Here is another fact: Pass protection has been awful for the Dolphins in the past three days of training camp.
Trench play is something that’s not sexy to observe or discuss. But I’ve kept a close eye on the offensive and defensive lines the past two days of training camp since the team went in full pads both days. It’s difficult to evaluate those groups in shorts, but in pads you get a clearer sense of the physicality that takes place in real games.
Miami’s defensive front seven took over both practices in full pads. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, for example, absolutely dominated the Dolphins’ interior offensive line on Saturday. Several defensive players, such as linebacker Chris McCain and defensive ends Olivier Vernon, Cameron Wake and Terrence Fede all registered sacks on Sunday.
In addition, Miami had issues running screen plays and Tannehill had a pair of big turnovers. One was a pick-six in the red zone to Dolphins safety Reshad Jones, who returned it about 97 yards. The second bad play was a fumbled exchange that Wake scooped up and took the other way for a score.
It was another strong day for Miami’s defense due in large part to the fact its front seven dominated the line of scrimmage.
“We have to have a little bit cleaner pocket for our quarterbacks. That’s one thing that I noticed overall,” coach Joe Philbin said. “It’s not one specific guy. But I would just say overall that’s something that we want to do. If we push the ball down the field, we have to take seven steps at times and hold the ball to let the routes extend.”
Is it too early to be concerned about Miami's pass protection? Or is this a sign of things to come?
The Dolphins have two big holes at guard. Dallas Thomas, Billy Turner, Jeff Linkenbach and rookie Jamil Douglas are all competing for two spots, and no one to date has stepped up to take over a starting role. There has been speculation of free-agent guard Evan Mathis being a fit in Miami, but money and length of contract would be question marks.
It would be easier to write this off as just a few bad practices if Miami’s pass protection was good the past few years. But that has not been the case. That makes the early warning signs troubling.
“It's our second day in pads; it's a little bit too early,” Philbin said. “But we want the quarterback to feel confident and comfortable back there and be able to follow through on his throwing motion so the ball doesn't hang in the air. There's a lot of things that go into it. We want to see it improve.”