Miami’s Magical Start

Unexpectedly Undefeated, How did the Dolphins get here?

by Contributing NFL writer Brian Akins @BrianWNML

When you look at the final three teams that are undefeated in the NFL, the Miami Dolphins are not one of those teams that you would expect to be 3-0 but they are.  Why?  Well, I am going to take a look at just that.

Through three weeks of the NFL season, the Dolphins have found ways to remain unbeaten and are the number one team in the AFC East right now.  Miami defeated one of their divisional foes in the New York Jets in week two, 20-12.

Week One Opponent: Tennessee Titans

In week one of the NFL season, Miami faced off against AFC South opponent Tennessee in a record 7 hour, 8 minute long game, due to weather delays.  In the week one matchup, the teams had nearly identical stats across the board, but after multiple lightning delays Miami was able to score one more touchdown over the Titans, getting a 27-20 victory.

Week Two Opponent: New York Jets

In week two of the NFL season, the Dolphins matched up against AFC East divisional opponent in the New York Jets.  Miami was able to hold the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets to one touchdown with a missed PAT and two field goals in this contest.  The Dolphins on the other hand were able to score three touchdowns in this week two matchup to get a 20-12 win over New York.

Week Three Opponent: Oakland Raiders

In week three of the NFL season, Miami faced off against AFC West opponent Oakland.  The Raiders under new head coach Jon Gruden came into Miami with an 0-2 record, but looking to turn that around.  Through much of the game, it looked like Oakland would make that happen as they got out to a 17-7 lead over Miami.  However, the Dolphins were able to bring things closer being down only 17-14 in the third quarter and in the fourth quarter Miami took a 28-17 lead over the Raiders.  Ultimately, Miami defeated Oakland by a final score of 28-20 when it was all said and done.

Miami is now undefeated on the year with a 3-0 record.  The question is how are the Dolphins unbeaten?  Well, one key to their 3-0 record is their ability to score on offense.  Miami through three weeks has 972 yards total on offense.  Quarterback Ryan Tannehill through three weeks is 54 of 74 with 687 yards and seven touchdowns.  Tannehill, who made his return after missing the majority of 2017, has looked solid through three weeks this season.  Miami is also getting solid production out of their wide receivers with Kenny Stills (9 rec, 184 yards and 3 TDs), Albert Wilson (8 rec, 142 yards and 2 TDs) and Jakeem Grant (9 rec, 135 yards and 2 TDs) have all been effective and efficient for the Dolphins.

A second reason I believe that Miami is unbeaten on the year is due to the Dolphin’s special teams.  Primary returner Jakeem Grant has 7 kickoff returns for 264 yards and one touchdown.  Grant has averaged 37.7 yards per return so far this season.  On punts for Grant, he has 4 returns for 47 yards and an average of 11.8 yards per return.  Place kicker Jason Sanders is a perfect 2-2 on field goal attempts and 9-10 on extra point attempts this season.  Lastly, punter Matt Haack has 16 punts for an impressive 792 yards and an average of 49.5 yards per punt so far this season.

The third and final reason that I believe that Miami is undefeated through three weeks is because of the Dolphins’ defense.  Miami’s defense has had the ability to put pressure on the quarterback, force tackles for loss and pick the ball off.  In three weeks, Miami has six sacks, 11 tackles for loss and seven interceptions that have compiled 151 yards returned on those picks.

I think that Miami is off to a nice start this season with great production from Ryan Tannehill and his receiving corps and his running backs in Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake.  I believe that the Dolphins have something good going with their offensive line as well.  Miami has things going their way right now, but the real test will come this week when they travel north to Gillette Stadium to face off against the New England Patriots.  I know the Patriots are struggling with their 1-2 record, but it still is New England with Tom Brady.  So, Miami faces a big test to see if they can pressure Brady and force turnovers, and to see if the offense under Tannehill can continue to produce.

I like the Dolphins so far this season, I like the way that they are playing on offense and defense.  I love to see their secondary flying around making plays, and on the flip side I enjoy watching Tannehill come back from injury and sling the ball all over the field.  If Miami can win this week against the Patriots, they can set themselves up nicely in the AFC East at 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the division.  Adam Gase has figured out a way to use this offense without Jarvis Landry and find ways to use Jakeem Grant and Kenny Stills effectively.  I will take the Dolphins on the road over the Patriots by a final score of 31-24.

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