- DeVante Parker and Preston Williams– Unfortunately, there wasn’t much “good” to come out of this game, but one moderately bright spot was the play of wide receivers DeVante Parker and Preston Williams. Parker had a highlight real grab in double coverage and finished the day catching 3 balls for 75 yards. While not exactly eye-popping numbers, he at least made a big play for the offense when given the opportunity. As for Williams, he didn’t receive as many reps as Parker, but he made the few that he did receive count. He finished the day with 3 catches for 24 yards and the lone touchdown of the game on an acrobatic toe tapping catch in the back of the endzone. He also almost had another touchdown on a deep ball from Fitzpatrick, but had it broken up before he could secure the ball. Hopefully with more playing time, Williams can develop into the big-bodied playmaker the Dolphins need from the wide receiver position.
- Jason Sanders– Special teams were an issue for Miami against the Ravens, but don’t include Jason Sanders in that conversation. Sanders was his usual reliable self and nailed a 54-yard field goal and his only PAT of the game.
- They didn’t forfeit?
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) September 9, 2019
- Minkah Fitzpatrick– Every other play it seemed as if Minkah was getting beat for a completion. While he was solid in pass coverage last year, it seems that his lack of a true position may be impacting his play to start this year. Minkah played all over the field against the Ravens but was not particularly effective anywhere he lined up. It could be possible that Brian Flores is putting too much on his plate this early in his career and it may be beneficial to develop him at just one or two positions, instead of trying to move him around the entire defense.
- The run game– Miami rushed for a whopping 21 yards against Baltimore, while averaging a mere 1.8 yards per carry. Not exactly numbers that are going to keep you in games, let alone win them. While the backs didn’t do a great job of creating for themselves, you can’t place the blame on them for the lack of running lanes the offensive line provided. This shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise to anyone, considering the talent that Miami is working with along the o-line. It will be interesting to see if Miami uses fullback Chandler Cox more going forward to help open up some running lanes for Miami’s running backs.
- Penalties– While it seems that Brian Flores is more of a disciplinarian than former head coach Adam Gase, it didn’t show up in the form of penalties Miami committed to open the season. Miami finished the game with 9 accepted penalties for 64 yards, which isn’t as bad as Cleveland’s 18 accepted penalties for 182 yards but is still more than you’d like to see from a team that has stressed discipline and accountability all offseason. This could easily be attributed to having the youngest roster in the league, but if Flores wants to at least be competitive going forward, he is going to have to get those penalties cleaned up.
- Flores’s defensive scheme– Miami fans have long loathed former defensive coordinator Matt Burke’s defensive scheme and were optimistic that Flores would bring his creative scheme that he used during his days in New England down to South Florida. Well, after one week, it looks as if that scheme was lost in the move down here. Miami generated next to zero pass rush, which gave Lamar Jackson all day to dissect the secondary on his way to a perfect passer rating and 5 touchdown passes (RGIII later added a 6th touchdown pass). Not only was the pass rush non-existent, there were multiple blown coverage’s in the secondary. All in all, it was a putrid performance by Flores and his defense and will need to be corrected and fast if Miami doesn’t want to be the laughingstock of the NFL for the remainder of the season.
- Special teams– With the exception of Jason Sanders and punter Matt Haack, Miami’s special teams’ unit was atrocious, particularly the punt return unit. Jakeem Grant muffed a punt that set Baltimore up inside the 10-yard line and Baltimore converted a fake punt for 60 yards to setup another score. It might not be long until Miami regrets losing longtime special teams coach Darren Rizzi to New Orleans if this type of play continues the rest of the year.
- Personnel decisions– I’m not talking about trading away Robert Quinn, Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills, Kiko Alonso, and cutting or letting other proven players walk in free agency. You can debate those moves all you want, but they were made with the intention of building for the future. Whether you agree with that or not is another story. I’m talking about the personnel decisions that were made with the players currently on the roster and how Flores has decided to use them this season. I have already touched on Minkah Fitzpatrick and how his multiple roles on defense seem to be affecting his play but that is just one of many questionable decisions in terms of where players are positioned. Bobby McCain signed the richest deal for any nickel corner at the time because he was solid in that role and now Flores has him playing free safety, a position he hasn’t played in years. Shaq Calhoun was the starting right guard all offseason and all of a sudden is a healthy scratch week 1. Jesse Davis was the starting right tackle all offseason and was flipped to the left side and former left tackle Julien Davenport took his place at right tackle. John Jenkins wasn’t even on the team a few days ago and all of a sudden is starting on the defensive line. Maybe after a few more weeks of practicing and playing together these moves will pan out, but they sure didn’t work out this Sunday.
While I don’t think many fans were expecting Miami to be Super Bowl or even playoff contenders this year, the product Miami put on the field this Sunday was not exactly inspiring. If the plan really is to “tank” this year in order to secure the #1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, then I think we are off to a rousing start.
If there is one thing Miami fans can take a bit of joy from in week 1, Adam Gase and the New York Jets blew a 16 point lead against the Buffalo Bills in his first game as head coach. And in true Gase fashion, Darnold threw the ball 41 times for a whopping 175 yards. I, for one, won’t miss the days of bubble screens and draws on third and long, although suffering through 40+ point losses for the time being isn’t exactly a great alternative.