The Tape Don’t Lie: Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins, a review

Sept 10, 2018
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis (84) is stopped short of a first down on fourth down by Miami Dolphins defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick (29) and Miami Dolphins defensive back Reshad Jones (20) at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Dolphins coach Adam Gase says, “The tape don’t lie.”

So each week, I’ll give the game tape a closer look.

Here are some things I noticed after watching Miami’s 27-20 defeat of the Tennessee Titans in the season opener, which also happened to be the longest game in NFL history due to two lengthy lightning delays:

PHOTOS: Check out the players, fans and cheerleaders from Sunday’s win vs. Tennessee

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) and head coach Adam Gase (right) Sunday. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post) Photo: Bill Ingram/The Palm Beach Post

1. Minkah Fitzpatrick has a Pro Bowl future

You may say he’s played only one NFL game. And you may say Miami didn’t really need another safety with the 11th pick in the last NFL draft. But Fitzpatrick, who is in fact currently a slot corner, is the real deal. We saw it throughout camp. We saw it in the preseason. And we saw it early in Miami’s first victory of the season.

He uses excellent technique. He puts in as much time as any Dolphin studying. He also brings tons of energy. Fitzpatrick brings juice to the unit with his youthful exuberance. He is, quite simply, a future Pro Bowler.

Minkah Fitzpatrick is a sure tackler and is mature beyond his rookie status.

2. Albert Wilson stirs the creative juices of Adam Gase.

Gase has had months and months to think up creative ways to use Wilson, the smallish but strong receiver/running back who does many of the things Jarvis Landry does, but at a fraction of the cost. Miami was only 2-for-10 on third downs, which is an issue that must still be corrected. But on one play in the first quarter,  Wilson got it done by himself.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson (15) is tackled by Tennessee Titans linebacker Kamalei Correa (44) after gaining a first down at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Ryan Tannehill hands to Albert Wilson, who has an option to pitch to Kenyan Drake. Nice. 

3. Reshad Jones is back to his old self.

Jones had a bunch of tackles last season, and made the Pro Bowl. But at least to me, he didn’t seem as dangerous a defender as he was in 2015 and in 2016, before he was hurt. Jones is playing fearlessly again. He’s showing that he can make plays on the ball down the field, with two interceptions of the Titans on Sunday. And, of course, the most exciting aspect of Jones’ game is how he’s able to trick opposing quarterbacks and running backs into thinking he’s not coming, and then — boom! — at the last minute, here he comes.

Miami Dolphins defensive back Reshad Jones (20) celebrates after making a third-quarter interception of Marcus Mariota on Sunday. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post)

Jones wasn’t perfect, as he will, and did, occasionally miss on an open-field tackle by going for a take-out shot. But Jones, at his best, always seems to make instinctual, game-changing plays.

This is Reshad Jones. Doing Reshad Jones things.

4. The Dolphins have speed to burn

The Dolphins are faster on offense. That’s what happens when you delete Landry and add Albert Wilson. That’s what happens when you delete Julius Thomas and add Mike Gesicki.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant (19) celebrates a touchdown on a kick-off return in the fourth quarter. (Bill Ingram /The Palm Beach Post) Photo: Bill Ingram/The Palm Beach Post

Jakeem Grant? A blur on that kickoff return touchdown, which was by the way, aided by key blocks from Walt Aikens and Senorise Perry.

The Dolphins have fast athletes on offense, defense and special teams. Kenyan Drake is explosive. Fitzpatrick is extremely quick. Jerome Baker is an athletic linebacker.

Miami has long wanted and tried to upgrade speed across the board and they’ve done a pretty nice job of that this season. Oh yeah - and Kenny Stills. He’s pretty fast, too.

Do you think Ryan Tannehill knew exactly where Stills would be when he uncorked the ball 46 yards on a 75-yard touchdown pass? Do you think Tannehill knew Stills would run right past former Patriot Malcolm Butler? Hell yeah, he did. Did you forget that in 2016, Tannehill hit Stills for touchdowns of 74, 66, 43, 39, 28 and 24 yards?

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills (10) enters the field for pre-game ceremonies at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post) Photo: Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post

“They all count the same,” Stills told me at the end of training camp.

“But when you catch a bomb, being a speed receiver, you go deep, you just know the momentum shifts. A quick score can mess up a defense’s confidence. And it really gives us that boost on offense to know that we can do it again.”

All spring and summer, Dolphins debated and discussed (maybe we fueled it a little, too) about which player was actually the fastest. It’s probably Grant. But actually, the right answer is, Miami has a lot of really fast dudes.

They're still chasing Jakeem The Dream.

5. EXTRA POINTS

Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake (32) stiff-arms Tennessee Titans linebacker Jayon Brown (55). (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post) Photo: Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post
Miami Dolphins running back Frank Gore (21) escapes a tackle attempt by Tennessee linebacker Brian Orakpo (98) on Sunday. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post) Photo: Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) and Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake (91) return to the field after the first weather delay at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

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