Miami Dolphins vs. Chicago Bears: Postgame Grades, Notes and Quotes for Miami
Despite how lopsided the score may look for Miami, this was a good game for them, thanks to good performances by their starting units on offense and defense.
Ryan Tannehill only played one drive, but on said drive he completed six of seven passes for 56 yards and a touchdown while running for another four yards. The run game also performed well when the first team was in, as Lamar Miller had 32 yards on three attempts.
It was a good day for the first-team offensive line, too, as they didn't allow a single sack and had some great run-blocking as well.
Miami's first-team defense also performed well, as the first drive was a three-and-out. This prompted the Dolphins to keep the first-team defense in for the second Bears drive of the game, a 12-play, 61-yard drive that ended with a field goal.
Miami led 10-3 at halftime, but after that would be outscored 24-0 in the second half when both teams had their third and fourth-teamers in the game.
The second half was marred by four turnovers, including a big Mike Gillislee fumble after a 20-yard run in the third quarter and two interceptions from third-string quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
Here's a look at the grades from Thursday's game, plus some notable notes and quotes.
Position Grades for the Dolphins
|Position||Starting Unit Grade||Overall Grade|
I broke up the grades into the starting unit and the overall grade (which covers the reserves), due to the disparity between the starters and the bench.
Miami's first-team offense, who was missing Branden Albert and DeVante Parker, looked explosive in the first drive, which featured a 27-yard run from Lamar Miller, a 19-yard reception by Greg Jennings and a total of 88 yards gained en route to a touchdown.
Most importantly, Miami's first-team offensive line (minus Albert) worked well in run-blocking and in pass protection. The only two issues were holding penalties on Jason Fox (in for Albert) and guard Billy Turner, but the Dolphins were able to overcome each of those penalties and come away with the touchdown.
The first-team defense led the Bears to three points in two drives, with the first drive ending in a three-and-out. They kept pressure on Jay Cutler each time he dropped back to throw and limited Chicago's run game.
Then came the second half, and the second- and third-team offense and defense were disastrous.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson was horrendous, completing five of 12 passes for 71 yards and two interceptions. Mike Gillislee actually played decently save for a fumble that came at the end of a 25-yard run in the third quarter.
The turnovers led to 13 Bears points and put the third-team defense, which had performed well, on its heels.
Zach Vigil a Shining Star Among Reserves
The second- and third-team defense for the Dolphins weren't as bad as the 24 unanswered points would indicate.
One reason for that was linebacker Zach Vigil, one of the many undrafted free-agent linebackers competing for a roster spot.
Vigil was the most active player on the Dolphins defense in the second half, leading the team in tackles, with five. Two of those tackles were for a loss, and he had a sack to round out his evening.
Vigil looks to be the favorite among the UDFA's to make the final 53-man roster, and he will hold on to that position with more games like we saw on Thursday night.
LaMichael James Impressive in Training Camp, a Dud in Preseason
One of the most impressive players in training camp has been running back LaMichael James. The 25-year-old has not only been impressive in his attempt at being Miami's second-string running back, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, but has also emerged as a potential replacement for Jarvis Landry at kickoff and punt returns.
Thursday night was his chance to show what he could do against competition, and he came out flat while showing some questionable decisions.
At running back, James had five attempts for 13 yards in a very pedestrian performance. Then, while returning kicks, he averaged 25.3 yards per return, but each return came from the back of his own end zone, meaning he was only good for gaining the Dolphins five yards.
James had one punt return that went for eight yards, but his vision on the return (and his others) were lacking.
With Damien Williams and Jay Ajayi ahead of him at running back, James' best shot at making the team is as a return man. In his first game, he didn't show enough of a reason why he should take over at the position.
Chris McCain Seems OK, Jordan Tripp Not so Much
The Dolphins encountered a couple of scary moments with their already-thin linebacker unit in the second quarter, as injuries to Chris McCain and Jordan Tripp knocked both players out of the game.
Tripp's injury was on his right leg, per Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, and he would reappear on the sidelines later in the game on crutches (h/t Greg Likens of The Finsiders). His status for now is unknown.
On a lighter note, it seems all is fine with Chris McCain. While he did suffer an ankle injury after stepping on Derrick Shelby's foot, McCain would appear fine while on the sidelines for the rest of the evening, not needing crutches. Per Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post, McCain would've been questionable to return had it been a regular-season game.
Abramson would add that McCain "looked good and appeared to be OK" in the locker room.
McCain is competing for a starting shot at linebacker, and the good news for him if all turns out to be alright is that his journey will continue.
"They Did a Great Job in the Pocket, I Felt Really Comfortable Back There"
Ryan Tannehill isn't used to having a lot of time in the pocket.
On Thursday night in his lone drive, he had just that, and he praised his teammates for providing just that (h/t Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel):
They did a good job, they kept a clean pocket, I got the ball off quickly so we weren't sitting back there for too long, but, they did a great job of giving me a pocket, I even had time to scramble through for a first down on our first third down play. I felt really comfortable back there and I thought those guys did a great job.
The offensive line play during the first drive was impressive. Not only did Miami not allow a sack, but Tannehill wasn't pressured. The only real problems were two penalties by Jason Fox and Billy Turner, penalties that the good play on offense was able to overcome.
"Really Good Opening Possession, Guys Stepped Up and Made Plays"
If it feels like we're talking more about the start of the game than the awful finish, it's because it is preseason and it's how the starters played that matters the most.
The starters played extremely well, and per Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald, head coach Joe Philbin was pleased, describing what was a "really good possession, guys stepped up and made plays."
That wasn't Joe's only take on that first drive, as at halftime he told WFOR CBS4 (h/t Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero): "We overcame a little bit of adversity on the first drive."
The adversity Philbin was referring to was the two holding penalties by Jason Fox and Billy Turner, which backed Miami up each time.
Turner's penalty was when the Dolphins were at the Bears' two-yard line and nearly derailed the drive, but thanks to a fourth-down pass play from Ryan Tannehill to Jarvis Landry, the Dolphins left with six.
It was what you wanted to see out of Miami's starting offense: a long drive featuring good pass protection ending in a touchdown. As the Dolphins work through the preseason, they have to build up consistency.
Statistics provided by NFL.com unless otherwise noted.