rusher in Chandler Jones to six tackles and zero sacks. Miami also had its best running day of the season. The Dolphins gained 156 rushing yards and averaged 5.0 yards per carry. McKinnie should improve with more practice time. He was already an upgrade over former starting offensive tackle Tyson Clabo.

Replacing Gibson: The Dolphins are expected to lose slot receiver Brandon Gibson for the season with a significant knee injury. Miami will have further tests on Gibson’s knee this week. But the receiver was on crutches in the locker room and didn’t sound like a player who was coming back anytime soon. Gibson was a favorite of Tannehill and will be hard to replace in the slot. Backup Rishard Matthews will take Gibson’s place. But Miami only has three healthy receivers on its 53-man roster.

Trick or treat: Things do not get easier for Miami. The Dolphins will face a first-place team for the second straight game when they host the Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) on Thursday, which is Halloween night. The Bengals are very talented and thrashed the New York Jets, 49-9, on Sunday. The Dolphins beat the Bengals last year in Cincinnati, which surely hasn’t been forgotten. This will be a tough matchup to for the Dolphins to try to save their season.

Dolphins must cope with Gibson loss

October, 27, 2013
10/27/13
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The crutches and a downtrodden look on Brandon Gibson's face told the story Sunday evening. Gibson is most likely done for the year with a significant knee injury.

Gibson
Gibson blew out his knee in the first quarter of Sunday’s 27-17 loss to the New England Patriots. Gibson jumped high for an errant Ryan Tannehill and landed awkwardly. He needed help off the field, was eventually carted back to the locker room and never return to the game.

There is a strong chance Gibson won’t return this season. According to an NFL Network report, Gibson has a torn patella tendon in his left knee, and that injury usually takes at least six months to recover.

The Dolphins will have further tests on Gibson Monday once the team returns to South Florida. But the receiver didn’t sound like a player who expects to return to the field any time soon.

“I think each and every game was a good experience for me,” Gibson said in the locker room, while reflecting on his season. “I feel like I was getting better. ... But this kind of puts a damper on it now.”

When asked about Gibson’s status during his post-game press conference, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said “I hadn’t really spoken to anybody about it.” Miami probably won't confirm the severity of Gibson's injury until the team has to decide whether to place him on injured reserve.

The Dolphins (3-4) only have three healthy receivers on their 53-man roster. With nine games remaining, Miami must find some answers and depth at receiver with Gibson out.

Miami currently has Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and second-year receiver Rishard Matthews on the 53-man roster. Ryan Spadola and Nathan Palmer also are on the practice squad.

For now the pressure is on Matthews to step up. The Dolphins like to run a lot of three-receiver sets, which would require Matthews to get a lot of playing time. Miami could also change its offense and go to more two tight-end sets.

Gibson was having a solid season. He recorded 30 receptions for 326 yards and three touchdowns. All three of his touchdowns were in the past two games.

Gibson was quietly on of this year’s best free-agent pickups for Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland. Now, Ireland must come up with another solution to keep Miami’s passing offense going.

Locker Room Buzz: Miami Dolphins

October, 27, 2013
10/27/13
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Observed in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 27-17 loss to the New England Patriots:

Gibson
Gibson appears done: Miami slot receiver Brandon Gibson was in the locker room on crutches Sunday evening. Although he will get further tests on his left knee injury Monday when the team returns to South Florida, Gibson sounded like a player who could be done for the year. “I think each and every game was a good experience for me,” Gibson said while reflecting on his season. “I feel like I was getting better. ... but this kind of puts a damper on it now.”

Downtrodden Dolphins: It was a somber locker room for the fourth straight game. The Dolphins haven’t won since Sept. 22, and now you have to wonder if confidence will become an issue. Miami backup defensive back Jimmy Wilson says that’s not the case. “I don’t feel like the season is slipping away because we got a great team here,” Wilson said. “We just got to rattle off [wins]. We lost four in a row. Now, we have to win four in a row.”

Left unspoken: Miami’s players had plenty of opportunities to call out the officials following Sunday’s loss to New England. There were two or three controversial calls in the game that went against Miami. The biggest call was against Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon for illegally batting the ball. “I really can’t say anything about that,” Dolphins linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said. “It’s just something we have to bounce back from.”

Dolphins halftime notes: Fast start

October, 27, 2013
10/27/13
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Miami Dolphins lead the New England Patriots, 17-3, at intermission.

Here are some halftime thoughts for the Dolphins:
  • Miami finally got off to a fast start. The Dolphins had been outscored 34-23 in first quarters entering the game, but scored an early touchdown following an interception from cornerback Dimitri Patterson. Miami took a 14-0 lead in the second quarter and controlled the pace of the game for most of the first half.
  • The Dolphins started new left tackle Bryant McKinnie, as expected. McKinnie had just three days of practice, but has looked solid in the first half. McKinnie has done a good job of stonewalling Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones on many passing downs. But McKinnie’s run blocking has been inconsistent.
  • Miami slot receiver Brandon Gibson suffered what appears to be a significant left knee injury in the first quarter. Gibson jumped for a high pass and landed awkwardly. He was carted off the field and sent into the locker room. The NFL Network is reporting that Gibson is expected to miss the rest of the season.
  • Dolphins rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis nailed a 52-yard field goal at the end of the half. He missed his previous two attempts of 51 and 57 yards, respectively.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was limited in practice Wednesday with a shoulder injury, according to the team's injury report. The Dolphins didn't designate which shoulder. However, Tannehill also was on the injury report in Week 3 with a right (throwing) shoulder injury.

Tannehill met with the media Wednesday and is expected to play. However, this is further proof that the hits are piling up on Miami’s starting quarterback. The Dolphins have allowed 26 sacks this season. Miami made a trade for new left tackle Bryant McKinnie on Tuesday in hopes of improving their pass protection.

Dolphins receiver Brandon Gibson (hip), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and McKinne (knee) also were limited in practice on Wednesday.

Dolphins film review: Four big plays

October, 21, 2013
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The Miami Dolphins lost their third straight game with Sunday’s 23-21 defeat to the Buffalo Bills. By my count, there were four crucial plays that changed the complexion of the game.

After seeing it live and watching the game tape, here is a review of what went wrong on those four big plays for Miami:

Play No. 1: First quarter at 13:35 mark

Down and distance: Third-and-6

Formation: Empty backfield with three WRs, TE and RB

Tannehill
What went wrong: On the opening drive, the Dolphins tried to speed up the tempo and spread Buffalo out on third down. Buffalo wisely matched up man-to-man and kept two safeties deep on the play, which allowed the defenders to be aggressive. Tannehill made a predetermined read to receiver Brandon Gibson and Buffalo defensive back Nickell Robey jumped the route. The ball was thrown right to Robey for the easy pick-six. Bills defensive end Mario Williams also ran through Miami left tackle Jonathan Martin to get good pressure on Tannehill to force the quick throw.

Blame: Tannehill

Play No. 2: 8:47 mark of the first quarter

Down and distance: Fourth-and-6

Formation: Punt

Jones
What went wrong: The Dolphins are pinned in their own end zone. However, Brandon Fields makes a terrific angled punt to bail the Dolphins out. Gunner Don Jones hustles hard down the field but runs out of bounds. Jones doesn’t realize he cannot be the first player to touch the ball after running back in bounds and gets flagged for downing the ball at the 15-yard line. In fact, the ball was still rolling and probably would have went inside the 10 if Jones wasn’t so eager. It was a huge mental error that forced a re-kick. The Bills returned it to Miami’s 45-yard line. The Bills take advantage of the extra 40 yards of field position and score on the drive to take a 14-0 lead.

Blame: Jones

Play No. 3: 2:37 mark of the second quarter

Down and distance: Third-and-5

Formation: Shotgun with bunch formation on the right

What went wrong: The Dolphins made a solid play-call and had two receivers on the right -- Mike Wallace and Rishard Matthews -- running to the sticks. Matthews was the open receiver and the proper read, but Tannehill doesn’t see it. He wrongly progresses across the field to receiver Brian Hartline and throws a bad, softball toss that is picked off by cornerback Aaron Williams underneath. Tannehill panicked and didn’t see the extra corner. Tannehill should have thrown to the right or thrown it away to take the field goal.

Blame: Tannehill

Play No. 4: 2:57 mark of the fourth quarter

Down and distance: Second-and-8

Formation: Two TEs to the left, one RB

Clabo
What went wrong: The Dolphins were trying to kill the clock and get a key first down at midfield. Instead of running it, Miami calls a pass and it appears Hartline is the first read. While Tannehill is looking to his left, Bills defensive end Mario Williams makes an inside power move on Miami’s Tyson Clabo to quickly gets to Tannehill. Williams strips the ball and Buffalo defensive tackle Kyle Williams recovers. That sets up Buffalo’s winning field goal by former Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter.

Blame: Clabo

These were the four plays the Dolphins certainly wish they had back. Poor execution and poor coaching led to huge mistakes that resulted in another loss for Miami.
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins spent two weeks self-scouting, making adjustments and coming up with the best plan possible to beat the Buffalo Bills, who entered the game 2-4 and were down to their third-string quarterback.

The result: Miami laid an egg at home during a 23-21 loss to the Bills. It was the Dolphins' (3-3) third straight defeat and they fell to 1-2 at home.

[+] EnlargeMiami's Ryan Tannehill
Chris Trotman/Getty ImagesRyan Tannehill and the Dolphins got off to a slow start against the Bills and never fully recovered.
Miami made a series of adjustments in this game with mixed results. Some worked, but clearly not enough as the Dolphins suffered their most deflating loss of the season. Miami came out with several new wrinkles, but fell behind 17-7 in the second quarter. It was a dogfight for Miami the rest of the game.

“I have to do a better job of getting the team ready to play,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin admitted. "We did not come out playing very well. ... I have to get them ready to play better earlier, no question.”

Poor coaching had a lot of do with the Dolphins losing their first division game of the season. With two weeks to prepare, Miami’s coaching staff perhaps made too many alterations. In some cases, the Dolphins went away from what made them successful in the first five games.

Miami used a lot of two- and three-tight end sets that took the passing game out of rhythm and slot receiver Brandon Gibson off the field. The Dolphins were trying to change their identity early to into a power running team. But it took a long time for second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill to warm up and get things going in the passing game.

Tannehill threw two first-half interceptions that put the Dolphins behind. The Dolphins eventually re-adjusted to more passing and Tannehill later threw three touchdowns just to get Miami back in the game.

“It’s tough,” Tannehill said. “We had our chances. Obviously, we start the game with a pick-six. That’s not the way anyone envisioned starting. Then, another pick in the red zone. There’s two bad plays right there that kind of dug the hole early.”

There were some adjustments that worked. The designed rollouts for Tannehill were mostly successful, and Miami changing its rushing attack to plow forward instead of sideline-to-sideline led to good results. But sloppy play was too much for the Dolphins to overcome.

After a 3-0 start, the Dolphins have now lost three in a row and look much closer to a “pretender” than a “contender.” The season is still young. However, Miami’s issues appear harder and harder to fix as the year progresses.

“I told the guys last night, in the NFL it’s 17 weeks, 16 games,” Philbin said. “There’s ups and downs that most teams encounter along the way. The teams that have great character and great chemistry are able to overcome those downs that are usually there, and I believe that our guys are able to do that.”

Bills-Dolphins final injury report

October, 18, 2013
10/18/13
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The Buffalo Bills (2-4) and Miami Dolphins (3-2) released their final injury report leading into Sunday’s AFC East showdown.

Here is a look at which players are expected to play:

Bills

Out: QB EJ Manuel (knee)

Probable: RB C.J. Spiller (ankle), LB Manny Lawson (hamstring), CB Ron Brooks (foot), DE Mario Williams, DT Kyle Williams (illness, Achilles), WR Steve Johnson (back), QB Thad Lewis (foot)

Analysis: Manuel’s status was expected for Buffalo, and he will be out for about a month. Spiller and Johnson were the two questions, and both will be ready to go. This is big for Buffalo’s passing and running game. Lewis injured his foot late last week against the Cincinnati Bengals. But the Miami native is not going to miss this chance for a homecoming. This will be his second start of the season for the Bills.

Dolphins

Doubtful: LB Dannell Ellerbe (shoulder)

Questionable: CB Dimitri Patterson (groin), WR Brandon Gibson (hip)

Probable: S Chris Clemons (knee), P Brandon Fields (back), OT Nate Garner (knee), DE Dion Jordan (ankle), Koa Misi (shoulder, knee), C Mike Pouncey (ankle), LB Jason Trusnik (rib), DE Cameron Wake (knee), OT Will Yeatman (shoulder)

Analysis: The bye did Miami a lot of good heading into this game. This is as healthy as the Dolphins have been since Week 1 with the exception of Ellerbe. He was optimistic during the week, but backup Jason Trusnik is expected to start in his place. Gibson has played through his hip injury and is expected to play. Patterson has practiced all week in some capacity and will be a game-time decision. The Dolphins could use Patterson in the slot as a nickel corner if he’s ready to return. Miami Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake looks close to 100 percent and should get a lot of snaps.

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