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Monday, September 23, 2013
Miami Dolphins Stock Watch

By James Walker

The Miami Dolphins are an impressive 3-0 after beating the Atlanta Falcons, 27-23, on Sunday.

Here is a look at whose stock is up and whose stock is down in Miami:

Rising

1.Ryan Tannehill, quarterback: Tannehill didn’t put up huge numbers. But the second-year quarterback showed physical and mental toughness by overcoming adversity and pulling out a fourth-quarter comeback against Atlanta. Tannehill was sacked five times and threw for only 236 yards. But he didn’t get flustered and was focused on the final drive when Miami needed it most. Down three points, Tannehill completed nine passes during a 13-play touchdown drive that sealed the game in the final minute. The quarterback position is defined by winning, and Tannehill is undefeated so far this season.

2. Miami’s coaching staff: It’s usually not sexy to give the coaching staff credit. But head coach Joe Philbin and his staff are doing a terrific job putting players in position to succeed. Most importantly, Miami is making the proper adjustments at halftime and outscoring opponents 41-16 in the third and fourth quarters. That’s been huge in Miami’s 3-0 start. The Dolphins also have committed just two penalties for 13 yards the past two weeks. Miami has been well coached through the first three games.

3. Lamar Miller, tailback: Miller didn’t get a lot of carries, because Miami trailed for most of the game. But he rushed for 62 yards on eight carries (a 7.8-yard average). Miller’s best run was a 49-yard scamper in the first half that jumpstarted Miami’s offense. After a poor performance in Week 1, Miller is starting to show more progress as of late.

Falling

1. Tackling on defense: Miami’s tackling Sunday was horrendous and the worst we've seen this season. The Dolphins uncharacteristically allowed 146 rushing yards and 4.9 yards per attempt by the Falcons, who were without star running back Steven Jackson. It’s hard to say if this will be a trend or a one-game fluke for Miami’s defense. But rest assured, tackling will be a major point of emphasis this week in practice. The Dolphins’ defense needs to be fundamentally sound against the high-powered offense of the New Orleans Saints next Monday.

2. Miami’s pass protection: The Dolphins have allowed 14 sacks in the first three games, which includes five sacks against Atlanta. Tannehill is standing tall in the pocket and showing toughness. But that’s not the rate you want your quarterback taking hits. Tannehill already has a minor shoulder injury. Not every sack is on the offensive line. There are some occasions where Tannehill held the ball too long. But Miami’s offensive line also struggles with blitz pickups and loses one-on-one matchups too often.

3. Nolan Carroll, cornerback: Carroll failed to step up in his second game as a starter in place of the injured Dimitri Patterson. The Falcons picked on Carroll often. Falcons receiver Julio Jones (nine catches, 115 yards) had most of his success on Carroll’s side. Miami’s philosophy is not to switch sides with its cornerbacks. That made it easy for Atlanta to get the matchups it wanted opposite Brent Grimes. The Dolphins need Patterson to get healthy and add more depth at cornerback.