- Ryan Tannehill looked very sharp in just short of 2 quarters worth of work. He was 14 of 17 for 100 yards as he dropped back, read the field and delivered the ball reasonably accurately to the open receiver. He showed no ill effects coming off of a torn ACL in 2017 and his passer rating for the night was a solid 91.2. Tannehill wasn’t asked to do much in that the Dolphins stuck to the short passing game. But there were virtually no negatives when looking at what he did and his performance was encouraging.
- Robert Quinn, acquired in the offseason from Los Angeles for a fourth round pick made Executive Vice-President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum and General Manager Chris Greer look good as he showed both quickness and power while rushing off of the edge. Quinn hasn’t been dominant for a couple years but certainly looked like he will be a handful for any offensive tackle in the league one-on-one if he keeps playing like he did against the Panthers. Overall the Dolphins pass rush was solid and Quinn was a big part of the effort.
- Xavien Howard got an interception on a pass where Panther’s quarterback Cam Newton evidently didn’t see him lurking on the left side of the defense. He returned the ball 34 yards. Howard also contributed to a rash of Dolphins penalties by committing a pass interference so his night wasn’t perfect. But his coverage was tight and he looked like he’s going to be the kind of asset the Dolphins thought he could be when they drafted him in the second round in 2016.
- Daniel Kilgore. The offensive line on the whole didn’t have a great night but Kilgore was solid in the middle. He was particularly effective blocking in the running game and held his own in pass protection. He did have one minor breakdown on a screen pass near the end of the first half but it was a difficult block with the defensive tackle making a good read after shading to the play side of the center. Miami’s situation at right guard and both tackles can be a bit unsteady at times. Kilgore’s presence could help stabilize the situation.
- Raekwon McMillan is effectively a rookie and though he was improved over his debut performance last week, he still looks like one as he was vary inconsistent on the night. McMillan shows excellent range and he frequently makes good, quick reads that get him in position to make plays from sideline to sideline. You can see why the Dolphins liked him when they drafted him in the second round in 2017 before an injury derailed his season. But he had trouble taking on and getting off of blocks and was solidly sealed out of the hole on a Christian McCaffrey 71 yard touchdown run in the first quarter. It also appeared that he failed to pick up tight end Ian Thomas in coverage on a 27 yard touchdown pass near the end of the first half.
- David Fales had a bad night as he competes with Brock Osweiler for the back up quarterback job. Osweiler (10 of 13 passing for 68 yards) wasn’t great by any stretch and could improve his ball placement. But it was nothing compared to Fales’s struggles with accuracy. Fales was only 1 of 6 for 1 yard. He was high and in front of an open Francis Owusu on a pass in the fourth quarter, then immediately followed it up by throwing behind Drew Morgan for an interception. It was just one game but it was a bad look for Fales.
- Dolphins defensive tackles. Akeem Spence, a free agent pick up from Detroit, got blocked completely out of the play on McCaffrey’s touchdown. The problems weren’t an isolated to Spence. Vincent Taylor and Cameron Malveaux didn’t do a very good job of taking advantage of the absence of William Hayes (hamstring) as they were getting pushed around like children’s toys. For the most part all of the defensive tackles as a whole were mauled at the line of scrimmage. This was bad news for the Dolphins run defense. The Panthers ran the ball 31 times for 226 yards including 10 times for 113 yards in the first half when the Dolphins starters were playing most of the time.
- Dolphins team discipline. The Dolphins were on 3 of 12 on third downs and this was largely (though not entirely) due to some bad penalties. It’s only the second preseason game and sloppy performances aren’t uncommon. But the Dolphins were one of the most penalized teams in the league last year and what makes this game disturbing is that the team has been working on resolving the issue in camp. Whatever they are doing isn’t having an apparent effect. The Dolphins had 8 penalties for 69 yards on the night including 4 for 46 yards in the first half. Howard had his pass interference, right guard Jesse Davis and left tackle Laremy Tunsil both had holding calls and there was a delay of game at the Carolina 9 yard line. This needs to get cleaned up.
- There was no apparent advantage gained either way in the kicker competition. Dolphins seventh round pick Jason Sanders kicked three field goals from 42, 28 and 32 yards. But undrafted free agent Greg Joseph had the long of the night with his 54 yard field goal in the second quarter.
- The Panthers starters spent the first half playing off coverage and the Dolphins went predominantly to the short passing game in response. Tannehill averaged only 5.9 yards per pass and didn’t throw the ball deep. They’re going to have to execute very well and very consistently in the passing game if this translates to the regular season.
- The Dolphins showed a surprising amount of their blitz packages. Most defenses keep their schemes bland during the preseason (as Carolina did) but the Dolphins brought guys from everywhere. This was notable only in that it wasn’t particularly effective. Cam Newton got the ball out quickly and though the Dolphins did do a good job of generating pressure on him, it didn’t come from the blitz. If this is going to be a big part of the Dolphins defensive game plan this year it needs to get better.