So this is what $114 million gets you:
A tackle in the backfield for a 12-yard loss on one play.
A drive-ending backside pursuit on the next.
And that was on the first drive alone.
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The Dolphins’ offense had two modes on a muggy Friday night at FIU Stadium: When Ndamukong Suh was on the field. And when Ndamukong Suh was not.
They struggled when he was. They scored points when he wasn’t.
Suh was somehow better than advertised during the team’s annual scrimmage, making at least four impact plays with jaw-dropping dominance.
“Just the energy he brings to the defense in the pass game and the run defense ...” quarterback Ryan Tannehil began.
“You can feel him out there,” coach Joe Philbin finished.
As for right guard Billy Turner, who had yet another rough go of it against arguably the best defensive lineman in football?
“He’s a great player. ... The good thing is he’s on our side,” Turner said.
To be fair, the Dolphins offensive line was grossly undermanned. Dallas Thomas sat out with a shoulder injury. Branden Albert still needs to build strength around his mending knee before he returns to the field. And Jason Fox dressed but didn’t play with an undisclosed issue.
Those issues left the Dolphins scrambling to protect Tannehill’s blind side. Aundrey Walker, Donald Hawkins and Jeff Linkenbach all got looks with the first team at left tackle. Jamil Douglas got the nod at left guard.
Strangely, they weren’t the problem. Turner was. He got beat at least three times by Suh, including once with a bull rush that would have been a sack in a real game.
“I was talking to a lot of our linebackers and our defensive linemen,” Suh said. “I was like, ‘We want to meet at the quarterback.’ ... At end of the day my job is to come out here and make plays, but at the same time create havoc for my other teammates to make plays.
“I’m excited, it’s very, very scratching the surface for me.”
A scary thought for opposing offenses — and Turner, who has yet to prove he’s the answer at right guard.
With each passing day, the temptation surely grows for the Dolphins to reconsider Evan Mathis, the two-time Pro Bowl guard who remains a free agent. The team has interest in Mathis, but the two sides are far apart on money.
“When you run the football and a D-tackle tackles you 10 yards in the backfield, that hurts,” Tannehill said, acknowledging the obvious.
Tannehill showed some rust of his own, throwing interceptions to Brent Grimes and Bobby McCain. The pick to Grimes was a miscommunication with Greg Jennings; McCain, meanwhile, just made a dazzling play in the end zone.
On the night, Tannehill completed 11 of 17 passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns, including a perfect 26-yard seam throw to Jordan Cameron.
“I feel good about where we’re at,” Tannehill said. “Obviously, we’re never complacent. ... This is a stepping-stone along our journey.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Seven Dolphins did not dress Friday because of injury: Albert; Thomas; corner Shamiel Gary (shoulder); safety Don Jones (shoulder); linebacker Koa Misi (calf); and wide receivers DeVante Parker (foot) and Kenny Stills (calf).
▪ Brice McCain took the first snap with the starters at corner, but he split snaps with Jamar Taylor. Both broke up a pass.
▪ LaMichael James led all backs with 41 yards on nine carries.
▪ Caleb Sturgis and Andrew Franks were perfect on field-goal attempts. Sturgis connected from 38, 41 and 46 yards. Franks was good from 39, 44 and 51.
▪ Despite a passing lightning storm that delayed the scrimmage’s start by 40 minutes, FIU Stadium was largely full. The announced attendance: 16,407.