Miami Dolphins

Stadium impresses, game doesn’t in Dolphins preseason finale

Fins fans experience their first game at Hard Rock Stadium

Miami Dolphins play the Tennessee Titans at the newly renovated Hard Rock Stadium as fans experience the first game and the last preseason game in the stadium.
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Miami Dolphins play the Tennessee Titans at the newly renovated Hard Rock Stadium as fans experience the first game and the last preseason game in the stadium.

Fourth preseason games are like high-school hernia exams.

We’re told they’re necessary, but nobody enjoys them.

At least Thursday night brought the happy diversion of a new stadium.

Hard Rock Stadium, with its new roof, is amazing.

The game played under that roof Thursday?

Far from.

There was no Ryan Tannehill. No Ndamukong Suh. No Jarvis Landry. And no Reshad Jones.

The final score, for what little it’s worth, was Titans 21, Dolphins 10.

That will be forgotten quickly.

What won’t be, at least to Miami coaches: how a dozen or so Dolphins fighting for roster spots — or even starting jobs — performed.

Cuts are Saturday. Thursday was the final exam, and there was some good, but more bad.

Miami Dolphins cornerback Bobby McCain talks about playing in the newly renovated Hard Rock Stadium on September 1, 2016.

Here is a little of each:

The good: Arian Foster, who might have won the starting running back job by default. He dressed but didn’t play, yet still had a better night than ...

The bad: Jay Ajayi started, carried the ball three times and had one pass thrown his way. He fumbled on the first snap of the game and dropped the lone pass attempt.

The good: Rookie corner Xavien Howard had a strong debut, plus Bobby McCain and Tony Lippett each had an interception.

The bad: Those picks were the only incompletions third-stringer Alex Tanney had in the first half. His other 12 attempts were caught.

The good: Brandon Doughty insisted he had to play better to win a job. And he did. The rookie quarterback went 8 of 12 for 98 yards in a half’s action.

Hometown Miami Dolphins quarterback Brandon Doughty talks about playing while family watched and his performance as they were defeated by the Tennessee Titans, 21-10 at the Hard Rock Stadium.

The bad: Zac Dysert picked the worst time to have a bad night. He threw an end-zone interception and completed just 10 of 16 attempts for 85 yards.

We could go on, but you probably get the point. It was a mixed bag. The Dolphins couldn’t stop the run, allowing 128 yards on 31 carries. The Dolphins’ pass protection was again solid, but they averaged a paltry 2.4 yards per carry.

Yes, they forced three first-half turnovers, but scored off just one of them.

“We should have had points,” Adam Gase said at halftime.

An hour and a half later, the preseason was over. By then, his boss had already begun looking ahead to Sept. 11 in Seattle.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who paid for the stadium’s half-billion dollar modernization, spent a series in the CBS-4 broadcast booth in the second half.

He used the platform to praise his new coach, and take a veiled swipe at his last one.

Most notably: Ross said that Tannehill has a head coach who believes in him and “I don't think that's what he had in the past.”

That, of course, was a shot at Joe Philbin, who famously undermined Tannehill publicly in 2014 and privately discussed drafting a quarterback in the first round after just two seasons.

Miami Herald's Miami Dolphins reporter Adam Beasley, talks about the newly renovated Hard Rock Stadium and the struggling team in their last preseason game on Thurs., Sept. 1, 2016.

Philbin now coaches the Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line. Gase, meanwhile, was hired to fix the quarterback Philbin didn’t want.

Ross also said some “people thought” Gase might “have been brash” or “too young” to be a head coach. (Gase is the youngest coach in the NFL).

But Ross was impressed with Gase, calling him the owner’s top choice even before the interview. Ross also praised Gase’s intelligence and passion to win.

“Our future is in really good hands,” Ross added. “I think we have good talent here. There's a lot of reason for optimism. I like the course we're on.”

We’ll find out a week from Sunday if that optimism is warranted.

The games now count.

Thursday night, mercifully, was the preseason’s dying cough.

Miami Herald sports writer Barry Jackson contributed to this report.

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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