Week 11 NFL Power Rankings

Week 11 NFL Power Rankings
Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

In the Week 11 NFL Power Rankings, I had to make a few leaps. They might seem a bit over-the-top at first. But, trust me, it just reflects another truly crazy week in the NFL. This is what we love about the NFL. Any team can beat any team any week. Just when you thought you had it figured out, it’s time to throw all that knowledge out the window. Here’s what things are looking like after Week 10.

32. Detroit Lions (0-8-1)

Last Week: 32

Last week I asked if it was possible the Lions could go 0-17. Not anymore! That said, somehow, a winless season is still on the table. As hard as the Lions have fought this year, sloppiness and poor execution is still preventing this team from getting in the win column. 0-17 might not be possible. But, could 0-16-1? This week really felt like their best opportunity with a brutal schedule over their next eight weeks.

31. Houston Texans (1-8)

Last Week: 31

The Texans were on bye this week. Frankly, their season has gone so poorly that nothing that happens in the NFL really affects them. That is, other than what happens with the draft positioning. The Texans are currently in control of the Dolphins’ first round pick as well as their own this year. Unfortunately, the Dolphins won and probably knocked their spot down a few pegs.

30. New York Jets (2-7)

Last Week: 29

So much for Mike White SZN. After his hall of fame worthy performance against the Bengals, he got hurt against the Colts and threw four interceptions against the Bills. Things got so bad at one point Joe Flacco went in and immediately put up the Jets’ only passing touchdown of the game.

The only winner here is Zach Wilson, who likely won’t have to worry about a quarterback controversy anymore when he comes back.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7)

Last week: 27

A two-spot drop is probably a bit harsh for a Jaguars team that almost pulled off a comeback over the rebounding Colts. Unfortunately, I can’t get that performance from Trevor Lawrence out of my head. He barely helped generate any offense all day and didn’t get the ball in the endzone once. Also, he fumbled the comeback away at the end. Painful way to lose for the Jaguars.

28. Miami Dolphins (3-7)

Last Week: 30

One underrated benefit of not having a first round draft pick in a wasted year is Dolphins fans get to root for crazy, weird wins. It’s not like the Dolphins can tank for better draft positioning. So, maybe it’s nice to see your former No. 5 overall quarterback come in and save the day when it looked like Jacoby Brisket couldn’t take the gift the Ravens were trying to give him.

That said, why wasn’t he starting in the first place if he was healthy enough to play? Even in a win the Dolphins look like a mess. Tua should probably request a trade in the offseason.

27. Atlanta Falcons (4-5)

Last Week: 22

I really need to stop buying into the Falcons. This is what they do, right? They get your hopes up by playing well enough just to get you to step on the rug one more time. Then, they yank it out from under your feet. You’d think I’d learn right? I hope Falcons fans have learned. Back to the basement you go.

26. New York Giants (3-6)

Last Week: 26

Rough bye week for a Giants team that saw each of its NFC East opponents come away with a win this week. They do hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over Washington. So, technically, they should be ranked ahead of them. Right? Let’s see what they do after the bye week. 

25. Chicago Bears (3-6)

Last Week: 25

After the Vikings win, the Bears are now alone for third place in the NFC North. Luckily, the Lions can’t seem to get out of their own way so they won’t have to go anywhere near the basement this year. But, at 3-6, it’s hard to imagine anything positive is going to come of this year.

24. Washington Football Team (3-6)

Last Week: 28

Washington put together a complete game. Taylor Heinicke looked like the guy people were thinking he might be able to be when these two teams met in the playoffs. This time around, it was Heinicke with a 110.4 passer rating who outdueled Tom Brady, who threw two early interceptions.

However, you have to give credit to them for saving their best play for the second half. That’s why they see a large bump in the Week 11 NFL Power Rankings.

23. Seattle Seahawks (3-6)

Last Week: 21

Russ is back! Aaaaannndd… it didn’t matter. The Seahawks’ offense was a complete non-factor as Russell Wilson wasn’t able to cook up much more than turnovers. They managed to keep the game close at 3-0 until the Packers broke the game open in the fourth quarter.

But, it wasn’t enough, and things are starting to look rough for a Seahawks team that couldn’t buy a win with Geno Smith and looks like they’ll need a miracle to get back in the playoff race.

22. Denver Broncos (5-5)

Last Week: 19

Somebody please explain this team to me. They completely dominated the Cowboys last week. This week? They completely fell apart. It was looking like they were going to get ready to make a comeback in the fourth quarter.

But, Melvin Gordon’s fumble-six killed any semblance of momentum they have. By the time the offense got its act back together, it was already nearing the end of the fourth quarter. One step forward, one step back.

21. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3-1)

Last Week: 18

The Steelers are still desperately clinging onto a wild card seed they probably don’t deserve. Somehow they failed to generate any offense against the Browns, played losing football against the Bears, and let the Lions march down the field in overtime twice. Yet, they didn’t lose any of those games. The Steelers’ five game win streak after starting 1-3 feels a lot like that fake 11-0 start from last year.

20. Carolina Panthers (5-5)

Last Week: 23

You couldn’t make up a story better than Cam Newton triumphantly returning to Carolina to put the season back on track. It kind of reminds me of when the Cincinnati Bengals brought Boomer Esiason back in 1997 to rescue a 1-7 Bengals team.

That team finished 7-9 behind the former MVP. Just two games behind the No. 6 seeded Miami Dolphins. Could Cam play well enough to provide the same kind of false hope in Carolina?

19. Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)

Last Week: 22

Don’t look now, but the Eagles are actually back to being a .500 team over the last six weeks. They also almost played well enough to complete comebacks against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Chargers. I’m still not sure who the Broncos are just yet, but a dominating win is all that matters. Believe it or not, this team is actually only one game behind in the race for a playoff spot.

18. San Francisco 49ers (4-5)

Last Week: 20

The 49ers defense made life hell on Matthew Stafford and Jimmy Garoppolo followed up with an efficient night. Deebo Samuel and George Kittle proved earned their keep this week, combining for 147 yards and two touchdowns.

The 49ers get a modest boost in the Week 11 NFL Power Rankings because they’re not the only basement team to upset a contender this week. But, the Rams are still a solid conquest for Kyle Shannahan’s trophy case.

17. Las Vegas Raiders (5-4)

Last Week: 14

I think losing Jon Gruden, Henry Ruggs, and Damon Arnette in back-to-back-to-back weeks may have been a bit much to overcome. The Raiders famously overcame the Gruden drama to decisively beat the Denver Broncos.

But, losing Henry Ruggs clearly crippled their offense against the Giants. This week, they looked totally lost in Kansas City. It’s a shame, because this team had so much potential. But, I think it’s time to start thinking about regrouping in 2022.

16. New Orleans Saints (5-4)

Last Week: 15

Trevor Siemian continues to play well for the New Orleans Saints. Who would have guessed! The Saints actually took one of the hottest teams in the NFL to the wire this week. But, a couple costly mistakes here and there killed them. For example, the fumbled kickoff at the beginning of the second half that set the Titans up at the Saints’ 19. Five plays later, they were down 20-6.

They managed to come back and almost win. But, it was too little too late at that point. This Saints team can be good, but I don’t think they’re quite where they want to be.

15. Cleveland Browns (5-5)

Last Week: 12

Cleveland’s offense looked so much better without OBJ last week. What happened? The Browns got punched in the mouth after their emotional conquering of the Cincinnati Bengals on the road. No such luck in Foxborough, as the Browns fell 31-7 before a knee injury forced Baker Mayfield to sit the rest of the game out. Case Keenum was somewhat more efficient, but less explosive, which is what the Browns really needed at that point.

Luckily, it sounds like Baker will be ok going forward. But, the Browns are going to need to get something figured out if that is how they look without Nick Chubb.

14. Indianapolis Colts (5-5)

Last Week: 16

Staving off a Jaguars comeback might not be the most impressive way to win of all time. But, the Colts are turning their season around. They’ve won four out of their last five, and the one loss was a close overtime loss to the Week 11 NFL Power Rankings best team in football. Don’t sleep on this Colts team’s potential to be alive in January.

13. Minnesota Vikings (4-5)

Last Week: 17

When the Vikings play in sync, special things happen. Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook both played smart, heads up football in what will likely be looked as an upset win over a floundering Chargers team. Also, it helps that Justin Jefferson went off for 143 yards on nine catches. I don’t consider this one a huge upset, however. If the Vikings can play a complete football game, they’re as dangerous as anyone in the NFL.

12. Los Angeles Chargers (5-4)

Last Week: 9

Justin Herbert’s inconsistency that had a lot of people worried about him during the Draft scouting process is starting to rear its ugly head. That’s not to say that he’s terrible or anything like that. But, he has been much less efficient than he was last year. His up-and-down day against the Vikings is a big reason why they lost this game. That’s why they find themselves out of the top 10 in the Week 11 NFL Power Rankings.

11. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4)

Last Week: 13

It’s not too often an NFL football team sees as complete of a victory on their bye week as this. After a rough two weeks against the Jets and Browns, the Bengals almost got vaulted back into control of a playoff spot this week. The Ravens equaled the Bengals’ Jets loss with a loss to the Dolphins. The Browns equaled the Bengals’ blowout loss with an even worse blowout loss to the Patriots (albeit on the road).

The Steelers tied with the winless Lions. Had the Lions’ kicker even made his missed extra point attempt, the Steelers would have lost and the Bengals would be in control of the No. 7 seed. That said, they have the opportunity to go earn it themselves this week against a Raiders team that looks dead in the water.

10. Baltimore Ravens (6-3)

Last Week: 7

Did the Cincinnati Bengals expose a major flaw in the Baltimore Ravens’ offense? Allegedly, Brian Flores took some cues from Lou Anarumo’s playbook to pick the Ravens apart defensively this week. Greg Roman is going to need to cook something up fast to avoid proving how easy his system is to figure out. Their remaining schedule is brutal, so hopefully they can make that happen.

9. Los Angeles Rams (7-3)

Last Week: 8

For the second week in a row, Matthew Stafford looked more like the erratic Detroit version of himself. That’s not what the Los Angeles Rams need right now as they try to get back on track. They’re now losers of two straight after looking like one of the hottest teams in the NFL through the first eight weeks. Hence, why they’re now creeping near the edge of the top 10 of the Week 11 NFL Power Rankings.

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3)

Last Week: 6

I would probably have knocked the Bucs down harder in the Week 11 NFL Power Rankings, if not for all the other major upsets. The Bucs’ offense made the Washington defense look like the elite unit they were expected to be this year. Tom Brady threw two early interceptions the Bucs were just never really able to recover from. By the time he regained his focus, Washington was already up 13-0. They put together a pretty decent comeback near the end but it was all for naught. 

7. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)

Last Week: 11

I’ve been assuming the Chiefs are going to bounce back in a big way all year, and they did that this week. Considering the narrative surround them this season, it seems weird to have them in the top 10 of the Week 11 NFL Power Rankings, right? Well, this team is 6-4 and top of the AFC West right now, despite their struggles.

Perhaps we shouldn’t read too much into one blowout win over a division opponent that has had the kitchen sink thrown at them over the past month. But, I’d be shocked if the Chiefs missed the playoffs at this point.

6. Arizona Cardinals (8-2)

Last Week: 1

I know the Cardinals still don’t have Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins. But, to be fair, part of the reason I had them at No. 1 in the first place was their ability to win despite those setbacks. They’re out of the top 5 of the Week 11 NFL Power Rankings because the Panthers were supposed to be cooked.

Colt McCoy was inefficient and the Cardinals could barely get anything going on the ground. Perhaps this team will be more dangerous when healthy. But, right now, they don’t look so hot.

5. New England Patriots (6-4)

Last Week: 8

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Bill Belichick is back in a big way, leading the Patriots into the top 5 of the Week 11 NFL Power Rankings. Mac Jones and Brian Hoyer both put on an absolute clinic against a Cleveland Browns team that was riding high on emotion after a crazy Week 9.

Oh, not to mention 184 yards on the ground. The Patriots employed their standard running back committee this week between Rhamondre Stevenson, Brandon Bolden, and JJ Taylor and they STILL had one of those guys hit 100 yards (exactly) this week.

4. Buffalo Bills (6-3)

Last Week: 5

The Buffalo Bills finally conquered Hall of Famer Mike White this week, forcing four interceptions. So, yeah. Maybe the Jets aren’t ready to take off like everyone thought they were. But, great teams blow bad teams out of the water. That, plus the demise of the Cardinals, is why the Bills see a climb in the Week 11 NFL Power Rankings.

3. Dallas Cowboys (7-2)

Last Week: 4

The Cowboys bounced back in a big way this week by doing to the Falcons what they should have done to the Broncos. Some might not value a win like this over the lowly Falcons, but I do. The Cowboys see a jump in the Week 11 NFL Power Rankings because this is not the way teams typically beat the Falcons.

Dak Prescott resumed his Comeback Player of the Year campaign this week with a stunning performance over a Falcons team that has done its fair share of losing this year. But, they typically avoid getting nuked like that.

2. Green Bay Packers (8-2)

Last Week: 3

Aaron Rodgers didn’t look like himself coming off his COVID adventure. But, the rest of the Packers picked up the slack around him much like they did for Jordan Love last week. The Packers’ defense tormented Russell Wilson all night and pitched a shutout at Lambeau.

AJ Dillon found the endzone twice and the Packers escaped with a 17-0 win. This is starting to turn into Rodgers’ worst nightmare. The Packers might not need him anymore and can probably plug anyone in at quarterback if he doesn’t want to play nicely.

1. Tennessee Titans (8-2)

Last Week: 2

The Titans’ rushing attack clearly isn’t the same without Derrick Henry. Adrian Peterson is an easy first ballot Hall of Famer. But, at 36 years old, he’s clearly nothing more than a rotational piece at this point. No matter. Ryan Tannehill is putting this team on his back and willing them to victories. The only question is… is this new formula sustainable?

It might very well be. That is why they’re at the top of the Week 11 NFL Power Rankings, and likely will be most of the rest of the year with their schedule. They’ll probably be the AFC’s No. 1 seed at the end of the season. But, are they going to be able to continue that efficiency when every game gets hard in the playoffs?

Tua Tagovailoa is Developing Right Before Our Eyes

Miami selected QB Tua Tagovailoa in the 2020 NFL Draft, and his rookie season was up and down. But he is taking the strides needed to become a franchise QB.

22.

That’s the number of starting quarterbacks the Miami Dolphins have started since Dan Marino retired in 2000.

Names like Jay Fiedler, Dante Culpepper, Chad Pennington, Ryan Tannehill and Jay Cutler bring back painful memories for fans who were searching for Miami’s next franchise QB.

But number 22, 2020 first round pick Tua Tagovailoa, feels different than the rest.

After an up and down rookie campaign where he went 6-3 as the starter but was pulled in 2 starts, Tagovailoa’s future in Miami was questioned.

The prospect of trading for established QB’s such as Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, and Aaron Rodgers spread through the media like wildfire. Analysts were questioning Tua’s physical tools, believing that he didn’t have what it takes to play on the pro level. Every time a QB looked to be available, Miami was instantly named a top destination.

But through the controversy, Tagovailoa remained locked in on his craft.

Rehab

The first step in improving his game was getting back to the shape Tua was in when he was at Alabama.

Coming off of major hip surgery in 2019, Tagovailoa didn’t have the opportunity to train during the offseason. Instead, he had to do rehabilitation work on his hip, just to get to a level in which he could play in 2020.

But 2021 is a different story.

Working with renowned trainer Nick Hicks of PER4ORM gym, the former Alabama QB has been able to get to a condition beyond what he was in college.

Tua Tagovailoa has been working with Per4orm this offseason.

With the physical strength that Tagovailoa has been able to amass, the expectation is that he should be much stronger with his throwing motion. This seems to be working, as we have seen clips from camp of the second year QB making several deep passes, something he didn’t do much of in 2020.

Mental Leap

On top of his physical rehab, Tua Tagovailoa wanted to improve his processing, progression through reads, grasp of the playbook, and getting the ball out quicker.

As Tagovailoa stated in a press conference, he wasn’t fully comfortable with former Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey’s playbook. While much of that comes from the playbook not being a fit for his skillset, he still put maximum effort towards learning his new scheme, under George Godsey and Eric Studesville.

Chemistry and Accuracy

Along with learning the playbook, Tua was working on his chemistry with weapons, new and old. Going to the fields with guys such as Will Fuller, DeVante Parker, Albert Wilson, and Mack Hollins, Tagovailoa truly used the offseason to his advantage, gaining knowledge of the intricacies of his receiver’s game’s. Whether it’s their timing, route tree, where they want the ball, or just getting to know them, Tagovailoa has put effort into having strong relationships with his receivers.

This relationship is starting to show in both training camp and preseason. Tagovailoa’s accuracy, which stood out in college, looks second to none, and is improving as he figures out his receivers. He has been able to put the ball on them in stride, where they can make plays.

Tua Tagovailoa was throwing with precision, leading to YAC opportunities.

Similarly to what Tua did at Alabama, he has become the point guard of this Miami offense, putting pocket passes in the hands of guys who can make plays, like speedster Will Fuller, who has taken notice.

Will Fuller is impressed with Tua Tagovailoa’s accuracy.

Pocket Presence

Although Tua has made strides in categories such as accuracy and strength, few have been has big as his pocket presence. Known for making plays at Alabama, we saw flashes in Tagovailoa’s rookie year (such as the Cardinals game). Unlike previous Dolphins QB’s, his ability to see the pass rush before it gets to him looks like an elite trait, and it seems to have only gotten better in the preseason.

Tua Tagovailoa scrambles against the Cardinals.

On several occasions against the Falcons, Tagovailoa was able to make a subtle move and proceed to deliver a strike. His eyes remained up, even though the pocket was collapsing around him, and he was able to make the correct read. Even with many of his snaps coming against pressure, he was still able to put up impressive numbers.

Tua Tagovailoa makes an impressive throw with pressure coming in.
Tua Tagovailoa was great against pressure against the Falcons.

Although this ability was one that we knew Tua had in him, it’s impressive to see it as he returns to the “Tuscaloosa Tua” that we saw in college.

Brian Baldinger breaks down Tua Tagovailoa.

Leadership

Although the physical traits are flashing on film and in practice, the MOST important developments that we have seen from him are newfound senses of confidence and leadership.

In 2020, it seemed like things were largely set up for a lack of confidence from the rookie QB. He was coming off of major hip surgery, he had a COVID-19 shortened offseason, his offensive coordinator ran a scheme he didn’t feel comfortable with, and the QB who was supposed to mentor him was put in twice to replace him.

But 2021 is a different year, and largely, a different Tua. Teammates and coaches have raved about how confident he is in the offense, and how willing he is to lead, and it has shown in the preseason. He has taken more shots down the field, and has even implemented some elements into Miami’s offense.

Tua Tagoviloa pressed the issue of getting to the line quickly.
Tua has an instructional conversation with Jaylen Waddle and Jakeem Grant.

As stated before, he had also arranged meetings with his teammates during the offseason, citing the need to get a better understanding of the offense.

Tua Tagovailoa works with his receivers during this offseason.

It looks like this taking of initiative is working, as countless teammates have spoken on rallying behind him and their willingness to play with him.

Mike Gesicki cites Tua’s leadership skills.

2021 and Beyond

Although Miami has had struggles with the Quarterback position in the past, Tua Tagovailoa is looking be the outlier. His willingness to get better, physically, mentally, and as a leader is something Dolphins fans haven’t seen since Dan Marino hung up the cleats in 2000.

Thus far, it looks like Tua is taking the strides we expected when he was selected in 2020, and we can only hope they continue into the season. But if Tagovailoa keeps putting in the work he has this offseason, then QB number 22 will finally be the savior Dolphins fans believe him to be.

Learning from the past: A look at the 2016 Miami Dolphins Wild Card season.

The Miami Dolphins last made the postseason in 2016 under ex-head coach Adam Gase and current GM Chris Grier.  While Dolphin fans do not miss Gase by any means, there are many things we can learn from a 10-6 season that gave the Dolphins their first playoff appearance since 2008.

The Miami Dolphins last made the postseason in 2016 under ex-head coach Adam Gase and current GM Chris Grier.  While Dolphin fans do not miss Gase by any means, there are many things we can learn from a 10-6 season that gave the Dolphins their first playoff appearance since 2008.

Background

After the Dolphins began the 2015 season with a 1-3 record, head coach Joe Philbin was fired and replaced by interim head coach Dan Campbell.  Campbell, current head coach of the Detroit Lions, led the Dolphins to a 6-10 record by producing 5 wins and 7 losses to close out the season.  The Dolphins then hired alleged offensive guru Adam Gase in the offseason to take over as head coach.  Many expected Adam Gase to be a quarterback whisperer, and the man to finally turn Ryan Tannehill into a top NFL quarterback.

The Dolphins came into 2016 with first year head coach Adam Gase and QB Ryan Tannehill manning the offense.

2016 Season Summary

Adam Gase’s first season as head coach with the Dolphins did not start easy.  The Dolphins began the season with a 1-4 record, losing to the Seahawks, Patriots, Bengals, and Titans, while posting only one win against the struggling Browns.  In the following weeks, a fire was lit under the Dolphins as they went on a 6-game tear, winning games against the Steelers, Bills, Jets, Chargers, Rams, and 49ers.  This brought their record to 7-4 and put them back in the thick of a playoff hunt.  The streak was disrupted in week 13 with a brutal 38-6 loss at M&T Bank against the Ravens but was followed by 3 straight wins against the Cardinals, Jets, and Bills.  The Dolphins then closed out the season with a loss against the Patriots to finish 10-6.

The Dolphins suffered early in close games, including this 71 yard drop by wide receiver Kenny Stills in week 1 against the Seahawks.

Key Notes

After the first 4 games, Ryan Tannehill finally began to have the season many Dolphins fans had been praying for.  Before suffering a season ending injury in week 13, Tannehill was having tremendous success in the offense.  During the team’s 6 game win streak he did not turn the ball over a single time.  While the stats won’t show it, Tannehill was vital in leading the Dolphins to their first playoff berth in 8 seasons.

The run game was actually a threat in 2016.  Running back Jay Ajayi broke out as an unexpected star for the Dolphins and finished 4th in the league in rushing yards despite not starting until week 6.  The “Jay-train” averaged nearly 5 yards per attempt and posted 200 rushing yards three times in wins against the Steelers and Bills twice.  Rookie Laremy Tunsil also emerged as a solid contributor in the run game during that year.  Another notable rookie who did not play much in 2016 was future starter Kenyan Drake, a successful draft choice by Chris Grier.

Jay Ajayi broke 200 rushing yards in 3 games in 2016.

Minimal injuries were a top key for a playoff run.  While the most notable loss before the playoffs was Tannehill, the Dolphins lost another key contributor during the regular season with 2015 pro-bowler Reshad Jones going down in week 6.  The Dolphins had been building a solid secondary with rookie Xavien Howard emerging as a top man-coverage corner, but he missed games from week 5 to week 14 with a knee injury.  Howard’s development and Jones’s talent would have been a huge factor for winning in the playoffs.

Injuries had a massive impact on the Dolphins in 2016.

Takeaways

GM Chris Grier had a solid draft in 2016.  While most aren’t on the Dolphins anymore, each of the early draft picks provided eventual value to the Dolphins.  Laremy Tunsil, Xavien Howard, and Kenyan Drake all went on to become great NFL starters.  Late-round pick Jakeem Grant also emerged as a capable returner, although we will soon see how his status on the Dolphins pans out.

Chris Grier drafted eventual 1st team All-Pro cornerback Xavien Howard in the 2016 draft.

Every team has injuries, but depth is the key to sustained success. 

GM Chris Grier has learned from the 2016 season and developed a roster built with the next-man-up mentality. 

This current roster is loaded with depth at every position, and this team will have confidence when back-ups inevitably need to step-up.  The secondary, linebacker, and wide receiver rooms are each stacked with players who won’t let this season end with injury plagues the same way it did in 2016. 

Jacoby Brissett is another solid offseason addition who could very well lead this team if Tua were to go down.

Winning close games is the name of the game in the NFL.  The best teams simply find a way to win without making excuses. 

The Dolphins started out 2016 with several very close games, but the key to their turnaround was finding a way to finish.  As we all know in the NFL, every game matters.  A lot of the Dolphins wins in 2016 were not pretty, but they did what they had to do when it mattered most. 

In 2021, the Dolphins will need to find creative ways to make big plays in the 4th quarter and put their best players in a position to impact the outcome. 

Even with a new regime, the hope the Dolphins can learn from the past in 2021 and make the jump to the playoffs once again. It will be up to Brian Flores and his players to make a push for the playoffs.

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Nothing will affect the season of the 2021 Miami Dolphins more than this one big thing.

Everyone knows the quarterback is generally the biggest factor dictating an NFL team’s success.  There are obviously high expectations for Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa this season, but the ultimate success of this team relies on co-offensive coordinators George Godsey and Eric Studesville. 

Everyone knows the quarterback is generally the biggest factor dictating an NFL team’s success.  There are obviously high expectations for Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa this season, but the ultimate success of this team relies on co-offensive coordinators George Godsey and Eric Studesville.  With the stellar defense the Miami Dolphins had last season, Brian Flores will need his recently promoted assistants to bring the offense up to the same level to win games this year.

Why Coaching Matters

In the NFL, the quarterback is king.  A great quarterback can take a good team to a great team and hide deficiencies on both sides of the ball.  Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers have proved countless times throughout their careers that a subpar team can go deep in the playoffs with their help.  Why then, is offensive coaching still king?

If we look at the 2020 season, the best offenses without “proven” quarterbacks showed countless examples of why the right scheme matters.  Derek Carr, Ryan Tannehill, and even Kirk Cousins and rookie Justin Herbert led top 10 offenses in terms of yardage with each of their respective teams putting up over 6000 total yards. 

While each is a solid quarterback, it can reasonably be inferred that the scheme they are in has a phenomenal impact on their success. Let’s take a look at the Raiders for example.  Before offensive guru John Gruden joined the team in Las Vegas, Derek Carr had never put up more than 4,000 yards in a single season.  He has now broken that threshold in all 3 seasons since. 

He’s also averaged only 9 interceptions per year compared to 11 over the previous 4 seasons.  Gruden has also developed one of the top running backs in the league with Josh Jacobs eclipsing 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons.  Coaching matters.

Is John Gruden the real secret to his success?

The Titans are another great example of what incredible offensive minds can do for an NFL team. 

While Tannehill’s passing yards are fairly on par with what they were on the Dolphins, he has thrown only 13 interceptions while starring in a new offense for the Titans.  The impressive rushing attack and play action offense developed by Mike Vrabel and Arthur Smith has turned the Titans into a top 5 offense in the NFL.

Coaching matters.

Tannehill has broken out as a top-level quarterback since joining the Titans.

When we look at the Dolphins, we can see the talent and potential oozing at every offensive position.  Without proper coaching however, all that will ever be talked about is potential. 

If the Dolphins want to make the playoffs this season, the coaching staff of Godsey and Studesville will need to milk every ounce of that potential from each player on the roster.  This will include not just Tua, but the offensive line, running backs, and fresh new receivers.

Coaching Backgrounds

George Godsey

Godsey’s NFL coaching experience began in 2011 as an assistant for the New England Patriots after a seven-year college coaching stint at UCF.  In 2012 he was named tight ends coach under offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, who he followed to the Texans in 2014 to become quarterbacks coach. 

Godsey then gained experience as a quarterbacks coach for the Detroit Lions before leaving to coach tight ends for the Dolphins under Brian Flores in 2019.  In March, he joined Studesville in being named as co-offensive coordinators for the Dolphins.

Eric Studesville

Studesville has an impressive resume of NFL coaching experience beginning in 1997 with the Chicago Bears as a running backs coach.  He has since coached running backs for the Giants, Bills, and Broncos.  Studesville also served as interim head coach for Denver in 2010 after Josh McDaniels was fired.  J

oining the Dolphins in 2018, he was kept on the team after a regime change from head coach Adam Gase to Brian Flores.  Studesville has had many great backs impress under his tutelage including names like Tiki Barber, Willis McGahee, Fred Jackson, and Marshawn Lynch.

Biggest Keys

The run game will need to be a whole lot better this year.  Myles Gaskin showed promise last season, and the coaching staff needs to ensure that he can find holes by coaching up the young offensive lineman.  Both Godsey and Studesville have loads of experience with running backs, and I expect to see that on display with a plethora of different skillsets in the backfield. 

Malcolm Brown was a solid addition in the offseason, and I expect the co-offensive coordinators to get a lot more out of him than what was seen with the disappointing Jordan Howard and Matt Breida last year.  Watch out for Salvon Ahmed to break out as well, he has more talent than many might expect.

Gaskin could be poised for a breakout year.

The Dolphins coaching staff will need to learn from the mistakes from last season to progress this year.  At times last season Tua seemed to be limited to certain play calls and short yardage passes under former offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. 

Godsey and Studesville will need to let Tua rip it and throw to his speedy receivers downfield.  Tua has great pocket awareness and accuracy, and the coaches must allow him to put this on full display.  The coaching staff needs to instill confidence in the young QB by helping him learn to make calls at the line of scrimmage, gain more confidence in the playbook, and trust his instincts.

Look for the coaches to put to good use the extremely talented skill players on the Miami roster.

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