Titans vs. Dolphins: Miami's Biggest Winners and Losers from NFL Week 10
When the Miami Dolphins lose, they either fall in the most heartbreaking fashion possible or just get outright dominated.
Today, it was the latter.
The Tennessee Titans handed the Dolphins their worst home loss since 1968, triumphantly marching out of a lifeless and empty Sun Life Stadium with a 37-3 victory.
There are virtually no positives to take away from today's game.
Ryan Tannehill finally fell back down to earth, Reggie Bush and Richie Incognito were both benched at separate junctures of the game and the defense played miserably once again. The Dolphins team that showed up today—or, should I say didn't show up—is not a playoff team.
Not even close.
However, the 'Phins have no choice but to shake it off and get ready for their Thursday night tilt with the Buffalo Bills.
Loser: The Entire Defense
For the second consecutive week, the entire Dolphins defense is a loser.
Chris Johnson ran all over Miami's front seven, which suddenly looks very human—and, frankly, really bad. By rushing for 126 yards, he becomes the first running back to rush for more than 100 yards against the Dolphins since Ben Tate did it in Week 2 of last season.
Jake Locker also ran freely, racking up 36 rushing yards on just four carries.
But, again, the story of the game was third-down defense.
One week after allowing the Indianapolis Colts to convert 13 of 19 third downs, the Dolphins allowed the Titans to convert on eight of their 13 tries. This reflects very poorly on Kevin Coyle, but the Dolphins also looked lifeless from the get-go. There's only so much a coach can do.
The secondary also had another disappointing day. Although Locker only threw for 122 yards, Reshad Jones was torched for a touchdown and Sean Smith struggled to stay with Kenny Britt.
Overall, another atrocious day for the Dolphins defense.
Winner: Daniel Thomas
It's honestly difficult to call anybody a "winner" after this dreadful performance, but Daniel Thomas was one of an exclusive group of Dolphins bright spots.
With Reggie Bush benched for a majority of the game, Thomas stepped in and rushed for 21 yards on five carries and tacked on five receptions for 34 yards. He actually looked like a playmaking weapon rather than the mediocre back we've become accustomed to watching.
If Thomas plays this well through the rest of the season, then the Dolphins won't feel obliged to re-sign Bush.
More importantly, if he can emerge as a viable and reliable weapon, then he'll become a major contributor for this depthless offense.
Loser: Joe Philbin
In the midst of the Dolphins' surprising success, it's easy to forget just how young and inexperienced this team is from top to bottom.
Remember, Joe Philbin is a first-year head coach.
And it showed today.
The Dolphins simply didn't show up to play, and that traces back to Philbin. Miami looked completely lifeless even before it fell behind. Once Tennessee jumped out to that 21-0 lead, the Dolphins almost seemed to surrender.
I'm just spitballing here, but I'd say the Dolphins were looking past this game toward their nationally televised Thursday night matchup with the Bills.
On another note, Philbin benched Reggie Bush after his first-quarter fumble.
Send a message to the team that turnovers and sloppy play won't be tolerated. Show your team you won't discriminate between a bench player and a star. But don't keep your best offensive player on the bench for the entire game when your team is getting embarrassed.
Keeping Bush benched for a few drives or even a quarter could've done the trick.
But three quarters?
Winner: Brian Hartline
There's going to be heated debate about whether the Dolphins should re-sign Reggie Bush, Jake Long and Sean Smith, but one player who's definitely receiving a new contract is Brian Hartline.
On Sunday, he caught eight passes for 79 yards on 10 targets.
No other Dolphins wideout received more than six targets.
Ryan Tannehill continues to lean heavily on Hartline, and it continues to translate to success.
Also, keep in mind Titans cornerbacks Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner are both having great seasons. After Hartline was completely shut down by Darrelle Revis and Cortland Finnegan, it's very encouraging to see him have a great game against a great cornerback.
Loser: Ryan Tannehill
Get ready to hear that Ryan Tannehill had a "rookie game."
That's the phrase being used to describe his three-interception performance, one that serves as a reminder that despite his surprising success, Tannehill is still a rookie with plenty to learn.
In total, he completed 23 of 39 passes for just 217 yards.
On one hand, Tannehill simply didn't look good today. He was trying to force passes and he was locking onto wide receivers too early—two things that plagued him earlier this year.
But, on the other hand, the Dolphins have to get him some help.
This offense rides and dies with Tannehill. If he's just a little bit off, then everything collapses. He doesn't have a wide receiver who can step up and make some spectacular, game-breaking plays. Reggie Bush is the only player capable of doing that, and he sat on the bench for a majority of the game.
There's just too much pressure on Tannehill to carry this offense.
And, don't be discouraged by this game.
Tannehill will be just fine.
Winner: Brandon Fields
Were it not for Brandon Fields and his superhuman right leg, this game could've been a whole lot uglier.
Fields had no problem slicing through the 20-30 mile per hour winds flowing through Miami on Sunday. He averaged 48.5 yards on six punts, including one mammoth 67-yard kick.
Everybody takes Fields for granted because, well, he's a punter. But he's a damn good one that any NFL team would be lucky to have. Fields can flip the field regardless of how backed up the Dolphins are into their own territory, which is invaluable.
Outside of Davone Bess, Mike Pouncey and Cameron Wake, few players on this Dolphins team maintain much consistency on a week-to-week basis. Fields, however, is the single most consistent player Miami has, and his contributions should never go unnoticed.
Loser: Richie Incognito
Richie Incognito's antics are getting awfully old awfully fast.
Prior to Sunday's game, he had five penalties, including two personal fouls. He tacked on yet another personal foul in the second quarter, which negated a 14-yard run by Daniel Thomas. Incognito's unnecessary-roughness penalty prompted Joe Philbin to pull him from the game.
Just last week, Sporting News released a poll that asked 103 NFL players who the dirtiest player in the league is. Sure enough, Incognito came in at No. 2. He then told the Sun Sentinel:
“I think I was at No. 6 last year, and no personal fouls and no major penalties and no fines, and I move back up to No. 2? … It’s a badge of honor for an offensive lineman to be up that high on the list. It definitely plays on defenders’ minds that this guy is going to get after you for four quarters.”
Incognito is a valuable veteran for this young Dolphins team, but his chronic penalties and substandard performance may have him on the outs after this season.
Loser: Reggie Bush
(There should be a "winner" here, but I honestly don't think anybody else falls under that category. I'm open to suggestions.)
On the Dolphins' second possession of the game, Reggie Bush converted a 3rd-and-13 on a beautiful draw play. However, the ball came loose as he went to the ground, the Titans recovered at Miami's 27-yard line and the Dolphins proceeded to nosedive.
Bush's fumble was the turning point of this game. By no means should he be blamed for the Dolphins' loss, but you cannot cough up the ball that deep in your own territory.
Joe Philbin benched Bush immediately after that play until the fourth quarter.
When Reggie came back into the game, he promptly dropped a pass.
This was just a rough day for Bush, who still hasn't been the same since suffering that left knee injury in Week 3.