Redskins vs. Dolphins: 10 Things We Learned from Miami's 20-9 Win
Miami's back-to-back victories are promising, but their playoff hopes remain astronomical. However, each win this team secures helps expunge the losing stench that infected the locker room for so long.
If the Dolphins can keep up their winning ways, they may set themselves up for a rebound season in 2012.
Regardless, there are plenty of lessons to be learned from Sunday's win. Here's 10 observations.
Karlos Dansby Is on Fire
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For a vast majority of this season, Karlos Dansby looked overpaid and uninspired. He rarely made impact plays, and his struggles with coverage made him a liability on third downs.
However, Dansby started to elevate his play a few weeks ago, and he had an unbelievable game against the Redskins on Sunday, racking up eight tackles, one sack, one interception and two pass deflections.
Dansby has accrued 40 tackles over the past four games. Just for perspective, he amassed only 22 in Miami's first five contests.
If Dansby continues to play at such a high level, opposing teams will have a very difficult time moving the ball on the 'Fins. Plus, Dansby's presence allows those around him to thrive, and that bodes extraordinarily well for Miami's defense.
The Dolphins Should Continue To Feed the Beast Early and Often
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As each week passes, the chemistry between Matt Moore and Brandon Marshall strengthens—and their improving relationship means great things for the Dolphins offense.
Last week against the Chiefs, Marshall was the focal point of the 'Fins offense, and his eight receptions for 106 yards and a score propelled Miami to victory.
On Sunday, Marshall was the focal point once again, and by no coincidence, the Dolphins emerged victorious. Moore and Marshall hooked up seven times for 98 yards, overwhelming the Redskins' 11th-ranked secondary.
Reggie Bush Continues To Look Like the Real Deal
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It was only a matter of time before Reggie Bush came back down to earth from his two-week tear. Bush compiled 195 rushing yards in Miami's last two games, setting lofty expectations for Sunday's game versus Washington.
Even though Bush mustered only 47 rushing yards, he scored a pair of touchdowns.
Bush's 3.4 yards per carry wasn't spectacular, but great players always find ways to help their team win, and that's exactly what he did today.
The Dolphins' Red-Zone Struggles Persist
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The Dolphins made five visits to the red zone today, yet they scored only twice.
This should come as no surprise to anybody who has followed the team over the past few years, but it's frustrating nevertheless.
Despite Miami's offensive resurgence, Brian Daboll and Tony Sparano simply cannot figure out how to draw up an effective red-zone scheme. We know Sparano will be fired after the season, but Daboll's chances of keeping his job look increasingly thin because of the team's red-zone futility.
Matt Moore Could Start 2012 as Miami's Starting Quarterback
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Matt Moore is no superstar. He probably won't ever make a Pro Bowl or an All-Pro roster, but simply gets the job done.
After struggling through his first four starts, Moore is finally settling into his role as the Dolphins' field general. Moore finished Sunday's game with a 69 percent completion rate, he managed to get the ball to Brandon Marshall often and he threw only one interception.
Moore's ability to protect the ball and keep the offense moving is intriguing. The Dolphins will almost definitely draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft, and rather than sign a pricey veteran to help tutor the rookie, Miami might want to hold onto Moore.
Vontae Davis' Interception Came at the Perfect Time
There's no denying it: Vontae Davis has been a huge disappointment this season.
Davis seemed primed for a breakout season, but has meddled in mediocrity instead. Last week's incident with Brandon Marshall only further disheartened Davis' supporters, but the young corner might have gotten back on track on Sunday.
Davis picked off Rex Grossman early in the second quarter, preventing the Redskins from chipping away at Miami's seven-point lead.
Hopefully, Davis has put last week's issues behind him and will use it as a growing experience.
Jake Long Looks Like He Is Close to Full Health
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Miami's franchise left tackle Jake Long struggled mightily at the outset of the season. He surrendered multiple sacks and looked slow and overwhelmed.
We knew Long was playing through injury, but his struggles were very concerning regardless.
However, Long finally seems to have recovered, at least to a passable extent. He completely stifled Redskins defensive end Stephen Bowen, and Long's success is a significant reason why Miami's offense has succeeded over the past two weeks.
Daniel Thomas Needs To Improve His Field Vision
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Because Reggie Bush has enjoyed such grand success over the past few weeks, nobody has noticed Daniel Thomas' struggles.
In his past four games, Thomas has rushed for a combined 154 yards on 58 carries, giving him an abysmal 2.7 yards per carry average.
One reason for Thomas' struggles might be his field vision. Early in the fourth quarter, Thomas missed a wide open running lane, opting for a congested lane instead. FOX analyst Tim Ryan proceeded to call the rookie out for his lack of vision and patience.
Thomas is only a rookie, so it's completely normal and acceptable for him to have these issues, however, he needs to turn the tide at some point, or the Dolphins might have to think about addressing the running back position this summer.
Davone Bess and Brian Hartline Are Falling by the Wayside
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While Brandon Marshall and Matt Moore develop a special connection, Davone Bess and Brian Hartline are falling by the wayside.
Since Moore took over at quarterback in Week 4, Bess has recorded only 23 receptions and Hartline has grabbed only nine.
If Moore could effectively spread the ball around, there's a good chance the Dolphins offense would have grown far more potent.
The Dolphins Will Not Get Andrew Luck
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Unless the Dolphins are willing to surrender a handful of future first-round picks, they will not employ Andrew Luck next season.
The Indianapolis Colts remain winless, and it's very difficult to envision them finishing the season with more wins than Miami.
Fans might want to start tracking prospects like Matt Barkley and Robert Griffin III because the Dolphins have played themselves out of the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes.