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Miami Dolphins vs Arizona Cardinals: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Miami

Thomas GaliciaContributor IISeptember 30, 2012

Miami Dolphins vs Arizona Cardinals: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Miami

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    The Miami Dolphins looked strong at times, but still lost 24-21 to the Arizona Cardinals in overtime.

    Arizona remains perfect at 4-0, while Miami moves down to 1-3.

    Despite the loss, we saw a record-breaking performances by Ryan Tannehill and Brian Hartline, as well as a front seven that dominated.

    Turnovers and another missed Dan Carpenter field goal (this time in the third quarter), would doom the Dolphins, who were up 13-0 going into halftime.

    Here's a look at how Miami did during a loss that they can still look at with optimism despite how heartbreaking it really was.

Offense — C-

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    Overall Grade — C-

    Miami's offense was a little bit of good and bad.

    The passing game was keen, as Tannehill set a rookie record, while Brian Hartline had 12 catches for 253 yards and a touchdown, with one that went for 80 yards.

    Davone Bess was also great, with seven catches for 123 yards of his own.

    It was the running game that failed Miami, though, as Reggie Bush had only 67 yards on 17 carries. It looked at the end like Bush would put the game away, but Tannehill's fumble ended any chance of that occurring.

    Let's take a look at two exciting record-breaking days on offense.

Ryan Tannehill — C

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    Overall Grade C

    Ryan Tannehill might get blamed for losing this game, but he's responsible for Miami having the chance to win to begin with.

    Tannehill set a Dolphins rookie record going 26-of-41 for 431 yards and a touchdown. But two interceptions (including one in overtime), doomed them.

    There is hope, as I feel the same way this week as I did last week. Tannehill has a bright future and today showed once again that he's one step closer to becoming the Dolphins' franchise quarterback. He shouldn't hang his head in shame, but instead use this as a learning experience. So far he's done very well at that.

Running Backs

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    Reggie Bush — B-

    This is by far Reggie Bush's worst game of the season. The offensive line did have problems against Arizona's aggressive defense, but Bush was a bit tentative while running the ball. You will likely see him being less tentative next week against Cincinnati.

    Bush didn't exactly cost Miami the game, but he did come close to winning it with a great final fourth-quarter drive that was only derailed by Tannehill's fumble.

    Lamar Miller — C-

    Arizona's defense was just tough. Miller only had four carries for 13 yards, but couldn't get the explosion he had against the Raiders and Jets.

    Overall with Miller and Bush, the Cardinals defense was just too dang good. Either way, there wasn't much of a push up front for the Dolphins offensive line, so I'll consider this game a mulligan for the Dolphins running game.

    Daniel Thomas — F

    Except Thomas. I can't excuse Thomas. He wasn't any good. Again, he didn't cost Miami the game, but it was still a horrid performance from someone who was expected to get more carries.

    Jorworskie Lane — A

    Superb blocking, a great first down that the refs made a mistake on (which didn't hurt the Dolphins), converting a two-point conversion and getting a touchdown. Lane had another spectacular day and is turning into a real weapon in Miami's offense.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

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    Brian Hartline — A

    Hartline had one slip that led to a Tannehill interception, but you can't argue with the rest of the game he had.

    Hartline had 12 catches for 253 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was a thing of beauty, as Hartline got open down the sideline to catch a beautifully thrown Ryan Tannehill pass.

    Davone Bess — A

    Bess had a tremendous game too. He caught seven passes for 123 yards, and was a threat on third down the whole game.

    Anthony Fasano B

    Fasano was a threat that Miami needed at tight end, pulling down five catches for 30 yards. Most of them were short, but they helped to sustain Dolphins drives.

    Legedu Naanee — Zero

    My second zero of all time goes to Legedu Naanee, who surprised no one with that fumble. He was lucky to be bailed out by Sean Smith's interception, but it was still a terrible play and a terrible mistake that a wide receiver just can't make. I mean, he wasn't even hit on the fumble; why was it so quick to leave his hands after he secured it?

Offensive Line

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    Mike Pouncey — A

    It seems odd to give Pouncey an A despite not too many holes being opened up for the running game, but that's more on Arizona's excellent front seven than Miami's offensive line. Pouncey still played well and is turning out to be a top-tier center in the NFL.

    Richie Incognito — B+

    Incognito played another good game, not allowing the quarterback to get hit. This despite the fact that Arizona was aggressive all afternoon.

    Jake Long — B-

    I'm on the fence with Long's game today. To his high standards, this wasn't a good game. But he did do well under the constant pressure.

    John Jerry — C-

    The good news, John Jerry didn't get any penalties called on him. The bad news, he had a tough time handling Arizona's pass rush. Three of the Cards' sacks on Tannehill came from the right side, specifically players that should've been blocked by Jerry.

    Jonathan Martin — C

    Martin took a slight step back this week, allowing a couple of sacks and not sealing out blocks on the running game. He's still better than he was at the beginning of the season, and Arizona's front line did cause problems all game, but he still could've done a lot better.

Defense — B+

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    Overall Grade B+

    Eight sacks between Cameron Wake, Karlos Dansby, Jared Odrick and Koa Misi. Miami's front seven came to play.

    Other than Sean Smith, though, Miami's secondary was its usual atrocious self. It is only the strength of the front seven that gets this unit such a high grade.

    So how did this happen? Let's take a look.

Defensive Line

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    Cameron Wake — A+

    Cameron Wake's only tackles were on sacks. Yet it was oh so perfect. Wake was a pest in Kevin Kolb's face all game, and wound up making the Cardinals offensive line pay.

    If Wake can keep this up, Miami will win more games.

    Jared Odrick — A

    Jared Odrick would contribute with three tackles and a sack of his own in what has been his best game thus far. Even when Odrick couldn't get a sack, he still harassed Kolb to the point of near-madness.

    Paul Soliai — B

    Miami's defensive anchor continued stopping the run, taking up blockers and freeing up Miami's linebackers to go after the quarterback. Fine day for him despite only one tackle.

    Randy Starks — B-

    Starks only had one tackle in what so far is his worst game of the season. However, blockers are now starting to pay attention to him. He did get a couple of hits on Kolb and even had him in his grasp before Kolb could break free.

Linebackers

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    Kevin Burnett — A

    Burnett had eight tackles on the day. Really there's not much more analysis I could offer on him, but he did play very well and helped to stop the run. He deserves the A.

    Karlos Dansby — A

    Four tackles and a sack for Dansby in his return to Arizona. While Miami's 2012 team isn't as good as his Cardinals team in '08, Miami did give the 2012 Cardinals a run for their money. Dansby is one of the reasons why.

    Koa Misi — A

    Two tackles and 1.5 sacks for Misi, who I thought should've rushed the quarterback more (especially on the final play of the final Cardinals drive of regulation, but that's a coaching decision). Misi continues to be one of Miami's most improved players.

Secondary

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    Sean Smith — A

    This was a breakout game for Sean Smith. Did you know that he held Larry Fitzgerald to only 46 yards and eight catches, or that Fitzgerald's only touchdown came when Smith wasn't covering him?

    Add that to Smith's two interceptions (remember when he could catch as well as Ted Ginn?), and you have Smith's best game as a Miami Dolphins.

    Nolan Carroll — C+

    Nolan Carroll is like that student who gets so many F's that you celebrate when he gets a C. Today he gets a C+, meaning his parents should give him the pizza party they promised him for getting his grades up.

    In all seriousness, Carroll was effective despite a few lapses. He didn't kill Miami and actually helped him at time with his six tackles.

    Richard Marshall — D

    Marshall was terrible, but a lot of it has to do with the injury. He didn't look terribly healthy out there all of the time, but got beat on coverage a lot. Miami should pluck a corner from the free-agent pool this week and give Marshall the next two weeks heading into the bye off. Who knows, with some time off to rest his bad back, he might be more effective.

    Jimmy Wilson — C

    Wilson was effective at times and shows some room for development. I doubt he'll ever be a top cornerback or safety, but will be an effective player off the bench.

    Reshad Jones — B

    When Miami needed a hit, Jones was there for four tackles, and all four were of utmost importance. One that sticks out was when the Dolphins had Arizona pinned on their own three-yard line, and on 3rd-and-long, Jones was there with the tackle.

    Chris Clemons — D

    I wasn't a fan of Clemons' play this afternoon, but I haven't been in a while. If Eric Reid of LSU is available when Miami's round one pick comes up, Miami should make the attempt to draft him come April. Clemons had two tackles, but he blew double coverage at times and missed a couple of key tackles.

Special Teams — B-

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    Dan Carpenter — C

    Dan Carpenter is a player to keep an eye on the rest of the season. I wouldn't be surprised if he's let go partway through the season.

    He did go 2-of-3 on field goals, but the one he missed swung the momentum as Arizona marched down the field to score the touchdown. I hope his psyche is alright, but it might be a mental problem. Even on his two made field goals they looked a bit shaky.

    Brandon Fields — A

    For Fields, this game was an underachievement as he only averaged 44.2 yards per kick. But this is partly due to Miami having good field position to punt from and Fields having to keep the punt out of the end zone. From a field position battle, good game.

Coaching — C

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    Overall Game Grade — C

    My only issues are as follows.

    Not going for it on 4th-and-1 in the fourth quarter. Better yet, not challenging the play, which showed that Lane got the first down prior to the bad spot.

    Calling two timeouts in the third quarter. This hurt Miami in the fourth quarter as the Fins would only get the ball back after Arizona's game-tying touchdown with 22 seconds left. It would've also given the defense a breather during the Cardinals drive, where they appeared winded at the end.

    Playing Legedu Naanee. But that's on Jeff Ireland for keeping him and not drafting a receiver.

    As for what I liked, it was a lot. Going for the two-point conversion was great and was later seen to be an obvious call. But the play call itself was excellent, a pass from Tannehill to Lane.

    Also, the plays called on offense worked well and showed promise.

    This wasn't a bad game coaching wise; this time I'm pinning it more on the execution of the Dolphins players than the coaching staff. The wasted third-quarter timeouts are also a symptom of a team that fails to execute.

    Don't let this loss fool you, this Dolphins team is still on its way up. Don't lose hope, Miami will be in the playoff race well into December this season.

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