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5 Thoughts Following Week 3: Miami Dolphins

5 Thoughts Following Week 3 Dolfan72 Via Flickr

5 Thoughts Following Week 3: Miami Dolphins

Losing 38-31 to the Philadelphia Eagles may look bad on paper, but we found out a lot about the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night. While it was a sloppy, turnover prone game, a lot of light was shed on the offense and how Jay Cutler will look this season. Here are 5 thoughts following week 3 for the Miami Dolphins.

1. Jay Cutler Looked Like An NFL Starting Quarterback

In his first real live game action against a first-team defense, Cutler looked impressive. Going 5-for-8, 105 yards, and one touchdown. Showing poise in the pocket, Cutler stepped into throws, and put velocity on the football that we haven’t seen from Ryan Tannehill. Showing off his arm, Cutler threw a 72-yard bomb to DeVante Parker. On a few occasions, he was forced to improvise in the pocket and made good decisions for the most part. When Cutler is at his best, he is a hard player to beat. That was on display Thursday night as he stepped up in the pocket and delivered a 15-yard dart to Kenny Stills on third down. A couple questionable decisions, although nothing eye-popping. Matt Moore threw two interceptions on three attempts, which shows Cutler’s value. If we learned anything, it’s that Cutler is not afraid to take shots downfield.

2. Defense Is Going To Give Up A Lot Of Points

If Miami doesn’t fix their defensive issues, it’s going to be a long season. After ranking 30th in rush defense a year ago, there were holes all night long to run through. Missed tackles were a constant theme, even with the first-string. Matt McGloin led the third-string offense right down the field against Miami’s first-team defense. Matt. McGloin. If that doesn’t scare you, not much else can. Byron Maxwell got burned all night just like he did in practice. Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith both made quick work of Miami’s passing defense with receiving touchdowns. Byron Maxwell looked lost most of the night, and Reshad Jones missed a few really ugly tackles. On the bright side, Jordan Phillips and Lawrence Timmons both pulled down interceptions. All in all, the Dolphins have effort and communication issues across the board.

3. Jay Ajayi Will Be The Workhorse This Season

Without a doubt, Jay Ajayi is the most irreplaceable player on this roster. He SHOULD average around 20 carries a game. Ajayi had 9 carries for 53 yards and two touchdowns. On the way to averaging 5.9 yards-per-carry, he broke 3 tackles and made defenders look silly. Finding holes that aren’t there and earning extra yards is his calling card. The rushing game looks explosive when the ball is in his hands. As a result, Ajayi will become the workhorse this season. This will be the last time we see the bruising back until opening week.

4. Offensive Line Needs To Play With More Aggression

It seemed like the entire night, the offensive line was letting the contact come to them, rather than initiating it. One of the biggest of my 5 thoughts following week 3 is offensive line play. Laremy Tunsil is back out at his natural left tackle position. This was supposed to be a rather smooth transition, but Tunsil got flat-out beat a couple of times. With a young tackle comes many mistakes, and Vinny Curry made that a reality. Ja’Wuan James and Tunsil both have trouble with speed edge rushers, which showed in OTAs. Rushers like Charles Harris are a nightmare for these two, and their footwork must improve. It’s mostly mental lapses that hurt the tackles. The interior line is OK, with Mike Pouncey finally getting back out there. Kraig Urbik should play during the season. However, the guards are the weakness of the team, and Miami needs Tunsil and James to play at a high level for this line to have a shot.

5. Special Teams Looked Crisp

For many years, Miami has had a “middle-of-the-pack” special teams. After the Ravens game last week, the sky was falling for Miami’s special teams. Blocked punts, missed kicks, and coverage non-existent. However, things looked different in Philadelphia. Matt Darr got his punts off, and they traveled well in the air. No big returns, no bonehead mistakes. Kicker Andrew Franks absolutely drilled a 56-yard field goal before halftime. Everyone does their job, and the game goes a lot smoother. Miami looked lost early in this game but shook off the rust.

Bottom Line

My 5 thoughts following week 3 are in the books, and all are key points in 2017. Early on in this game, Miami looked disoriented on both sides of the ball. Big passes given up, huge rushing lanes and dropped passes looked a lot like 2016. However, once both teams settled in, it was a pretty interesting game. Aside from all the turnovers, Miami’s offense seems to be going in the right direction. Matt Moore threw two ugly interceptions and showed why Cutler was a necessary addition. If the defense can settle in and create some chaos, this team has a chance to be good. No starters will play next week. Look for Miami to open their season at home on September 10th with a chip on their shoulder.