Some people predicted the Miami Dolphins could be one of the biggest surprises in the NFL in 2015. If Sunday was any indication of how this season is going to go, then the Dolphins look like the same team fans have seen the last three years.
Miami struggled to defeat the Washington Redskins 17-10. The Redskins led 10-7 at halftime before the Dolphins scored 10 unanswered points to secure the victory.
There are a number of takeaways from the Dolphins/Redskins game, but here are the top five.
1. Miami’s offense has a lot of the same issues as last season
During the offseason, the Dolphins thought they upgraded their offense by acquiring Greg Jennings, Kenny Stills and Jordan Cameron and trading Mike Wallace to the Minnesota Vikings. While it was only one game, Miami appears to have similar issues as they did a season ago.
The Dolphins had trouble converting touchdowns in the red zone on Sunday as the team was 1-for-3 inside the Redskins 20-yard-line. One of those missed opportunities was a failed fourth-down handoff to Damien Williams.
While 17 points was enough to defeat the Redskins, it won’t be good enough to defeat most of the teams on the Dolphins’ schedule.
Ryan Tannehill was very average as he finished with 226 yards and one touchdown pass. Tannehill appeared he was ready to take the next step during the preseason, but he looked like the same inconsistent quarterback Dolphins fans have seen for years.
2. Alfred Morris will be the featured player in the Redskins' offense
If Kirk Cousins showed one thing on Sunday, it was that he cannot carry the Redskins offense. The team had their most success when they handed running back Alfred Morris the football.
Morris, who nearly had 100 yards at halftime, finished with 25 carries for 121 yards on Sunday. Early in the game, Miami’s defense had problems tackling Morris.
Cousins completed 21-of-31 passes and a touchdown, but he also threw two interceptions.
In order to win games this year, Morris may have to carry the football 25-30 times.
3. Lamar Miller needs to get more carries
During the first three quarters on Sunday, there was a very noticeable player absent in the Dolphins offense and his name is Lamar Miller.
The fourth-year running back only carried the ball six times for Miami during the first three quarters of the game. He finished with 13 carries for 53 yards total.
Instead of having Tannehill throw the ball on short passes throughout the game, Miller should be featured more in the Dolphins offense. Maybe Miami can’t run him 25 times a game, but there’s no reason Miller should only have six carries in a game where the Dolphins offense was struggling all day long.
4. Redskins' self-inflicted penalties cost them
Washington played a very clean first half of football on Sunday as they didn’t commit a single penalty. In the second half however, the team had 11 penalties for 88 yards.
The biggest penalties might have been on third down when the Redskins had a delay of game, followed by two holding calls by Jordan Reed and Ty Nsekhe that left Washington facing a 3rd-and-29.
Washington’s second half penalties left the team in third and long situations too often and that’s why the team failed to score any points in the second half.
5. Jarvis Landry makes big plays
The Dolphins do not win Sunday's game without receiver Jarvis Landry. Not only did he have a 69-yard punt return for a touchdown that won the game for the Dolphins, Landry was also a major contributor on the offense.
Landry recorded a team-high, eight catches for 53 yards. Now that LaMike James was released on Monday afternoon, the Dolphins could look to Landry for an even bigger role on the team.
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.