The second test of the preseason came Friday night for the Miami Dolphins. This time around they faced off in a closely contested battle which saw them fall 27-20 to the Carolina Panthers. If you find yourself scouring Dolphins fan’s social media, you will quickly notice that many people are jumping to focus on the negatives and what the team could have done better.
It really wasn’t all negative though. The Dolphins showed glimpses of greatness and excitement, especially at the skill positions. Although Miami could not pull out the win, we learned a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of the team. Here are three positive takeaways from the bout:
Ryan Tannehill Showing No Signs of Rust
It could be considered beating a dead horse at this point, but the biggest storyline of the offseason for Miami is the return of Quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Coming off of the ACL injury it would be easy to expect Tannehill to be timid in the pocket and not be as mobile. However, so far halfway through the preseason that isn’t the case. While play calling has been conservative, the quarterback has been nothing short of deadly accurate, especially on play action plays.
Hopefully he will get the opportunity to stretch the ball down the field a little more in the third game. However, he has to make do with what he has when considering the heights of his receivers.
In the Week 1 matchup with Tampa Bay, Tannehill went 4/6 for 32 yards. Against Carolina he was able to pick up right where he left off and finished 14/17 for 100 yards. Doing everything that has been asked of him, Tannehill has looked sharp in his six drives this preseason. There is no reason to believe that he won’t continue on that upward stride.
Kenyan Drake is the Real Deal
The National Football League’s leader in rushing yards in the final 5 games of 2017 (444), Kenyan Drake is out to prove that he is no fluke in 2018. The shifty running back has a strangle hold on the starting job; the only question will be how Head Coach Adam Gase utilizes the other running backs to relieve Drake.
The third year back is currently being utilized in both the pass and run game, as evidenced again on Friday night. Drake carried the ball eight times for 54 yards against Carolina. This includes a highlight reel run that saw him spin out of a tackle in the backfield and take it up the right side for a gain of 33.
He also caught three balls out of the backfield, albeit for only 4 yards that is still a great sign for Miami. There weren’t a lot of big holes to run through as it was mostly a rough night for the offensive line, but Drake made the most of it and looked like the Pro Bowl-caliber back that we all think he can be.
Defensive End is Still a Strong Point
While the Dolphins haven’t always had the best teams, they have consistently had one of the better pass rushes in the league over the years. While they finished 26th in 2017, Cameron Wake still finished with 10.5 sacks and was a bright spot of the Dolphins defense coming off the Achilles injury in 2016.
So far, it’s looking like it might be more of the same as the rush defense has been abysmal to this point. Coming into 2018, the defensive end depth chart consists of veterans Cameron Wake and Andre Branch. It also includes newer faces such as Charles Harris and newly acquired Robert Quinn who came over in the offseason from the Los Angeles Rams.
Friday’s game saw the defensive ends account for all three of Miami’s sacks, including two from Quinn himself. Quinn was making himself a regular in the Panthers backfield, beating Matt Kalil on multiple occasions and putting Cam newton under duress. Having him opposite of Cam Wake is going to cause problems for offensive lines everywhere and will guarantee to cause a few turnovers.