Greg Cote

Dolphins readiness after ‘dress rehearsal’ is alphabet lesson: Jays look ready, D does not

Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi scores on a 2-yard first-quarter touchdown run against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thurs., Aug. 24, 2017, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi scores on a 2-yard first-quarter touchdown run against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thurs., Aug. 24, 2017, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. TNS

Our quick-thought, quick-read observations from Thursday night’s third of four Miami Dolphins preseason games, at the Philadelphia Eagles:

If this was the big “dress rehearsal” for the Dolphins, perhaps an emergency call to Wardrobe may be in order? Or maybe a request to postpone Opening Night?

Because if the question today is, “Are you ready for some football?” ... well, um ... hmm ... are you sure?

Is the glass half full or half empty might be asked of your football team this late August. The offense feels close enough to full. But the defense? That was the issue in an exhibition game that saw Miami lose 28-24 with the first-teamers on the field, the only score that really mattered. The final score that didn’t matter: Eagles 38, Dolphins 31.

Let’s hit the positive first.

Jay Cutler threw for 105 yards and a touchdown in his only quarter, including a 72-yard strike to DeVante Parker. The bombardier is not afraid to go deep, and has the arm strength to back up the bravado. Not so good: He also lost fumble on a strip-sack. Blame the blocking breakdown if you wish. Especially left tackle Ja’Wuan James being beaten. Still, bottom line, that’s on Cutler, who has a reputation for turnovers and did not refute his rep on that play. Still, he looked good and (coupled with a couple of interceptions including a pick-six by Matt Moore) solidified his hold on the starting job.

But don’t be focusing on the wrong Jay, Dolfans.

Jay Ajayi reminded us the offense runs through him, with 53 yards on nine carries and a pair of 2-yard scoring runs. When you saw him bust that early 26-yard run up the middle, you nodded and knew. Ajayi needs to be the reliable offensive bedrock for this team no matter the quarterback play, and on that, Thursday was reassuring.

The defense was not.

Yes, there were positives om D. Lawrence Timmons had an interception, refuting notions he’s past his prime. Andre Branch had a sack to force a punt and Jordan Phillips had a big interception to set up Miami’s second TD. That’s big because, while Ndamukong Suh and Cam Wake dominate attention on that D-line, you need that third guy to step up.

But otherwise? The Dolphins pass defense was pretty ugly. It was looking clueless on a communication breakdown that left Torrey Smith uncovered on a 50-yard scoring pass from Carson Wentz. And again on a 15-yard scoring toss to Alshon Jeffery. Miami will see lots of quarterbacks better than Wentz this season, by the way. A dozen. Maybe more.

So, with training camp done and the last meaningful preseason game past, how does a Dolphins fan feel about his team?

Its an alphabet thing.

The two Jays make you feel pretty good.

The D, not so much.

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