The Miami Dolphins did not come into the 2012 season with the highest of expectations. Looking at the Week 1 score, a 30-10 loss to the Houston Texans, it appears that the Dolphins were manhandled as many thought they would be by the defending AFC South champions. The kind of season that everyone predicted has seemingly just been confirmed with Sunday’s 20-point trouncing. But while they Dolphins were defeated easily by the Houston Texans, there were a number of positives for the Dolphins in Week 1. There’s no reason for Miami or its fans to pack in the tent just yet.
While Miami did lose by 20, it was due to a horrendous second quarter. If you take the second quarter away, the Dolphins actually outscored Houston 10-6. Four turnovers in the quarter led to all 24 of the Texans’ second quarter points including three touchdowns in the final two minutes of the half. If the Dolphins continue to melt down as they did late in the second quarter, it will be the long season that many anticipated. But as for now, Miami has a number of positives to take away from a game that few thought they would win in the first place.
In his first start, rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill went 20-for-36 for 219 yards, but did throw three interceptions. Tannehill appeared to make good reads most of the day. He missed a couple of open receivers, but two of his three interceptions were tipped at the line of scrimmage. If anything, they were a result of tunnel vision which is more easily correctable than struggling to read the defense.
Tannehill also stayed poised and composed in the pocket perhaps even more so than some of the more optimistic Dolphins’ fans would have expected. Miami did not come away with an offensive touchdown, but Tannehill marched the Dolphins inside Houston’s 10-yard line twice late in the game. Against a very good team, the Dolphins were able to move the football in the second half. As the season goes on, Miami still has to turn red zone trips into points and preferably for the Dolphins, touchdowns.
Reggie Bush looked like the Reggie Bush from last season. Bush averaged nearly five yards-per-carry in the opener against what should be a very good Houston defense. Bush finished with 46 receiving yards on a team-high six receptions for a total of 115 yards from scrimmage. Bush will likely be utilized more in the passing game than a year ago and Sunday was a good start to Bush’s second year with the Dolphins.
While Bush seems to be Miami’s biggest weapon, the Dolphins may have found a weapon that few knew they had. The lone touchdown for Miami on Sunday came early in the third quarter on a 72-yard punt return from Marcus Thigpen. The Dolphins have not had many big threats in the return game over the years with perhaps the exceptions of Wes Welker and Ted Ginn Jr. In addition to the punt return for a score, Thigpen also averaged better than 27 yards-per-kick-return. Being able to give this young offense a short field going forward this season could end up being a huge pick-me-up for a team trying to improve on last year’s 6-10 record.
Defensively, the Dolphins shown a lot of promise as well. Aside from the three touchdowns that came late in the first half after Houston took over with a short field, Miami held the Texans to just 225 yards. Miami held one of the league’s premier backs in Arian Foster, to a pedestrian 79 yards on 26 carries. Pressuring the quarterback was not a real strength for the Dolphins, but Randy Starks, who moved from end to tackle this season, recorded two sacks. As a team, Miami recorded eight tackles for loss and linebacker Koa Misi recorded a career-high 11 tackles with all but one coming solo.
The Miami Dolphins head home 0-1 where they will face the Oakland Raiders. But while the scoreboard would indicate that the ‘Fins took it on the chin Sunday, that was far from what actually happened. Aside from the waning minutes of the first half, Miami was arguably the better team, but in the end, all that mattered was the one in the L column. If the Dolphins can eliminate the mistakes that shifted a very competitive game into a rout, 2012 could be a more promising year than most believed for Miami. The Houston Texans after all, are a very good football team and had it not been the abysmal finish to the first half, Miami may have been in the football game until the bitter end.
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