Week 13 NFL Power Rankings

week 13 nfl power rankings
Jeff Siner – Charlotte Observer

The Week 13 NFL Power Rankings have movement all over the place! The Patriots and Lions stay put as the best and worst teams this week, respectively. But, so many other teams are moving significantly from where they were in last week’s power rankings.

32. Detroit Lions (0-10-1)

Last Week: 32

I apologize to all the Detroit Lions fans out there. But, I’m rooting for 0-16-1 at this point. It’s a feat that I’m not sure we’ll ever see happen again. For an NFL team to be good enough to come so close to winning so many times and fail to do so every single time is just… special. It’s a rough life. But, hey, I’ll give you this: The Lions are currently 1-9-1 in my eyes. The refs failed to penalize the Baltimore Ravens with a delay of game penalty at the end of the Week 3 game. It would have knocked the Ravens out of even Justin Tucker’s inhuman field goal range. You can always hang your hats on that.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9)

Last week: 30

The Jacksonville Jaguars are so bad they can’t even complete a comeback attempt over the Falcons. Obviously I’m poking a bit of fun at the Falcons with that comment. But, I guess my question is, where the hell was that effort the rest of the game? The Jags looked as snakebitten as they’ve ever looked with turnovers on back to back drives in the second quarter. They basically set the Falcons up with a 14-3 lead at halftime. The thought process was… hey, if the Jags can stop making killer mistakes, they could always turn this game around. The Falcons haven’t exactly fully earned their halftime lead. The problem is you still have to push the ball down the field, and the Jags were unable to do that.

30. Houston Texans (2-9)

Last Week: 27

Chin up, Texans fans! The only other teams to lose to the Jets this year were the Bengals and Titans and look where both of those teams are right now! Although, it’s a little different because the Texans’ offense was completely inept. Tyrod Taylor accounted for nearly 200 yards of total offense on his own, but nobody else could accomplish anything. The Jets’ defesnse has been notoriously awful this season, so what does that say about the Texans’ offense? The Texans have some fundamental issues holding their football team back right now, hence their tumble in the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings.

29. New York Jets (3-8)

Last Week: 31

The much awaited return of Zach Wilson happened this week and… well, it wasn’t pretty. But, the Jets won. It was largely due to a running game that tallied 157 yards on the day. But, that doesn’t change the fact that the Jets’ air game failed to take flight all day. Wilson finished with 145 yards and an interception. Thank god, for his sake, Mike White and Joe Flacco didn’t play any better. I can’t put them too high in the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings. But, I’ll give them a nice little boost for eclipsing their 2020 win total.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5-1)

Last Week: 23

Speaking of misleading records, how the hell is this Steelers team 5-5-1? Like the Falcons, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re average because they have a .500 record. But, this team couldn’t beat the Lions. The refs handed them a win over the Bears. They struggled to put 15 points up on a very injured Browns team. They lucked out against Geno Smith and got a Bills team that wasn’t ready to go in Week 1. In my opinion, they’ve only had one convincing win all season against the Denver Broncos. So, losing 41-10 to the Bengals is honestly about what we should expect. Do you honestly expect them to beat the Ravens, Vikings, Titans, Chiefs, or Browns? The Steelers are very close to visiting the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings’ basement.

27. Seattle Seahawks (3-8)

Last Week: 24

What can I even say at this point? Russell Wilson came back and this team is still hot doodoo garbage. This week might have been Seattle’s last chance to turn this season into something relevant or interesting. If only to build momentum for next year. But, now, it’s looking like it’s almost time to blow the whole thing up and start over.

26. Atlanta Falcons (5-6)

Last Week: 29

The Atlanta Falcons’ 5-6 record is a bit misleading. You’d be forgiven for thinking they’re an average football team right now if you only looked at that number. But, dive a little deeper, and you’ll see so many blown opportunities that you’d never trust this team ever again for the rest of your life. They almost had another one against the Jaguars this week. But, they prevented a fall in the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings by holding Trevor Lawrence’s heroic comeback attempt off.

25. New York Giants (4-7)

Last Week: 26

You have to give credit to the Giants’ defense. Considering the offensive production we saw, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have won this game without it. Three interceptions on Jalen Hurts put a bowtie on this pig of a game for Giants fans. Saquon Barkley was ineffective, Daniel Jones was uninspiring, and nobody had an answer for Hurts’ legs. But, they found a way to get the job done. I don’t think it saves Joe Judge’s job. But, it’s the kind of hard-fought division win the locker room can hang their hat on.

24. Chicago Bears (4-7)

Last Week: 25

Wow. Um. Good job, Bears? You sure showed the Lions you could… score 16 points against them. Look, to be fair, the Bears got a win this week. It doesn’t matter in the final standings that it came against a Lions team that hasn’t won a game since Week 13 of last year (against the Bears, by the way). Andy Dalton looked like Andy Dalton. But, hey, Darnell Mooney had a nice game! Maybe you’ve got a nice piece to build that receiving corps with?

23. Carolina Panthers (5-7)

Last Week: 21

So much for Cam Newton coming home to save the Panthers’ season, huh? Cam’s 5.8 passer rating this week was worse than anything the Panthers have ever seen out of Sam Darnold. He only completed five of his 21 passing attempts and threw it to the other team twice. Then, perhaps even more insanely, the Panthers benched him for PJ Walker and he was sacked FOUR TIMES! The man only played two drives. I think there might be something fundamentally wrong with the Panthers, rather than their quarterbacks.

22. New Orleans Saints (5-6)

Last Week: 18

Life without Jameis Winston is tough in New Orleans. They were absolutely decimated by the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving this week. They didn’t even sniff the endzone until the fourth quarter. And, if that wasn’t enough, they couldn’t even convert the two-point conversion after the fact. The Saints’ defense did pretty well through most of the first half, but the whole team fell apart in the second half. If they’re not careful, the Saints could find themselves out of the playoff race when they looked like shoo-ins a few weeks ago.

21. Miami Dolphins (5-7)

Last Week: 27

Don’t look now, but the Miami Dolphins are only a single game out of the playoff race. It seems like they’re starting to get more comfortable with the idea of letting Tua take over in a more balanced offense. It’s not exactly the prettiest way to win games. But, it is one they could be successful with. It might seem crazy, but Brian Flores could potentially save his job if he learns to trust the quarterback the team spent a No. 5 overall pick on.

20. Denver Broncos (6-5)

Last Week: 22

Rumors of the Broncos’ demise have been greatly exaggerated. Patrick Surtain showed why he was worth a high draft pick this week by essentially putting the final nails in the Chargers’ coffin with a pick six. The Broncos’ offense was largely unspectacular, but it was efficient. Teddy Bridgewater avoided any major mistakes and finished with a 101.4 passer rating. This is the formula for winning, Broncos. I could see them right back in the playoff picture if they keep riding this strategy.

19. Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)

Last Week: 16

It’s pretty difficult to win a game when Jalen Hurts throws three interceptions like that. The Eagles are running out of breathing room in the playoff race. If they’re not careful, they could be out of it entirely in a few weeks. Dropping games to the lowly Giants is not going to help at all. Maybe they should run the ball more? After all, they did record 208 yards rushing on the day. They sure couldn’t accomplish anything through the air.

18. Cleveland Browns (6-6)

Last Week: 15

The Browns are currently in the AFC North’s basement when they could have been back in control of a playoff spot with even a modicum of offensive competence. Baker Mayfield’s case to remain the future of the Browns’ quarterback position took a massive hit this week. He mostly looked lost and totally out of sync with his receivers this week. It reminded me a lot of the connection between Baker and OBJ, but this was every receiver on his team. Even Jarvis Landry missed a connection with Baker multiple times, despite finishing with 111 yards on the day. This Browns team is going to be back under .500 this year if their offense keeps playing like this.

17. Washington Football Team (5-6)

Last Week: 20

Astoundingly, the Washington Football Team is in control of a playoff spot! How crazy would that be, by the way, if WFT could make it into the playoffs as a Wild Card team with a losing record? I doubt that would happen, but it seems so fitting of a team that made it that way last year by winning the division. I’m not sure what’s gotten into them lately, but let’s see if it keeps up now that the schedule is about to get a lot harder.

16. Minnesota Vikings (5-6)

Last Week: 12

Welp, believing in the Vikings was fun while it lasted. I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot this year. But, they fall back down to dead-middle in the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings due to following up a huge win over a division rival with a flattening loss to a team they’re competing with for a Wild Card spot. Plus, now Dalvin Cook is going to be out for a few weeks with a dislocated shoulder. Luckily, they draw the Lions, Steelers, and Bears over the next three weeks so he should have plenty of time to heal up before the Rams come to town in week 16.

15. Indianapolis Colts (6-6)

Last Week: 14

What a shame. The Colts had the Bucs right where they wanted them. Every Titan fan in the country was starting to sweat. Then, Carson Wentz imploded. They even pushed the ball down field late in the game to tie things up. But, the defense had no answer for Leonard Fournette. One somewhat predictable Carson Wentz interception later and the big statement upset had completely slipped out of their grasp, along with control of a playoff seed.

14. San Francisco 49ers (6-5)

Last Week: 17

Winners of four of their last five games, the 49ers are coming. It seems like not too long ago many of us were wondering how long Kyle Shanahan can keep resting on injury excuses to keep his job. Well, I think this recent run of form has bought him a bit of time. This was a key win the 49ers absolutely needed against the Vikings, considering the playoff implications. They snatched that opportunity by forcing Minnesota to make key mistakes. They’re currently the No. 6 seed in the NFC. I probably don’t have them high enough in the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings. But, give it a week or two. I’m sure they’ll be up higher soon the way they’ve been playing.

13. Las Vegas Raiders (6-5)

Last Week: 19

That’s more like it, Raiders! After looking absolutely dead in the water the past few weeks, the Raiders reminded everyone that they’re still a very talented football team in Dallas. Unfortunately, they’re just barely on the outside of the playoff race looking in due to losing to the Chargers earlier this year. But, if they can at least keep pace, they’ll get another shot at them in Week 18. Vegas has a lot of winnable games against teams competing for a wild card spot down the stretch. So, we’ll learn if they are built to last or not.

12. Los Angeles Chargers (6-5)

Last Week: 11

The Chargers have not exactly been lighting the world on fire lately. Since their bye week, they’ve only won two of five. In fact, they almost choked one away to the Steelers. It could have easily been only one of the last five. The key factor in a lot of these losses has been Justin Herbert’s erratic, inconsistent play. Yes, he’s an extremely talented individual. I’m not trying to suggest he isn’t a generational talent. But, he’s thrown seven interceptions in his last six games and taken 12 sacks. That’s a big reason why it looks like the wheels are starting to come off.

11. Los Angeles Rams (7-4)

Last Week: 9

Speaking of teams who have been presenting worry trends lately, the Los Angeles Rams haven’t won since October. There has to be something in the water in LA, right? Why else would BOTH Los Angeles teams be suddenly collapsing after such promising starts? It’s actually, once again, a quarterback issue. Matt Stafford was inefficient most of the day and threw an absolutely crushing pick six just ahead of their comeback attempt. Reverse that play and the Rams have a legit opportunity to pull this one off at the end.

10. Buffalo Bills (7-4)

Last Week: 14

The Buffalo Bills got back to form this week with a total domination of a reeling Saints team. It was a good look, but not quite enough to wipe losing to the Jaguars and being dominated by the Colts out of my memory. They’ll have an opportunity to prove themselves with a couple games against the Patriots left on their schedule. But, I’m still not sure if I’m ready to bring the Bills back into the top echelon of the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings.

9. Baltimore Ravens (8-3)

Last Week: 10

Well… the Ravens won. I guess. It was about as ugly of a win as you could manage. But, it was a win. Lamar Jackson really needs to clean up the sloppy play and the turnovers if this Ravens team wants to make noise in the playoffs. At this point, I’d be shocked if they fell off and missed entirely. Although, the NFL is weird. So, I almost wouldn’t be shocked. Almost. Especially considering the rough schedule they have coming up.

8. Dallas Cowboys (7-4)

Last Week: 6

Are the Cowboys starting to turn into pretenders? Maybe, maybe not. But, you can’t spin the recent run of form in any way that’s positive. The Raiders looked like the much better team for almost the entire contest this week. Dak was efficient, but the Cowboys couldn’t run the ball. The defense just got absolutely worked all game. Thank god the Eagles lost, right? That was almost under consideration for being an issue there for a minute! But, if the Cowboys have higher ambitions than a division championship, they’ll need to turn things around.

7. Tennessee Titans (8-4)

Last Week: 5

The Bucs ended their two-game losing streak on Monday night against the Giants. Tom Brady doesn’t typically deal well with being embarrassed, which is usually bad news for the next team up. He made the Giants pay for the sins of the Football Team and Saints with 307 yards and two touchdowns on the night. There was a really ugly interception thrown deep in Bucs territory early in the second quarter that led to a game-tying touchdown. But, the mistake was compartmentalized and it was basically a slaughter from that point forward.

6. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)

Last Week: 8

Back on track. The Bengals stumbled a little with back-to-back alarming games against the Jets and Browns. Had they held onto that 11-point lead in the fourth quarter over the Jets, I don’t think the pushback after the Browns game would have been as strong. But, it happened, and now everyone who dismissed the Bengals (including myself) looks pretty stupid. The Cincinnati Bengals are a bona fide contender in 2021 and you can’t convince me otherwise.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3)

Last Week: 7

It’s kind of nuts to think about the fact that Leonard Fournette might be having a better career as a rotational player in Tampa Bay than he ever had as the feature back with the team that drafted him No. 4 overall. He was absolutely electrifying in Indianapolis this week, and a huge reason the Bucs came from behind to keep their playoff seeding bid intact. Because, that’s pretty much what they’re playing for at this point, right? They have a 3-game lead in the division with six games left to go. So, I’d say probably.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)

Last Week: 3

I know it’s weird to knock a team down in the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings after a bye week. But the Chiefs are in sole possession of the AFC West after their rough start you say! Only good things happened during the bye week! What even is this trash article! Well, sorry, but that’s part of the deal with being up this high. When you don’t do anything for a week, teams with big wins like the Packers could move you out of the way. Don’t take it as anything other than logistics.

3. Arizona Cardinals (9-2)

Last Week: 2

Same deal here. The Cardinals saw the Rams fall two games behind them on their bye week. So, how are they falling in the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings, you ask? Keep reading to find out.

2. Green Bay Packers (9-3)

Last Week: 4

A massive victory this week for the Green Bay Packers this week. They absolutely came to play against a Los Angeles Rams team that needed a big win to keep up in the division race. But, Aaron Rodgers was efficient, clinical, and hard to keep in check. AJ Dillon was the baaaad man this week with 90 all purpose yards and a rather photogenic touchdown. All in all, you should be scared of this Packers team right now. They’re clearly the class of the NFC. In fact, they’re only half a game behind the No. 1 seeded Cardinals, whom they hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over.

1. New England Patriots (8-4)

Last Week: 1

The Patriots spanked the Titans this week, proving they’re worthy of the No. 1 spot. How crazy is it that Bill Belichick seems to be building a third championship caliber era Patriots team with a completely new quarterback? There isn’t any question that Tom Brady was a big part of winning six Super Bowls back in the day. But, perhaps we’ve been too easy to forget the man who made Tom Brady who he is today. The Patriots are back.

How to Tell When the Miami Dolphins are Running Wildcat

Miami Dolphins huddle
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins are, for the third week in a row, winners after defeating the Jets 24-17. After starting slowly, Miami was able to put up 17 second-half points, largely due to Tua Tagovailoa and his ability to shake off an early interception.

Although, the most interesting part of the game might have been the offensive gameplan. The Miami Dolphins consistently came out in Wildcat formation, where either a running back or wide receiver would take the snap. Then, they would choose to either hand off to another playmaker or keep the ball on a run up the middle.

The Dolphins, although coming out in Wildcat several times, were unable to find much success with the formation. A majority of their runs were stopped in the backfield or only gained a few yards.

A major possibility for Miami’s lack of success, along with mediocre offensive line play, may be a tell that signals when the Dolphins will motion into Wildcat.

While watching the game, I was able to uncover a small change in Miami’s pistol formation when they plan on motioning Tua out wide.

Below is a side-by-side photo of Miami’s pre-snap look in a pistol formation (in which the QB is not under center, and a running back is behind him). The play on the left is a reverse pass to Albert Wilson, while the one on the right motions into Wildcat.

The left is a Miami Dolphins pistol reverse play, while the right is a wildcat run play.
The left is a pistol reverse play, while the right is a wildcat run play.

The difference between the two, although subtle, is noticeable.

Tipping Their Hand.

When Miami plans on putting Tua in motion, they bring him closer to the line of scrimmage by a yard. The play on the left (a Wilson reverse) has Tua about three yards behind the center. On the other hand, the play on the right (which becomes Wildcat) has Tua only two yards behind.

Throughout the game, it was easy to tell if Miami was going to run Wildcat or not. If there were three yard markers in between Tua and the center, it was pistol. Only two yard markers, on the other hand, meant Wildcat motion was coming.

There are 3 yard markers in between Tua and Reiter on the left, only 2 on the right.

This clear tell, while not the only reason, may have contributed to Miami’s lack of success in the formation. In combination with poor offensive line play and an inability to create holes, Miami tipped their hand to the Jets’ defense.

Another interesting element, shown in the photos, is the difference in Tua’s foot placement.

On the Wildcat play (shown on the right), Tua’s feet are noticeably more flat and parallel to each other. The left, on the other hand, has his left foot much farther in front. This may have shown the Jets’ defense, in combination with the distance from the center, that motion was coming.

Through simple cues in body language and distance, it was easy to tell if the Wildcat formation was coming. This could be concerning for the future, as Miami continues to use the formation to establish the run. If teams know that the motion is coming, it becomes far easier to eliminate the idea of the pass and sell out against the run.

The Bottom Line

Miami must work on eliminating the simple tells in the Wildcat if they are to use it more often. They ran more Wildcat in this game than any other game this season, and teams will pick up on this trend.

If the formation is to be successful, the Dolphins will have to learn to not give away what’s coming, along with opening holes for their ball carriers.

It will be interesting to see if this tell continues to show in the coming weeks, and how defenses react to the Miami Dolphins Wildcat runs.

Miami Dolphins Stun Baltimore Ravens on TNF

Dolphins vs Ravens
Credit: Dolphins Wire

The Miami Dolphins stunned everyone with an upset win vs the Baltimore Ravens. Not only did Miami beat the Ravens, but they dominated most of the game. Even though it was a snooze fest of a game until the fourth quarter, Dolphin fans have a reason to be excited again. Here are some key takeaways from Miami’s stunning win vs the Ravens.

Defense Looks Dominant Again

Last night, the Dolphins defense looked like one of the best in the NFL. Holding one of the NFL’s best and hottest players in Lamar Jackson to just 277 all purpose yards. Not only that, but the Dolphins defense also had one interception, four sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery that went for a touchdown vs the Ravens.

Xavien Howard got the game going with a forced fumble that he recovered and took it 49 yards for a score. Justin Coleman had the same sealing interception in the end zone with less than a minute left in the game. But this was all thanks to Lamar being uncomfortable all night.

Jaelan Philips, Andrew Van Ginkle, Emmanuel Ogbah, Brandon Jones, and Jevon Holland were in Lamar’s face all game. Lamar was blitzed essentially all game and it turned out to work for Miami.

Tua Fills In and Delivers

For the second straight week Tua Tagovailoa was active even with his finger injury. But for the second straight week Tua was the active back-up. This was until the third quarter when Jacoby Brissett went down with a knee injury.

On the next drive Brissett tried to go back in and head coach Brian Flores waved him off and called Tua’s number. At first it was evident that his finger is really injured, killing any “benching” speculation.

That being said, as the game went on, Tua did look more comfortable and started to throw better. He had some throws that made you shake your head but it is clear that it was due to his finger. Postgame Tua clarified that his finger “does not feel good”. but he stayed strong and played through it.

Tua’s highlights from last night are his deep throw to Jaylen Waddle and Albert Wilson along with his one yard quarterback sneak to score a touchdown. With the extended week due to playing on Thursday night, hopefully Tua uses this time so he is 100% by the next game against the New York Jets.

Run Game and Offensive Line Leave Question Marks

Even though the Dolphins played their best game of the season vs the Ravens, there was still negatives. The run game still isn’t where it should be. Myles Gaskins was the only rusher with over 10 carries and averaged 2.2 yards per carry. That is including his long of 11 yards. No team in the NFL should be able to win like this consistently, so Miami needs to figure out their run game woes.

The offensive line for Miami also did not play their best. As I said above Tua only got in the game due to Brissett getting hurt. The Ravens only had four saves, but had a total of 13 quarterback hits.

The run game also looked horrendous part due to part of the offensive line. Liam Eichenberg allowed several pressures and was the one who allowed the sack that got Brissett hurt. It will be something to keep an eye on if Miami decides to switch up the offensive line during their long week.

Familiar Faces Return

Albert Wilson and Isaiah Ford were the lead receivers for the Dolphins last night. Both tied with a game high four catches and both led the Dolphins in receiving yards. Wilson had 87 yards compared to Ford’s 84.

The question of “where has Albert Wilson been?” finally got answered as Miami finally used him properly. Miami sent him on a wheel route on an RPO and gained 64 yards on his biggest play of the night. He also ran a number of screens where he flashed his ability to make people miss consistently. It will be interesting if Miami keeps using Wilson throughout the season or if this was a “gameplay” situation.

Ford also came through for Miami as he had a number of catches when Miami was in a hurry up offense. Besides not stepping out of bounds in an obvious situation, Ford was impressive. He showed that he can be Miami’s number three or even two receiver if need be.

Rookies Shine

Rookies Jevon Holland and Jaylen Waddle received public praise from the media and the Ravens players. While Jaelan Phillips had his best game to date. Holland was all over the field and broke up a deep ball that was intended for Marquise Brown early in the game.

In addition to that, Holland stuffed the stat sheet, with five tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, two pass deflections, and a quarterback hit, it seems Chris Grier made have drafted a budding star.

Jaylen Waddle was also a key contributor as he was on the receiving end of Tua’s clutch throw in the fourth quarter. Waddle had four catches for 61 yards and its clear that Miami is making an effort to use him properly. He also drew a ton of attention as the defense always made sure they knew where he was. Waddle as normal was also both Brissett’s and Tua’s security blanket.

Jaelan Phillips impressed fans last week with a great game, but this week he was even better. Even though he only had half a sack and one quarterback hit, he was always around the ball and in Lamar’s face all night. He made sure Lamar didn’t scramble all over Miami and chased him down whenever he tried too.

Looking Ahead

Overall the Dolphins performance vs the Ravens showed how good of a team they can be. Even with the offensive line and run game not being the best they still outplayed the Ravens. The play-calling wasn’t the best but we have defiantly seen worse this year.

Let’s hope Miami is able to carry this momentum through the season and show that they are better than their current record of 3-7 and potentially fight for a playoff spot.

Thursday Night Football: A Chance to Change the Narrative

Following a week 9 win, the Miami Dolphins have an opportunity to shock the world against the Ravens on Thursday Night Football.

This season, as we all know, has been a rough one for The Dolphins. After winning a close game in week 1, the Dolphins began to lose grip on their season. Coaching miscues, injuries, and regression led to Miami losing 7 straight.

They finally snapped their streak on Sunday, grinding out a defensive battle without QB Tua Tagovailoa.

Although it seems that Miami’s season is likely over from a postseason perspective, there is still something to prove.

The NFL Playoff Picture going into week 10.

Brian Flores and Chris Grier must show ownership that there is reason for them to stay. A competitive game with one of the league’s premiere teams on Thursday Night Football could help the optics of their situation.

Optics is the operative word here. While Miami doesn’t much have to compete for as a team, individual players have a chance to define the early portions of their careers.

Primetime games present an opportunity that 1pm Sunday showdowns don’t: fans from across the league are watching, and their opinions on players often come from the very little they get to see from their specific teams.

A prime, and frankly, a painful example of this comes on December 26th, 2020.

A Cautionary Tale

Following an impressive win against New England, the Tua led Dolphins went into Las Vegas to take on the Raiders, with playoff hopes on the line. Little did they know, the public opinion of 2 players would change drastically that night, both in different directions.

The game started slow, with very little coming from either offense. Tua was struggling, and many of his completed passes were coming at or behind the line of scrimmage.

With 94 yards on 22 attempts, Miami was in need of a spark, and they made the decision that it wouldn’t come from Tua.

Tua was benched against Las Vegas.

Instead, Miami went with 38 year old veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fans were outraged, and the national media had begun to change their opinion. A quarterback once looked at as a potential star just failed to outperform a career backup.

Fitzpatrick, on the other hand, received an overwhelming amount of positive attention.

Impact of the Comeback

Following Tua’s benching, the veteran was able to go 9-13 for 182 yards and a touchdown, including the infamous facemask pass, to come from behind and give Miami a 1 point win.

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Facemask Pass was the Best Play of 2020.

The media instantly reinstated the “Fitzmagic” nickname, and questioned whether Tua should remain the starter. Comparisons between the two QB’s play began to run wild on social media.

Tua’s status throughout the league began to diminish, as he slowly became looked at as a mediocre option. To this day, Tua seems to be of a low opinion to national media, while Fitzpatrick carries his nickname and the lore behind it.

Since then, Tua is 1-5 as the starter, and Miami has looked into other options at the QB position, such as troubled superstar Deshaun Watson. Part of the Dolphins diminishing opinion on Tagovailoa may have come from that December night.

Dolphins fielded questions regarding Deshaun Watson.

Although he performed well in several other games that year, the emphasis on the primetime game shows a trend. When the lights are brightest, media and casual fans judge players the most.

The story of Tua Tagovailoa presents a cautionary tale, and although he remains Miami’s starting quarterback, that game may have been the beginning of the end for his time as a Miami Dolphin.

Seize the Moment

That’s why, along with hopes of winning, Dolphins players must seize the opportunity Thursday Night Football. This game can go a long way in beginning storied careers for many young players. Potential rising stars such as Jaylen Waddle or Jaelan Phillips can cement their place in the eyes of many, while an unexpected hero can emerge, much like Fitzpatrick has time and time again.

Thursday night is an opportunity to shine for Dolphins players looking to make their mark on a subpar team. Legends are made in primetime, and it will be fascinating to see who takes advantage and makes their presence known.

Follow Tyler DeSena on Twitter

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Miami Dolphins: It’s Time to Blow It Up

Miami Dolphins

Nearly two months ago, the Miami Dolphins marched into Gillette Stadium and escaped Foxborough with a one point win.

Since then, they haven’t won a game. The Dolphins have been outscored by 96 points, and are sitting at the bottom of the AFC.

This comes off a 2020 season where Miami over exceeded by winning 10 games. The Dolphins had the 4th ranked scoring defense, and were viewed as a team on the rise.

However, a series of missteps have culminated in a 1-7 record and a head-coach-GM tandem that’s now regarded as a failure. These major mistakes have changed the narrative of the franchise.

Offensive Line

Current general manager Chris Grier has had several positions in his 21 year tenure with the Miami Dolphins. Grier became the GM in 2016, and has held significant power ever since.

Chris Grier has failed to assemble a competent OL.

In that five-year span, Grier has failed to put it together in the trenches. Miami’s offensive line has consistently been below average. Draft picks and free agent pickups at those positions are struggling to find their way in the NFL.

Since entering the GM position, Grier as drafted nine offensive linemen. Only one of them, Laremy Tunsil, has made a Pro Bowl. Three of them have struggled to find playing time (Isaac Asiata, Isaiah Prince, Larnel Coleman). The rest have been playing on the field but producing a unit regarded as among the worst in the league.

This problem would not have been an issue if Grier had brought in any of the several veteran linemen that were made available over the last few offseason.

Linemen such as Orlando Brown, Corey Linsley, Trent Williams, and Joe Thuney have all changed teams over the last few years. There were no reports about Miami in play and Miami has refused to make an effort to sign anyone of their caliber.

Rather, Miami has went the route of saving money. Taking on chosen “cheaper talent” such as Matt Skura, Jesse Davis, and Ereck Flowers. Though, to his credit, Flowers has been serviceable for Washington since leaving Miami.

Ereck Flowers has been serviceabe in Washington.

The philosophy coming in was to work in all of the drafted OL’s together. However, Miami has no veterans to truly help develop them. This has resulted in a unit full of penalties, blown assignments, free rushers, and an injury to their young QB.

2020 Draft Picks

Among Miami’s young and struggling linemen, three of them were drafted in a year that was supposed to supply a treasure trove of future talent. After moving on from the aforementioned Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick, Miami held five picks in the first two rounds.

With those five picks, Miami selected Tua Tagovailoa, Austin Jackson, Noah Igbinoghene, Robert Hunt and Raekwon Davis.

The first of which, whether you believe in him or not, has struggled. Tua was benched twice for his struggles last season. He was destined to take a step forward this season. It’s safe to say it hasn’t happened yet.

Fighting injuries and inconsistency, Tua is 1-3 as the starter. He’s had some good throws right into WR’s hands, while also having questionable throws leading to interceptions.

Austin Jackson and Noah Igbinoghene, on the other hand, have been far worse. In Jacksons first 21 games, he was seen unfit to play tackle, and has currently moved to guard.

He has had some hiccups at guard but is slowly improving. It is notable that it took the coaching staff this many games to try him at guard.

An Austin Jackson missed block leads to a Tua Tagovailoa INT.

Noah Igbinoghene has not been given the same chance as Austin Jackson has. Igbinoghene has appeared in only two games this season, mainly seeing time when other defensive backs are out.

Igbinoghene’s name has been called in mostly disappointing results, consistently being picked on by opposing QB’s.

The Dolphins passed on Jonathan Taylor for Noah Igbinoghene.

The 2nd round picks (Hunt and Davis), unlike the first three, have shown their potential. They have also shown inconsistency, with neither making the jump fans and analysts hoped to see.

This 2020 draft class was one Miami hoped to hang their hat on; thus far, it has the makings of a potential disaster.

Offensive Coordinators

While Chris Grier can largely be to blame for the first two issues, Flores may be at fault for the most recent.

Since entering the league in 2019, Flores has had four offensive coordinators. The turnstiles of OC’s have led to the Dolphins offense not being able to produce efficiently. The Dolphins have not had a top scoring offense; they have been in the bottom five the last few years.

Former Dolphins OC Chad O’Shea was fired in 2019 for what was rumored to be a “difficult system” to comprehend. Many questioned O’Shea being let go, with his replacement being just as head-scratching.

Chad O’Shea’s firing was head scratching to many.

In the 2020 offseason, Miami brought Chan Gailey out of retirement to help groom their rookie QB.

Contrary to their plan, Gailey didn’t click with Tua, and the playbook looked significantly different when Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had success with Gailey in New York, was at the helm.

Miami struggled heavily to truly compete with the high powered offenses with Gailey’s seemingly antiquated system.

So when the Dolphins missed the playoffs, in 2020, it was time to find another OC.

Intriguing candidates such as Mike McDaniel, Pep Hamilton, and Matt Canada all received interviews. Miami shocked everyone by going with two internal hires, George Godsey and Eric Studesville.

The Dolphins Offensive Staff has changed year to year.

Many were hesitant to believe the two former assistants could call a top-tier offensive scheme. So far, the hesitation has become reality. Miami is bottom five in scoring, and most recently put up 11 points on the division rival Buffalo Bills.

Once looked upon as a future star HC, Brian Flores has failed to solve his offensive coaching woes. The future does not look promising.

The Watson Saga

The newest domino to fall in the slew of missteps has been the handling of Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson’s trade request.

Following a formal request in January, Miami had shown interest, and for good reason. Watson threw 33 touchdowns in 2020 and was regarded as a top 5 quarterback.

But, beginning in March, Watson began to face civil and criminal accusations from more than 20 women of sexual misconduct, which is when Miami had a choice to make:

Commit to your 2nd year QB or continue your pursuit of a troubled, potentially criminal player, disrupting Tua’s confidence and in turn, your whole franchise.

Miami chose the second option. Allowing the Dolphins to be the subject of trade rumors into the season, persisting in their attempts to grab another young QB when they already had one who they drafted 16 months ago still on the roster.

Thus, Brian Flores, Tua Tagovailoa, Chris Grier, and more Dolphins players and staff have been berated with questions about a player who shouldn’t be of any concern.

Tua chimes in on the Watson rumors.

Now, rumors have continued to fly, with the newest comming from lawyer Tony Buzbee. Buzbee claims owner Stephen Ross and the Dolphins may have made an attempt to pay off the women involved in exchange for a settlement and/or NDA. Chris Grier has adamantly denied these rumors.

Chris Grier denies rumors of influencing Watson’s cases.

With Miami declining to make the deal before the deadline, it’s still Tua time in Miami. However, the Watson talk will pick right back up in the offseason, where Miami will have to make the same decision they did this year.

The Bottom Line

Since becoming the main sources of power in the Miami Dolphins organization, Chris Grier and Brian Flores have made some crucial mistakes.

Whether it’s drafting raw players, failing to address the offensive line and coordinator, or letting the Deshaun Watson rumors hang over their head, Miami’s small decisions have spiraled out of control.

It’s gotten to a point where this regime is running out of time, and it may be better off starting over under new leadership.

Miami’s decisions over the next few months will be telling, and it will be intriguing to see if Grier and Flores remain at the helm.

Follow Tyler DeSena on Twitter

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