Miami Dolphins: 6 Most Intriguing Preseason Stats so Far
With two preseason games under their belt, the Miami Dolphins have shown some things that are either concerning or non-issues, depending on your perspective. Their record is 1-1, yes, but everyone knows wins and losses don't matter right now.
What matters is how the team performs. In that respect, the Dolphins appear to still have a lot work to be done. Miami's starters looked stale in their very limited time against Dallas, and the backups didn't fare much better.
Another slow start in Jacksonville last Friday showed concern, but after a few misfired drives, Ryan Tannehill led his team downfield crisply for a touchdown. The defense stifled a struggling Jaguars unit. All in all, Miami's second preseason game was a success.
A vast number of stats emerged from these two games, most of which aren't worth a second look. However, here are six of the Dolphins' most intriguing preseason stats so far.
All stats from NFL.com unless otherwise noted.
It hasn't exactly been a secret over the past few months, but the Dolphins' coaching staff admits to wanting increased turnover production from the defense this year. Steven Wine of News Observer writes that an improved turnover differential was head coach Joe Philbin's top priority in training camp.
After two preseason games, Miami appears to be fulfilling their coach's wish. The Dolphins currently hold a plus one turnover differential. Tristan Okpalaugo forced one fumble, while Will Davis and Nolan Carroll each have one interception.
This is an outstanding start to the Dolphins' turnover quest for 2013, especially the interceptions. Miami only recorded 10 total interceptions last season, which put them in a tie for 27th in the league. The Dolphins are hoping additions like Brent Grimes and rookies Jamar Taylor and Will Davis will help boost this number.
Miami also brought in linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler for added aggressiveness in the turnover game. Both players are opportunistic linebackers who should help Miami increase its number of fumbles and interceptions.
Miami is also doing a good job of protecting the ball. With the exception of a botched handoff between Tannehill and Lamar Miller in the first preseason game, the Dolphins' first team has not turned the ball over.
Considering the huge amount of importance placed on turnovers by the coaching staff, it's promising to see the team off to such a positive start.
Chad Bumphis' Numbers
The Dolphins made a lot of noise when it came to signing receivers this offseason. Not only did the club re-sign its leading receiver from 2012 in Brian Hartline, it also brought in Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson for additional firepower.
It's surprising then that after two games, the receiver making the most noise on the field is undrafted rookie Chad Bumphis. The former Mississippi State Bulldog has seven receptions for 111 yards and is currently Miami's leading receiver.
Things didn't start out pretty for Bumphis, though. In the Hall of Fame game, he tipped a catchable pass that came down in the hands of a Dallas defender who returned it for a touchdown.
But the rookie recovered very well, finishing the game with five catches for 85 yards. The youngster has displayed good hands and impressive speed and maneuverability, skills that will go a long way to ensuring his success.
While he'll have a very hard time cracking the starting lineup, Bumphis is currently making a very strong case for one of the coveted roster spots. The rookie would provide depth at receiver, something Miami doesn't have much of.
Dustin Keller's Numbers
In this writer's humble opinion, Dustin Keller is one of the most important additions to the 2013 Miami Dolphins.
The dynamic veteran adds a threat that Miami hasn't had in quite some time. He's a fast, athletic tight end who can stretch the middle of the field and attack the seam. While his blocking skills may be lacking, Keller provides the sort of big, yet mobile target that will quickly become Tannehill's best friend.
In fact, Tannehill has already shown his propensity for going Keller's way. The tight end has 3 grabs for 50 yards and is responsible for the first team's only touchdown so far. Tannehill floated a pass that was one half-step above a lame duck to the end zone, confident his tight end would come down with it.
As you can see in the picture above, it was anything but an easy grab. With a defender draped over his shoulders, Keller managed to lower his body and make the catch while falling backwards. A tremendous touchdown catch by a tremendous talent.
The former New York Jet is off to a fantastic start, and if he continues performing at this level, he'll serve as an invaluable weapon at the tight end position.
Caleb Sturgis' 58-Yard Field Goal
After an uncharacteristically disappointing season, there were whispers that kicker Dan Carpenter could have been on his out of Miami. When the Dolphins drafted Caleb Sturgis in April, the writing was on the wall. When Sturgis drilled a 58-yard field goal last Friday against the Jaguars, just about everyone knew what was coming next.
When the Dolphins cut Carpenter earlier this week, it wasn't a surprise. Carpenter is a solid kicker, but his salary coupled with Sturgis' impressively powerful leg pretty much guaranteed his eventual release.
58-yard field goals are not everyday occurrences. That's why Sturgis' big boot made such an impression on Miami's coaching staff. More importantly, his demeanor has pleased head coach Joe Philbin. As reported by Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, Philbin appreciates the rookie's business-like mentality after nailing the field goal.
We still don't know if Strugis will have a successful NFL career, but this massive field goal shows that he's currently heading in the right direction.
3rd Down Conversions
This won't exactly blow your mind, but it's important to note that an offense typically has more success if it's on the field for longer periods of time. With that in mind, most successful offenses tend to have high third down conversion rates.
The Dolphins currently do not. Through two games, they are 7-of-29 on third downs. That equals out to roughly 24 percent. When your offense is converting less than a quarter of its third down attempts, you're going to have a hard time staying on the field for very long.
The Dolphins were only middle of the road last season on third downs, converting 38 percent. They've got to improve this season and buy their offense more time on the field. This is only one of Miami's most troubling stats of the preseason.
So far, though...
The Dolphins' offensive line starts out the 2013 preseason as the team's most glaring weak spot. Mike Pouncey and Richie Incognito figure to be solid at center and left guard, respectively, but the rest of the line is one giant question mark.
Jonathan Martin, the second-year player starting at left tackle, has shown promise early on, but he's still got work to do. An injury to John Jerry has forced Josh Samuda into starting time at right guard, and he's struggled. Tyson Clabo has also struggled at right tackle.
The offensive line's woes have been reflected on the field. Miami's quarterbacks have been sacked a total of five times. Not an extraordinarily high number, but it becomes clear there is an issue when you consider that none of the Dolphins' quarterbacks have really looked that comfortable in the pocket.
It was evident last week against Jacksonville. Tannehill was sacked on the opening drive and was hurried on a handful of other plays. A lot of talk was made about Tannehill's lack of throws to Mike Wallace, but the second-year quarterback never had an opportunity to settle into the pocket and look downfield.
Miami made a lot of moves in the offseason to better its offense. Unfortunately, those moves won't matter much if the offensive line doesn't improve.