Raiders vs. Dolphins: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Miami

Thomas Galicia@thomasgaliciaFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 16, 2012

Raiders vs. Dolphins: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Miami

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    The Miami Dolphins have beaten the Oakland Raiders 35-13 this afternoon in a game that started off well in the first quarter, got sloppy in the second quarter, but was then dominated by the Dolphins in the second half.

    Ryan Tannehill showed the signs of potential that made him Miami's number one pick, while Reggie Bush and Brian Hartline helped Tannehill carry the Miami offense.

    Here's a look at how I graded Miami's performance as Miami moved to 1-1 on the season and won their first home opener since 2005.

Offense — A

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    Reggie Bush and Brian Hartline helped Tannehill carry this offense.

    Actually for the first three quarters of the game, they were the offense. Bush ran for 172 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries and three catches for 25 yards, while Hartline pulled in nine catches for 111 yards. This despite the fact that everyone in Sun Life Stadium knew that the Dolphins would go to these two players.

    However the offense's supporting cast started to wake up, and Miami found themselves another explosive back with Lamar Miller, who contributed 65 yards on 10 carries.

    Excellent effort all around for the offense after a bad second quarter, for this reason they excelled.

    Here's a look at how each position on offense fared during the game.


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    Ryan Tannehill — B+

    Once again Ryan Tannehill would have a weak second quarter. However with no turnovers, he survived it unscathed, giving the Dolphins a great second half.

    Tannehill wasn't spectacular, but he was efficient. He went 18/30 for 200 yards and a touchdown, ending with a rating of 91.0. Despite being under constant pressure, he was only sacked once.

    Fine game by Tannehill, he gave Miami the chance to win, and didn't lose it. Bonus points for getting a rushing touchdown to go along with his first passing touchdown.

    Congrats to Tannehill on his first NFL victory. May he win many more (especially next week against the Jets).

Running Backs

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    If these were real school grades, the running backs would be getting a pizza party next week. Here's a look at their scores.

    Reggie Bush — A+

    What can be said that Reggie didn't say on the field this afternoon? Reggie accumulated 172 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. An excellent game for an excellent player. It might be hard to believe but Bush might be up there with Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy and Matt Forte as one of the top running backs in the NFL (and he's definitely passed Forte in my opinion). Bush is certainly the top pass-catcher of the group, and showed that with his three receptions for 25 yards.

    Lamar Miller — A+

    What better way to augment Bush's massive production than with a touchdown and 65 yards of your own on 10 carries. Miller showed flashes of why Miami gambled to trade up for him in last April's draft, and showed why in the future he will likely become one of the top running backs in the league.

    Jorvorskie Lane — A+

    Why not give Lane an A+ too? Lane had four carries for 12 yards of his own, while providing great blocking for Bush (especially on both of his touchdown runs). The only issue I have isn't even his fault; why didn't he get the chance to receive more passes? It surely would've been better than Charles Clay's performance.

Wide Receivers

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    Brian Hartline — A

    If you didn't know anything about Miami's preseason and only saw this game, would you believe that Brian Hartline missed most of training camp and every preseason game with an injury? Ryan Tannehill already has a great connection with Hartline despite the fact that they rarely worked together during the off-season or training camp, and it showed in this game. Hartline brought down nine receptions for 111 yards, and in a way it feels criminal that he didn't get a touchdown reception. Either way, his impact was shown later on in the game, as Oakland's defense focused on him more, thus freeing up Anthony Fasano and Davone Bess.

    Davone Bess — B

    Davone Bess was expected to be the go-to receiver. However with Hartline getting most of the catches, Bess was nowhere to be found in the first half. However in the second half he would bring down three catches for 43 yards, including an important reception in the fourth quarter that helped set up Tannehill's first touchdown pass. Considering he was only targeted six times (compared to 12 times for Hartline), Bess performed well.

    Legedu Naanee — F

    Coming soon to a waiver-wire near you (and I mean the real NFL waiver-wire, no fantasy team would or should touch him). Naanee was only targeted once, and no, the pass wasn't anywhere near him (it was during the second quarter where Tannehill was running for his life). However considering that the West Coast Offense is predicated on spreading out the passes, it was odd to see Naanee not get targeted much. This trend will continue, as when Anthony Armstrong comes back and gets more acclimated into the offense, he'll likely take some snaps away from Naanee.

Tight Ends

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    Anthony Fasano — B

    Fasano was only thrown to three times, but did manage two catches. One of those catches of course was Tannehill's first touchdown pass, and on the reception Fasano was determined to run it into the end zone. Solid game.

    Charles Clay — F

    One reception for two yards, and on that reception he managed to actually go backwards. Hey it's not like it was a third down or anything like that. To make matters worse, he was targeted three times, and the other two passes were in his hands before he dropped them. I usually like Clay but this afternoon was not his finest hour.

Offensive Line

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    Richie Incognito — A

    No one got past Incognito this afternoon. If there was no one to block, he'd find someone to block. He was superb protecting the pass, even better opening up holes in the running game. Outstanding performance all around.

    Mike Pouncey — B+

    To anyone suggesting that Pouncey should be moved to right guard (a fine idea in theory), stop right there. He's a great center and seems to have developed a strong rapport with Tannehill. The communication between the two has been outstanding the past two games (save for one messed up snap that Tannehill was able to cover against Houston), and he has protected Tannehill very well. Today was another in a long line of solid performances.

    John Jerry — B+

    Really take a look; how many times when Tannehill was under pressure did it come from the right side? Not as much as you think. Jerry finished his blocks well and like the rest of the line was superb in run blocking. His pass blocking was very good today too.

    Jonathan Martin — B

    Martin continues to show improvement. Was today perfect? No, he did let a few men get past him on the edge to Tannehill. But he's not the disaster we thought he was during the preseason, and has shown improvement not just in every game, but in every quarter.

    Jake Long — B-

    The Dolphins offensive line only allowed one sack. Matt Shaughnessy recorded the sack, rushing past Jake Long.

    Who would've thunk it? Jake Long is the man responsible for the only sack of the game on Ryan Tannehill. On top of that, Shaughnessy was the biggest pest of them all, getting into the pocket plenty of times against Long. This even happened when he was double-teamed. Hard to believe it. Usually Miami wins when Long plays well, and Long did play better throughout the game. But wow, what a bad second half.

Defense — B-

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    Miami's defense has had better days, and today they gave up a plethora of yards in the air and missed tackles left and right.

    Despite the stats pointing out Carson Palmer's 24 of 48 for 373 yards and a touchdown, the important stat says it was a success for the Dolphins defense: 13 points.

    Twice Oakland's offense started off in prime field position, and both times the Raiders were forced to settle for the field goal. While the defense could've been better, they got the job done, which is what counts in the end.

    Here's how well each aspect of the Dolphins defense did this afternoon.

Defensive Line

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    Paul Soliai — A

    Paul Soliai is the anchor of a Miami run defense that held Oakland to only 26 rushing yards. However when defending the pass he also managed to get two hits on Carson Palmer and a pass deflection. On the day he not only recorded two tackles, but also took up at least two blockers on every play, allowing for Randy Starks and Cameron Wake to spring free to harass Carson Palmer.

    Cameron Wake — B+

    Wake's day doesn't look very special on paper. He only recorded one tackle, but got two hits on Palmer while bothering him in the pocket all day.

    Jared Odrick — B

    Odrick only recorded one tackle and one hit on Palmer, but was effective and pesky chasing Palmer around the pocket.

    Randy Starks — B

    Starks continued his great play from last week with another solid game. He recorded two tackles and two hits on Palmer, while helping Miami's defense contain the running game.


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    Karlos Dansby — B

    Stopping the short and intermediate passes was a problem for Miami, mainly in the first half. However save for Mike Goodson's 64-yard touchdown run, Miami's linebackers did contain the receivers and prevent big plays. Dansby was a huge part of this, recording eight tackles on the afternoon. He's also a major reason why the Raiders couldn't get anything going on the ground.

    Kevin Burnett — B

    Kevin Burnett racked up four tackles (including one for a loss) and got in a hit on Carson Palmer as a pass rushing linebacker. He was productive when containing running backs and receivers when they caught passes. His run defense, along with Dansby's, was also very impressive.

    Koa Misi — B-

    Koa Misi was quiet this afternoon, only recording three tackles. However he was able to get into the backfield and lead the running backs to the other tacklers.


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    Sean Smith — A

    A huge game from Sean Smith, who came up big when Miami needed him to. Smith managed to get four tackles and two very key pass deflections. His game won't be talked about much, however when he covered a Raiders receiver, they had a hard time catching anything.

    Reshad Jones — B+

    In addition to the game-clinching interception at the end of the game, Jones also managed to record three tackles (one of them for a loss) and a pass deflection.

    Richard Marshall — B

    Marshall was hampered by a back injury and didn't play in the second half. However in the first half he was effective recording three tackles.

    Nolan Carroll — C-

    Missed tackles, stupid penalties, bad coverage. Yup, it's Nolan Carroll everybody. He would record four tackles on the afternoon, but he missed about three more. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention; no pass deflections. When you're the every down cornerback, you have to get at least one by accident right?

    Jimmy Wilson — C+

    Wilson was a tad better than Carroll while filling in for him as the nickleback. But he wasn't that much better. He didn't record any tackles, but did record a pass deflection. He did also get a roughing the passer penalty on a cornerback blitz play when he hit Palmer just a tad too late.

    Chris Clemons — B

    Three tackles for Clemons this afternoon, three very important tackles for a man that was the last resort between a Raiders and the end zone. Considering the fact that the Raiders only got in once, I'd say he had a good day.

Special Teams — B

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    No exciting plays for the Miami special teams, but a smart play (the direct snap to Carpenter in the first quarter instead of attempting the field goal) and bailouts thanks to the Dolphins defense and penalties saved Miami's special teams from what could've been an embarrassing game filled with gaffes and mistakes.

    Dan Carpenter — B+

    Carpenter only lined up for a field goal once—and he punted. He punted the ball very well, pinning Oakland behind their 20-yard line. A smart play call by the coaching staff. Carpenter did go five-for-five on extra points (I hope to write more about those), and did well on kickoffs before being failed at times by the kickoff coverage.

    Brandon Fields — A

    For so many touchdowns scored by the Dolphins offense (five), it's hard to believe that Fields has punted the ball six times. However in those six times he had a long of 59 yards and averaged 53.2 yards per punt for a total net of 319 yards.

    Marcus Thigpen — B+

    Thigpen was excellent again despite not getting a touchdown this week. He did net a total of 74 yards in five punt returns, with one return going for 21 yards and setting up the Dolphins in excellent field position.

Coaching — B+

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    Great play-calling on offense (emphasizing the run to take advantage of the climate and Oakland's travel schedule) gave Miami the victory. Tannehill was able to play efficiently due to this emphasis, but extra credit goes to the Dolphins coaching staff for getting Tannehill out of the pocket more and allowing him to evade Oakland's pressure.

    The defensive and special teams plays could've been better, and showed lapses in discipline on both. Miami really has to go back to basics when it comes to working on tackling (difficult with the practice schedule) but will have to do what they can.

    Very good game overall for Miami's coaching staff, which should be congratulated on their first of what Dolfans hope are many more victories for Coach Philbin and his crew.