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Other Week 1 Game Recaps

Week 1 Game Recap: Denver Broncos 10, Miami Dolphins 34

What you need to know

Denver Broncos

This was such a poor game from the Broncos’ offense that it was simply jaw-dropping. It went from bad to worse for the Broncos all game long. They lost Mike Anderson early in the game to a rib injury. He is reported as day-to-day, but local Denver reporters who were with the team reported that Anderson was in extreme pain and they question whether he is truly day-to-day or whether this is a more serious injury. Keep an eye on this as this could be the opportunity Tatum Bell has been waiting on. On Bell, he found a few wide open holes in the first half for some big gainers, but the run game was ineffective in the second half, partly due to poor play by the offensive line and partly due to the Dolphins running up the score forcing the team to pass more. The run game was stuffed in the red zone and in all short yardage situations.

QB Jake Plummer opened up the game looking lost on what to do against the Dolphins defense – he opened the game 0 for 6 and did not complete his first pass until 9:26 left in the second quarter. After he settled down, he found his receivers unable to catch his passes – especially Ashley Lelie, who had only two catches on 15 target and allowed a lot of well thrown passes to simply go through his hands. Plummer actually played better than his numbers reflect – he was very good at getting outside the defense on the Broncos’ designed roll out and bootleg plays and finding the open receiver, and he was extraordinarily good at keeping plays alive, He escaped at least three sure sacks where he was in the grasp, avoided several more with his legs, scrambled for positive yardage, and the Dolphins recorded only one sack all game long. Do not attribute those numbers to the offensive line – Dolphin defenders were in the backfield chasing Plummer all game long.

The receivers gave him little help – Rod Smith and Lelie combined for only nine catches on 26 targets. Meanwhile, TE Jeb Putzier was targeted 12 times, and though he caught seven of those passes for 67 yards, most of that was in garbage time when the Dolphins were allowing the underneath pass across the middle.

Miami Dolphins

To open the game, the Dolphins’ offense came out a little bit better than most expected they would look. After opening drive jitters that resulted in a fumble, the Dolphins strung together two time consuming drives that stalled and resulted in easy Olindo Mare field goals. What was killing the Dolphins offense in the first half of this game is what killed them all preseason long – before the snap fouls.

Frerotte was simply outstanding in this game. He was efficient and accurate, completing 24 of his 36 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns. He received very good protection from the offensive line through out the game – the Broncos had no sacks. The unit’s run blocking efforts, however, were not particularly noteworthy. Frerotte’s downfield passing lived up to the billing – he was very good at finding the deep receiver and it appears that the downfield pass has returned to the Dolphins’ passing game after a five-year absence. Expect Frerotte to be a hot waiver wire item this week in your fantasy football league.

WR Chris Chambers was clearly Frerotte’s favorite with 15 targets, including most of Frerotte’s attempts at the end zone. Chambers is a weapon the team will exploit this year as he also had a huge run on a reverse. Do not overlook the WR2 in this offense – Marty Booker may have been the surprise player of the game. He was extremely efficient - on only six targets, he had five catches for 104 yards, including a game-breaking 60-yard touchdown catch on a beautifully thrown ball by Frerotte when Booker barely had a step on the defender. Booker then turned on the afterburners to outrace two defenders to the endzone. Meanwhile, Frerotte was effective at finding the underneath receiver when the downfield targets were covered. Randy McMichael had a good game, catching six of his seven targets for 55 yards and a touchdown.

The Dolphins’ run game mostly sputtered, especially in the first half. HC Nick Saban is using a lot of different looks in the run game, but rookie Ronnie Brown was given the lion’s share of the work. Brown was mostly stuffed in the first half, but in the second he made some runs that showed why he was the #2 overall selection in the draft. Instead of being stuffed for no gain, he would create on the run and make positive yardage. He was also significantly better than a rookie should be at picking up blitzers, blocking, and catching the ball. That said, fantasy success from the Dolphins running game this year remains questionable – their team statistics in this game were artificially inflated by Chambers’ huge run on a trick reverse. Saban mixed up the back often and did not use Brown very often in the red zone. Sammy Morris had the team’s rushing touchdown.

What you ought to know

QB Jake Plummer, Pass: 22 - 48 - 251 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 3 - 18 - 0

Plummer looked lost early in the game, but even after he settled in and was able to start finding open receivers, he had absolutely no help. Dropped passes were the name of the game all day long – especially from Ashley Lelie downfield. That said, Plummer was extraordinary at escaping pressure. He avoided three sacks when he was in the grasp of a defender, even though it was his only sack that resulted in Jason Taylor’s 85 yard touchdown on a fumble recovery. He also scrambled three times for 18 yards and was as good this year as any previous year at getting outside the defense on planned roll outs and bootlegs. He did have a few really poor throws – especially on one interception which was all Plummer’s fault. He overthrew the receiver – or the receiver broke off the route and Plummer saw the Miami defender and thought it was the receiver – because the pass looked like it was intended for the Miami defender. Even if a receiver was in the area, Plummer’s pass probably would have been either intercepted or well defended.

QB Trevor Siemian

Siemian made some mistakes in his NFL debut, tossing 2 interceptions, but in the end ran the offense well enough to gut out the victory. Denver's game plan didn't feature Siemian driving the ball downfield very much. The passing attack consisted mostly of shorter, quicker routes like slants, curls, and halfback passes out of the backfield. This may have been by design, as Carolina did bring a heavy, consistent pass rush with a stout front seven. Siemian did a nice job of extending plays with his feet, both on designed rollouts and improvised scrambles when the play broke down. He completed his first pass of the game, an easy play action bubble screen to Demaryius Thomas for first down yardage. Siemian then threw a couple of incompletions before scrambling away from pressure and finding Virgil Green for 10 yards and a nice third down conversion on an out route to the sideline. In a five-wide set in the second quarter with CJ Anderson split out just to the right of the tackle, Siemian stared down a free-rushing defensive tackle and hit Anderson on an out route that the back took up the sideline for a big gain. Siemian threaded the needle on a beautiful deep post route to Demaryius Thomas for a 23 yard gain, his longest downfield throw, on Denver's first offensive series of the second half. Siemian's only touchdown pass of the night was mostly CJ Anderson. At the beginning of the 4th quarter, Siemian set up a nice halfback screen on the left side of the field that Anderson took 25 yards for the touchdown. The play was his longest passing gain of the night.

Siemian's first interception killed Denver's second offensive drive. After taking a big sack in the red zone, Siemian looked to throw a screen to the right on 3rd and 19, but the Carolina defense sniffed it out. A savvy defensive tackle tipped the ball up, and linebacker Thomas Davis made a nice diving catch on the play. Siemian obviously saw the tackle but appeared to be trying to sneak the ball past him. It was a stellar play by both Carolina defenders. Siemian was under heavy pressure for his second interception, getting hit as he threw the ball to an open Emmanuel Sanders in the 3rd quarter. The ball fluttered short after the hit and was snagged by a Carolina defensive back.

Siemian had a few scrambles for positive yardage, showing good speed and awareness on his longest run of the night as he dodged a couple of tackles in the backfield and took off to the right for an 11 yard gain in the 3rd quarter. He scrambled to pick up a crucial conversion on 3rd and 1 late in the 4th quarter on the Broncos final scoring drive. Siemian totaled 20 yards on 4 carries for the game, and was sacked twice.

RB Tatum Bell, Rush: 13 - 47 - 0, Rec: 1 - 13 - 0 (4 targets)

Bell got his opportunity early due to an injury to Mike Anderson. He was good enough in the first half to take advantage of one very big hole in the Dolphins defense for a 30-yard run, but he was mostly stuffed by the Dolphins while running between the tackles. He had only 13 rushes all game long as the team was forced to abandon the running game in the second half. Bell was unable to gain any yardage on two runs from the from the three yard line and he was stuffed on a fourth and goal call. On a key third and goal from the one in the second half, Bell was again stuffed at the line.

RB Mike Anderson, Rush: 4 - 5 - 0

Anderson had only four carries before leaving the game due to a rib injury.

RB Kyle Johnson, Rec: 2 - 21 - 1 (3 targets)

Johnson played well, though he only saw the three targets in the passing game and no rush attempts. He scored the team’s only touchdown on a fourth and goal pass in the flat where he seemed to be simply uncovered. He also appeared to have been uncovered on his other catch – a 19 yard reception also out of the flat.

RB Cecil Sapp

Sapp ran from the fullback slot and was used in short yardage situations.

RB C.J. Anderson

Anderson came in throughout the game to provide Montee Ball with a breather, but finished the day with just 9 snaps. He generally acquitted himself well on his carries and looked more physically impressive than Ball, but he also benefited from better blocking in the running game. He was clearly behind Ball on the depth chart and played only when Ball needed a rest.

RB Lance Ball

Ball caught a short TD, but he isn't talented enough to do much behind this line even if Knowshon Moreno misses time.

RB Kapri Bibbs

Bibbs saw his first action of the night in the 3rd quarter, lining up at tailback and catching a swing pass out of the backfield for a gain of 6. It was his only target or carry of the night.

RB Devontae Booker

Booker killed Denver's first offensive drive by fumbling his first NFL carry and took a backseat to the CJ Anderson show. Although he did come back into the game on the next drive for a couple of carries, it may have just been to relieve Anderson, who had taken a big shot on the previous play. The rookie back finished the day with just 3 carries and 8 yards. Anderson was the star of the offense and it looks like things will stay that way going forward. Booker probably won't have any standalone value unless Anderson is injured.

RB Andy Janovich

Here's an odd stat for you- fullbacks have scored a touchdown in the opening game of the NFL season for the last 4 years. Vonta Leach(Ravens) caught a short TD in 2013. John Kuhn(Packers) pounded one in for a short rushing TD in 2014. Will Johnson(Steelers) had a short TD plunge in 2015. In 2016, Broncos' rookie fullback Janovich only touched the ball once, but continued the trend with a glorious 28 yard gallop for Denver's first score of the night. The run tied CJ Anderson(who also had a 28 yard run) for the longest offensive play of the game. The Broncos brought all their receivers in tight and lined Anderson and Janovich up in the I-formation, drawing most of the Carolina defense into the box. Janovich, who had already thrown a couple of great blocks on the drive, took a quick handoff from the fullback position and burst through the line over the right guard, shedding a tackle attempt by the safety and turning on the jets before many of the defenders even knew what happened. Janovich saw a lot of offensive snaps, and threw some key lead blocks, including a nice block on CJ Anderson's longest run of the night in the second quarter. Janovich's touchdown run capped off the same drive.

WR Rod Smith, Rec: 7 - 90 - 0 (11 targets)

Smith played like Smith always does – he made tough catches with defenders draped on him, he had diving catches over the middle, good route running to the outside. However, he was well covered on most plays, and was unable to get away from Dolphin defenders in the red zone.

WR Ashley Lelie, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (15 targets)

This was probably, as Lelie himself described it, the worst game of Lelie’s pro career. Not only did he have a lot of easy passes simply go right through his hands, but the Dolphins defenders had very little problem getting a hand up and destroying Lelie’s concentration on the ball. And, he was unable to escape Dolphins defenders with his route running – Lelie had two offensive pass interference calls against him, one of which was an obvious use of his hands to get past a defender that occurred right in front of the official. No, he didn’t make the catch on either offensive pass interference call. Lelie’s lack of concentration and poor route running negated his ability to outjump Dolphin defenders on a few well thrown passes from Jake Plummer deep downfield.

WR Charlie Adams, Rec: 2 - 35 - 0 (3 targets)

Adams was the most efficient receiver and he handled the kickoff return duties. He had a big gainer for a first down catch, but, after on that same drive, a pass intended for him was picked off.

WR Cody Latimer

Cody Latimer was active against the Colts, but did not play a snap as the Broncos deferred to Andre Caldwell's experience.

WR Jordan Norwood

Norwood returned two punts, but saw limited offensive snaps and could not secure his lone target, an overthrown out route at the end of the first half.

WR Emmanuel Sanders

Emmanuel Sanders started his Denver Broncos career with a bang, catching the ball on each of Denver’s first three offensive plays and finishing as the team’s second-leading receiver. With Welker out, Sanders spent time both outside and in the slot, catching short targets in the middle and drawing a pair of deep targets down the field. One of his deep targets was well off the mark, but the other resulted in a spectacular 40-yard gain after Sanders simply outran the coverage to get open. Sanders also showed off another aspect his speed can add to the offense, as Manning faked an inside handoff to the left only to pitch it to Sanders on the end-around to the right, resulting in an easy first down. All told, few Broncos were a larger part of the game plan against Indianapolis than Sanders.

WR Jordan Taylor

Taylor saw a couple of offensive snaps in the first quarter when Demaryius Thomas had to exit the game briefly after making a tough catch on the sidelines. If DT gets bad news about his hip injury, Taylor is the second tallest member of the receiving core and could see more time filling in for him on the outside. Taylor doesn't quite have the speed/strength combo that makes DT so deadly even on short completions.

WR Demaryius Thomas

Thomas continued his utter domination of the Pittsburgh Steelers. While he didn’t get deep behind the defense as he did in the playoff game last January, he did make the game’s biggest play on a short bubble screen that he turned into a 71-yard touchdown. Thomas got great blocking on the outside, but his cut, vision, and speed were the reasons he was able to score nearly untouched. Many experts have said that Eric Decker will have better rapport with Peyton Manning because Decker is a more precise route-runner and Manning will always know where he is. That may have occurred on Thomas’ first target as a pass fell incomplete on the team’s opening drive. Either Manning made a poor throw, or he expected Thomas to be in a slightly different place. The relationship certainly blossomed as the night continued, though. Decker may lead the team in receptions, but Thomas’ big-play ability – on long passes and short – will likely see him lead the team in yards and receiving touchdowns. He’s a physical presence who once again showed Pittsburgh corner Ike Taylor how lethal is stiff-arm can be.

TE Jeb Putzier, Rec: 7 - 67 - 0 (12 targets)

Putzier had very nice statistics in the game, but most of those receptions came near the end of the game when the Dolphins were playing deep and giving up the underneath passes over the middle of the field. Still, fantasy owners of the player can take comfort in 12 passes going his way, given the history of the Broncos’ pass-catching tight ends.

TE Stephen Alexander, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (4 targets)

Alexander is a blocker not a receiver, so it was surprising to see early targets to him. He made only one catch on four targets, and Jeb Putzier was the primary tight end receiving threat.

TE Nate Jackson (3 targets)

Jackson was the obvious third receiver for the Broncos, and he caught two of the three balls thrown his way.

TE Joel Dreessen

Many speculated at how the distribution of opportunities among Denver tight ends would play out. Early signs all point to Jacob Tamme being the clear #1 as Dreessen was a very small part of the offensive game plan. He’s a talented tight end, but his opportunities are limited with a player of Tamme’s caliber ahead of him.

TE Virgil Green

Green dominated tight end snaps and was featured in every offensive formation, working in-line occasionally flexing out to the slot. He caught his first target of the night on the sidelines as quarterback Siemian scrambled away from pressure. The play converted 3rd and 10. Green caught a curl route for a short gain in the third quarter, failing to convert a 3rd and long. Green caught a tight end screen for a short gain later in the third quarter, and made a great leaping catch in traffic on the next play to pick up the first down. Green took a hard hit on the catch and was replaced by John Phillips for a couple of plays while he recovered on the sidelines. He did re-enter the game and appeared fine after that.

PK Jason Elam 1 - 1 FG, 1 - 1 XP, 4 points

Elam had little opportunity to do anything in this game - he hit his only field goal attempt, which was a chip shot from the 28 yard line.

DEN Rush Defense

The run defense played well enough as the team’s outstanding linebacker crew was consistently able to track down the runner and get a hat on him. The run defense team also was good at stopping the Dolphins in short yardage and inside the red zone. The run defense was responsible for stumping good Miami drives in the first half that resulted in field goals instead of touchdowns. However, the run defense sacrificed a nine yard touchdown to Sammy Morris in the second half after failing to protect against a cut back run to the weak side. Containment defenders were completely sealed out by Miami blockers, but there was no run support from the safeties to prevent the touchdown.

DEN Pass Defense

The Broncos’ pass defense was horrible – Dolphin receivers were open all day long both up top and underneath – the Dolphin receivers were consistently able to get behind the defense. It did not help that Dale Carter – easily the team’s best cornerback – left the game early with a separated shoulder and Is not expected back for at least a few weeks.

QB Gus Frerotte, Pass: 24 - 36 - 275 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 2 - 0

Frerotte was outstanding in this game. He had great touch on his downfield passes and made very few mistakes. He was literally inches away from having made an outstanding touchdown pass to Chambers early in the game, who, on diving for the ball, barely landed out of bounds. His only interception, early in the second quarter, was his fault, but that was really his only miscue all game long.

QB Ryan Tannehill

Tannehill had plenty of ups and downs on Sunday against the Texans in his first professional start. He completed 20 of 36 passes for 6 yards per attempt. However, he made a handful of key mistakes that spelled the end of the Dolphins sustaining many drives. Tannehill had no fewer than five balls batted at the line of scrimmage, two of which were intercepted by the Texans. He also threw another interception on a hard pass to a nearby receiver. Jonathon Joseph picked the ball out of the hands of the receiver. The most encouraging aspect of Tannehill's performance was how at ease he looked in the pocket despite the Texans constant pass rush. Tannehill was sacked three times but did not let the constant pressure get to him. He stood tall in the pocket and bounced right back up after absorbing hits. He did have a tendency to overthrow his receivers on medium and long routes which is a problem he will need to solve quickly if he is to ever develop a downfield passing game. Surprisingly, Tannehill only scrambled twice and was not very effective in the open field. The NFL game is difficult at the quarterback position and while Tannehill showed some glimpses, he has a long way to go in his development as a passer.

RB Ronnie Brown, Rush: 22 - 57 - 0, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets)

Brown’s big pro debut was underwhelming statistically, though there was enough individual play that it is easy to see why the Dolphins made him the #2 overall pick in the 2005 draft. Saban was very comfortable going to him as he had 22 rushes, which are the numbers one expects from the primary back in a non-running back by committee approach. He was pretty much stuffed the entire first half, but he was much better in the second half. While his overall YPC was only 2.6, that number was brought up form a dismal first half on some tough nosed runs by Brown where he was able to create using spin moves and power running to get past tacklers. He had very little help from the offensive line in getting positive yardage. He was great in the passing game in the second half as he behaved like a veteran picking up the blitz and leveling defender stopping blocks. His one catch was for only four yards, but it resulted from beautiful concentration on a pass that was a little too far for him, but he got his fingertips on the ball, bobbled it, and then brought it in as he was falling down. Had the pass been on the mark, he may have kept his feet for a big gain.

RB Travis Minor, Rush: 5 - 17 - 0, Rec: 1 - 0 - 0 (1 targets)

Minor received most of the garbage time work, and he had a few rushes interspersed through out the game, but was essentially a non-factor.

RB Sammy Morris, Rush: 2 - 14 - 1

Morris had only two rushes in the game, but he made the most of them, especially his 9 yard TD run. The play was a designed cut-back with Morris heading left, but cutting back right – a play that suspended RB Ricky Williams ran with amazing efficiency in past years. On the cut back, the Miami offensive linemen had made absolutely outstanding seal blocks on the containment defenders, who had over-pursued the play. Morris easily galloped into the end zone since the Broncos failed to provide any safety support for the run defense.

RB Heath Evans, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets)

Evans had very little impact on the game.

RB Jesse Chatman (8 targets)

Chatman didn’t get the official start, but he played significant time as the Dolphins were committed to using both him and starter Ronnie Brown throughout the game. He finished with slightly less total yards than Brown, but had more targets in the passing game.

RB Arian Foster

Foster did not set the world on fire, but is veteran presence was evident as he showed little frustration despite the tough going against the Seahawks D. After a few carries with nowhere to go, the field finally opened up for Foster on a screen pass and he expertly shed a couple of tackles down the sideline for a fifty yard gain. He took another screen pass late in the game, down to the 2 yard line (and then lost out on the short yardage play to Tannehill's draw play). Overall, Foster had his ups and downs while making good reads throughout. Late in the game, he seemed strong and was helping to move the chains moreso than in the early going.

RB Damien Williams

Williams played strictly as the #2 back, spelling Lamar Miller on occasion during Week 1. He came into the game on Miami’s third series, after Brent Grimes picked off Cousins in the red-zone. He caught a pass on third down, but couldn’t pick up the first down. He was then stuffed on the fourth down play and didn’t receive a touch over the rest of the game. He’d obviously have value if Miller were to go down, but with Jay Ajayi returning by Week 8 and recently signed Eagles’ practice squad RB Raheem Mostert brought in as insurance, Williams is simply a handcuff.

WR Chris Chambers, Rush: 1 - 61 - 0, Rec: 5 - 40 - 0 (15 targets)

Chambers is the prime weapon in this year’s Miami Dolphin offense – especially with QB Frerotte’s strength being good touch on the downfield pass. Chambers seemed a step faster than almost all other players on the field as he was often behind the Broncos’ defenders during his routes. Though he caught only five of his 15 targets, there were several passes that were barely misses, including what was an absolutely beautiful effort at a touchdown pass. Chambers made the diving catch, but landed just out of bounds – had Frerotte put the pass an inch or two closer, it would have been a touchdown. Chambers was also the main target inside the 20 – sometimes on consecutive red zone passes - but Frerotte was unable to get him the ball. He had a huge 61 yard run, that would have been an 85 yard touchdown run except, in dancing down the sideline to avoid multiple defenders, Chambers’ foot just barely scraped the sideline. An official was right on the play and was looking directly at Chambers’ feet, so there is no question he did, in fact, step out of bounds.

WR Marty Booker, Rec: 5 - 104 - 1 (6 targets)

Booker looked very good against a porous Broncos defense, as he was the most efficient Dolphins receiver and went for over 100 yards receiving. His play of the game was a 60 yard touchdown catch on a beautifully thrown ball by Frerotte. Booker barely had a step on the defender, and Frerotte laid a perfectly thrown ball right on Booker’s fingers. After stumbling once and looking like he might fall down, Booker regained his balance, turned on the afterburners, and outraced two defenders to the end zone. Keep an eye on the WR2 in the Miami offense as Booker’s claim to fame in Chicago was making the sure-handed catch.

WR Wes Welker, Rec: 4 - 60 - 0 (4 targets)

Walker had a great game as a role-player in the Dolphins’ offense. He was added to the team primarily as a punt and kick return specialist, and he did that job very well, displaying blazing speed and great moves in his return duties. However, in addition to that, he was used in the passing game, he caught all four of the passes that came his way, including a key 26 yard catch in the second half of the game that set up Sammy Morris’ nine yard touchdown run. Walker may be making a run at being the third receiver on this team behind Booker and Chambers. He displayed blazing speed.

WR David Boston, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (3 targets)

Boston made his return to the team, but was unremarkable. He may even see less time if the play of the other receivers continues as good as it was in this game.

WR Leonte Carroo

The rookie receiver was not a major part of the game plan, but made a statement nevertheless. His second reception was a clutch red zone catch, in which he managed to elude Seahawks All-Star DB Richard Sherman as he broke to the sideline for the ball. The receiving corps is somewhat deep, especially when Devante Parker returns, but if Carroo can climb the depth chart a bit, he would make an intriguing fantasy play.

WR Greg Jennings

Jennings was third in snaps among wide receivers during Week 1, hauling in each of his 3 targets. A Joe Philbin favorite, he has obviously slowed down as he turns 32 in a few weeks. However, with DeVante Parker still getting up to speed and the coaching staff still unimpressed with Kenny Stills, Jennings may hold onto the third WR spot for a few weeks. With a multi-week concussion for Dion Sims, Jennings played almost 70% of the snaps as well. However, in what’s likely a rotational position between Stills, Jennings, and Parker for a little while, there won’t be much value there.

WR Jarvis Landry

The rookie from LSU saw 31 snaps in his NFL debut, but like Gibson was asked to run block on the majority of his snaps, and he didn’t receive a target. Most of Landry’s usage was in the second half, when the Dolphins were pounding away with Moreno, but it’s still a good sign to the kid get some work early on. Eventually, Landry should push and overtake Gibson, but it may not amount to much more production. Lazor wants to throw different bodies on the field, exploit different matchups, mostly in an effort to key the running game, so it’ll be tough for Landry to carve out any significant role. He’s more of a stash in dynasty, but hoping for anything out of him in the immediate future is wishful.

WR DeVante Parker

The Dolphins are putting on kid gloves in dealing with their #1 overall pick, DeVante Parker, early in the season. Parker barely played against the Redskins, logging just one snap. The talk from Dolphins beat writers during the Week 1 seemed to believe Parker would be a factor on high-leverage red-zone snaps, but clearly that was a smokescreen. With competent WRs on the squad, Miami is playing the long game with their prized top pick. Foot injuries and wide receivers do not mix very well, but the fact that Parker was active means he is physically ready to go, but he’s not there mentally yet. Considering he immediately projects as a red-zone threat, Parker is the recommended stash of any Miami WR not named Jarvis Landry.

WR Kenny Stills

Stills’ poor preseason carried over to Week 1 as he was the fourth WR in the pecking order, playing on 40% of Miami’s offensive snaps and catching just the one pass on three targets. Owners who started Stills were almost rewarded, as Tannehill almost hooked up with him on a sideline throw, which may have resulted in a 30-yard score for Stills, but Tannehill air-mailed the throw as he was scrambling toward the sideline. While Stills certainly has the talent to become an intermediate and deep threat for this Dolphins team, he’ll have to prove himself. When Parker is up to speed, it’s possible Stills is 5th on the depth chart.

TE Randy McMichael, Rec: 6 - 55 - 1 (7 targets)

McMichael looked great in this game. He was physically dominating as he ran over people, made two acrobatic circus catches that would have resulted in injury to most players, but that is McMichael’s game – he’s a physical, bowl you over, receiving tight end. He also caught a touchdown pass after being left uncovered by the Broncos’ defense. McMichael had stumbled at the line of scrimmage, and had actually fell down, but he popped right back up and ran uncovered to the left side of the end zone where he was wide open for Frerotte’s touchdown pass.

TE Jordan Cameron

Cameron immediately proved to be a valuable signing for the Dolphins, impressing with seam-stretching ability, as well as in the short passing game as well. How much of Cameron’s large role had to do with Dion Sims leaving the game early with a concussion? No one will know until Sims returns to his role as the blocking tight end after he is cleared from the concussion. However, Cameron obviously gets a bump without an active Sims. Cameron’s biggest play came on a seam route where he ran right by a linebacker and Tannehill delivered an on-time ball. That play will end up being a staple for the Dolphins, and it’s one of those passes that Tannehill is particularly adept at making. Additionally, until DeVante Parker is fully involved in the offense, Cameron will be the jump-ball red-zone specialist. Although he had a less than stellar preseason, Cameron is squarely on the TE1 landscape after Week 1.

PK Olindo Mare 2 - 2 FG, 4 - 4 XP, 10 points

Olindo Mare played as a kicker was supposed to play. He hit both of this first half field goals to insure that two long drives were not fruitless. He hit all four of his extra points in the second half, and was not needed for field goal work as the Dolphins were efficient at getting six instead of three in the second half.

MIA Rush Defense

A huge early goal line stand by the run defense, including a fourth and goal stop, really set the tone for the Dolphins’ defense all game long – big plays on defense and a very tough scoring defense were what enabled this lopsided Dolphin victory. The run defense had some early problems that allowed Tatum Bell a few big first half runs, but the run defense eventually settled into the flow of the game. They had multiple stops in short yardage situations and the run defense was responsible for another goal line stand in the second half that, unfortunately, resulted in a score on a short fourth down pass from Plummer to the fullback.

MIA Pass Defense

The pass defense was simply stifling all game long. Many of Denver QB Jake Plummer’s passes were on the money and a combination of the defender making a great play and the receiver demonstrating less than stellar hands caused an incompletion. The Dolphins were great against the pass last year, and you should expect the same this year. The pass rush was outstanding. Dolphin defenders were constantly in the backfield harassing Plummer, and the team had only one sack because of Plummer’s incredible efforts escaping form the grasp of defenders – less mobile quarterbacks will find it much tougher to withstand Dolphin pass rushers. Finally, Jason Taylor. Period. He had a huge game rushing the passer – Saban moved him all over the defensive line and he was efficient from everywhere he lined up. He single-handedly ended the Broncos day by sacking Plummer, forcing a fumble, picking up the ball, and racing 85 yards for a touchdown late in the game, which was at a point in the game when the Dolphins were content to sit back and give up yardage underneath.

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