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Andy Cohen: From Bush To Philbin, A Sweet Day

Posted Sep 16, 2012

Dolphin Digest editor Andy Cohen shares his thoughts on a special day at Sun Life.

It was a step. A nice step. An important step. The Miami Dolphins enjoyed that sweet feeling of victory Sunday, winning their first home opener since 2005.

And it was sweet for so many reasons.

Sweet as in Reggie Bush pouring it on with two third quarter touchdown runs, the latter a 65-yard beauty down the left sideline that gave the Dolphins the cushion it so badly needed and gave the crowd a chance to go wild. So the Dolphins don’t have playmakers? Well, Reggie Bush has something to say about that. Plenty to say, in fact. In case you may have forgotten, he remains one of the most explosive players in the league. Just ask the Raiders about that.

Sweet as in Coach Joe Philbin getting to savor his first victory as an NFL head coach. You know it meant so much to Philbin. After a winless preseason, after losing the opener at Houston, Philbin needed something to help validate everything he has been doing since last April. This victory over the Raiders helped give him that validation. I have spent enough time around Philbin to tell you this: He is a good coach with excellent ideas and he is comfortable on this stage. You just know Philbin slept a lot better Sunday night.

Sweet as in rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill getting the first notch on his victory belt. Running for a score. Throwing for a score. Hitting on so many impressive throws. You want a look into the future? The first drive of this game was exactly that. Tannehill throwing so many crisp, accurate passes and then punctuating the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run that clearly showed his excellent athletic ability.

This season is so much about Tannehill. While his statistics won’t light up the fantasy football world, you clearly saw improvement from week one to week two. And with a rookie quarterback isn’t that what it’s all about?

I’ve seen enough of Tannehill to know this. As soon as he gets comfortable – I mean really comfortable – he’s going to be a very good quarterback. All the skills are there. Some of the passes he completed against the Raiders showed everything you are looking for in arm strength and accuracy.

Dolphins 35, Raiders 13. Yes, it is only one victory. Yes, there are many more significant challenges ahead before anyone is willing to characterize this season a success. Yes, the Dolphins are still a team with more questions than answers. But for one afternoon in mid-September, it all felt right again.

And now there is so much to build on, so many things to point to as this team tries to continue to improve.

The Jets are next. Now, wouldn’t that be another nice building block? But let’s not look too far ahead. How did the Dolphins beat the Raiders? They did it by being patient, by not committing any turnovers, by taking advantage of Bush’s ability to run, of Brian Hartline’s ability to catch and of Tannehill’s ability to mix in his share of important plays.

Why, even the defense stuffed the Raiders to the tune of 23 yards rushing.

“This,” said Philbin, “was a team win.”

Those two Bush runs in the third quarter were electric. Those were the signature moments of this victory. Those who follow this team closely saw this coming. Bush had an outstanding training camp and played well in the season opener at Houston. It was only a matter of time. This is a unique talent who is currently residing in the prime of this career. A playmaker by every definition of the word.

Bush’s final numbers: 197 yards of total offense. For some players, that’s a month’s work. For Bush, it was just one remarkable afternoon.

If Bush can continue playing at this level, think of all the pressure it will take off Tannehill? Think about what it could mean for this entire team.

Yes, there were smiles everywhere late Sunday afternoon. This football team came together in so many ways and there were a lot of people – a long list of people -- deservedly enjoying the moment.

Now, on to the next step.
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