When all else fails you play the Tennessee Titans. That’s what the dysfunctional Miami Dolphins did as they soundly defeated the Titans 38-10 before and angry crowd at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
Once the model NFL franchise, the Miami Dolphins have been a train wreck since the forced departure of legendary coach Don Shula after the 1995 season. The team that had two quarterback for 32 of their first 34 seasons have been a revolving door of quarterbacks and who had one coach (Shula for 25 years) have had none in the past 20 years. The last three-plus years under Joe Philbin that saw a “bullying” scandal and a team coming into the 2015 season one of the highest payrolls with high profile acquisition Ndamukong Suh have been underwhelming going into the bye week with only one win on opening week – a comeback victory at that. Going into the bye week Philbin was relieved of his duties and tight ends coach Dan Campbell was named interim head coach.
The Dolphins have not played this inspired since t glory days of the franchise back when there was a “No-Name” defense and the “Killer B’s” were buzzing around. Defensive end Cameron Wake had one tackle total for the first four games so far this season. He had four sacks by halftime. The Dolphins as a team had only one quarterback sack going into the game with Tennessee.
Everybody showed up, it wasn’t an individual, it was a team win,” said Dolphins safety Reshad Jones who also added to the highlight tape for the Dolphins by picking off a Marcus Mariota pass and returning it for a touchdown. “I studied film all week. Once I saw a certain formation, I knew the ball should be coming on a slant. I took advantage and I got it in the end zone,” he said about his interception.
For the Titans – they met a buzz saw. No one knew what to expect out of the Dolphins. The team seemed in total disarray before the firing of Philbin but the Dolphins came prepared to play.
“I think Dan (Campbell) energizes. He does a great job of motivating and setting the tone on what we want to do both offensively and defensively, just how we want to be, the mindset we want to have and it’s contagious,” said Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. “We felt it last week as soon as he took over, he initially hit the ground with that and guys bought in. It’s been fun for us to see it happen over the past two weeks.”
Tannehill had a decent game against the Titans. He’s still a turnover machine as he threw two against the Titnas but he countered with two touchdown passes. Tannenhill completed 22-of-29 passes for 266 yards.
The Dolphins run game which had been pretty non-existent all season led the way for the Dolphins as they took the opening drive and finished it off with a 22-yard touchdown run by Jarvis Landry and finished the first half with a 30-yard touchdown run by Lamar Miller. Miller finished the game with a season best 113 yards rushing on 19 carries to average 5.9 yards a carry.
“I think both lines kind of set the tone for the game. We kind of talked about it for the last week and a half. That’s what we wanted to do, that’s how we want to play, is to set the tone up front. Move guys off the ball, get the ground game going and that really opens up our entire game book,” said Tannehill. “It was great to see those guys moving the double teams up front and the backs were hitting the holes hard. Lamar (Miller) was getting tough yardage whether it was big yards or three or four yard runs. He was hitting the hole hard and getting everything that he could.”
The Titans offense never really got anything established. Mariota was knocked around like a ragdoll and took a low hit in the second quarter that resulted in a MCL sprain. Mariota toughed it out staying in the game but wore a knee brace the second half.
The rookie number two overall pick was sacked a total of five times by the aggressive Dolphin defense. “They did a good job of just coming off the ball. I tried my best to change up some of the cadences, but that front is a veteran group and they did a good job. Hats off to them, give them credit,” said Mariota.
The hit that Mariota took to the knee by Oliver Vernon resulted in a roughing the passes call but many believed it called for a fine as many fell just short of calling it a cheap shot. Mariota was much more laid back about the play. “I don’t have an opinion about it. He came up to me after the game and apologized so I don’t think it was malicious at all.”
Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt didn’t think so. “It was (BS). I think it should be taken out of the game. It’s not the way you play football. I think it was done with the idea of trying to hurt our quarterback, and that’s (BS) football.”
Besides being sacked five times Mariota threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles in the loss. When Whisenhunt was asked if the thought on if Mariota’s performance was due to a bad knee, the pressure he was under or having a bad day, he said, “Maybe a little bit of all three. I don’t know. He’s a battler. I love the kid. He’s going to be a really good quarterback in the league. It starts with us being able to protect him better.”
Dolphins interims coach Dan Campbell was asked how the win ranked in his life accomplishments. “It’s high. I don’t know how high it is. It’s obviously very high, He said. “It’s a brand new experience and it’s with a bunch of men that want it and work hard and, you know, some of the greatest athletes in the world. It’s a good feeling, but there again, that’s one. That’s one game, that’s it. We’ve got Houston next week, so I don’t want to go too far with it.”
Titans guard Byron Bell was asked what he thought about the rest of the season from this day forward. “I’ve played in enough, and I know, ball games to know that if you continue to fight and give yourself a chance, instead of doing enough to get by – just win. We just have to have the ‘want to’.” He said. “I think guys in this locker room and coaches and everybody in the building have the ‘want to’, we just have to do it. We can sit up here and talk and put stuff in the media that we have to do this and we have to do that. But instead of just talking, just do it. I know it’s a cliché that talk is cheap, but we just have to win ball games. And that’s just period. We have to have the hunger and fire and count on one another, because the guy next to me is helping me feed my family and I’m helping him. And that’s coaches included, because we are all in this together. But I’m telling you who isn’t quitting, and that’s (jersey number) 76. Period.”
The Titans remain home this weekend as they welcome the Atlanta Falcons to Nissan Stadium on Sunday. Kickoff is scheduled for 1pm and the game will be aired on Fox.
– Dave Weinthal
Enigma's mobile Concert Calendar!