Dolphins vs. Raiders: 5 Things We Learned from Miami's 35-13 Win
Not only was Miami sound and efficient on offense, but it was solid on the defensive side as well. The defensive line put constant pressure on Carson Palmer, and the running game came alive.
Ryan Tannehill got his first win as a Miami Dolphin after throwing for a touchdown as well as rushing for another. He looked poised when things weren't going his way, allowing for a big second half offensively.
Reggie Bush was the storyline as he shredded the Raiders' defense throughout the game, helping Miami win its first home opener since 2005.
After a demoralizing loss last week against the Houston Texans, the Dolphins bounced back nicely and earned a convincing win.
Let's take a look at some of the things we learned from Miami's victory.
Offensive Line Must Protect Ryan Tannehill
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Ryan Tannehill was constantly running for his life against the Oakland Raiders.
He was getting sacked, hurried and flushed out of the pocket from both sides and the middle. It was so bad that even pro bowl left tackle Jake Long allowed a sack and a quarterback hit.
Tannehill was only sacked once and was hit four more times, but these numbers would be higher if Tannehill weren't such a good athlete and able to get away from pressure.
If the Dolphins want Tannehill to develop nicely, they will need to make sure they protect him. What has happened with a lot of rookie quarterbacks is that they get no protection at the line and begin feeling insecure after being sacked or hit multiple times. They begin to get anxious, which causes them to hurry their passes.
The offensive line was a lot better in the second half, which allowed for the offensive fireworks. However, they were a level below bad in the first half, which didn't allow the offense to rack up any sort of yards.
The offensive line that played in the second half must be the one that shows up for the complete game every week for the Dolphins to have success.
Brandon Fields Wins the Field Position Battle
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The Dolphins have one of the best punters in the NFL, and it showed against the Raiders.
Fields punted the ball six times for an average of 53.2 yards per punt. He constantly pinned the Raiders deep in their own territory, allowing Miami to bring defensive pressure.
The Raiders' average starting field position was at the 19-yard line. Fields only had one punt that was returned for a big gain, but he did his job punting the ball outside the numbers. The coverage just broke down, which is what allowed the big return.
When Miami's offense was stagnant and had to punt on five straight drives, including three straight 3-and-outs, Fields pinned the Raiders back for an average starting field position at the 11-yard line.
Ryan Tannehill Is Building Chemistry with Brian Hartline
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Ryan Tannehill may have found his favorite receiver in Brian Hartline.
In the Dolphins' first scoring drive that resulted in a Tannehill rushing touchdown, Tannehill connected with Hartline on two passes that showed trust and chemistry between quarterback and receiver.
Hartline had a career-high nine receptions for 111 yards and an average of 12.3 yards per catch. He was making all the Raiders coaches go crazy on the sidelines. The Raiders tried switching cornerbacks, but that didn't stop Hartline from making catches on what seemed to be every Raiders cornerback.
This is a good sign not only for Tannehill, but for Hartline, who missed all the preseason due to injury. With the lack of an elite receiver on the team, Tannehill needs someone he can trust on key plays and that seems to be Brian Hartline.
Dolphins Receivers Present No Vertical Threat
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The lack of wide receiver depth was evident again against the Raiders. The Dolphins field a group of receivers that would be No. 2 and No. 3 receivers as No. 1 receivers. There is no alpha receiver who the quarterback can turn to to make a game-changing play.
These receivers rack up yards from slants and out routes that don't go for more than 10-15 yards. Ryan Tannehill does a great job throwing the ball outside the numbers, but as the season progresses, teams are going to start game planning for that and will leave Miami with limited plays in the passing game.
Miami can still be successful with this game plan, but they need to be more creative with their plays. Using Reggie Bush and Lamar Miller in space also creates mismatches that can allow the Dolphins to rack up yards without needing a big play.
The deep threat is missing in Miami, and it is useful for many teams in occasions, but it doesn't mean the Dolphins can't be successful.
Reggie Bush Appears to Be on His Way to Consecutive 1,000-Yard Rushing Seasons
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Once again, Reggie Bush proved that he is the feature back in the Dolphins offense.
He was a nightmare for the Raiders' defense with his ability to get around the corner as well as patiently waiting for a hole to open in the middle before busting through it.
Bush ran the ball a career-high 26 times for 172 yards and two touchdowns with an average of 6.6 yards per carry. Bush also had three receptions for 25 yards.
Not only did Bush's performance show he is a versatile player that can change the course of a game with one carry, but he also proved that he can carry the load throughout a whole game and can be counted on to close.
Bush has amassed 241 yards in two games, well ahead of the 1,000-yard rushing pace, which would be the second of his career.