AFC East: Jared Odrick

Free agency begins in five days for the Miami Dolphins and the rest of the NFL. Defensive tackles Paul Soliai and Randy Starks can become unrestricted free agents next Tuesday

Will any of this change in the next few days?

Starks
Soliai
Soliai and Starks have been significant contributors for the Dolphins over the past several seasons. Soliai has been a full-time starter the past four years in Miami and made the Pro Bowl following the 2011 season. Starks has been in Miami since 2008 and made the Pro Bowl in 2010 and 2012.

They were part of a rotation with fellow defensive lineman Jared Odrick last season. The group didn’t work well for Miami, despite all three being good individual players. The Dolphins surprisingly were 24th against the run last season and often wore down in the second half of games.

However, Soliai and Starks are good players who should get interest on the open market. Soliai is a natural run-stuffer capable of fitting in the middle of a 4-3 or 3-4 defense, which adds value. Starks is more of a play-making defensive tackle who has 36.5 career sacks.

It’s possible the Dolphins could wait and let other teams set the market with their two defensive tackles. If the price is too high, the Dolphins could let them walk and examine other options. Miami also could try to retain the least expensive of the two.

But time is ticking for the Dolphins at defensive tackle. There is no guarantee Soliai or Starks will return to Miami once they hit the open market. With several days remaining before free agency, it is not too early for Miami to put together a contingency plan via the draft or free agency.
Ryan Tannehill AP Photo/Alan DiazRyan Tannehill and the Dolphins ended the season with two straight losses and out of the playoffs.
MIAMI -- More than 70,000 fans at Sun Life Stadium expected a football celebration Sunday. The Miami Dolphins were a win away from their first playoff bid since 2008, and all that stood in their way were the inconsistent New York Jets.

Instead, the festive mood eventually changed to heartbreak for Dolphins fans. Miami lost a must-win game, 20-7, to New York to end the Dolphins’ playoff hopes. It was the second straight loss and hapless effort to end Miami's season with an 8-8 record.

“I look at this as a losing season,” disappointed Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace said. “We did too much, we wake up too early [and] work too hard to be 8-8. We have too much talent to be 8-8.”

The Dolphins’ sudden collapse raises many questions about where they go from here and what changes need to be made in the offseason.

Do the Dolphins get rid of general manager in Jeff Ireland? He put this team together last offseason with more than $100 million in guaranteed contracts.

Is Joe Philbin the right head coach? Philbin is 15-17 in two seasons in Miami.

Do the Dolphins have the right assistants? Particularly offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, who led Miami to only seven points in the final eight quarters of the season?

“It’s not my job. That’s the coach’s job,” Dolphins defensive tackle Jared Odrick said of evaluating the team’s future. “I have to show up every day and work harder, and we all do.

"Something’s got to change where we got to get over this hump. Someway, somehow we have to make it work.”

Changes could -- and should -- be coming in Miami. The only question is how many?

[+] EnlargeJoe Philbin
AP Photo/Lynne SladkyJoe Philbin, who is 15-17 in two seasons with Miami, is confident he can reverse the team's fortunes.
Someone will take the fall following the Dolphins’ fifth consecutive non-winning season. There certainly will be player changes in the offseason. The Dolphins can start by making upgrades to their offensive line, for example.

Sherman and Dolphins offensive line coach Jim Turner also cannot feel secure about their coaching futures. Miami’s offense underperformed all year, and Sherman’s play-calling and Turner’s position group are the primary reasons.

Philbin and Ireland will be tougher decisions that will go to the top with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. Many Dolphins fans will want at least one gone, but Ross has gone against the popular decision before.

Expect Ross to look at the entire body of work and not just the final two games.

Miami’s 2013 season included many highs and lows. The two lowest points were this two-game losing streak to close out the year and the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying scandal.

“It wasn’t dull, I can tell you that,” Miami Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake said of the season. “But 8-8, that’s average. I don’t look around this locker room and see average. I see above-average talent. I see exceptional talent.”

The most puzzling part of the Dolphins’ performances the past two weeks against the Jets and Buffalo Bills was the way they lost. Miami was embarrassed in back-to-back weeks against AFC East rivals and was outscored 39-7. The Dolphins looked flat, were ill-prepared and showed little intensity in both meetings.

The Jets and Bills had nothing to play for. But it appeared the roles were reversed in the final two games.

“I really can’t explain it. We played two bad games in a row,” Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes said. “That’s all you can say about it. ... It’s just disappointing. We had a chance to go to the playoffs and we messed up. We blew two games and we've got to live with that.”

The Dolphins didn't play well in any phase of the game. The offense scored one second-quarter touchdown, and the defense allowed 374 yards, which included 154 yards on the ground.

The Dolphins had a reputation for being a tough and resilient team. But that toughness faded in the past two weeks.

“You've got to take this feeling and let it really brand you here and leave a mark on you inside,” Odrick said. “It’s got to brand you hard enough to where you don’t let it happen again.”

Former Dolphins coach and Hall of Famer Don Shula offered a strong endorsement for Philbin before the game. Despite a roller-coaster season and a highly publicized bullying scandal, the Dolphins were in position to make their first playoff appearance since 2008. Philbin received much of the credit.

“I think that he’s the right man for the job,” Shula said.

Shula’s endorsement should carry weight with Ross when he meets with his inner circle to determine the future direction of the Dolphins. However, Philbin wasn’t in the mood to discuss the big picture Sunday evening.

“There will be a time and a place to assess the entire season, at the appropriate time,” Philbin said.

The time to assess the Dolphins begins Monday. Miami’s 2013 season is in the books, and it showed there are some pieces in place, but clearly not enough to be a playoff team.

W2W4: Dolphins at Steelers

December, 7, 2013
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The Miami Dolphins (6-6) will play another crucial game Sunday, against the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7).

Here are three things to watch for in this game from Miami's perspective:

1. Playoff attitude: Both the Dolphins and Steelers have not been afraid to say this game will have a playoff atmosphere. Neither team has a margin for error in this battle for the final wild-card spot in the AFC. Records and tiebreakers are at stake in this game. Pittsburgh, in particular, will probably see its playoff hopes end with a loss. Miami needs to win at least three of its next four games to have a chance.

2. Ball movement: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill had perhaps his best game of the season in last week’s 23-3 victory against the New York Jets. What made Tannehill so effective was he spread the ball around. Tannehill connected with seven different receivers, and three (Brian Hartline, Mike Wallace and Charles Clay) had at least seven receptions. That made Miami’s pass offense unpredictable. The Dolphins have a chance to have further success against an aging Pittsburgh secondary.

3. Sack attack: Miami’s defense has been much better in recent weeks at sacking the quarterback. The Dolphins have 10 sacks in the past three games. They will need to finish those plays again on Sunday against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The burly quarterback is one of the best at shaking off defenders and extending plays for big gains. It will be important for Miami pass-rushers such as Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon, Dion Jordan, and Jared Odrick to wrap up and bring Roethlisberger to the ground.

Dolphins' next problem: Cam Newton

November, 20, 2013
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DAVIE, Fla. -- It is well documented that the Miami Dolphins have issues off the field. The NFL is investigating the Dolphins at their practice facility this week in relation to the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying scandal.

But Miami has another big problem on the field: Cam Newton.

The Carolina Panthers quarterback is one of the hottest players in the league. Newton also is leading a hot Carolina team into Miami on a six-game winning streak.

Newton is coming off a strong performance in a win over the New England Patriots on “Monday Night Football.” He is opening a lot of eyes around the NFL with his improved play in his third season.

“It really looks like he’s making good decisions,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said after Tuesday's practice. “He’s taking very good care of the football. He’s not forcing it into coverage’s where there are more defenders then there are receivers. As you know he can make all the throws, he’s got a very strong arm. He plays well with his feet, he extends plays as New England found out on third down a couple times last night.”

The Panthers have a top-10 rushing attack, in part due to Newton’s contributions from the quarterback position. Newton has rushed for 328 yards and averages 4.7 yards per carry.

Newton’s dual threat was on full display Monday. He led the Panthers in rushing with 62 yards in addition to his three touchdown passes.

“He’s an awesome, awesome player,” Dolphins defensive tackle Jared Odrick said. “Obviously, we have a lot of respect for him.”

Miami’s defense has been up and down this year. Statistically, they haven’t been dominant at any one aspect. But the Dolphins have been able to keep the scoring down most weeks in order to stay competitive.

The Dolphins’ defensive discipline and pass rush must be solid against the Panthers. Newton has done some of his best work on broken plays.

“He’s got the feet to run away from defensive lineman and he can make a move on the next level defenders,” Philbin said. “He’s tough, I think it forces everybody to be disciplined. Then they have the option component, you add the option component to that, now you really have to play assignment sound football.”

The Dolphins (5-5) need to get this win to keep an inside track on the final wild-card spot in the AFC. They share the same record with the New York Jets (5-5) but trail their division rival due to a tiebreaker.
MIAMI – Don’t look now, but amid all the controversy off the field and struggles on it, the Miami Dolphins find themselves back in the postseason hunt.

Yes, those Dolphins.

The same Miami team that’s currently being investigated by the NFL for potential bullying and harassment involving right tackle Jonathan Martin and guard Richie Incognito. The same Miami team that lost to the previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers in its last game.

[+] EnlargeCharles Clay and Lamar Miller
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesCharles Clay (left) caught the TD that put Miami ahead for good.
The NFL is a wild league, and perhaps no team has had more of a roller-coaster season in 2013 than the Dolphins. In what was essentially a must-win game Sunday, Miami improved to 5-5 with a 20-16 victory over the San Diego Chargers.

Miami is now just a tiebreaker behind the New York Jets (5-5) for the sixth seed in the AFC. But the Dolphins will play New York twice in December, so, in many ways, they control their own playoff destiny.

“I told the guys in the locker room after the Tampa Bay game, you either have faith and confidence in one another or you don’t,” coach Joe Philbin said. “You can’t swing back and forth based on a particular outcome of a single game.”

The Dolphins held it together during a very tough week. Philbin and his players were constantly peppered with questions about Martin and Incognito, and new developments in the the story came to the surface nearly every day.

However, the Dolphins put together a good week of preparation, and it showed against the Chargers. The Dolphins took a lead in the third quarter that it never relinquished after tight end Charles Clay rumbled for a 39-yard touchdown. Miami did a good job of closing out the game in the fourth quarter, something that has been an issue this season.

Last week the Dolphins were embarrassed and considered on their last legs after losing to the Buccaneers. But one big win changes the outlook of their season with six games remaining.

“Stuff is going to happen, everything is not going to be perfect at all times,” said Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes, who got a key interception. “But as professionals, we have to go out and play a football game. That’s our job, and that’s what we came out and did. We just focused on football all week.”

Next week will only get tougher for the Dolphins. The NFL is coming to town to ask questions about the Martin-Incognito controversy. The Dolphins also have another tough game, this time against the red-hot Carolina Panthers, who have won five straight.

How the Dolphins handle this situation is up to them. They control their own fate for the final wild-card spot, despite an up-and-down 10-game stretch to start the season.

“That’s something we have our eyes on,” defensive tackle Jared Odrick said of the playoffs. “But it can slip away from you just as quick as you got it. So we have to stay on top of it, get rest and let everything else fall into place.”

Five-step drop: Miami Dolphins

October, 28, 2013
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The Miami Dolphins are on a four-game losing streak after falling to the New England Patriots, 27-17, on Sunday.

Here are five notes and observations I have on the team this week:
  • Tannehill
    It’s curious why Miami abandoned the running game in the second half. The Dolphins jumped out to a 17-3 lead at intermission behind a strong rushing attacked that gained 103 yards in the first half. Miami called 22 running plays in the first half, but only nine in the second. The Dolphins averaged 5.0 yards per carry throughout a close and competitive game. Therefore, there was no reason to completely abandon the run.
  • Ignoring the running game made Miami’s offense predictable and one-dimensional in the third and fourth quarters. That is the primary reason the Patriots registered all six sacks against Miami in the second half. Miami panicked and became pass-heavy after quickly blowing a 14-point halftime lead. Without the threat of the run, New England’s pass-rushers were able to pin their ears back and come after Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Miami struggled picking up New England’s various blitzes.
  • The Dolphins’ run defense has been a major disappointment. For years, this has been a strength Miami has counted on consistently. I thought the Dolphins had the potential to be a top-five run defense with a deep defensive line and free-agent additions at linebacker. However, they are 19th against the run and allowing 109.9 yards per game. Miami’s front seven wears down late in games. The Patriots had 111 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns against Miami’s defense in the second half alone.
  • Miami defensive end Olivier Vernon wouldn’t say after the game whether he was trying to recover the fourth-quarter fumble or bat the ball forward. After watching the replay a few times, it’s hard to tell because Vernon’s falling motion and sticking his arm out happened fast. The officials made the determination that Vernon batted the football forward intentionally, and it was a huge call against Miami that helped New England close out the game. The Patriots scored a touchdown four plays later.
  • Dolphins defensive tackle Jared Odrick continues to increase his value. He had arguably his best game this season with four tackles and a pair of sacks against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Odrick has done everything asked of him while making the switch from defensive end to defensive tackle. Odrick also switched representation a few weeks ago, which could be an indication that he is looking to get a raise in the offseason. Miami will have some interesting decisions to make with Odrick looking to get paid and fellow defensive tackles Paul Soliai and Randy Starks both unrestricted free agents in 2014.

Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins

October, 27, 2013
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 27-17 loss to the New England Patriots.

What it means: Despite a strong effort, the Dolphins (3-4) dropped their fourth straight game and their first two in the AFC East. Miami spent its entire offseason trying to close the gap with the Patriots. It looked good for the first half following a fast start. The Dolphins led 17-3 at halftime. But New England turned it on at home and rode the wave of 24 unanswered points in the second half to get the victory. You have to wonder when things will turn around for the Dolphins. Miami has not won since Sept. 22, but the effort is there.

Stock Watch: Rising: New Dolphins left tackle Bryant McKinnie played relatively well in his Miami debut. Coming off just three days of practice, McKinnie did a solid job on New England defensive end Chandler Jones. McKinnie should improve once he gets more time to learn the offense. Miami defensive tackle Jared Odrick also had arguably his best game of the year with four tackles and two sacks.

Falling: Dolphins rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis and quarterback Ryan Tannehill had two game-changing plays that hurt Miami. Sturgis missed a key 46-yard field goal in the third quarter that ultimately led to New England's first touchdown. He also had a field goal attempt blocked in the fourth quarter. Tannehill was sacked by Patriots defensive back Logan Ryan and fumbled in the third quarter. New England tied the score with another touchdown. Tannehill also threw two interceptions.

The officiating also was shaky. The Dolphins had a few questionable calls against them, including a 10-yard penalty for illegal batting of the ball by Olivier Vernon that kept New England’s drive alive and led to a fourth-quarter touchdown.

Big loss: Miami’s receiving corps took a big hit in the first quarterback when slot receiver Brandon Gibson suffered a left knee injury. Gibson went high for a pass and landed awkwardly. He was carted to the locker room. Gibson is expected to miss significant time. Miami has only three healthy receivers on its 53-man roster and most likely will sign another from the practice squad or in free agency.

What’s next: The Dolphins will not have a lot of time to recover from this tough loss. They will host the first-place Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday. This could be Miami’s last chance to make something significant of its season. The Dolphins, who had preseason playoff aspirations, can get back to .500 with a victory. A loss to Cincinnati would make it five straight and put a major dent in any hopes of a postseason run.

Rapid Reaction: Saints 38, Dolphins 17

September, 30, 2013
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NEW ORLEANS -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 38-17 blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints:

What it means: The Dolphins were handed their first loss of the season and fell to 3-1. Miami simply was not ready for the big stage of "Monday Night Football" and the rowdy crowd in the Superdome. Miami needed to play a near-perfect game to beat the undefeated Saints (4-0) and was not close to reaching that goal. However, the Dolphins were playing with house money after their perfect start. The biggest key for the Dolphins is getting over the embarrassment and disappointment and avoiding a losing streak.

Stock watch: The Dolphins did a couple of things well. The defensive line was strong against the run. Miami held the Saints to 69 rushing yards, and defensive tackle Jared Odrick played well. Miami’s running game also improved, although the team didn’t use it much in the second half after falling behind.

There is a lot more on the downside. This was, by far, Miami’s sloppiest performance of the season. The Dolphins’ attention to detail was not there. Miami had poor ball security and pass protection and too many blown coverages and missed assignments on defense. That usually leads to a blowout on the road, especially against a good team like New Orleans.

Tannehill’s troubles: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was stellar in his first three games but finally fell on hard times in front of a rowdy crowd in New Orleans. Tannehill had four turnovers. The first turnover was a careless fumble when he didn’t protect the ball while fighting for extra yards. The last three turnovers were interceptions thrown into coverage. Games like this provide a good lesson for a young quarterback.

What’s next: The big games do not stop for Miami. Coming off a short week of preparation, the Dolphins will host the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Miami is 1-0 at home this year. The Dolphins had a brutal schedule to start the season but still have a chance to finish with a 4-1 record before the bye week.
NEW ORLEANS – The Miami Dolphins are trailing the New Orleans Saints, 21-10, at intermission.

Here are some notes at halftime:
  • The Dolphins are playing hard in the first half. But they are not doing the little things, and the Saints are taking advantage. For example, Miami failed to convert on third-and-short and also gave up a third-and-20 to the Saints. The latter led to New Orleans continuing a drive that was capped by a 27-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jimmy Graham. Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll also was a step late on another touchdown throw to Darren Sproles before the half.
  • Miami's offense is moving the ball well. But two big mistakes by starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill made the difference. Tannehill had a big fumble that killed a potential scoring drive and threw a pick in the second quarter. Miami had no trouble moving the ball and gained 224 total yards, but costly turnovers helped the Saints take the lead at halftime.
  • Dolphins defensive tackle Jared Odrick also is having a stellar first half. Odrick recorded three tackles, a sack and a tackle for a loss in the first two quarter. Both Odrick, Paul Soliai and Randy Starks have combined inside to hold New Orleans’ running game to just 10 total yards.
  • The Dolphins have been a good second-half team all season. Miami has outscored opponents 41-16 in the third and fourth quarters during its 3-0 start. Let’s see what the Dolphins have in store for the second half against the Saints.
DAVIE, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins (3-0) returned to the training facility Tuesday in preparation for their huge matchup against the New Orleans Saints (3-0) on "Monday Night Football."

Here are several notes from inside Miami's locker room:
  • Patterson
    Soliai
    Injured defensive tackle Paul Soliai (knee) and cornerback Dimitri Patterson (groin) addressed the media. Both are healing, but neither sounded overly optimistic about his chances of returning for Monday’s game. Soliai estimated his knee felt about “50 percent” as of Tuesday. Barring a major turnaround, there’s a good chance Miami will be without both starters against the Saints. “I’m just happy I’m getting better,” Soliai said. “I’m walking around a lot better. I've just got to get this treatment and see where I go from there.”
  • There was no sign in the locker room Tuesday of injured defensive end Cameron Wake, who is working his way back from a sprained knee. Reports had Wake missing two to three weeks, but he's likely to do everything in his power to get back on the field for Monday's big game. His progress will be closely monitored during the week.
  • The Dolphins signed defensive tackle Marvin Austin and put Vaughn Martin on injured reserve. Austin is getting another chance after being a draft bust for the New York Giants, who took him in the second round in 2011. “Just to be able to get on the field and be out there is an opportunity,” Austin said. “Whatever happens in practice and whatever the coaches want me to do, I’m ready to do it.” The team did not specify what Martin's injury was.
  • Tackling against the Saints is a major issue. The Dolphins uncharacteristically allowed 4.9 yards per rush against the Atlanta Falcons and still won in Week 3. Miami will focus on fundamentals in practice this week. “It’s really all about body position,” Dolphins defensive tackle Jared Odrick said. “We just have to put ourselves in better position to make plays, and that’s what we’ll do this week.”
The Miami Dolphins are dealing with the injury bug after a pair of intense road wins against the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts. This means the undefeated Dolphins (2-0) will have their depth tested Sunday in another tough game against the Atlanta Falcons (1-1).

Here is a look at Miami's potential replacements for Week 3:

Injured player: Defensive tackle Paul Soliai

Potential replacement: Defensive tackle Randy Starks

Analysis: Soliai injured his knee in a Week 2 win over the Colts. He hasn't practiced Tuesday or Wednesday, and probably won't be ready to face Atlanta on Sunday. Soliai is Miami's best run stuffer. But fortunately for the Dolphins, they have a deep defensive-line rotation and Starks, a 2012 Pro Bowler, is Soliai's replacement. Starks is playing on a one-year franchise tag and would like a bigger role. He will get more playing time this week along with fellow starting defensive tackle Jared Odrick.

Injured player: Safety Chris Clemons

Potential replacement: Safety Jimmy Wilson

Analysis: Clemons has a bad hamstring and like Soliai, he missed Tuesday and Wednesday’s practice. There’s a good chance he will not play this weekend. Wilson is a versatile backup who played nickel corner in Week 2. He could start at safety in Week 3, and defending the deep ball is important for Miami against Atlanta’s high-powered offense led by quarterback Matt Ryan.

Injured player: Cornerback Dimitri Patterson

Potential replacement: Cornerback Nolan Carroll

Analysis: Patterson (groin) dressed but did not play in Miami's Week 2 win over Indianapolis. The Dolphins have been careful managing his groin injury, and he's closer to playing this week. Miami certainly needs Patterson. Atlanta is bringing two top-level receivers to town in Roddy White and Julio Jones. Carroll is serviceable as a starter, but he's better in a backup role. Atlanta could target Carroll if he has to start again this week.

Dolphins might be without Paul Soliai

September, 17, 2013
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DAVIE, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins may have to play without starting defensive tackle Paul Soliai against the Atlanta Falcons. Soliai didn’t participate in Miami’s first practice of the week on Tuesday after suffering a knee injury during the Dolphins' win this past Sunday at Indianapolis.

Soliai’s status remains up in the air. Fortunately for Miami, the Dolphins are deep at the position. Randy Starks, who was a Pro Bowler last season, will get the start Sunday if Soliai cannot play. Starks lost his starting job to Jared Odrick this offseason and could get his first start of the season.

“You can’t replace a guy like Paul Soliai,” Starks said. “So everybody is going to have to pull their own weight and do a little extra to win.”

Soliai is Miami’s best run stuffer. He got his leg caught in a pile in the second half of the 24-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Speaking of running the ball, the Falcons reportedly will be without starting tailback Steven Jackson for the next 2-to-4 weeks with a thigh injury. Despite Soliai's status, Jackson’s absence could be big for Miami's front seven on defense.

Locker Room Buzz: Miami Dolphins

September, 8, 2013
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CLEVELAND -- Observed in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 23-10 victory against the Cleveland Browns.

Patterson in good spirits: Dolphins starting cornerback Dimitri Patterson (groin) didn’t finish the game and was getting evaluated in the training room. But Patterson told me at his locker that he was taken out as a precautionary measure. Patterson, who had two interceptions Sunday, said he’s optimistic about playing next week against the Indianapolis Colts.

Rough day for Pounceys: It was a somber postgame for Dolphins starting center Mike Pouncey. Miami got a big win, but he was not in a celebratory mood after just getting word that his twin brother -- Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey -- suffered ACL and MCL injuries that will require surgery. "They told me as I was walking off the field," Mike Pouncey said. "It will be tough, man. But he will be all right. He will come back strong."

Defensive line all smiles: Miami’s defensive line was probably the loosest group after the game. Dolphins starting defensive tackle Jared Odrick even grabbed a local television station’s microphone and did an interview with Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake. It was all smiles for the defense after registering six sacks.

Ross in attendance: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross traveled to Cleveland to attend Sunday's game. He witnessed his team get its first win in an opener since 2010.

MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins completed their fourth preseason game of the season with a 17-16 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday. Miami fell to 1-3 in the preseason.

This was the important "dress rehearsal" game for both teams. Here are several observations for the Dolphins:
  • The Dolphins finally got off to a fast start on offense in the preseason. Miami head coach Joe Philbin has been disappointed with the offense needing multiple drives to put points on the board. Miami’s offense, led by starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, finally were successful right away with a 17-play, 76-yard field goal drive to start the game. Tannehill completed six passes on the drive and was sharp early. Tannehill later threw a touchdown at the end of the first half. Tannehill's final numbers were 17-of-27 for 150 yards and a touchdown. Outside of some red zone issues and a couple drops, it was a solid performance for Tannehill.
  • The Dolphins were sloppy on special teams. Miami’s punt-return team had two turnovers that led to 10 points for the Buccaneers. Dolphins defensive back Nolan Carroll allowed the ball to hit him in the first quarter while blocking and Tampa Bay recovered. That led to one touchdown. Returner Marcus Thigpen also fumbled in the second quarter, which led to a field goal. Saturday’s game was the dress rehearsal, and it’s clear Miami still has work to do on special teams.
  • Miami still didn’t get much clarity on who will replace injured tight end Dustin Keller, who is out for the year with a knee injury. Charles Clay got the start and recorded just one catch for 5 yards. Clay was targeted six times in the game and had trouble getting open. There were a couple plays where Tannehill tried to force the ball in anyway, and it nearly led to a turnover. This position remains a work in progress with Week 1 of the regular season just around the corner.
  • Dolphins slot receiver Brandon Gibson is expected to get more opportunities over the middle with Keller out. Tannehill went to Gibson eight times in the first half and he recorded five receptions for 43 yards. Gibson also had two drops, and one was a potential touchdown catch over the middle. But based on this game, Tannehill is looking Gibson's way more often.
  • Miami projected starting guard John Jerry made his preseason debut on Saturday. Jerry has been dealing with a knee injury he suffered in the first week of training camp. Jerry played in just one quarter of work with mixed results. The goal is to work off the rust and be ready for Week 1. Jerry was replaced by backup guard Josh Samuda at the start of the second quarter.
  • It was not a good day for Miami's running backs. The Dolphins rushed for just 71 yards on 31 carries, which was a 2.4-yard average. Backup running back Jonas Gray particularly had a tough outing. He rushed for just 12 yards on eight carries. Gray also had a late fumble that led to Tampa Bay's go-ahead touchdown in the final minute of the fourth quarter. Gray is on the bubble heading into cut week and his poor showing Saturday was bad timing.
  • Defensive tackle Jared Odrick had perhaps his best game of the preseason. He was a disruptive force in the first half and registered two tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss. Odrick has had a solid training camp and cemented his spot as Miami’s Week 1 starter.
  • It’s only the preseason, but it’s worthy to note that AFC East teams struggled during an important preseason weekend. The New England Patriots were drilled by the Detroit Lions, 40-9. The Buffalo Bills suffered a potential concussion to quarterback Kevin Kolb and lost, 30-7. The New York Jets' starting offense also struggled against the New York Giants, when rookie quarterback Geno Smith threw three first-half interceptions. It was not a strong dress rehearsal week overall for the AFC East. The division has been down for the past two seasons.

The Dolphins will have a busy upcoming week. They will return to the practice field on Monday in preparation for their preseason finale against the New Orleans Saints. The Dolphins also will make roster cuts on Tuesday and Saturday.
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13-10 at intermission. It was an up-and-down start for the Dolphins.

Here are several thoughts at halftime:
  • The Dolphins started sloppily in two phases of the game. Miami made two crucial mistakes on special teams and one on defense that are sure to upset the coaching staff. Cornerback Nolan Carroll mistakenly touched the football on a punt return when the ball hit his helmet and the Buccaneers recovered deep in Miami territory. Two plays later, Dolphins starting cornerback Brent Grimes was flagged for pass interference in the end zone, which led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Buccaneers tailback Brian Leonard. Marcus Thigpen also fumbled his first punt return, which led to a 38-yard field goal by Tampa Bay kicker Rian Lindell.
  • Quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins' starting offense played fairly well in the first half. Their first drive was solid. Tannehill completed six of eight passes during a 77-yard drive that led to a field goal by rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis. However, Miami’s offense struggled with penalties and inconsistency for a long stretch after that first drive. Following a Tampa Bay turnover, Tannehill finished the first half strong, with a touchdown pass to receiver Brandon Gibson. Tannehill was 17-of-27 for 150 yards and a touchdown. He was also the victim of a couple drops.
  • Miami projected starting guard John Jerry made his preseason debut Saturday. Jerry has been dealing with a knee injury suffered in the first week of training camp. Jerry played just one quarter before he was replaced by backup guard Josh Samuda at the start of the second. The goal for Jerry is to work off the rust and be ready for Week 1.
  • Miami defensive tackle Jared Odrick got off to a fast start. He’s had his way with Tampa Bay’s offensive line and recorded two tackles, one sack and one tackle for a loss. Odrick has done a good job in training camp to beat out Randy Starks for a starting job in Week 1.

Miami's starters are expected to play some in the third quarter of this dress rehearsal. We will have a full report on the Dolphins at the end of the game.

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