Raiders vs Dolphins: Miami's Biggest Winners & Losers from NFL Week 2
For the first time this year, it's easier to find winners than losers in the aftermath of a Miami Dolphins game.
The Dolphins outscored the Oakland Raiders 28-3 in the second half, securing the first victory of the Joe Philbin and Ryan Tannehill Era.
Reggie Bush and Lamar Miller stole the show, however. The duo combined for 237 rushing yards on 36 carries and racked up three touchdowns in the second half. Bush and Miller can thank fullback Jorvorskie Lane for paving rushing lanes that allowed them to slice up the Raiders' defense.
Defensively, the Dolphins were solid but inconsistent. The front seven was completely dominant against the run, limiting Darren McFadden to just 22 rushing yards on 11 carries. However, Carson Palmer threw for 373 yards and was even on pace for more than 400 after the first half.
The Dolphins looked anemic in the second quarter, but unlike last week, they made the proper and necessary adjustments at halftime rather than continue in a downward spiral. Joe Philbin deserves credit for coaching this team through adversity and to its first win of the season.
Winner: Reggie Bush
Remember when Reggie Bush said he wants to win the NFL rushing crown this year?
Maybe that wasn't such a ridiculous assertion after all.
Bush had a career day, rushing for 172 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. He put the team on his back and carried it to this victory. Bush's touchdowns came on back-to-back drives in the third quarter, and they broke the game wide open.
The Dolphins fed off of the energy and momentum Bush generated, and he's most definitely the MVP of today's game.
Loser: Legedu Naanee
Legedu Naanee is lucky the Miami Dolphins still employ him after a dreadful string of preseason games and poor Week 1 performance.
After yet another lackluster game, Naanee's luck may have finally run out.
Naanee failed to catch a pass, but that's not even the worst part. In the second quarter, Ryan Tannehill tossed a screen pass to Reggie Bush, who was immediately hit for a loss because Naanee completely whiffed on the defensive back he was assigned to block.
Even if Naanee is generally a sound blocker and special teams contributor, the Dolphins wide receiver corps needs all the help it can get. Dedicating a spot to a player who literally doesn't produce seems like a waste.
Winner: Brian Hartline
Brian Hartline missed the entire offseason with an assortment of injuries, but the chemistry he has developed with Ryan Tannehill in a matter of weeks is nothing short of amazing.
In just their second game together, Hartline and Tannehill connected nine times for 111 yards.
Granted, the Raiders secondary was banged up—and not particularly good to begin with—Hartline looks primed to become a big-time contributor for the Dolphins.
The Dolphins wide receiver corps is still desperate for upgrades, but at least Tannehill now has somebody who he trusts and knows will deliver when called upon.
Loser: Richard Marshall
Richard Marshall continues to disappoint.
After a very pedestrian regular season debut, he left Sunday's game with a back injury in the first half.
Marshall struggled in coverage through the preseason, and he's yet to prove that he can fully thrive as a boundary cornerback. Injuries will only undermine his cause.
At this rate, cornerback might be the Dolphins' biggest need behind wide receiver heading into 2013.
Winner: Ryan Tannehill
Ryan Tannehill's first NFL start was flat-out ugly, but he erased—at least for the moment—memories from his Week 1 implosion.
After marching the Dolphins on an 80-yard drive to open the game, Tannehill was very underwhelming in the first half. However, he turned it around in the second half and finished the game with this stat-line: 18-of-30, 200 yards, one touchdown.
Tannehill posted a 91.0 quarterback rating, a massive improvement from the 39.0 he posted last week.
By the end of Sunday's game, Tannehill was in a groove, in sync with Brian Hartline and Davone Bess and looked very comfortable and poised in the pocket. Whether he can maintain this confidence against a top-flight defense remains to be seen, but Tannehill is headed in the right direction.
Loser: Charles Clay
Following a great offseason campaign, Charles Clay was in position to become a prominent player in Miami's offense.
However, he has been a ghost thus far.
Clay failed to catch a pass in Week 1 and caught just one pass for two yards in Week 2. Not only has Clay failed to produce, but he's rarely targeted. Ryan Tannehill has looked for him only four times in the Dolphins' first two games.
The Dolphins need every offensive skill player to contribute, even if it's only a handful of receptions per game (like Anthony Fasano catching two passes for 19 yards and a touchdown).
So far, Clay has been a monumental disappointment.
Winner: Lamar Miller
Lamar Miller wasn't even active for last week's game.
But, after rushing for 65 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, he solidified himself as a permanent mainstay on the active roster.
Miller still needs to work on his pass protection—which could be a lengthy process—but he will demand touches from here on out. He showcased his explosiveness and looked surprisingly effective rushing in between the tackles.
When Daniel Thomas returns from injury, the Dolphins will have a fearsome three-headed monster at running back.
Loser: Koa Misi
Following a breakthrough performance last week, Koa Misi came back down to earth.
Misi recorded only three tackles. Furthermore—and more importantly—he got pancaked on Mike Goodson's 64-yard touchdown pass. Had Misi shed the block, or at least stayed on his feet, Goodson couldn't have flown down the sideline untouched.
This was by no means a terrible performance from Misi, but it was a disappointing development. Misi was all over the field last week and the Dolphins need him to recapture that form when they face the New York Jets next week.
Winner: Reshad Jones
Many of the Dolphins' offseason stars flamed out before the regular season began.
David Garrard, Chad Johnson, Roberto Wallace and Julius Pruitt all drew rave reviews for their respective performances in OTAs and training camp, but none made it past roster cuts. And, don't forget about Legedu Naanee, who will be lucky to retain his job after this week.
Reshad Jones is another offseason star who wasn't translating his practice success onto the playing field. On Sunday, however, he finally showed some of the playmaking ability that put him on the breakout radar this summer.
Jones registered three tackles (including one that forced a six yard loss) and forced the first turnover of the season for the Dolphins defense when he intercepted Carson Palmer in the fourth quarter.
His day was far from perfect, but this is a promising step in the right direction.