Miami Dolphins vs. Dallas Cowboys: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Miami
This is Miami's first winless preseason since 1989 (they would finish that season 8-8) and overall their third (their first winless preseason came in their inagural 1966 season—a season in which they would finish 3-11). Dallas' win brings them to 3-1 in the preseason.
Let's take a look at Miami's final post-game grades and evaluations.
Ryan Tannehill — B+
Ryan Tannehill's first quarter was his best quarter of the preseason, and a great way to end his preseason and instill confidence.
Tannehill finished six of eight for 41 yards. He only made one bad throw (a pass that Dallas almost picked off, that play would be nullified by a Cowboys penalty) and could have had a touchdown had the replacement officials not missed an almost sure pass interference penalty on Cowboys cornerback Teddy Williams.
Matt Moore — D-
Upon taking over for Tannehill, Moore responded with this sequence: a three-and-out that ended in a sack and field goal, an interception returned for a touchdown, and then a three-and-out. His numbers for that stretch: 0/4, 0 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception.
After that tough start, Moore has picked up a bit and actually led Miami on a good drive. However the drive would stall in Dallas territory, netting Miami no points. Moore would return for the first two drives of the third quarter and continued his struggles, however he did complete a nice 15 yard pass to B.J. Cunningham. Moore's final stats look deceptively good in terms of yardage (he would finish with 49 on only four completions), but he was terrible the rest of the way.
Pat Devlin — B+
Pat Devlin's first drive was a thing of beauty for Miami. During the course of the drive, Devlin went four of five for 46 yards, leading Miami to a touchdown scored by Lamar Miller.
After this drive Miami's offense had issues, but Devlin still looked good. His final stats were 7/12 for 63 yards and most importantly, no interceptions.
This despite the fact that much like Moore, Devlin was running for his life.
Daniel Thomas — A
Thomas gave Miami another strong game, and a good reason to believe that their running game will be a strength. Thomas had five carries for 31 yards and was a reason why Miami's first team offense worked so efficiently.
Lamar Miller — A+
Lamar Miller isn't only the man responsible for Miami's sole touchdown of the evening, but also Miami's MVP of the game. Miller earned 60 yards on 17 carries and was responsible for opening up rushing lanes for Pat Devlin's unit on offense. Miller should see some use out of the backfield, and it would be to Miami's benefit if they attempted to use him on punt and kickoff returns.
Steve Slaton — A
Steve Slaton only had four carries, but those four carries netted 22 yards. This shows Miami's depth at running back, a position so deep that it wouldn't surprise anyone if Slaton is the odd-man out.
Marcus Thigpen — B
Thigpen's biggest impact would come on special teams as a return man, but since he's listed as a running back, he will be graded with them. His four kickoff returns averaged 24.3 yards, and while he wasn't spectacular, he was safe. Thigpen did get a carry as a running back which went for three yards, as well as a catch that went for seven yards.
Jorvorskie Lane — A
Jorvorskie Lane became Miami's full-time fullback after his performance tonight. He was great while blocking, and when he caught the ball couldn't be brought down. Expect to see plenty of Lane this season.
Legedu Naanee — B
Naanee recovered from an awful and drop-filled game against Atlanta with two catches for 19 yards. He did have a bad drop early in the game but recovered well in his limited time on the field. A dubious non-call likely cost Naanee a touchdown in the first quarter (had the Cowboys cornerback not interfered, Naanee likely makes the catch in the corner of the end zone). I wouldn't start him if Hartline is ready to play, but in the mean time should serve as a half-way decent stop-gap.
Marlon Moore — B+
Marlon Moore was only targeted twice while in the game, but he made both catches, totaling 19 yards (same as Naanee). Moore would actually be a better stop-gap at receiver than Naanee, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Moore also gets bonus points for forcing a fumble on a Cowboys kickoff return.
Rishard Matthews — A
Rishard Matthews was Miami's best receiver against Dallas. Used primarily in the third and fourth quarters, Matthews played strong, even making a catch when he was already on the ground. He finished with three catches for 47 yards.
B.J. Cunningham — A-
Cunningham also put together a good performance in his final preseason game. The rookie out of Michigan State had only two catches for 23 yards, but one of those receptions went for 15 yards. Cunningham's strong performance likely cemented his spot on the team this season.
Clyde Gates — C
Clyde Gates didn't get many passes thrown to him and in turn only made one catch for seven yards. However on a few plays he managed to get open, yet wasn't found by the quarterback (whether it was Moore or Devlin).
Charles Clay — C
Miami's tight ends didn't expect to get many passes their way, with the focus being on finding the right guys to fill out the receiving unit. However Charles Clay was targeted twice, and both times failed to make a catch. His blocking however was good, as he helped solidify Miami's right side of the line.
Michael Egnew — C
Michael Egnew didn't get many passes either, however he managed to make one catch for five yards. Egnew's blocking could have used some work, however it wasn't an outright disaster. While he will be a Miami Dolphin this year, he's a long-term project and will likely not make too many appearances this season.
Since most of Miami's offensive line didn't play against Dallas (Jake Long, Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey), I'll only focus on the three players expected to get the most playing time for the Dolphins.
Jonathan Martin — B+
Seeing the improvement of Jonathan Martin has been a welcome sight for the Dolphins, as well as a reminder to us as fans that the preseason isn't about wins and losses, but about improvement.
Martin didn't allow a sack while in the game, and showed versatility by not only playing well at his current position of right tackle, but also at left tackle (his position in college). Left tackle is the second most important position on offense (only quarterback ranks higher), and the fact that Miami has the best one in the league in Long and a player in Martin that can develop to be great is a good problem to have (especially since Martin will play right tackle).
John Jerry — B
How John Jerry still has a job was a mystery to many; but his roller coaster ride is back on an upswing after two good games. Jerry still struggled with his assignments at times, however he didn't allow any of the three Miami sacks and opened up holes for Miami's running backs.
Jared Odrick — B
Odrick, along with the rest of Miami's defensive line that played (and was missing Cameron Wake), kept the pressure on the Cowboys reserve quarterback Stephen McGee.
Olivier Vernon — A-
Vernon was once again active in the opposing backfield. In his limited time on the field he racked up half a sack (shared with Jamaal Westerman) and recorded three tackles. Vernon's preseason was a good one.
Kheeston Randall — A+
Randall's game was a beauty to watch; provided you watched him. He harassed the Cowboys backfield with aplomb picking up six tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss. Great game for a player likely to be an asset off the bench for Miami's defense.
Ryan Baker — B
Ryan Baker was another Dolphins defensive lineman that the Cowboys would soon forget. Four tackles and a pass deflection will make Dallas remember him.
Paul Soliai — B
Soliai was on the field for but one series, but he managed to pick up a tackle in that series, which was a Cowboys three-and-out to start the game.
Koa Misi — B
Misi was Miami's lone starting linebacker that saw playing time against Dallas.
It was limited, but he did produce a tackle while on the field.
Jamaal Westerman — B
The former Jet has been excellent all through training camp. While in the game he split a sack with rookie Olivier Vernon and recorded a tackle. Westerman will be a valuable piece to the Dolphins defense as a reserve linebacker.
Austin Spitler — B+
Spitler's motor was running on high this evening, as he recorded five tackles and showed a nose for the ball. He will be another valuable asset to Miami on defense and should get plenty of playing time during the season.
Josh Kaddu — B
Kaddu managed to not only record a tackle but also get to the quarterback and knock him to the ground. The fifth round rookie from Oregon will likely be a project going forward, however his play this preseason might get him more playing time during the regular season than originally thought.
Sean Smith — A
Smith saw limited action, however he made an impact while on the field with a tackle and a pass deflection. It's his time to lead this Miami secondary without Vontae Davis.
Richard Marshall — B+
Marshall didn't see many passes go his way in his limited action, however for a corner back this is a major plus. The Cowboys hesitated to pass it Marshall's way, which showed the veteran respect.
Nolan Carroll — C+
Nolan Carroll's game against Dallas perfectly showed his career arch. Carroll started off well with a few key stops; however bad penalties would be his demise later on. It's interesting to think that I thought he'd be as good as gone at the beginning of camp, but now he's the team's nickleback. Carroll would finish with four tackles and two pass deflections.
Jimmy Wilson — B-
Wilson wouldn't get much run with the first-team, but was one of the second-team's few productive players. There will be plenty of time between safety and corner for the second-year player, and his tenacity on the field showed this.
Dan Carpenter — A+
Good kickoffs, two made field goals from 21 and 52 yards, and a fumble recovery in the first quarter. "You're welcome, Miami," should be Dan Carpenter's only comments about this game as he was his usual MVP-self.
Brandon Fields — A+
But who can forget about Brandon Fields? The best punter in the NFL (in my opinion) set the field position game. It's no longer impressive to talk about his longest punt, so I'll just state that his shortest punt went for 42 yards.
Coach Joe Philbin — C
I won't be as hard on Coach Philbin as he was on himself. He claimed that he didn't prepare the team as well as he could've, however the first team showed the opposite. They were very prepared on both sides of the ball in the first quarter.
After that was when it hit the fan, however with most of these players fighting for their jobs, they should be more motivated and more prepared for the game. Kudos to Coach Philbin for diving on the grenade for the players, however he couldn't motivate them more than he did. Once they get onto the field, they failed to execute. That wasn't due to lack of preparation, but in many cases it was lack of effort.
And if you're fighting for your livelihood, you shouldn't need a head coach to tell you how important the game is nor "prepare" you for the game. Either you have it or you don't, and if this game winds up costing a few players their jobs, they only have themselves to blame.