Where to start?
The Dolphins’ offense: Surprisingly sharp.
Their defense: As good as advertised.
Ndamukong Suh: Already disruptive.
Ryan Tannehill: Already dialed in.
But the most encouraging part of Thursday night’s preseason debut — a game the Dolphins lost 27-10 to the host Bears — was the bell that never rang.
The Dolphins’ starting offensive line was not an issue.
Translation: Evan Mathis might be waiting at least another week for his phone to ring.
That’s because although Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner weren’t perfect, they were plenty good enough.
Miami’s starting left and right guards, respectively, more than held their own on the Dolphins’ 14-play, 85-yard touchdown drive to open the preseason.
They helped keep Tannehill’s pocket clean.
Turner opened a massive backside hole that Lamar Miller exploited with a 27-yard carry.
And they gave Tannehill enough time to find Jarvis Landry for a 2-yard touchdown pass on fourth down.
“Really good opening possession,” Joe Philbin said. “Guys stepped up and made plays.”
Said Team CEO Tom Garfinkel said on the CBS-4 telecast: “The opening drive told the tale why we’re so excited.”
Added Tannehill: “I felt like we were balanced and did what we needed to do.”
And they overcame adversity.
Two holding penalties — one by Turner, the other by Jason Fox — made a long field even longer.
Tannehill completed all but one of his seven passing attempts for 56 yards, a score and a 139.6 passer rating.
Miller averaged 10.7 yards per rush. The Dolphins’ starting offense averaged 7.2 yards per play.
Then it was the defense’s turn. One of Philbin’s favorite tropes is for his team to play complementary football. Cam Wake loves talking about one hand washing the other.
On Thursday, the Dolphins’ hands were squeaky clean.
Their defense might somehow be better than advertised.
The Bears’ first drive with the Dolphins at full strength? Three plays. Two yards.
Suh was on the field for just a handful of snaps. But in that time, he had at least two impact plays.
Even without safety Louis Delmas, the Dolphins’ secondary was solid.
That’s not to say the night went without a hiccup. The Dolphins, already without Koa Misi, lost two more linebackers — Chris McCain and Jordan Tripp — to ankle injuries.
And, as expected, the game got ragged once the starters left. McLeod Bethel-Thompson threw two interceptions. Mike Gillislee lost a fumble. Anthony Johnson jumped offside three times.
But the Dolphins are built around stars.
On Thursday, those stars were as advertised.
And their guards? Not a problem.