Miami Dolphins: The Good, Bad and Ugly of the First 4 Games

Devin Noonan@@devinnoonanCorrespondent IIIOctober 5, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 30:  Cornerback Sean Smith #24 (C) of the Miami Dolphins celebrates with teammates after an interception during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 30, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Carindals defeated the Dolphins 24-21 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins head into Week 5 with a 1-3 record, which surprisingly leaves them just one game out of first place in the AFC East.

Ryan Tannehill has shown signs of hope and improvement amidst his rocky start, and the Dolphins D has been rather impressive so far this season.

Is there reason to believe that the 'Phins can still contend for a playoff spot in 2012-13?

Well, before we can provide an answer to that question, we need to look back at the first four games and give an honest assessment of what we've seen thus far.

It's time to take a gander at what we like to call the good, the bad and the ugly.


Reggie Bush

Reggie talked a big game this offseason, but so far he has certainly walked the walk.

Outside of his injury scare in Week 3 against the Jets, Reggie Bush has been absolutely phenomenal.

He picked up right where he left off last year, and was second only to C.J. Spiller in rushing after the first two weeks of the season, before both players fell to injury.

He didn't put up huge numbers last week against the Cardinals" target="_blank">Cardinals, but you can expect him to give opposing defenses all they can handle, as Reggie continues to remind us of just how talented he is.

Brian Hartline

For those of you who have been waiting for Brian Hartline to finally have a breakout season, the time has finally arrived.

Last week the man put on a straight clinic, catching 12 passes for 253 yards, while hauling in his first touchdown of the year in the 'Phins overtime loss to the Cardinals.

Tannehill seems to have good chemistry with the fourth year receiver out of Ohio State, and I'd expect to see Hartline break the 1,000 yard receiving mark for the first time this season.

At the rate he's going, Hartline may just earn himself a ticket to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.

Run Defense

Don't think that anyone has forgotten how strong the Dolphins defense looked toward the end of last season.

With the addition of new defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle and a few on-field personnel changes, the 'Phins have instantly emerged as one of the league's top defensive threats.

When it comes to the run game, in fact, they've allowed just 56.8 yards per game on average, placing them atop the NFL rankings in rush defense entering Week 5.

Their ability to take away the run and slow down top-tier backs such as Arian Foster and Darren McFadden has proven to be a strong point for this Dolphins' D.

If Coyle can keep pushing the defense to work hard and stay disciplined, they may be one of the fiercest competitors in the league over the next couple of years.


Ryan Tannehill

I'm a proud Tannehill supporter, but when your quarterback boasts a completion rating just over 50 percent, you can't expect your team to win too many games.

Not to mention, six interceptions compared to just two touchdown throws this season have worked against the Dolphins in some very critical situations.

If Tannehill can find a way to consistently avoid that one big mistake each game, the kid has a lot of upside and could really develop into something special.

For now, 'Phinatics will simply have to deal with the growing pains that come along with a rookie QB.

Daniel Thomas

I'm not going to go so far as to say he's having a horrible year, since the guy is averaging over three yards a touch and has scored once in the three games he's played this season.

However, his two lost fumbles in just 26 carries is a bit alarming, especially knowing that this is an issue he struggled with during his time at Kansas State.

Thomas was banged a bit last season, and has been expected to step up and play a major role as the Dolphins No. 2 back behind Bush.

Unfortunately, all signs point south as far as Thomas's progression goes.


Pass Defense

While the Dolphins' run defense sits atop the NFL rankings after four weeks, the pass defense has sunk to the bottom.

The Dolphins secondary has allowed an average of 297.8 yards per game so far this season, placing them 30th in the pass defense rankings.

The only two teams that are worse?

The Washington Redskins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Although we entered the season knowing that the secondary would have it's issues, I somewhat expected Coyle to turn things around with his experience as a defensive backs coach at Cincinnati.

It's going to take some time for the pass coverage to pick up, and perhaps the addition of a lock down corner to really solidify this Dolphins' D.

Dan Carpenter

The Dolphins have watched their last two games slip right from their grasp as both were lost by a field goal in OT.

The sad thing is, Dan Carpenter missed a second-half field goal in each of these games that could have ultimately inverted the record for the 'Phins.

The most disappointing miss of the year, however, came on a 48-yard attempt for redemption and the win in overtime against the NY Jets.

It was his second miss of the day from that length, and it led to a game-winning field goal for the Jets on the following drive.

Carpenter is five of eight on the year thus far, good on only one of four attempts from beyond forty yards out.

As if his "Joe Dirt" look wasn't ugly enough, his on field performance hasn't been much better.


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