Dolphins, Raiders vying to improve off ugly first impressions

The good news, Miami Dolphins fans...he could hardly get worse.

Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill looked every bit the lightly-trained newcomer in his first exposure to NFL competition last weekend in Houston, where a six-minute stretch in the second quarter yielded three interceptions and led to the decisive points in a 30-10 loss to the Texans at Reliant Stadium.

The first chance to forget that first game comes this weekend at Sun Life Stadium, where the Dolphins will host the Oakland Raiders in Week 2.

Tannehill, the eighth overall pick in April's draft who became a quarterback late in his stint at Texas A&M, wound up with no touchdown passes while getting sacked three times. He completed just 20 of 36 passes (55.6 percent) for 219 yards, and the Dolphins rushed for only 79 yards and held the ball for nearly 10 minutes less than the Texans

Oh, and they fumbled three times, losing one.

"We've got a lot of work to do," said rookie head coach Joe Philbin, who stepped in after Tony Sparano headed to the New York Jets as offensive coordinator after being dismissed of his duties in January. "Hopefully, they accept responsibility, as did I. I didn't coach the game well enough, nor did they play well enough for us to earn a victory. That's my responsibility, and their responsibility."

Philbin even stayed positive after Tannehill posted an anemic 39.0 passer rating - second-worst by a Miami quarterback since 2007.

"There were some good throws," Philbin said. "He did some good things, there's no question about it. It wasn't like he got flustered. It wasn't like you saw a ton of bad decisions. There are some good pictures of him throwing the ball accurately and moving nicely in the pocket."

Two of Tannehill's interceptions came on balls batted by Houston defensive lineman J.J. Watt, and he had four passes knocked down overall.

Incidentally, the 24-year-old stands 6-foot-4.

"Anytime you turn the ball over, you can't be happy with yourself, regardless of how they happened," Tannehill said. "It's not good. You can't turn the ball over. You put your defense in a bad situation and ultimately it led to a lot of points for them."

Meanwhile, Oakland's own poor play on special teams led to multiple points for San Diego in Monday's 22-14 season-opening home loss to the Chargers.

The problems were compounded by the absence of long snapper Jon Condo, who suffered a concussion and had his duties transferred to Travis Goethel - a backup linebacker who hadn't snapped a ball in a game since high school. He subsequently had two failed snaps to punter Shane Lechler, who failed to get each kick off and also had a punt blocked.

In all, the errors led to three San Diego field goals in an eight-point game.

"That falls on me," Raiders rookie coach Dennis Allen said. "I've got to do a better job of making sure we're prepared for all those different situations."

Toward that end, Oakland signed long snapper Nick Guess Wednesday in case Condo stays sidelined. And that may solve all the needed problems for a team that outgained the Chargers, 321-258, while its defense held San Diego to one touchdown in five red-zone trips.

Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer completed 32-of-46 passes for 297 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions. Running back Darren McFadden gained just 32 yards on 15 carries, but caught 13 passes for 86 yards.

Additionally, Raiders second-year receiver Denarius Moore practiced Wednesday and could be available after missing Monday's contest with a hamstring injury. He led Oakland with five touchdown receptions in 2011 and was second on the team with 618 receiving yards.

"He looked like Denarius of old," Palmer said. "He made a couple phenomenal catches. His burst was there last week, it's just I think more conditioning, really getting in practice. There's a totally different type of shape."

Receiver Jacoby Ford is not available for Oakland, however, after having surgery Tuesday on his left foot which he injured in an Aug. 17 exhibition game.

The Raiders will attempt to end a three-game losing streak to the Dolphins, who have outscored Oakland by a 67-31 margin in a pair of wins over the previous two seasons.

"Every year is a new year, so I don't really pay a whole lot of attention to that," said Allen, on the Raiders' recent failings in the series. "We have 15 more (games) that we're guaranteed and we're going to try to get better every week."


Raiders lead 16-14-1

Streak: Dolphins have won last three meetings Last Meeting: Dolphins 34, Raiders 14 (Dec. 4, 2011 at Miami)

Raiders HC Dennis Allen vs. Dolphins: 0-0 Dolphins HC Joe Philbin vs. Raiders: 0-0 Allen vs. Philbin Head-to-Head: First Meeting

Notes: Dolphins are 9-1 in their last 10 non-playoff clashes with Oakland, with the Raiders' only win during that stretch a 35-17 triumph at Sun Life Stadium in 2007. The visitor has prevailed in three of the past five matchups in the series, with the Dolphins posting a 33-17 decision in Oakland during Week 12 of 2010 season. These teams have also faced off four times in the postseason, with the Raiders coming out ahead in three of those games.


Offensive Team Rankings

Oakland: 21st overall (321.0 ypg), 26th rushing (45.0 ypg), 12th passing (276.0 ypg), 28th scoring (14.0 ppg)

Miami: 25th overall (275.0 ypg), 22nd rushing (79.0 ypg), 24th passing (196.0 ypg), 31st scoring (10.0 ppg)

Defensive Team Rankings

Oakland: 5th overall (258.0 ypg), 3rd rushing (32.0 ypg), 12th passing (226.0 ypg), 14th scoring (22.0 ppg)

Miami: 16th overall (337.0 ypg), 13th rushing (83.0 ypg), 17th passing (254.0 ypg), 23rd scoring (30.0 ppg)

Turnover Margin

Oakland: -1 (0 takeaways, 1 giveaways) Miami: -4 (0 takeaways, 4 giveaways)

Red Zone Touchdown Percentage (offense)

Oakland: 50.0 percent (2 possessions, 1 TD, 1 FG) -- tied 14th overall Miami: 0.0 percent (3 possessions, 0 TD, 1 FG) -- tied 29th overall

Red Zone Touchdown Percentage (defense)

Oakland: 20.0 percent (5 possessions, 1 TD, 4 FG) -- 6th overall Miami: 50.0 percent (6 possessions, 3 TD, 3 FG) -- tied 11th overall


Palmer has thrived in two career meetings with the Dolphins in South Florida, throwing for five touchdowns and recording a 96.2 passer rating. In 10 starts with the Raiders over parts of two seasons, he's averaged 293.4 passing yards per game. Among his targets, McFadden turned a sluggish rushing effort against the Chargers into versatility by coming up with a career-high 13 receptions for a personal-best 86 yards. In his more traditional role, the Raiders are 7-2 when McFadden has 100 or more rushing yards, and the former Arkansas star is 64 scrimmage yards shy of 4,000 for his career. Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey got to 102 career receptions by making three against the Chargers, and alongside him at wideout, Moore has compiled an 18.7 yards-per-catch average on his first 33 NFL grabs. Undrafted rookie Rod Streater made a two- yard touchdown catch in his first NFL game on Monday, while tight end Brandon Myers had career highs in both receptions (5) and receiving yards (65) in the opener.

On defense, Miami end Cameron Wake is two sacks away from becoming the seventh Dolphin to reach 30 in a career, while tackle Randy Starks tied a single-game best with two quarterback takedowns last week. On the outside of the unit, linebacker Kevin Burnett made his presence felt with a sack and a 34-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Raiders in November of last season.


Though he struggled last week, rookie quarterback Tannehill became the initial first-year passer to start a season opener in franchise history. A sign that might bode well for his second start is that the Dolphins rushed for 209 yards in last year's meeting with the Raiders, with Bush registering 100 rushing yards and a touchdown in that contest. If he makes triple-digits this week, it'll be the third consecutive home game he's done so, following efforts of 100 and 103 yards. Bush had 115 scrimmage yards last week against Houston, gaining 69 rushing and 46 receiving. Backfield mate Daniel Thomas had a career-long 32-yard reception as well in the loss, but will miss Sunday's tilt with a concussion. Since he emerged in 2008, wide receiver Davone Bess leads Miami in both receptions (265) and receiving yards (2,714), and had a scoring catch in last year's game against the Raiders. Fellow wideout Brian Hartline led the team with 50 receiving yards in the opener and tight end Anthony Fasano was second on the club with five touchdown catches in 2011.

For the Raiders, tackles Tommy Kelly (7.5 sacks) and Richard Seymour (6 sacks) combined for 13.5 sacks last season and will aiming to pressure Tannehill into a few more rookie mistakes this week. A veteran of past seasons in New England, Seymour has five career sacks against the Dolphins. In the tackling department, rookie linebacker Miles Burris -- a fourth-round pick in this past draft -- led the team with nine in his NFL debut.


Both teams lost games last week largely by their own doing, be it a myriad of special teams mistakes in Oakland's case, or a myriad of rookie passer mistakes in Miami's. The question then becomes, if both teams repair the first-week holes, who's better? The smart money here says the Raiders - if nothing else because Palmer and his weapons seem superior to Tannehill's.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Raiders 24, Dolphins 20