In My Opinion

Grading the game: Dolphins at Texans

 
WEB VOTE If the Miami Dolphins were to appoint a team captain, who should it be?

asalguero@miamiherald.com

QUARTERBACK

Ryan Tannehill is not ready to carry this team, and that’s the team’s problem more than it is his. Tannehill threw one truly bad interception when a cornerback stepped in front of a receiver for the pick. But his two other interceptions came on passes that were batted into the air at the line of scrimmage — the fault of offensive linemen not making sure the defensive linemen got their arms down. The rookie QB has much to learn and could be more accurate as off-target throws to Davone Bess and Anthony Armstrong on a slant proved. But he’s a rookie. He’s learning. Grade: C

RUNNING BACKS

Reggie Bush was Miami’s offensive star. He rushed for 69 yards and averaged 4.9 yards per carry, and he also caught six passes for 46 yards. Yes, he had the fumble, which is problematic, but Miami recovered the miscue. If everyone had played as well, the game would have been closer. Daniel Thomas was having a nice game until he got plowed in the head on a carry that resulted in a fumble and him leaving the game to be tested for a possible concussion. Jorvorksie Lane continued the trend of Miami backs doing good work in the passing game, catching a pass for 24 yards. Grade: C+

RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS

Brian Hartline missed all of training camp and still had the best game of any Miami wideout. He caught slants in traffic and then had the 34-yarder over his shoulder. Good work. Davone Bess was similarly trustworthy, although his production was pedestrian. Everyone else? Didn’t really show up on offense. Legedu Naanee should have fought more for the football on the interception by Jonathan Joseph, but he had a nice block on Marcus Thigpen’s punt return. That makes him a good special teams contributor but not much help as a wide receiver. Grade: C

OFFENSIVE LINE

Two holding calls against Richie Incognito. Another for Jake Long. Jonathan Martin got handled by budding star J.J. Watt. Nope, the Dolphins didn’t exactly dominate up front. There were moments early in the game — perhaps the first 20 minutes or so — when the running game was working. There were wide swaths of room between blocks. Unfortunately, it didn’t last. Unfortunately, when the Dolphins had to pass, the Texans were the better team along the line of scrimmage. Grade: C-

DEFENSIVE LINE

The Texans are a very good rushing team but not this day. They only managed 2.4 yards per carry. Randy Starks was Miami’s most effective pass rusher, and perhaps starting him out at defensive end is a thought coaches should consider. Cameron Wake, expected to be the leader of the Dolphins line, managed only three tackles without a sack. Grade: C+

LINEBACKERS

Well, Koa Misi showed up. He was active sideline to sideline and led the team with 11 tackles, including one for loss. Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby got their share of work but didn’t seem to have either obvious moments of struggle or obvious moments of excellence. The Dolphins are desperate for some game-changing plays from these guys. Didn’t really get any this game. Grade: C

SECONDARY

This unit needs to get better because too many receivers found soft spots in the zone, and when there was one-on-one work by the cornerbacks, the Texans receivers generally won. Richard Marshall was caught with his back to the football and had no idea of where it was on a couple of plays. Sean Smith competed, especially on a touchdown to Andre Johnson, but Johnson is simply a dominant player and came up with the play. Reshad Jones was active with seven tackles, and Chris Clemons was caught taking a bad angle to an incomplete pass he should have intercepted. Grade: C-

SPECIAL TEAMS

Marcus Thigpen is the Miami offense. Well, he turned in the first punt return TD by a Miami player since Ted Ginn did it on Nov. 18, 2007. Thigpen is a shining example of what good personnel work can do for a team. Punter Brandon Fields and kicker Dan Carpenter were solid, as usual while Miami’s coverage teams were excellent. Grade: A

COACHING

There really wasn’t anything innovative in the game plan. The problem of deflected passes at the line of scrimmage, which was apparent in the preseason, still persists. Grade: D

OVERALL

Coaches told players they must play 60 minutes and play hard — and well — to win. The Dolphins accomplished the feat the first 20 minutes then fell apart. Grade: D

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