Now we get to hit the pause button on the season. Now we get to spend a few days evaluating what we have seen over the first four games of the season. This is good. This is important. The Dolphins obviously have a lot to sort through.
- I have seen the upside of Josh Rosen and I like it. I understand that touchdowns are the ultimate barometer, but sometimes there are other indicators like the three Ps: Productivity, Poise and Potential. We have seen examples of all three over his first two starts. All are encouraging signs. All are tempered by the team-wide struggles in second halves of games. But if you look a little closer, you’ll see that Rosen is doing some things very well. My biggest takeaway? When he has time he has been accurate, as in seven of seven early on against the Chargers. My second takeaway? He needs more help from those around him. My third takeaway? He needs to avoid making poor decisions under pressure. Overall, his growth is clearly evident and I would expect it to continue following the bye.
- I saw some good things Sunday from the five offensive linemen starting together for the first time. No, we’re not talking about a dominating performance by any means. But did you notice how much time Rosen had to throw early on? Did you notice he actually had time to survey the field? Credit goes to, from left to right: Tackle J’Marcus Webb, guard Michael Deiter, center Daniel Kilgore, guard Evan Boehm and tackle Isaiah Prince. Get Jesse Davis back from an elbow injury and it’ll be interesting to see how this line evolves over the final 12 games of the season. Especially encouraging was that Prince, a sixth-round pick starting his first game, did not seem at all overwhelmed by the challenge. “A dream come true,” he called it.
- It is becoming increasingly evident that running back Kenyan Drake needs to get most of the carries. He averaged 4.9 yards on nine carries Sunday, the best performance by a Dolphins’ back so far this season. He’s also second on the team in receptions. “He’s been productive,” said coach Brian Flores. “He has to do a better job holding on to the ball.”
- The Kalen Ballage drop in the red zone? He’ll be the first to tell you that it simply can’t happen.
- It’s never good when your safety leads the defense in tackles as Reshad Jones did on Sunday with nine.
- A positive stat: The Dolphins were five of 10 on third downs.
- So on the Monday after, Flores stood before the media at the Dolphins’ training facility and clearly outlined his No. 1 goal moving forward. “We’ve got to find a way to put a 60-minute game together,” he said. “Not 30 minutes, not 15 minutes, a full game. We’ve got to start stringing more plays together.”
- Everything during this bye week will be focused on that objective. The entire team will be evaluated. Performances will be scrutinized. Changes, I’m sure, will be implemented. “There have been some positives, but it’s still not good enough,” Flores said. “This is a production business and in wins and losses we’re not doing well. Obviously there is disappointment. But we’ve got to look forward to the next challenge.”
- See, one of the things I respect most about Flores is that he remains so even-keeled, even during these challenging times. Why dwell on the past? Find the problems, do everything you can to fix them and move on. That has been his mantra through the first quarter of the season and it’s not going to change.
- Meanwhile, let’s hope the bye week gives wide receiver Albert Wilson the opportunity to return to 100 percent. He just missed being active on Sunday and, with this moves, speed and big play ability, it can’t happen soon enough.
- That’s two games and two sacks for defensive end Taco Charlton, a promising beginning for the former No. 1 pick of the Cowboys. This season is so much about identifying pieces that can be part of the long-term plan. Charlton is certainly making an early statement. “He’s a hard-working kid,” said Flores. “There’s a lot of potential there.”
- In case you haven’t noticed: As each week goes by, linebacker Vince Biegel, acquired from New Orleans in the trade that sent Kiko Alonso to the Saints, is seeing a greater role on this defense. He had hoped coming in that these coaches would allow him to be more than a special teams player. Now he’s getting that chance.
- Through four games, Preston Williams is emerging as the team’s No. 1 receiver, but he’s got to cut down on the drops in order to stay there.
- Same for DeVante Parker, who is averaging a team high 20.1 yards per catch.
- So the Dolphins will continue practicing through Wednesday of this week before getting four days off. These next few weeks are critical because this team needs to find all sorts of answers in a hurry before the Washington Redskins come to town a week from Sunday. Nobody likes that 0-4 feeling. Now the real challenge is doing something about it.