The Dolphins initially wanted to have a starting quarterback named heading into this weekend, but each quarterback's struggles against the Panthers have put those plans on pause.
"It could be (this week)," head coach Joe Philbin said of naming a season starter. "We're in a process right now. We watched the game, obviously. We discuss the game, obviously. And now we're starting to formulate some thoughts on Atlanta. We're certainly going to do more game-planning this week than we did the first two, there's no question about that."
Matt Moore was 7 of 12 passing for 79 yards and an interception when he started a 20-7 loss to Tampa Bay, and played with the first team. He was 5 of 15 for 57 yards playing with the reserves in a 23-17 loss to Carolina.
Rookie Ryan Tannehill was 14 of 21 for 167 yards and one touchdown against the Buccaneers, playing with and against reserves.
In his first start against Carolina and playing the entire first half, Tannehill was 11 of 23 for 100 yards, but was sacked three times and had four passes deflected.
Philbin said the quarterbacks have to be better, improve accuracy and step up to avoid pressure. But he also noted some positive points such as not throwing an interception between the two of them. Philbin also noted the Dolphins had five drops, which impacted the progress of the offense.
--Philbin said he's concerned about his team's slow starts, especially the defense's inability to get off the field on third downs. He's also troubled by the inconsistency on offense, especially in the red zone.
"Certainly, we haven't had the tangible results in on the field success in competitive games that we'd like to have, anticipate having," Philbin said. "But I think we've had a pretty productive camp."
The players are also concerned with the team's 0-2 performance in the exhibition season.
"The one thing we're not doing is panicking," cornerback Sean Smith said. "We're definitely not starting the way we thought we would, but there are plenty of practices to be done."
--Vontae Davis came into this season striving to prove his maturity was no longer an issue, but it appears an old grudge with Panthers receiver Steve Smith made him lose his cool, and left a bad impression of him with his new coaches.
Davis and Smith have had issues with one another since a regular-season game in 2009, and their beef carried over to Friday night's game. The two had numerous shoving matches in the first half, and Davis was called for a personal foul for one of their tussles, which ended with Davis having his helmet ripped off.
Davis, who works as the first-team boundary cornerback in the nickel package, was replaced by Nolan Carroll in the second quarter. But when Smith was pulled out the game he returned to his role on Miami's second-team defense.
This year Davis, a 2009 first-round pick who has started 36 games, finds himself on the outside looking in at the starting unit.
Richard Marshall, a free agent the Dolphins signed to a three-year, $16 million deal, has unseated Davis as the starting boundary cornerback paired with Sean Smith.
Davis plays with the first team in the nickel package, but it is clear his role on the team has been reduced, especially after the first episode of HBO's "Hard Knocks" reality series details some maturity issues the coaching staff has with the former Illinois standout.
"You've got to come in and work," Davis told the Sun-Sentinel. "It's like training your mind. Repetition over and over again for your mind and body to get back into football shape."
When asked if being embarrassed on "Hard Knocks" served as a wake-up call, Davis dismissed the program's storyline
"That don't matter to me. It's a challenge every day in the NFL. You just got to do what you need to do, take care of your job to the best of your ability," Davis said. "Whether I'm the fourth or fifth (cornerback), it doesn't matter to me. I'm still pushing myself.
"I've got to work. It's up to me to prove and show them that I can do what I've been doing, putting the work in, and doing the little stuff to get better for the season."
--Rishard Matthews presently runs with the third team receivers, which means he's at, or around the bottom of the depth chart of a position that's 11 players deep.
But this former Nevada standout has been advised to avoid playing "the numbers game," trying to predict which players make the 53-man roster.
Against the Panthers, Matthews caught four of the six pass thrown to him, contributing 39 yards and the fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Pat Devlin that put the game within reach late.
Marlon Moore, who is Matthews' roommate during training camp, consistently encourages the seventh-round pick to "calm down," and let the process play itself out.
Moore knows from experience considering he's been the final receiver to make the 53-man roster for the past two seasons.
"Stay composed. You're going to have your good days, and you're going to have your bad days," Matthews said. "Keep your eye on the prize."
The Dolphins will likely keep five or six receivers on the final roster, and will most likely stash another two on the practice squad.
Heading into this week Davone Bess, Legedu Naanee and likely Brian Hartline, who has been sidelined by a calf injury, are on firm footing because of their previous experience as past or present NFL starters.
Roberto Wallace, Julius Pruitt and Moore have a leg up on youngsters like Matthews, Clyde Gates, Chris Hogan, B.J. Cunningham and Jeff Fuller. But the final two weeks of the exhibition season could be used to gain some ground.
Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said special teams contributions will be a determining factor on which receivers make the 53-man roster. With that being the case Pruitt, who is one of Miami's top special teams contributors, and Wallace likely have a leg up on the competition.
QUOTE OF NOTE
"You're always pressing, always concerned whenever you're playing subpar in a certain aspect of the game. There is no excuse and no reason to think this is preseason, so this is why. It's something we have to focus on. It's all around. There is way too much seepage. It is something that we all know and feel and we have to get better," -- Defensive end Jared Odrick on the defense falling short of expectations.
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