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What happened on special teams?
Remember when the unit was blocking punts, recovering onside kicks and scoring touchdowns? It seems a long time ago now...
Again, the special teams unit proved to be the Dolphins’ downfall, as it committed the turnover that the offense did so well to stop.
It was Marcus Thigpen who fumbled a punt, which was recovered by the Niners on Miami’s 9-yard line and turned into a vital seven points.
However, Thigpen has been a revelation this year, and this mistake should be overlooked. He almost made up for it immediately on the following kick-off return, going 56 yards and being stopped by the last line of defense.
Jonathan Freeney’s mistake was a little harder to comprehend. He downed another outstanding Brandon Fields punt at the 5-yard line, then preceded to walk forward five yards, standing on the goal line in the process, and causing a touchback.
It cost Miami vital yards—yards the offense was struggling to make.
You’d assume it won’t happen again, though. Freeney was shoved by Fields after the play. He’ll remember the rule next time, but Miami needed him to know it already.
The Dolphins’ production on critical downs is also a huge worry.
Miami’s offensive line seem unable to protect its quarterback, the receivers seem unable to get open, and Tannehill seems unable to consistently make his throws (except Fasano’s touchdown).
Tannehill looks rattled on some of these downs too, and you could see it when he threw the ball away on fourth down, with Miami needing to convert on a 4-10 to keep the game alive. That decision was ridiculous. Throw it downfield anywhere. It makes no difference if it’s an incomplete pass or touchdown; just give someone a chance to make a play.
Also, Tannehill’s decision-making is questionable on occasions, and he could run for first downs, but chooses to pass. He’s a rookie, so it is understandable, but that clinical nature looks lacking right now. Hopefully this will change, but it would be nice to see a little more growth from him on these clutch plays.
The offense needs to tighten up and deliver. Marlon Moore dropped a big play on a perfect pass from the quarterback, and too often the offensive line buckles and forces Tannehill to run.
I may have mentioned it’s good to see the awful Jaguars in town next week, but how ugly would it be if their Chad Henne-led roster beat Miami?
There could be no excuses. The Jaguars suck, and Miami’s defense played against Henne every day for the last few years. They know him. Miami cannot, and should not, lose this game.
Can you imagine the reaction if it does? Jeff Ireland should book out a nuclear bunker for the following week just in case.