The Miami Dolphins nearly pulled the biggest upset of Week 1 in a 12-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Miami led until 31 seconds remaining when Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson connected with receiver Doug Baldwin for the go-ahead, 2-yard touchdown reception.
After going back and studying the film of the game, here are several notes and observations on the Dolphins:
There were some positives and negatives in the regular-season debut of first-round pick Laremy Tunsil. The good is he played all 53 offensive snaps, which is a sign that he’s well-conditioned and didn’t get banged up in the game. The bad is Tunsil must clean up some fundamental errors and rookie mistakes. One thing that continuously shows up on film since the preseason is Tunsil’s inability to pick up stunts from the defensive line. He struggled with that again Sunday and that resulted in some hits on quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Tunsil often recognizes the stunt too late and sticks to blocking the wrong the lineman. Also, Tunsil had some responsibility in the blocked field goal, which cannot happen at a crucial moment.
The defensive line, as a group, played one of its best games that I've seen in the past few seasons. The Dolphins mostly rushed four defenders and still got good pressure on Russell Wilson, who was hit nine times and sacked three times. Defensive linemen such as Ndamukong Suh, Mario Williams, Jason Jones, Cameron Wake and Andre Branch won one-on-one matchups and kept coming in waves. The group got thin late in the game after Williams went into concussion protocol and Wake had played 29 of 82 snaps. But if the Dolphins can consistently get this level of pressure with mostly a four-man pass-rush and drop seven defenders, their defense will be tough for a lot of teams.
Receiver Kenny Stills had a poor game. It wasn’t just his big drop in the first half that could have been a game-changer and resulted in touchdown. Stills’ blocking on bubble screens and in the running game was subpar. It wasn’t for lack of effort. Stills put himself in position but just wasn’t physical enough at the point of attack. That’s an area he must improve.
Starting running back Arian Foster didn’t rush for a lot of yards (38), but he showed some things that were impressive. Foster still has tricks up his sleeve, such as a stuttered step that worked on his 50-yard reception against Seattle Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas and the ability to stick his foot in the ground hard and go for tough yards against last year’s No. 1 run defense.
The Dolphins are working on trust with rookie kick and punt returner Jakeem Grant. He did pretty well in his first game with 83 total return yards, which included a 45-yard kickoff return. Miami elected to have Grant field three punts and Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry field three punts. The 5-foot-7 Grant is a fearless returner but needs to avoid taking big shots if he wants to have longevity in the NFL.