Miami Dolphins vs. Indianapolis Colts: Final Grades and Analysis for Miami

Thomas Galicia@thomasgaliciaContributor IINovember 4, 2012

Miami Dolphins vs. Indianapolis Colts: Final Grades and Analysis for Miami

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    The Miami Dolphins lost to the Indianapolis Colts 23-20 in a game where Andrew Luck dominated the Dolphins defense while Ryan Tannehill held his own against the Colts.

    Miami now moves down to 4-4, which is still in the playoff hunt, but now a full game back of New England for first place in the AFC East. The Colts are now 5-3 and in the pole position for the fifth seed in the AFC playoffs.

    Here's a look at Miami's grades for the afternoon, and a game that at the end of the season they will likely like to have back.

Offense — C-

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    Overall Game Grade C-

    This Dolphins offensive line is partially responsible for the loss, along with Miami’s linebackers and secondary.

    Tannehill, Bess, and Hartline were fine, and Miami was able to run the ball (but should’ve tried to run it more than 17 times, this Colts run defense is bad). But because of the play of this offensive line (which makes it a miracle that the rest of the offense performed so well), I’m giving this unit a C- for the game.

    Fourth Quarter C-

    Miami moved the ball well to start their first drive of the fourth quarter, but dropped passes forced the Dolphins to settle for a field goal attempt by Dan Carpenter.

    The Colts didn’t get pressure on Tannehill until the Dolphins got into the red zone, but the pressure disrupted the timing on third-and-10. The good news: the drive did lead to the game being tied at 20.

    The second drive of the quarter was a crucial one, but one that started off well with a Reggie Bush nine-yard run, followed by a 12-men on the field penalty by the Colts.

    But a false-start penalty on Richie Incognito would force Miami from second-and-one to second-and-six. This would eventually force Miami to punt the ball away when down three and four minutes left.

    Miami would get the ball back with less than three minutes left in the game. Prior to the two-minute warning, Tannehill would complete three consecutive passes to get Miami at midfield by the two-minute warning.

    The Colts defense however would get good pressure on Tannehill, forcing him to overthrow a pass on second-and-10, forcing a crucial third-and-long.

    A terrible false start call on Mike Pouncey (that flinch was barely noticeable), would back Miami up further. This would be followed by Ryan Tannehill overthrowing Davone Bess, forcing a fourth-and-15 to decide the game.

    On the last play, Tannehill would complete the pass to Daniel Thomas, but not only was he short of the first down, but Jake Long would commit a holding penalty on the play.

    Third Quarter C

    Miami’s first drive of the third quarter didn’t go the way it has in their last three wins (when it ended in a touchdown), but instead was a quasi-three-and-out. This was due to the pressure the Colts were able to get on Tannehill, which made him jumpy in the pocket.

    The next drive would start with the right call, but the wrong result with the decision to run the ball out of the shotgun. Reggie wouldn’t gain anything, but on the next play Tannehill showed why Miami should have him throwing on the run more.

    It’s concerning how much the Colts’ front-seven is out muscling the Dolphins offensive line. This would force Miami to punt again as Tannehill had to check down due to the pressure being put on him.  

    Later on in the quarter, Miami would lose Mike Pouncey, but despite this Miami is still driving going into the fourth quarter.

    Second Quarter A-

    Yes, we did just see a Charles Clay AND Lamar Miller sighting on Miami’s second drive of the game, and yes, both were effective.

    Miller ran for seven yards on his one attempt, while Clay not only managed to get open, but then catch the ball and run into the end zone a 31-yard pass from Ryan Tannehill to score the go-ahead touchdown for the Dolphins.

    To start the second drive, kudos to Jake Long for recovering a fumble in the air and being able to gain some positive yardage for Miami on that play. It turned a sure-turnover and momentum-shifting play for the Colts into damage control. Just two plays later, Tannehill found Bush for a 19-yard pass for the first down, but it was Long’s play on the spot that set everything in this drive up.

    Miami’s running backs have played well on this drive, with Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush responsible for most of Miami’s yardage through the air and on the ground (they’re showing their in control). Bush’s 18-yard touchdown run gave the lead back to Miami and punctuated a drive that looked bad to start before being saved by Jake Long.

    Miami would get one more chance on offense thanks to an Olivier Vernon blocked field goal. However this time Dwight Freeny would force an incomplete pass, forcing Miami’s first three-and-out of the afternoon. Miami did luck out with field position, but the offensive line play on this drive as a whole was terrible.

    First Quarter B+

    Miami’s offense drew the first blood, and can thank a well-balanced attack for that.

    The Dolphins got 36 yards passing on the first drive, along with 10 yards on the ground from Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas combined. Miami would like to see more rushing yards throughout the afternoon.

    Their second drive of the afternoon is still on-going as of the end of the first quarter, but off to a hot start after a beautiful 35-yard pass from Tannehill to Hartline.

Ryan Tannehill — B+

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    Overall Game Grade B+

    Ryan Tannehill was a bright spot for Miami today. He didn’t turn the ball over despite facing Colts’ pressure all game long thanks to a porous offensive line, and managed to put up great numbers, going 22-of-38 for 290 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. Overall he had a quarterback rating of 90.9. My only grief with him was his overthrown passes, which can be partially credited to Indianapolis' heavy pressure on him.

    Good game for Tannehill, it’s just a shame that his offensive line and defense let him down.

    Fourth Quarter C-

    On the first fourth quarter drive, Tannehill should be thankful for Davone Bess, as the rest of the receiving corps had some crucial drops, including one by Jabar Gaffney, and another by Jorvorskie Lane.

    Tannehill did lead Miami to a game-tying field goal, but on his next drive would be the most crucial of the game.

    On the last two drives, Tannehill couldn’t get any space to do anything. His last drive of the fourth quarter would start off well, but thanks to bad penalties and dropped passes, as well as Miami’s offensive line being overpowered, Tannehill could do almost nothing.

    He does bare some responsibility for overthrowing his receivers twice on the drive.

    Third Quarter C

    Tannehill looked jumpy in the pocket in Miami’s first third quarter drive, thanks in part to an aggressive Colts’ pass rush that forced him to get rid of the ball. Miami’s running game did a decent job of trying to provide balance, however the pass rush was still aggressive, forcing Tannehill to go one-of-three to start the quarter.

    Despite losing Mike Pouncey at the end of the third quarter, Tannehill does have the Dolphins driving going into the fourth quarter. A score on this drive to give Miami the lead back is crucial on this drive.

    Second Quarter — A

    Ryan Tannehill continued what looked his second first quarter drive by punctuating it with a touchdown pass to Charles Clay.

    The next drive was one of the most well-balanced drives the Dolphins have run all season. Tannehill was stripped of the ball to start the drive, but Jake Long managed to recover the fumble before touching the ground and gained two yards, setting up a nine-play, 80-yard drive for Miami’s second touchdown.

    So far Tannehill has matched up to Luck well, but has some balance to go along with it, which is something Luck doesn’t have. This quarterback battle has been everything it was built up to be.

    First Quarter — A

    Ryan Tannehill wasn’t perfect on his first drive like Andrew Luck was, but he can blame Jonathan Martin (giving up a sack on first-and-10 at the Indianapolis 28) and Anthony Fasano (dropping what looked to be a sure touchdown pass on the down after the sack) for that.

    He did lead Miami to a field goal though, and looked healthy while doing so, completing three of his five passes for 36 yards.

    His second drive of the first quarter is on-going, but is already off to a hot start with a beautiful 35-yard pass to Brian Hartline.

Running Backs

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    Reggie Bush — A

    Why did Reggie Bush get only 10 carries on the afternoon? He averaged 4.1 yards per carry and seems to have found his groove back. This included an 18-yard touchdown run in the second quarter which will go down as one of the best of the season.

    Daniel Thomas — A

    Why did Daniel Thomas get only six carries on the afternoon? Despite the lack of scoring, he was actually better than Reggie Bush, running for 37 yards for an average of 6.2 yards per carry.

    Lamar Miller — A

    Lamar Miller only got one carry on the afternoon, and managed to get seven yards on the carry. Just for that run he gets an A.

    Jorvorskie Lane — B

    The run blocking was good, and Lane did have to pick up a lot of the slack on pass protection. But his drop does weigh heavily on his grade. Other than that, a fine performance from Miami’s running backs, who should’ve had more carries going against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

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    Brian Hartline — A+

    Despite being covered heavily by the Colts secondary, Brian Hartline was great while catching eight passes for 107 yards.

    Davone Bess — A

    Bess was also key for Miami’s passing game, making some key catches on a drive that tied up the game early in the second quarter. On the day Bess ended with six catches for 67 yards.

    Jabar Gaffney — C

    Gaffney is still getting into the flow of things with Miami’s offense, but did have a bad drop in the third quarter. He did grab two catches for 27 yards, and will likely continue to integrate into Miami’s offense as the season progresses.

    Anthony Fasano — C-

    One catch for eight yards despite being targeted four times. One big drop came in the first quarter, had he held on, it’s a touchdown, but instead Miami had to settle for the field goal. That’s seven points Miami could’ve used, as they only lost by three.

    Charles Clay — A

    Clay was targeted once, but made the most out of it with a 31-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. You will see him on offense more as the season progresses if his development continues.

Offensive Line

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    Jake Long — F

    Richie Incognito — C-

    Mike Pouncey — F

    John Jerry — C

    Jonathan Martin — C

    Do I really have to say more about this offensive line? It's a miracle that Tannehill was only sacked twice during the game, it's a miracle that one bad play by Long was turned into a good play by him, and it's an outright miracle that the team actually was decent when running the ball (all 17 times, a good 10 times less than they should've) when you look at how bad this line played.

    Here's how I did these grades. Everyone started with a C because they were that terrible. Since Incognito only had one penalty go against him, he got a C-. Pouncey had two false start penalties against him, which is why he has an F, and Long let Freeny abuse Tannehill all game long, which is why he gets an F.

    Jerry and Martin didn't have their names called, so they get C's. I think I'm being very generous with them though, and I mean the whole offensive line.

    Like the secondary, they should be embarrassed by their play this afternoon.

Defense — B-

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    Fourth Quarter B-

    Miami’s defense would start off their first drive of the game with Indianapolis backed up at their own six-yard line. This drive would get off to a better start, with Indianapolis having problems penetrating the Dolphins line with their running game.

    But the Colts would again get out of it thanks to a short pass that turned into a 20-yard gain. This despite the fact that Miami’s defensive line got plenty of push with Luck dropped back into the end zone.

    Luck’s dink-and-dunk passes have killed Miami’s defense all game long, and with the way Miami has tackled, it’s a miracle that they haven’t broken out for a big gain with those passes. This hasn’t been such a great day for the linebackers, who have been torn apart all afternoon.

    Luck’s mobility has also been a problem for the Dolphins defense, as at times he’s gotten off throws that he has no business getting. Even when he’s been in the grasp of a Dolphins defender, he’s still gotten the pass off, and completed.

    Thankfully, Miami would hold Indianapolis to a field goal on the drive, but it did look dicey the entire way through.

    Miami’s next defensive drive would turn out to be the most important drive of the game. They have to either force a three-and-out or a turnover, and certainly can’t afford more of Andrew Luck’s witchcraft.

    The first two plays were run plays from the Colts, and the Dolphins managed to give up six yards combined on those plays. But with a crucial third-down, Miami finally got enough pressure on Luck for him to make a poor decision. Smith had the interception, but then dropped the pass while trying to get off the ground (which he didn’t have to do).

    Good defense, but poor decision making on Smith’s part.

    Third Quarter D

    Miami’s defense once again is able to bend and not break on the first Colts’ drive of the game. Despite Andrew Luck tearing the secondary apart and getting away from Miami’s pressure, Cameron Wake was able to save the drive for Miami with a strip and sack of Andrew Luck that backed Indianapolis up from the Miami 38-yard line to the 50.

    Two plays later Indianapolis would be forced to punt the ball away, but the drive did look scary at the start.

    The next drive would see more of the same. This Dolphins defense has done a great job of forcing the Colts’ into third down, but stopping them on third down has been an issue. The pressure has increased, but Luck has been as tough to catch on third downs as a greased-up cat.

    Luck is doing this with short-passes, but Miami lucked out on third-and-six with a penalty on Dwayne Allen. The Colts still converted the third-and-sixteen with another underneath pass.  The way the Colts are wearing down the Dolphins defense is troubling going into the fourth quarter, and it’s starting to show in the Colts running game, which is starting to get a jolt after a slow start.

    The drive would end with a 46-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Luck to T.Y. Hilton, which Hilton managed to grab despite double-coverage from Sean Smith and Nolan Carroll. That was just great ball-placement by Luck along with Smith getting faked out a bit by Hilton on the route.

    Second Quarter — B-

    The first defensive play for the Dolphins of the second quarter could be best summed up by calling it fail. It started with a neutral-zone infraction on Jared Odrick, followed by a 48-yard pass from Luck to Donnie Avery on the free play after the flag was thrown.

    But despite the hot start to Indianapolis’ drive, Miami forced Indy to attempt a field goal once they got into the red zone. Despite the lack of a touchdown on that call, Andrew Luck’s perfect stats on third down are a concern for a defense that has prided itself on stopping teams on third down.

    The next drive would see Andrew Luck continue to carve up the Dolphins’ defense, but Miami’s defense is still able to contain the Colts’ running game, which means Luck has to beat the Dolphins on his own. The scary thing is he can, despite whatever blitzes the Dolphins defense manage to throw at him.

    But on third-and-12 on the Miami 36, Luck couldn’t find a receiver, ending his third-down streak. This was followed by Miami blocking another field goal, and again it was Olivier Vernon.

    The Colts would have one more drive, which again would see the Colts get into field goal range. But due to Indianapolis penalties and dropped passes, the Colts would have to settle for a field goal attempt from Adam Vinatieri, which he would wind up making.

    First Quarter B-

    Andrew Luck is no Mark Sanchez, which is something someone ought to tell the Dolphins defense.

    Luck carved the Miami defense apart on the opening drive, going four-of-four for 57 yards. But despite Luck’s success on the opening drive, the rest of the Colts’ offense had problems in every other facet of the game, not being able to gain any yardage rushing, including a stop on third-and-one at the Dolphins’ 25. This stop, along with a delay-of-game penalty on the first field goal try on Indianapolis would lead to the Colts walking away with no points for the drive.

    Miami’s next drive would see better pass coverage, and by that I mean Luck wasn’t perfect like he was on his first drive. The Dolphins were more aggressive rushing the passer, but had rare problems on third down (especially on third-and-long).

    The very next play, Luck was able to draw a pass interference on Koa Misi (who actually covered Dwayne Allen well on the play but made a mistake by not looking back at least once), which put Indianapolis in the red zone and set up a Luck touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne.  

    The way it’s looking right now, Andrew Luck is the best quarterback that the Dolphins have faced all season, and it shows.

Defensive Line

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    Cameron Wake — A

    What could he do? He did record a sack and had Luck in his grasp, but Luck is just too quick in the pocket. Wake played fine today, so I can’t really fault him for his lack of production.

    Paul Soliai — B

    The same goes for Soliai and the rest of the Miami defensive line. Plenty of pressure, but nothing could come from that pressure. He did record four tackles, including a tackle for a loss.

    Randy Starks — C

    Starks was active for today’s game, but didn’t show up in the stat sheet at all. He did provide pressure though, but again, Andrew Luck and his witchcraft in getting out of the pocket was a detriment.

    Olivier Vernon — A

    He deserves an A because he not only blocked a field goal, but also got off a tackle and a quarterback hit when he was in the game. Vernon and Tannehill are currently neck-and-neck for Miami’s rookie of the year, and are part of the reasons why the 2012 draft class is one of their best in recent history.


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    Kevin Burnett — C

    Burnett (like the rest of the Dolphins linebackers), was abused all day by the Colts’ short passing game. He only recorded six tackles, but missed at least three.

    Koa Misi — D

    Bad pass interference penalty (all he had to do was look back once and it doesn’t get called) gave the Colts one of their touchdowns. Hey it’s not like Miami lost by three and a touchdown is worth seven points (wait, sorry, I already used that joke with Fasano).

    Other than that, Misi found himself having problems in coverage, it was like looking at him play in 2010 and 2011. Oh and only one tackle? Inexcusable for a linebacker.

    Karlos Dansby — B

    Dansby was Miami’s best linebacker, but that’s like saying that the McRib is the best fake pork sandwich.

    All kidding aside, Dansby did grab tackles when needed (he ended with nine and a pass deflection), and was the most effective, hence his B grade (on a heavy curve though).


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    Sean Smith — D-

    Hey remember when we thought we were ok with Sean Smith as our number one wide receiver? I remember it like it was yesterday, because it was. Oh that was a fun three weeks wasn’t it. He should’ve had two interceptions on the afternoon, but managed to get faked out by T.Y. Hilton on one (Michael Egnew better be a stud whenever he plays for passing up on Hilton), and then instead of just cradling the interception, dropped it trying to get up in the fourth quarter.

    That play might’ve cost Miami the game, and Smith’s play as a whole just about did that.

    Nolan Carroll — B

    Hey remember when we thought Nolan Carroll might actually be salvageable? It still feels like that. Despite being picked on a bunch, Carroll did have a pass deflection and seemed to be the only corner or linebacker to record any tackles (he had 10 on the day). Solid effort by Carroll, who was Miami’s best corner of the game.

    Jimmy Wilson — B

    Wilson was good in his time on the field, recording three tackles and a pass deflection.

    Reshad Jones — C

    Jones only managed four tackles (low for him), but did get a quarterback hit in and a pass deflection. Not a great game as he was stymied at times when he was supposed to cover a Colts receiver, but it wasn’t terrible.

    Chris Clemons — C

    Clemons pulled down six tackles, but like Smith, missed many more tackles resulting in first downs for the Colts.

    Overall for this secondary there's something we must pick up: they can hold their own against the Sam Bradfords, Carson Palmers, Andy Daltons, and Mark Sanchez' of the world. But against an elite quarterback (Andrew Luck is elite), this unit has problems. If there's any good news it's this, they only have two more games against a truly elite quarterback (Tom Brady). The bad news: both of those games could be must-wins.

Special Teams — A+

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    Overall Game Grade — A

    Brandon Fields punted the ball well, Dan Carpenter was perfect, Olivier Vernon blocked another field goal, and T.Y. Hilton was contained on punt returns.

    That’s the good and this unit would get an A+ had it not been for a penalty that cost Marcus Thigpen a 31-yard return that would’ve put the ball at midfield for the Dolphins offense on their last drive of the game.

    Fourth Quarter B-

    The quarter started off with a made field-goal by Dan Carpenter which tied the game, then Miami would get a 31-yard return from Marcus Thigpen.

    However Thigpen’s return would be called back due to a holding penalty, which backed Miami’s offense back.

    Third Quarter A+

    After only punting once in the first half, Miami would punt on their first two possessions of the second half.

    Thankfully, they have Brandon Fields, and a punt coverage team that can keep a team backed up. So far the at times elusive T.Y. Hilton hasn’t been able to make any big plays on special teams, thanks in part to the great coverage by the Dolphins special teams unit.

    Second Quarter A+

    An Olivier Vernon blocked field goal. That's all I have to say about their special teams play in the second quarter. Vernon could very well be on his way to another special teams player of the week award.

    Brandon Fields would get off a punt as well, this one travelling 44-yards and pinning the Colts deep in their own territory.

    First Quarter A

    So far not much to say about Miami's first quarter Special Teams play. Dan Carpenter did hit a field goal and had two good kickoffs that wound up in the end zone (one was returned to the 30, the other was a touchback), but other than that, a quiet quarter.

Coaching — B+

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    Overall Game Grade B+

    The only gripe I have with the coaching staff is the fact that they should’ve run the ball more. This is a bad run defense they went up against, and they should run the ball 27 times against them, not 17. Despite only attempting to run the ball 17 times, they still gained 87 yards. Sticking to their average of 5.1 yards per carry, if they run the ball 10 more times, that’s not only a win for Miami, but they also run for an additional 50 yards.

    That will likely stick in the craw of Miami’s coaching staff, who did do just about everything else right. The execution was lacking however, as Miami’s players (especially along the offensive line, linebackers and secondary), played one of their worst games of the year.

    The saving graces were Ryan Tannehill’s play, as well as the receivers, and the running backs. They can hang their head on that, as the improvement continues. Next week Miami will play two games, both of them winnable. They should still be 6-4 going into their Thanksgiving weekend game against the Seahawks (another battle of rookie quarterbacks), which is still a very good place for this team to be in.

    Fourth Quarter B-

    The first offensive drive of the quarter was well-called by the Dolphins coaching staff, as it was only let down by two crucial dropped passes. It still tied the game, but those dropped passes seem ominous at the time.

    Ominous they would be, but even worse was the play of the offensive line down the stretch. A bad false-start penalty on Mike Pouncey turned a second-and-one into a second-and-six. Miami would make their only coaching snafu on the next play by trying to pass it instead of taking advantage of an Indianapolis run defense that had allowed an average of five yards per carry.

    Third Quarter — B-

    On defense Miami can’t seem to find an answer for Andrew Luck, who has been converting third downs like they were going out of style. Tackling has become an issue in this third quarter, which could be attributed to fatigue.

    On offense Miami has had the right idea in play-calling, but the execution has been lacking. Miami’s offensive line has failed mightily in the third quarter, not giving Tannehill enough time to really make anything work.

    Overall I can’t blame the coaching staff for this, but it does affect their grade a small bit.

    Second Quarter A

    Miami's offense is humming along great, while their defense has definitely bended in the second quarter, they haven't really broken, forcing the Colts to attempt two field goals, with one of them being blocked.

    The Dolphins came into this game well prepared, and save for a couple of bad penalties, have played a good first half thus far.

    First Quarter A

    So far Miami's coaching staff has made the right calls, but defensively despite being the right call, Andrew Luck was just too effective.

    On offense you can see an improved passing game, but there is an attempt at balance. Despite the 7-3 deficit to end the quarter, I can't complain too much about Miami's coaching.