By Abraham Gutierrez
With Miami’s 38-10 blowout victory over the Titans, Dan Campbell became the first NFL interim head coach to win his debut since Romeo Crennel accomplished the feat as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15 of the 2011 NFL season against Green Bay.READ MORE: Postal Worker Shot At In Florida City; Suspect In Custody
“There’s a million ways with what I want to say here, but I don’t have enough time to say it,” Campbell told his players during his victory speech in the locker room. “To watch the way you guys played and practiced all week is inspiring. It makes somebody like me wanna [expletive] bleed for you. I will do anything for you guys. That stuff it’s invaluable, man, the way you guys have come together.”
Getting absolutely no love from NFL Week 6 oddsmakers, the Fins marched into Nissan Stadium in Nashville and, as predicted, came away with a dominant road win despite being listed as three-point underdogs. The win improves the Dolphins record to 2-3 on the year, which is unfortunately only good enough for last place in the AFC East. Nevertheless, what Miami did on Sunday was give its fans hope, a glimpse of the team they were destined to be prior to the start of the 2015 NFL season.
The only reason the Miami Dolphins offense didn’t play well enough to deserve a higher letter grade was due to a pair of mishaps. Despite the fact that he connected on 76 percent of his passes (22-for-29) for 266 yards, and a pair of scores for a respectable 97.8 QBR, quarterback Ryan Tannehill was picked off twice.
Luckily, Miami’s offensive line (finally) played up to the NFL standards, dominating the Titans at the point of attack and enabling the running game to play a factor. Running back Lamar Miller finished with a game-high 113 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown, almost eclipsing his combined season total coming out of the bye.
Meanwhile, back-up halfback Jonas Gray pitched in with 24 yards on seven carries, and even wide receiver Jarvis Landry got in on the action with a 22-yard touchdown run in a tricky end-around call to start the game. Other offense standouts include, wide receivers Rishard Matthews (6 receptions, 85 yards) and Kenny Stills (2 receptions, 46 yards), along with tight ends Dion Sims (4 receptions, 33 yards, TD) and Jordan Cameron (3 receptions, 30 yards, TD).
Defense is where Miami made its mark in Week 6 against the Titans as the Dolphins’ “D” was seemingly impenetrable through two-plus quarters. Coming out of the bye ranked among the worst defensive units in football, Cameron Wake (4 sacks, 4 tackles), Olivier Vernon (4 tackles, sack), Brent Grimes (2 tackles, 4 passes defended, INT) and others, played with a chip on their shoulder.
The Dolphins contained Tennessee to 22 first downs, forced four turnovers (2 INT, 2 FL), allowed just 299 yards of total offense (65 rushing yards, 236 passing yards) and limited the Titans to 2-for-10 on third-down situations. Safety Reshad Jones also made his presence felt, recording eight tackles, a pass defended and a pick-six on Marcus Mariota that broke the game open in the third quarter.READ MORE: Double Shooting Investigated In NW Miami
With two weeks to prepare, Dan Campbell did a terrific job of “damage control” after Joe Philbin’s firing and everything that ensued. Much like in the case of the offense, the only reason Campbell and his coaching staff aren’t worthy of an A+ letter grade this week is because of a few goofy moments that could have proven to be costly. The first questionable call came on a decision to call timeout prior to the end of the first quarter, when assistant head coach and special teams coordinator, Darren Rizzi foolishly persuaded Campbell to stop the clock.
The second questionable call came on the decision to take an aggressive approach on the last drive of the first half. Close to being in field goal rage, Tannehill threw an ill-advised pass behind tight end Jordan Cameron that was picked off by Coty Sensabaugh, bringing all the momentum Miami built during the first half to a halt.
Thus, the Dolphins came out lethargic after the break, but luckily, were able to get things going once again in the final stanza. Other than that, the play calling was solid on both sides of the football, as Miami’s running game finally got going, and the defense lived up to all the hype coming into the season.
“The sleeping giant is awake,” Campbell said as he closed out his victory speech. “He can’t take a nap. There are no naps. We gotta keep him up and alive. That’s a hell of a job.”
Special Teams: A+
Whenever an offense is able to score four touchdowns in any game, there isn’t going to be too much special teams play to talk about. Having that said, there are a few bright spots to point out, because winning games in the National Football League often comes down to doing the “little things.”
For starters, kicker Andrew Franks was perfect on the afternoon, going 5-for-5 for a total of 8 points. The rookie from Carmel, California, connected on a 30-yard field goal, to go along with four successful extra point conversions. Punter Matt Darr also took care of his business, averaging 43.7 yards on three punts, including a long of 47 yards and one that was carefully placed inside Tennessee’s 20-yard line.
What’s Next for Miami Dolphins?
Next up, Miami returns home to host the (2-4) Houston Texans in Week 7 of the 2015 NFL season. This game is scheduled for Oct. 25 at 1 p.m. ET and it will be broadcast live on CBS Sports.MORE NEWS: Here's How Royal Caribbean Will Deal With Vaccinated, Unvaccinated Passengers
Abe Gutierrez’s (Twitter: @GutierrezAbe) passion led him to ditch law school journey in order to launch his own publishing company. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com, AXS.com and the CBS-Sports family. Some of his work can be found on CBS-Miami (Dolphins), CBS-LosAngeles (Chargers), CBS-BayArea (Raiders), CBS-NewYork (NY Jets), CBS-TampaBay (Buccaneers), AXS.com, Examiner.com and other online publications.