Are the Dolphins Finally Starting to Find their Identity?

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The Miami Dolphins have not given fans much to be happy about over the past couple decades.  Plagued by bad coaching, awful draft choices, and questionable personnel moves the Dolphins haven’t seen the playoffs since 2008 which was the last time the team had any kind of identity.  They were led by Chad Pennington at QB which gave them stability in the passing game and a wild cat running attack led by Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.  Any Dolphins team up until then has been a disappointment.

Coming into the 2016 season the same results seemed to be on the horizon.  Was Ryan Tannehill an NFL starting quarter back?  Would the loss of Lamar Miller to free agency haunt the team?  Could the offensive line stay healthy to ensure Ryan Tannehill wasn’t going to continue to be the most sacked QB in the NFL? And could a rookie coach Adam Gase fix what seemed to be a broken roster?

With a rough start to the season the Miami Dolphins have won 2 straight games. Both coming from tough opponents: the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills.  A common story we saw in both victories was that the offensive line consistently protected Ryan Tannehill and opened up holes for 2nd year RB Jay Ajayi.  Ajayi took advantage and became only the 4th NFL running back in history to have two straight back to back 200 yard games. 

When the Dolphins’ number 1 overall pick Leremy Tunsil slipped in the shower causing him an injury that sidelined him early in the season and Kenny Stills had missed a wide-open TD in Seattle it seemed the Dolphins were once again destined for failure once more.  But Tunsil was able to get back into the lineup the next week and contribute to the offensive line.  And just when Dolphins fans were expecting the 2nd half collapse against the Bills that was all too familiar, Kenny Stills caught a 66 yard bomb from Ryan Tannehill.

It seems the Dolphins are finally starting to find their mojo. 

The Miami Dolphins are now 8-1 when Brandon Albert, Mike Pouncey, and Ju’Waun James are all playing.  They have been given their name: “The Unicorns”.  The Dolphins have learned their offense feeds off their running attack.  With the combination of Miami’s offensive line opening up holes and Jay Ajayi’s ability to run with power and get extra yards after being hit everything seemed to fall into place.

On the other side of the ball defensively Miami has improved.  This can be credited to the fact that Miami is running the ball more and having much longer drives.  Both games the Dolphins have won the battle for time of possession.  This gives the defense time to rest and be ready when they’re called upon to maintain their lead. The Dolphins’ defense led by their defensive line featuring Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake was able to contain Tyrod Taylor and Lesean McCoy something the Dolphins have struggled with for a while. 

Early in the season the Dolphins offense was horrid.  They were one of the worst teams in the league converting 3rd downs and they were a pass only offense.  Nothing seemed to be working and Adam Gase was showing impatience with the running game which led him quickly to surrender to the passing attack.  Adam Gase in the past two contests has finally shown patience in the running game.  It’s clear he is growing as a coach and just when he may have started to lose the locker room at a 1-4 record his team is now 3-4 and the word “Playoffs” is all of a sudden not a pipe dream.  

 

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