Miami Dolphins Progress Report: Where Do They Stand Headed into Week 13?

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Miami Dolphins Progress Report: Where Do They Stand Headed into Week 13?
Marc Serota/Getty Images

We're entering Week 13 of the 2012 season, and we still have no idea who the Miami Dolphins really are.

A three-game winning streak was followed by a three-game losing streak and seemed destined to become a four-game losing streak before the team we saw in the three-game winning streak came back in the fourth quarter of a close win over the Seattle Seahawks.

If you're confused after reading that sentence, just think about how it feels to be a Dolphins fan.

To help you make sense of things, here's a progress report of where the team stands and where things are headed from here. 

 

Primary Talking Point

Marc Serota/Getty Images

Did Ryan Tannehill come into his own in front of our eyes?

His fourth-quarter performance, 7-of-9 passing (with one spike) for 156 yards and a touchdown, marked the first comeback of his young career, but will it mark a turning point in his career?

Perhaps, but if that turning point is going to carry over into the final five games of the season, it'll have to come against some quality opponents.

Sure, the Seahawks field a great defense, a unit that gives up just 6.3 yards per pass attempt and a 75.4 defensive passer rating, but the Seahawks have not traveled well this year (1-5 on the road), and West Coast teams have not traveled well to Miami in particular, posting a 1-12 record since 1997.

The Dolphins are still in the hunt for the playoffs, but the final Wild Card spot is far from theirs to lose.

 

Injury Updates

The Dolphins have been one of the healthiest teams all year and did not suffer a single injury against the Seahawks. Reggie Bush seems to have recovered nicely from the leg injury he suffered earlier this season; it clearly hampered his play for awhile, but it seems to be an afterthought at this juncture.

 

Stock Up

Ryan Tannehill: Picked up his first career fourth-quarter comeback, leading three scoring drives in the final 15 minutes of regulation. With 33 rushing yards, Tannehill doubled his production on the season.

Offensive line: It was a rough start with Jake Long giving up an early sack, but the offensive line stonewalled the Seahawks front seven from that point. They didn't give up another sack all day and paved the way for 6.8 yards per rush attempt against a Seattle defense that yielded just 4.3 YPA headed into Sunday's contest. 

 

Stock Down

Sean Smith: Gave up receptions on all five passes thrown his way as well as a touchdown, according to ProFootballFocus.com. He has given up 16 receptions on 24 targets (66.7 percent) for 209 yards (8.7 YPA) and two touchdowns in the past four games. The Dolphins had hoped that Sean Smith would become a shutdown corner in the absence of Vontae Davis, but thus far that has not happened.

Olivier Vernon: Had his lowest snap total of the season with just 15 against the Seahawks. That may have been a product of his role as a pass-rusher and the Seahawks being a predominantly a rushing team, but with 31 snaps out of a possible 128 over the past two weeks (via ProFootballFocus.com), his status bears watching going forward.

 

Notebook

  • The Dolphins picked up their first fourth-quarter comeback win since 2009, when they came back to beat the Patriots 22-21. They have 16 failed attempts since then.
  • The defense has held opponents under 300 yards in just one of their five wins; they gave up 312 yards to the Seahawks, marking their second-lowest total in a win.
  • Wide receiver Davone Bess has been targeted six or more times and has four or more receptions in six consecutive games, the longest streak of the season for the Dolphins. He is on pace for a career-high in receptions (80) and yards (1,040).
  • The Dolphins run defense has been stout for the most part this season, but gave up their lowest total on the ground since Week 5 against the Bengals. They stopped Seattle's top-10 rush attack, holding them to just 96 yards, which was the Seahawks' lowest total since Week 6 against the Patriots top-10 run defense.
  • The Dolphins are among just nine teams to score 24 or more points in three or fewer games this year. That puts them in some less-than-elite company with the Panthers, Browns, Colts, Rams, Cardinals, Jaguars, Chiefs and Eagles. For perspective, those nine teams (including the Dolphins) are a combined 32-67 (.323) on the season. 

 

Outlook

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Tannehill and the Dolphins saved the game on Sunday and gave themselves an opportunity to save the season in the final five games.

With the grueling schedule ahead of them, though, it's not going to be easy.

There are only two genuinely winnable games left on the schedule; a win in any of the other three would be an upset, to say the least.

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They'll have to pull off at least one to avoid finishing below .500, and at least two if they want to remain in the playoff picture. As we speak, however, the Dolphins are not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. 

That's a much-needed change for an organization that has become all too familiar with the role of late-season spoiler over the past decade-plus.

 

Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained via team press releases.

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