The Miami Dolphins’ opening 2018 game was a wild one, for sure.
In what would eventually become the longest game in NFL history (since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970), the Dolphins came out with a win against the Tennessee Titans. A win that puts the Dolphins atop the standings in the AFC East with the New England Patriots and New York Jets, ahead of their Week 2 matchup. With so many delays, it was difficult for anyone to grab a rhythm in this game, but there’s still a lot we can take away from the first performance of the season.
The biggest story coming into Sunday for the Miami Dolphins was obviously the return of quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill and head coach Adam Gase led the Dolphins to the playoffs two years ago, bringing an end to an eight-year absence. That playoff run didn’t come without a heavy cost. Tannehill was injured in the team’s 13th game and missed the remainder of the season. He then chose to rehab the injury instead of opting for surgery, as to be ready for training camp. Unfortunately, he re-injured that knee and missed the entire 2017 season.
To say he was missed would be an understatement. Dolphins fans everywhere were excited for his return, and he didn’t disappoint.
For portions of the game, Tannehill and the Dolphins offense were firing on all cylinders. But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The Dolphins offense did struggle on third downs and particularly struggled in the red zone. On the defensive side of things, the team did see marked improvement over the 2017 squad. Rookie safety/cornerback hybrid Minkah Fitzpatrick already looks like a star. The linebackers are visibly faster and more athletic than last year’s group. But the defense still struggled to cover tight ends and failed to get any real pressure against a banged-up Titans offensive line.
Of course, it’s important to remember that this is the first game of the year. The NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint, so we should all be cautious about overreacting to the things we saw on Sunday. With that being said, there were a lot of good — and some troubling — things we saw on Sunday that could be a trend throughout the remainder of the season. There’s certainly no reason for panic yet, especially this early in the season, but don’t be surprised if you see pieces harping on a few of these issues come November and December.
Before we shift our focus to the Jets, let’s revel in the win a bit more with three big takeaways from the game.
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