DAVIE, Fla. (AP) - For the Miami Dolphins, inflated egos in the wake of a season-opening win are unlikely to be a problem.
This is the third year in a row coach Joe Philbin’s Dolphins have started 1-0. And most fans in South Florida over the age of 7 know it has been a long time since Miami made the playoffs - seven years, to be exact.
So the Dolphins are well aware Sunday’s victory at Washington doesn’t guarantee future success, especially considering their spotty performance.
The Dolphins fell behind 10-0 and were dominated most of the first half. Tackling was shaky, run defense was soft and the red-zone offense sputtered - all familiar problems in recent seasons.
Still, road wins are tough to come by, so Miami will take the 17-10 victory.
“Let’s face it, the game didn’t start out exactly how we’d like,” Philbin said Monday. “Yet I felt our guys kept their poise and kept playing, and at the end of the day we outscored them 17-0, and ended up making more plays in the second half than they did.”
The win left Miami tied for first place in the AFC East, the NFL’s only unbeaten division, where all four teams are 1-0. But only the Dolphins’ win came on the road.
They’ll head up the coast again Sunday, this time to face Jacksonville (0-1), and will have a chance to start 2-0 for only the third time since 2002.
Better run defense will be a priority. The Redskins netted 161 yards on the ground, higher than the average of 121 the Dolphins allowed last year, when they ranked 24th in the NFL and didn’t have $114 million tackle Ndamukong Suh.
“They say you make a lot of improvements from Week 1 to Week 2,” defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. “We’ve got our share to make, and we will.”
That includes Suh, who had only one tackle.
“He can play better. He knows that,” Coyle said. “He was amped up and wanting to really do well, and it took him a little bit to get settled down.”
One bright spot was the performance of undrafted free agent middle linebacker Zach Vigil, a pleasant surprise in training camp. He played 19 snaps, the same number as starter Kelvin Sheppard, and helped Miami shut out Washington in the second half.
“They both contributed to the overall success of the defense,” Philbin said. “It didn’t seem too big for Zach, and he did a nice job. They both performed pretty well.”
In Week 2, the Dolphins will hope for a better performance from Ryan Tannehill and the rest of the offense. Tannehill lost a fumble, threw two passes that should have been intercepted, and twice missed an open target in the end zone.
“He expects better,” offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said.
Tannehill also led the two-minute offense to perfect, resulting in the Dolphins’ only touchdown, and threw for 196 yards in the final 32 minutes.
Left tackle Branden Albert received favorable reviews following his first game since returning from reconstructive knee surgery, and said he was sore all over Monday.
“I feel like a Mac truck hit me - not just my knee, my body,” Albert said. “It’s the life of a football player.”
First-round draft pick DeVante Parker, coming back from foot surgery, played only one snap and will likely see more action at Jacksonville.
“He’s moving better each time he goes out on the field,” Philbin said.
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