It’s way too early to really compare Ryan Tannehill and Dan Marino. But there was one similarity Sunday.
The Miami Dolphins were able to win despite being all pass and no run.
The Dolphins’ running game was a disgrace, piling up just 20 yards on 23 carries. But Tannehill was effective throwing the ball in Miami’s 23-10 win at Cleveland in the regular-season opener.
Tannehill completed 24 of 38 passes for 272 yards with a touchdown and one interception. While those numbers aren’t quite Marino-like, Tannehill was impressive considering the Dolphins could muster virtually no running game.
Here are five observations from Sunday’s game:
1. Tannehill is showing signs of taking a big step in his second season after an up-and-down rookie campaign.
The quarterback showed composure throughout the game. While his interception came on a bad play, he did throw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Brian Hartline in the third quarter to put the Dolphins up for good at 13-7.
Tannehill also was steady during a fourth-quarter drive in which he led the Dolphins 85 yards on 10 plays. The drive culminated with a 1-yard TD run by Daniel Thomas with 6:51 left that gave them a safe 20-10 lead.
Tannehill last year became the first Miami quarterback to be drafted in the first round since Marino in 1983. He’s also the 17th different quarterback to start a game since the legendary Marino retired after the 1999 season.
Marino regularly had a sub-standard running attack in his 17 NFL seasons, but often was able to overcome that. While it’s too early to make any real comparisons to Marino, Tannehill at least showed Sunday he can make up for a shaky ground game.
2. One wonders if Reggie Bush was chuckling Sunday.
Bush wanted to re-sign with the Dolphins earlier this year as a free agent. But Miami had little interest in bringing back the back.
So Bush went to Detroit, where he carried 21 times for 90 yards in Sunday’s 34-24 win over Minnesota. Meanwhile, Miami’s leading rusher against the Browns was Thomas, with 14 yards on eight carries.
Lamar Miller got his first career start and was even worse. The former University of Miami star carried 10 times for three yards.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Dolphins were a loss or two away from challenging the most futile rushing game in team history, which is seven yards. But they were able to gain 10 yards in the quarter, equaling their output for the first three quarters combined.
3. The film Sunday on Dimitri Patterson definitely didn’t lie.
The Dolphins cornerback was playing his first game against Cleveland after the Browns surprisingly waived him last December. He had two interceptions, both in the first half.
Heading into the game, Patterson said he wasn’t looking for revenge. But Patterson, who said he was waived for non-football reasons without being specific, did offer one dig at the Browns.
“I’m pretty sure they already know that,” Patterson said of what they’re missing without him now that he has become a starter in Miami. “Film don’t lie.”
Sunday featured a duel between Patterson and Browns wide receiver Davone Bess, who had played his first five seasons with the Dolphins before being traded. Bess on Sunday caught five passes for 47 yards.
4. Who is Miami’s receiving star?
Brian Hartline was the top target last season, having the first 1,000-yard season of his career. And that didn’t change Sunday.
Hartline caught nine passes, including the big third-quarter touchdown, for 114 yards. It was a sweet homecoming for Hartline, who grew an hour south of Cleveland in North Canton, Ohio.
Meanwhile, much ballyhooed Mike Wallace was mostly a non entity. Wallace, who signed a five-year, $60 million contract last spring as a free agent, caught one measly pass for 15 yards.
At least another offseason signee, Brandon Gibson, looked good. He hauled in seven passes for 77 yards.
5. The Dolphins are regarded to have one of the NFL’s best defensive lines. They did nothing Sunday to hamper their reputation.
Miami defensive linemen had all six of the team’s sacks, including 2.5 by Cameron Wake. The defensive end picked up where he left off after his 15 sacks last season ranked fourth in the NFL.
Getting 1.5 sacks was defensive tackle Randy Starks. Starks, despite being a Pro Bowl selection last year, didn’t start in favor of Jared Odrick. But he took out any frustration against the Browns.
The defensive line also was solid against the run. The Browns gained 47 yards on 13 carries.