Here are some observations about Miami's first preseason game versus the Bucs:
1. In the words of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 'Don't Panic'
The hand-wringing began early in Dolfan Land, as the first team looked downright awful. The offense could not sustain drives, and the defense looked over-matched against a terribly physical Bucs offense.
While it should not be entirely ignored, it is important to remember that this was the first game of the preseason. To glean too much meaning from this game would be an overreaction. Anything you see, hear or read should be taken with a slightly larger grain of salt as a result.
2. Ryan Tannehill Passed His First Test with Flying Colors
Tannehill looked pretty good after a poor throw ended his first series. The rookie looked poised in the pocket, as he delivered some excitement after the poor start deflated many fans. He completed 14 of 21 passes for 167 yards and one touchdown, netting him a fantastic 106.0 NFL rating.
He still has plenty of work to do, however.
Tannehill played well against Tampa Bay's second- and third-team defenses, which were back in a soft zone much of the time. He made some great throws—including a pretty pass with enough touch to get over the linebacker but enough zip to get to the receiver before the cornerback got there—but it will be interesting and telling to see how he will fare against more pressure and tighter coverage.
It is also important to note that Tannehill spent much of the game throwing to his first read. That will not last very long in the NFL. Indeed, he was nearly picked off at the end zone because he was staring down Charles Clay. He must work on his progressions.
3. Jonathan Martin Needs More Time
Much was made on Twitter about Martin's Marc Colombo-esque play on the right side of the offensive line. He whiffed on some blocks and was generally awful in pass protection. Coaches felt he needed to spend more time on the field, so they kept him in there with the second team.
It would be good to remember Martin is a rookie playing a new position at the NFL level. Martin has been a left tackle for most of his career, and the switch to right tackle is not trivial. He should improve as he spends more time at the position, but he has the skill and intelligence to make it work with time.
4. The Secondary Is of Primary Concern
The most disconcerting part of Miami's terrible start was the secondary's inability to cover Tampa Bay's wide receivers. Things are not going well when Tiquan Underwood is torching Vernon Davis and Sean Smith, Miami's top corners if you discount the fact Richard Marshall got the starting nod over Davis.
Davis was benched because he had been outperformed to that point by Marshall, and he did not help his own cause with a poor outing. For all the talk about Smith's great camp, he was beaten several times.
There was really nothing good to see from that unit, which is defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle's specialty. He certainly has some work to do in the coming weeks.
5. The Quarterback Battle Is Now a 2-Horse Race
How did the Dolphins do in their first presason game?
David Garrard could not have picked a worse time to have knee surgery. He should be back sometime before the season begins, but he was in the middle of a heated quarterback battle and will now miss most of the preseason.
This could be a blessing in disguise for Miami, which can now give Moore and Tannehill more reps in practice and give them each more playing time in preseason games. Unless both completely screw the pooch for the next few weeks, Garrard will not be in the mix to start Week 1.
Tannehill's performance might have earned him a start in the coming weeks. He should get one for evaluation purposes.