Bryant McKinnie shows promise in debut

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It wasn’t all bad for the Miami Dolphins during their 27-17 loss to the New England Patriots.

Yes, the Dolphins lost their fourth straight game. Yes, Miami allowed 24 unanswered points in the second half to New England. But there were a few bright spots in defeat.

One of the biggest signs of life in Miami’s loss was the impromptu performance of new left tackle Bryant McKinnie. He was acquired less than a week ago and had just three practices. Yet, the veteran and former Pro Bowler held his own under tough circumstances.

McKinnie showed good feet in pass blocking and was a cog in Miami’s season-high 156 rushing yards. The Dolphins averaged 5.0 yards per carry and controlled the line of scrimmage most of the game, in part due to McKinnie.

“I feel like I did a decent job,” McKinnie said in the locker room afterwards. “To come in here on Tuesday and play on Sunday and had to learn a bunch of stuff in a short couple days, it only gets better from here. I get more time to learn.”

The final pass protection numbers were deceiving. Miami wound up allowing six sacks. But all six came in the second half once the Dolphins lost momentum and became predictably pass-heavy.

McKinnie was solid against New England’s top pass-rusher Chandler Jones. The Patriots' defensive end was held without a sack. McKinnie was certainly an upgrade over embattled offensive tackle Tyson Clabo, who was benched Sunday after allowing eight sacks this season.

Most of New England’s sacks came from outside pressures and lack of blitz-pickups. That is something that must improve.

“We’re going to make some adjustments I’m sure, and we’re going to get things corrected,” McKinnie said.

Sacks remain an issue for Miami. But McKinnie’s performance on short notice Sunday is proof that the Dolphins’ pass protection can make strides.