Miami Dolphins: Jarvis Landry

Walker's Fab. 40: Nos. 9-12

January, 29, 2015
Jan 29
PM ET’s Miami Dolphins page continues its series ranking the top-40 players on the team.

Next up is Nos. 9-12.

No. 12: Lamar Miller

[+] EnlargeLamar Miller, Preston Brown
Marc Serota/Getty ImagesLamar Miller posted his first 1,000-yard season in 2014.
Position: Running back

2014 Stats: 1,099 rushing yards, 38 receptions, nine total touchdowns

Analysis: Miller had a career year and it really took off following the season-ending knee injury to Knowshon Moreno. Miller posted his first 1,000-yard season and averaged a strong 5.1 yards per carry. There are still questions if he can be an every-down back. I thought Miami could have used him more last season, but the coaching staff wasn’t comfortable giving Miller 20 carries per game. Miller still needs to work on his pass protection and catching out of the backfield. He doesn’t have natural hands and suffered several drops. But Miller can be dangerous once he makes the reception in the open field.

No. 11: Olivier Vernon

Position: Defensive end

2014 Stats: 46 tackles, 6.5 sacks

Analysis: Vernon took a small step back in 2014, but he was still one of Miami’s top defensive players.
Vernon’s sack numbers dropped from 11.5 in 2013 to 6.5 last season. The constant rotation at defensive end impacted Vernon’s production, and it was hard for most Dolphins defensive linemen to find a steady rhythm. Vernon will be in a contract year in 2015 and out to prove he deserves an extension.

No. 10: Jelani Jenkins

Position: Linebacker

2014 Stats: 110 tackles, 3.5 sacks

Analysis: Jenkins was Miami’s biggest breakout player in 2014. He went from a relative unknown to replace the injured Dannell Ellerbe and lead the Dolphins in tackles. Jenkins is very active and able to chase ball carriers sideline to sideline. He’s also a sure tackler, which was lacking at times in Miami. The future looks bright for Jenkins. His next step is to improve against the pass. Jenkins had only one pass defensed and zero interceptions all season.

No. 9: Jarvis Landry

Position: Wide receiver

2014 Stats: 84 receptions, 785 yards, five touchdowns

Analysis: The Dolphins hit a home run in the second round with Landry. He set a franchise rookie record with 84 receptions and became quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s most reliable target down the stretch. Landry is not overly fast or athletic. He is a technician who gets open due to solid routes, toughness and very dependable hands. Landry even surprised the coaching staff by being a solid kick returner despite not having blazing speed. Barring injuries, Landry should only improve next season.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Tuesday from around the Web: Morning take: Landry and Beckham were college teammates and roommates. They communicate often and push each other to be better players.
  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel has a plan for the Dolphins to create $40 million in cap room.
Morning take: Miami has a tight cap but plenty of veterans are expected to be released. The casualties will begin in the next few weeks.
  • Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post does a seven-round mock draft for the Dolphins.
Morning take: Predicting seven rounds is ambitious. There are a lot of scenarios that can take place in three days of drafting. Abramson has an interesting selection in the first round.
  • Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes the Dolphins aren’t performing to the salary cap.
Morning take: Back-to-back 8-8 seasons are not good enough for the Dolphins. This is a team that was expected to make the playoffs.

Final notes from the Senior Bowl

January, 26, 2015
Jan 26
The 2015 Senior Bowl is in the books. Some final Dolphins-related notes from the Senior Bowl trip:
  • I have no doubt the Dolphins will be looking closely at defensive linemen in this draft. I noticed on two separate occasions head coach Joe Philbin and assistant general manager Eric Stokes taking up-close looks at defensive line prospects as they were practicing. There might not be a target there at No. 14 – especially if Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton is off the board – but the position could be of interest to Miami in the second or third rounds.
  • Keep an eye out for Iowa defensive tackle Carl Davis Jr. He flashed often during Senior Bowl week and caught the attention of scouts. His size and athleticism are good for the NFL. Davis just needs to be coached up. But outside of Shelton, he was the next best defensive tackle I saw in practice.
  • I’m curious to see if the Dolphins grab any homegrown talent in this draft. All four University of Miami players performed well this week. The Dolphins need a linebacker (Denzel Perryman) and most likely will need receiver help (Phillip Dorsett) once they decide on who stays and who goes between Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson. A tight end (Clive Walford) and cornerback (Ladarius Gunter) also are possibilities in this draft. The Dolphins have let plenty of homegrown talent get away in the past.
  • Finally, this was a great week for slot receivers. Kansas State's Tyler Lockett, Duke’s Jamison Crowder and Dorsett were all smaller receivers who made an impact in practices. The Dolphins, who have Jarvis Landry, are not in the market for slot receivers. But these college seniors should be able to help out other teams in need of a receiver to play inside.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Friday from around the Web: Morning take: Miami general manager Dennis Hickey did a good job with first-round pick Ja'Wuan James and second-round pick Jarvis Landry. But the jury is still out on the remainder of the class.
Morning take: The Senior Bowl showed there is depth at plenty of positions. The Dolphins have a lot of needs to fill and need immediate contributors.
Morning take: The goal is for Albert to be ready by Week 1 of the regular season. The offensive line was at its best when Albert was healthy and productive.
Morning take: Someone in the Patriots’ organization knew something. It’s just a matter of the NFL completing a thorough investigation.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Tuesday from around the Web:
  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel takes a look at the Dolphins' receiver situation.
Morning take: There are plenty of decisions to make with this group. Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson all have sizable salaries for 2015. Therefore, change could be on the way.
  • Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes that the Dolphins can learn from playoff teams how to finish games.
Morning take: Whether it’s a blowout win (New England Patriots) or a come-from-behind thriller (Seattle Seahawks), the championship-caliber teams know how to finish. Miami has a lot of room to grow in that regard.
Morning take: Taylor is entering his third season and it’s make-or-break for him. He made strides in his second season but must stay healthy.
Morning take: Landry set a new rookie record with 79 receptions. His future looks bright as the Dolphins continue to find more ways to use his skills.

Morning take: Lessons for Dolphins

January, 15, 2015
Jan 15
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Thursday from around the Web:
  • Dave George of the Palm Beach Post writes the Dolphins can learn in the future by not overlooking assistants.
Morning take: New Jets head coach Todd Bowles was on staff but was overlooked for Miami’s opening in 2012. It remains to be seen if that was a mistake.
Morning take: Miami’s rookies were highlighted by first-round pick Ja’Wuan James and second-round pick Jarvis Landry. Both players made an immediate impact.
  • Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald writes about the possibility of Dolphins defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers going to the New York Jets.
Morning take: Rodgers is close with Bowles. The two spent four years together in Miami and are expected to reunite in New York with Rodgers as defensive coordinator.
  • Dave Hyde of the Sun Sentinel wonders if the Dolphins will change defensive coordinators.
Morning take: Kevin Coyle ended the season on the hot seat. But with each week that passes by, the less likely Miami will make a change. Head coach Joe Philbin is loyal to his staff.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Wednesday from around the Web:
  • Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post takes a look at potential free-agent targets for the Dolphins.
Morning take: Miami must first make a lot of cuts to create cap room. That will include plenty of decisions on in-house free agents such as receiver Brian Hartline, linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler and others.
  • Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald says continuity in the NFL is overrated.
Morning take: When things aren’t working, keeping it together isn’t necessarily the best strategy. That is part of the reasons change is taking place all over the league.
Morning take: Both players deserve the honor after good rookie years. Miami needs equal production from its first- and second-round picks this year.
  • Dolphins executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum tells WQAM the key is developing players.
Morning take: Miami has had mixed results over the years in that area. The Dolphins need to identify the right players and coach them up to their potential.
The rookies grades are in for the Miami Dolphins. Every rookie is graded who produced in 2014 and there's analysis of each player's strengths and weaknesses.

Here is a recap of Miami's first-year grades:
Overall, the Dolphins got solid production from their rookie class. First-year general manager Dennis Hickey made several solid picks and also had some nice finds in the late rounds and undrafted players.

The key will be for Miami (8-8) to continue developing its young players in an effort to get over the hump and into the playoffs next season.

The Miami Dolphins hired former New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum to oversee the front office, the team announced Tuesday. His title will be vice president of football operations, and this is an interesting move for several reasons.

This move strengthens Miami's front office. Tannenbaum, whose Jets teams reached back-to-back AFC title games following the 2009 and 2010 seasons, has 16 years of front-office experience in the AFC East -- a division the Dolphins haven't won since 2008. Miami must close the gap with the New England Patriots, and Tannenbaum's knowledge certainly cannot hurt in that quest.

But this move makes you wonder: Did the Dolphins ever truly believe in first-year general manager Dennis Hickey?

Miami went through an extensive search last year, and Hickey was not its first choice. Multiple candidates turned down offers from the Dolphins or declined to be interviewed. Some candidates didn't like that they had to stick with head coach Joe Philbin, as opposed to bringing in their own coach. Others felt the organization setup wasn't right.

In the end, the Dolphins landed Hickey -- and essentially made him the boss for one year before hiring a new boss to watch over him. Hickey will report directly to Tannenbaum -- but not the coaching staff. Philbin, along with Tannenbaum, will report directly to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

Hickey's first-year record (8-8) was not a bad one. He found productive rookies Ja'Wuan James and Jarvis Landry in the draft. He also signed left tackle Branden Albert and starting safety Louis Delmas in free agency. There were some misses, but no general manager in the NFL has a perfect record. According to Tannenbaum, Hickey will keep final say on draft picks and personnel, but it will be a "collaborative effort."

Hickey now has an added layer above him in the front office. The pressure is on the general manager -- and many within the Dolphins' organization -- to produce a playoff season in 2015.

The Miami Dolphins' Walker Awards

January, 6, 2015
Jan 6
It was another roller-coaster season for the Miami Dolphins. The team finished 8-8, with plenty of twists and turns. In the end, the Dolphins were an average team.

But there were plenty of good moments that should be highlighted and reasons to feel optimistic about Miami moving forward. With that in mind, it’s time to hand out the annual "Walker Awards" for the 2014 season.

Walker Award No. 1: Most Valuable Player

The honor goes to. ... QB Ryan Tannehill

Analysis: The Dolphins could not ask for much more from Tannehill in his third season. He had to learn a new, complicated offense, and avoided major growing pains. He set career bests in yards (4,045), touchdowns (27) and passer rating (92.8). He got better as the season went on and offers hope that Miami has its quarterback of the present and future. Tannehill also showed toughness and durability by playing all 16 games. It's rare that a quarterback steps up his level of play and the team still finishes with the same record. But it was that kind of odd season for Miami.

Honorable mentions: CB Brent Grimes, DE Cameron Wake

Walker Award No. 2: Rookie of the Year

The honor goes to. ... WR Jarvis Landry

Analysis: This was a close race between Landry and first-round pick Ja'Wuan James. I kept going back and forth but eventually settled with Landry. He led the Dolphins with 84 receptions, which set a new rookie franchise record. Landry also added 1,158 return yards on special teams, which was unexpected at the start of the season. Landry has the best hands on the team, and his maturity and toughness were impressive. He is certainly a player the Dolphins must build around.

Honorable mentions: OT James, DE Terrence Fede

Walker Award No. 3: Coach of the Year

The honor goes to. ... Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor

Analysis: This is not even close. Lazor made a world of difference in his first year running Miami's offense. The Dolphins improved from 19.8 points per game in 2013 to 24.25 points per game this season. His system has a lot of elements from what Chip Kelly is doing with the Philadelphia Eagles. Lazor also deserves a lot of credit for pushing and developing Tannehill in his third season. Lazor has a bright future.

Honorable mentions: tight ends coach Dan Campbell, special teams coach Darren Rizzi

Walker Award No. 4: Play of the Year

The honor goes to. ... Grimes' one-handed interception against the Detroit Lions

Analysis: This was another tough category. Miller set a new team record with a 97-yard touchdown run against the New York Jets in Week 17. But I give the edge to the defense. Grimes' one-handed interception of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was one of the most athletic plays I've seen in person. Grimes also did it while defending Detroit's Calvin Johnson, who is arguably the top receiver in the NFL.

Honorable mentions: Miller’s 97-yard touchdown against the Jets, Mike Wallace's touchdown catch against the Minnesota Vikings

Walker Award No. 5: Most Improved Player

The honor goes to. ... LB Jelani Jenkins

Analysis: Jenkins, a former special teamer, came out of nowhere to lead Miami with 110 tackles this past season. He didn't get his chance until starting linebacker Dannell Ellerbe suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1. Jenkins was fast and aggressive to the football. He also developed into one of the leaders on defense. There will be plenty of changes at linebacker next season, but Jenkins is a keeper.

Honorable mentions: Tannehill, TE Dion Sims

And that wraps up this season's Walker Awards. There will be plenty of new candidates next season vying for these annual awards. I’d like to thank Dolphins fans for consistently reading the team's coverage on throughout another interesting season.
The Miami Dolphins finished with an 8-8 record for the second straight season. It was an interesting year for Miami’s rookie class.

With that in mind, let’s examine the season of second-round pick Jarvis Landry:

Position: Wide receiver

Stats: 84 receptions, 758 yards, five touchdowns

Positives: The Dolphins couldn't have asked for more from Landry in his rookie year. He took over the slot receiver position from veteran Brandon Gibson a few games into the season and wound up leading the team in receptions. Landry has some of the best hands I’ve seen in my decade covering the NFL. The catches he’s made in games and practices have been highlight material. Landry also added 1,158 return yards in an unexpected role as a kick returner. His mental approach to the game is beyond his years. He’s definitely a building block on offense, along with first-round pick Ja'Wuan James.

Negatives: Landry’s scouting report was accurate in terms of athleticism. He’s not a game-breaker and finished with just 9.0 yards per reception. Landry needs to get better at making vertical plays. He also made some rookie mistakes returning kicks with ball security and decision-making.

Rookie grade: A

Dolphins-Vikings film review

December, 23, 2014
The Miami Dolphins picked up a wild 37-35 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The win improves Miami's record to 8-7 on the season.

I re-watched the game film to take a closer look at the Dolphins. Here are some additional details.
  • Quarterback Ryan Tannehill does not get enough credit for his toughness. The Vikings only recorded two sacks but they laid some good shots on Tannehill throughout the game. Tannehill continued to stand tall in the pocket and didn’t change his game. That’s an admirable quality to have, and Tannehill has it in abundance.
  • This was the first game where I really noticed Dolphins rookie receiver Jarvis Landry pressing and trying too hard to make plays. He had his worst game as a kick returner on Sunday. His decision-making on kickoffs was off and he ended up fumbling in a key spot in the fourth quarter. Landry also botched one punt in the second quarter that he recovered. He needs to slow down and get back to his usual playing speed.
  • Running back Lamar Miller is running harder. He finished with 92 rushing yards and also had 58 yards receiving. The Vikings also delivered some nice shots on Miller, who played 61 snaps according to Pro Football Focus. Miller sat most of the fourth quarter because, according to Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, he had a lot of snaps and wear and tear. Miller needs just 79 rushing yards against the New York Jets for his first 1,000-yard season.
  • Miami’s goal-line stand before the half was important in retrospect. Minnesota tight end Chase Ford caught a 22-yard pass and was pushed out of bounds at the Miami 1-yard line. It looked like Ford might have stayed in bounds but the refs didn't overturn the call. The Dolphins then held the Vikings on two plays from the 1-yard line. Minnesota settled for a field goal, and those four points came back to haunt it.
  • Here is the second-guessing portion of the post: There were three coaching decisions I really didn’t get for Miami. The first was allowing kicker Caleb Sturgis to attempt a 56-yard field goal on the opening drive. His career best is 54 yards. So it was no surprise the kick came up short. The second was the multiple squib kicks to avoid Vikings kick returner Cordarralle Patterson, including the head-scratching decision to do it late in the fourth quarter. The third questionable coaching decision was the fourth-quarter timeout from the one-half yard-line during the two-point conversion.
  • Dolphins tight end Charles Clay had his strongest overall game of the season running and blocking. He finished with six receptions for 114 yards and ran good routes. Clay battled injuries all season, and Sunday's performance makes you wonder how much a healthy Clay could’ve helped Miami this season.
  • Overall, I thought it was a highly-competitive game, despite the teams only playing for pride. Both teams were eliminated from playoff contention, but the Dolphins and Vikings were physical and intense throughout all four quarters.
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was beaming in the locker room Sunday, following his team's 37-35 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Although Miami was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs about 20 minutes earlier, Ross excitedly announced that head coach Joe Philbin will return in 2015.

"He's coming back!" Ross said with a smile, squashing speculation on the contrary.

You cannot fault Ross for choosing continuity. He has tried the other way and it hasn't worked. Ross has fired a head coach (Tony Sparano) and a general manager (Jeff Ireland) and it hasn't resulted in a playoff appearance. Philbin would have become the third high-level executive to be let go in four years.

[+] EnlargeRyan Tannehill and Joe Philbin
Dustin Bradford/Getty ImagesRyan Tannehill and the Dolphins will miss the playoffs this year, but Joe Philbin says he still expects to compete in the postseason during his tenure as Miami's head coach.
Philbin has his faults, but he made strides in his third season that appeal to ownership. The locker-room chemistry is much better after last year's disastrous bullying scandal. Philbin has the support of his players and has a chance to lead Miami (8-7) to its first winning season since 2008. All the Dolphins must do is beat the lowly New York Jets (3-12) next week at home.

Here are some key statistics in Philbin's favor:

  • Miami's scoring has improved from 19.8 points per game in 2013 to 24.3 points per game this season. Philbin's hiring of first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor played a key role in that improvement.
  • Third-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill is having a career season. He has set career highs in touchdown passes (26) and passer rating (93.2) with one game remaining to pad those numbers.
  • The Dolphins had three losses this season by four points or less to three playoff teams (Denver, Green Bay and Detroit). If Miami pulled off any of these close games, the season result could have been different.

"Things are happening as an organization. I think everyone feels the buzz that things are changing around here," Ross explained. "They say patience is a virtue, you know. But I'm expecting big things next year -- I will tell you that."

Another aspect in Ross' decision is Philbin's support in the locker room. Following last week's loss to New England, which essentially ended Miami's postseason chances, veterans such as team captain Cameron Wake, receiver Mike Wallace and guard Mike Pouncey all came to Philbin's defense. Each veteran said any fault for the Dolphins' shortcomings is on the players.

Wake, who leads the team with 11.5 sacks, was among the players happy for Philbin on Sunday.

"Coach Philbin is a big part of this franchise," Wake said. "He's obviously part of the success of this team. That's great news and I'm looking forward to it."

According to Ross, this team is close to contending. Ross has been a strong supporter of Philbin, the owner's first hire in 2012. Ross said at the time that he's hopeful Philbin could become the "next Don Shula," which is both high praise and high expectations.

Philbin is 23-24 as a head coach, which is not awful but not great. If Ross doesn't think he can get an elite replacement -- for example, Jim Harbaugh -- why break up the entire regime and start from scratch? The worst move the Dolphins could make would be to hire another first-time coach and allow that person 2-3 more years to learn on the job and make mistakes.

Ross believes keeping Philbin and first-year general manager Dennis Hickey together for another year could end the Dolphins' six-year playoff drought. Hickey made several solid moves this year, most notably drafting left tackle Ja'Wuan James and receiver Jarvis Landry. Hickey also signed Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert, cornerback Cortland Finnegan, defensive tackle Earl Mitchell and safety Louis Delmas, who all contributed. Hickey wasn't the problem in Miami.

Sure, there is a chance the Dolphins could be in this same spot one year from now, missing out on the playoffs. But if that's the case, Philbin and the Dolphins can make a clean break, the coach having fulfilled the final year of his contract.

But there's also a possibility Philbin rewards the Dolphins for their patience and develops into the coach Ross thinks he can be in 2015. That would provide a long-term payoff.

Philbin must do better in his in-game management, especially in close games. The Dolphins also must play better late in the season. Philbin failed to win big games in December for the second straight season and that's a major reason Miami is not in the playoffs. Improvement in those two areas would go a long way.

"I want to compete for championships while I'm the head coach of the Miami Dolphins," Philbin said Sunday night. "That's what I told Mr. Ross I was going to do. I'm disappointed that we're not in [the playoffs]."

Keeping Philbin is a calculated risk, but it's worth a try.

Miami Dolphins stock watch

December, 16, 2014
The Miami Dolphins suffered a 41-13 loss to the New England Patriots Sunday that ruined their postseason hopes.

Here is the latest look at whose stock is rising and falling in Miami:


1. Joe Philbin, head coach: This was supposed to be the year Philbin took the Dolphins to the next level. Instead, the team is stuck in mediocrity and Philbin now is on the hot seat. Philbin's teams have played their worst football late in the season when games matter most. The Dolphins are 1-4 in their past five December games. In coaching, more than any other position, you are what your record says you are. Philbin is 22-24 in three seasons. That's not good enough and will provide owner Stephen Ross a lot to think about in the next several weeks.

2. Dolphins pass protection: Miami has allowed 10 sacks in the past two games. That's why it's not surprising the Dolphins lost to the Patriots and Baltimore Ravens by 43 combined points. Granted, all four of the Dolphins' sacks against the Patriots happened in the second half when the team fell behind. But Miami's pass protection hasn't been the same since Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert went down in Week 10 with a season-ending knee injury.

3. Philip Wheeler, linebacker: Wheeler was the only healthy starting linebacker entering Sunday's game. He was expected to provide stability and leadership with fellow starters Koa Misi (hamstring, knee) and Jelani Jenkins (foot) inactive. Instead, Wheeler had one of his worst games and whiffed on two huge plays that made a difference. Wheeler failed to catch Patriots quarterback Tom Brady -- yes, Brady -- on his 17-yard run. Wheeler also couldn't cover tight end Rob Gronkowski one-on-one and was beat for 35 yards. Both botched plays led to touchdowns.


1. Mike Wallace, receiver: The Dolphins finally threw deep and Wallace had one of his best games of the season. He finished with five receptions for a team-high 104 yards and a touchdown. He caught two deep passes for 50 and 35 yards, respectively. Wallace proved he's still one of the elite deep threats in the NFL.

2. Jarvis Landry, receiver: The rookie led the Dolphins in receptions with eight. He also had a season-high 99 yards. What was most impressive is the Patriots put Landry on "Revis Island" often during the game, especially on third downs. Landry competed well against Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis and caught a couple passes on him.

3. Jason Trusnik, linebacker: Trusnik stepped in for Jenkins and played solid football. He recorded seven tackles and an interception off Brady to set up a field goal. Trusnik also played his usual duties on special teams.

Dolphins vs. Patriots Film Review

December, 16, 2014
The Miami Dolphins suffered their biggest loss of the season, 41-13, to the AFC East champion New England Patriots. The 28-point margin was the largest deficit of the season.

I re-watched the game film to take a closer look at the Dolphins. Here are additional notes and observations:
  • Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace had his best game of the season. It's wasn't just his numbers of five receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown. But Wallace's effort for four quarters and other details were impressive. Wallace's 50-yard bomb on the first offensive play was set up by a quick move at the line of scrimmage to avoid the jam. Wallace went untouched and was open by three or four steps. It was also noticeable on film that Wallace and rookie receiver Jarvis Landry played hard and competed right down to the end, even late in the fourth quarter when the game was out of hand.
  • The Patriots did something clever on the blocked field goal in the first quarter. They called a stunt to the right, where every lineman pushed Miami in one direction. New England linebacker Jamie Collins then found the hole in the protection and was athletic enough to get the block, which was returned by defensive back Kyle Arrington for a 62-yard touchdown.
  • Dolphins right guard Mike Pouncey didn't have one of his better games. Pouncey didn't do a great job of keeping his feet, which is usually one of his strengths. Pouncey was on the ground too much and didn't finish blocks. He had trouble with Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and defensive end Chandler Jones, who were active and able to shed Pouncey with their hands. Pouncey also got a false start penalty in the first half.
  • On second look, Miami's pass protection wasn't a major concern. The final numbers read four sacks on quarterback Ryan Tannehill, which is a high number. But all four sacks came in the fourth quarter when Miami was down big and forced to pass. That made things predictable and an advantage to the defense to get a jump on its pass rush.
  • I didn't like what I saw from linebacker Philip Wheeler on tape. He was simply a step or two late on too many plays against the Patriots. Routine plays that should be 5-yard gains, for example, turn into 10-yard gains due to Wheeler not being in position or not finishing his assignments. Those things add up. He was so badly out of position on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's third-quarter run that a player with his lack of speed was able to gain 17 yards.
  • Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill's best throw of the day was a beautiful deep ball to backup running back Damien Williams, who put a double-move on Collins and got open. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, Williams dropped the pass.
  • The Patriots came out with an intensity and focus in the third quarter that Miami simply couldn't match. New England showed another gear the Dolphins clearly were not ready for. It was a gear Miami doesn't have. The team looked shell-shocked.
  • Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan didn't guard Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski much. This was something I expected more of in this game, especially with injuries to starting linebackers Jelani Jenkins and Koa Misi. Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said Jordan matched up with Gronkowski for about four or five plays. According to Coyle, the Patriots went to Gronkowski more on first and second down when Jordan wasn't on the field.