The Miami Dolphins second preseason game against the Carolina Panthers is now in the books, and needless to say, there were some great things to celebrate, and then there were some horrible things to groan loudly about.
The loss against the Panthers ended with a whimper as Josh Freeman somehow managed to throw an interception to a defensive lineman while trying to throw a short dump off to a running back. I think it's safe to assume that Freeman's fate is sealed at this point.
But that's not one of the takeaways, that would be a complete waste of time. Here are my real three takeaways from the Dolphins 31-30 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Ryan Tannehill's offense is good, really good
There was still some skepticism regarding the Miami Dolphins starting offense considering their first real test was against the lowly Chicago Bears defense, and in their one drive, they scored a touchdown. Well now against the Carolina Panthers defense - which is a much better defense overall, even with their defensive line depleted - the Dolphins showed it wasn't a fluke.
Ryan Tannehill had another excellent game, going 12-for-15 for 105 yards and a touchdown to running back Damien Williams, and his QB Rating was 117.2. That's for the QB rating truthers out there by the way. It appears that the pieces around Tannehill actually fit around him, and it isn't a figment of our imaginations.
After the first drive stalled, the Dolphins marched down the field against the Panthers starting defense twice and scored two touchdowns, and they potentially could've scored much faster but tight end Jordan Cameron dropped a deep pass from Tannehill that went right through his hands.
The starting offense - despite it's questionable offensive line - has shown that it can play at a high level, and if they had stayed in, it's possible that they could've scored more than the 30 total points the Dolphins put up as a whole team. The next game will likely have the starters out for a whole half, and Atlanta's defense is also bad. We'll see how it goes.
The offensive line should be sufficient for the season
I say this tentatively because injuries always have a way of ruining teams' hopes and dreams, but just based on what I saw against the Carolina Panthers, I think the offensive line should be good enough to let the Dolphins succeed in 2015. Just for clarification, I didn't say the line would be great, I said it would be good enough.
For the Lazor offense, that's all you really need.
I have said in my last few training camp reports that offensive lineman Dallas Thomas has shown significant improvement, and I was given a lot of flack for suggesting that Thomas was anything other than his usual below mediocre self. But in today's game against the Panthers, Thomas continued his elevated level of play.
There were several times that Thomas was left on an island with his opponent, while left tackle Jason Fox struggled to keep his pass-rushers from getting by him and crushing Ryan Tannehill.
Overall, I would go as far as to say Dallas Thomas was the best offensive lineman out there, along with center Mike Pouncey. If Thomas can do this well without Branden Albert on the line flanking him, he should do even better when Albert returns.
Billy Turner on the other hand needs to figure things out. At one point he just flat out missed his assignment, and he really had trouble maintaining his blocks. Hopefully he'll get his act together, and the offensive line will be able to balance out when the season actually starts.
Dolphins depth is an issue
There were a few injuries in Saturday's game. Cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Bobby McCain both left the game with injuries, and backup left tackle Jason Fox was taken out of the game to go through the NFL's concussion protocol. In the process, the Dolphins extreme lack of depth was exposed.
At this point, the play of the guards should not be what everyone is worried about, but it should be the offensive tackles. Aundrey Walker and Donald Hawkins are nowhere near good enough to take over in the case of an injury, and Fox is the only one good enough to take over should either Albert or James go down.
But since Albert is already down, Fox is playing left tackle, and even then he's not doing all that great. It's possible Jeff Linkenbach could take over, but he's doing even worse at offensive tackle, so there's danger there.
The secondary is also in trouble. The depth chart behind Bobby McCain is questionable at best. Third-year corner Will Davis functions much better when he's running forward, and he's not nearly as good when he's actually in coverage. Everyone else behind him and veteran Zack Bowman? Not worth mentioning.
Jamar Taylor says he's ok, but if he gets hurt, the depth in the secondary is not very deep, and the linebacker position is also the same when you get past Zach Vigil. The Dolphins need to hope that injuries are kept at a minimum this season, because if they start to pile up, their ability to compete could be seriously hampered.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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