1) Slow start, better finish on offense
The Miami offense didn’t have the start they were looking for going up against one of the best defenses in the league. They struggled early, punting the football back to the Jaguars on their first four offensive possessions. The Miami offense needed a positive play to turn the momentum around and it came from the defense. Dolphins cornerback Eric Rowe cut the field in half with his second quarter interception. On the next play, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick found tight end Mike Gesicki for a 28-yard reception. That led to a 40-yard field goal by Jason Sanders, who also added a 46 yarder that cut the Jacksonville lead to one. The best two drives of the game both came in the third quarter. Fitzpatrick led an 11-play drive, highlighted by a receptions by tight ends Nick O’Leary and Gesicki that totaled 59 yards. It ended with an 8-yard touchdown pass to running back Mark Walton. Quarterback Josh Rosen entered the game and immediately led the offense on a 13-play, 99-yard drive for a score. He showed great awareness and mobility, moving from the pocket to throw, and running when necessary for positive yards. It was Rosen’s best performance of the pre-season and it should be something to build on heading towards the regular season.
2) Baker and Eguavoen lead defense
On a team looking for playmakers, you can add the names of linebackers Jerome Baker and Sam Eguavoen to the list. Baker seemed like he was a part of every tackle in the first quarter, slashing his way around the Jacksonville offensive line to make plays along the line of scrimmage. He had multiple tackles for loss and teamed up with Equavoen to bring down running back Leonard Fournette for a five-yard loss late in the first quarter. Other defenders that flashed included safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, highlighted by a big hit in the secondary, and tough tackling in open space. Also, cornerbacks Cornell Armstrong and Chris Lammons both brought energy and flashed as gunners on special teams. Both defenders were in great position to make plays and executed their jobs to perfection.
3) O-Line still under construction
This offense will only have success if the offensive line improves quickly. The starters, minus left tackle Laremy Tunsil, had another uneven performance. Too many missed assignments and unblocked defenders are putting the Miami offense behind the chains. There have been some bright spots, but the inconsistent plays are over-shadowing the small strides made as a group. It’s very difficult for the rushing attack to get started when there’s defensive penetration in the backfield. The opener is two and a half weeks away, and this group needs to find a way to play with more consistency and movement that will take some pressure away from the passing game.