The Dolphins have clearly gone into “all-in” mode this off-season. It started with a revamp of the coaching staff, spurred by new head coach Mike McDaniel.
McDaniel promises to bring a fresh, new offense to the team. One that should maximize the talents of third-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
From a personnel standpoint, the Dolphins “all-in” approach has seen the team add Terron Armstead, Connor Williams, Raheem Mostert, Chase Edmonds, Cedrick Wilson, and Trent Sherfield in free agency to help bolster a struggling offense and implement McDaniel’s system.
In hindsight, all the moves on the offense were going to ring hollow if Howard wasn’t wrapped up long-term. The two sides had their dispute last off-season.
What it means
In exchange for Howard signing a one-year extension, the two sides agreed to come back to the table this off-season and once again attempt to get the young star manning the Dolphins defensive backfield for years to come.
Today, those efforts have come to fruition. This extension with Xavien Howard is the feather in the Miami Dolphins cap that is the 2022 NFL free agency period.
Now, the team – and fans – can fully turn their attention to the NFL Draft. Miami doesn’t have a pick in the first two rounds, but there should be plenty of excitement around the event nonetheless.
A new era has come to South Florida as the team is finally starting to keep their developed talent. Xavien Howard’s contract extension is a step in the right direction.
Miami won for the 4th time in a row, in convincing fashion, and the Dolphins vs Panthers All-22 Film tells an interesting story of the game.
For the fourth week in a row, the Dolphins have found themselves as winners. This time, Miami won in decisive fashion vs the Panthers, with a final score of 33-10.
This game brought hope to Dolphins fans, and for good reason. This game showed the formula many thought they would at the beginning of the season. A combination of stellar defense and opportunistic, ball-control-based offense has gotten Miami wins over the last four games.
When watching the All-22 tape on NFL Gamepass, it was clear that Miami’s plan is starting to work out, and here are five things that stood out when watching the film for Dolphins vs Panthers.
Fantastic Phillip Lindsay
Following being waived by the Houston Texans, running back Phillip Lindsay was claimed by the Miami Dolphins, who were looking for another back to complement young guns Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed.
Coming off a short week, it was uncertain if Lindsay would play, but, as he explained, he was quick to get into the facility and study the playbook.
It was clear that the hard work, even in minimum snaps, has paid off. The two-time thousand-yard rusher showed, even with a below-average OL, why he was so successful in Denver.
Above all other traits, his burst and awareness have stood out. Other backs, especially Myles Gaskin, seem to wait for holes to develop. This, although valuable with a good OL, becomes an issue when there isn’t time to sit back.
Lindsay, on the other hand, is constantly moving. Even when the hole isn’t there, his feet are always driving forward, raising his floor on yards to gain. Even when he gets tackled early in the play, his forward momentum keeps him from losing yards.
Along with this, his pass blocking is a thing of beauty. On QB Tua Tagovailoa’s 57-yard pass to Jaylen Waddle, Lindsay makes up for OT Liam Eichenberg, who got beat on the play. Coming out of the backfield, he demonstrated textbook blocking, attacking the rusher and providing his quarterback a throwing window.
The Tuscaloosa Connection
Throughout college, Tua Tagovailoa found success in getting the ball out quickly in the RPO game, typically to his track team at wide receiver. The Dolphins, after drafting Tua thought that the best way to maximize the young quarterback was getting his collegiate teammate, Jaylen Waddle.
Through the first few games of the season, it was apparent that Tua and Waddle had chemistry, the level of which was unknown.
Now, however, as the season progresses, we can see that the 2nd year quarterback is significantly more comfortable with Waddle than any other receiver.
Throughout the game vs the Panthers, Tagovailoa targeted Waddle on a variety of looks, including several tightly contested looks, which contradicted notions on Tua coming out of college that he was unwilling to make risky throws.
More impressive, however, was the ability that Tua and Waddle have to know when the ball is coming out, and where. Tua, through repetition and natural chemistry, consistently throws the ball to Waddle before, or as, he’s coming out of his break. A prime example of this is the touchdown between the two.
When Tua releases the ball on a curl route, Waddle has yet to turn around and has three defenders near him. The ball was not only thrown early, but also put in a perfect spot for the rookie to make the play. That anticipation was a trait Tua was praised for at Alabama, and it seems Waddle is bringing it out now.
This was not the only instance of this chemistry, however, as the aforementioned 57-yard play showed the duo’s promise as well.
Following the Lindsay block, Tua put the ball right in the middle of the field as Waddle made his break. Knowing his ability to move after the catch, his throw gave Waddle ample room to work, even with a safety coming down.
Tagovailoa and Waddle connected nine times for 137 yards and a touchdown, and this game looked promising for the duo.
However, Dolphins fans and media alike had seemed to forget about the first-round pick, Jaelan Phillips. Coming out of UM, Phillips was regarded as a potentially elite pass rusher with a deep bag of tricks. This left Miami fans excited when he fell to them at the 18th pick.
Despite the hype, however, Phillips had failed to produce by all simple counting stats. While it seemed that he was getting close, he was rarely able to get home. Dolphins fans became frustrated, and it seemed that the optimism for Phillips faded as it grew for Waddle and Holland.
When the Dolphins took on the Panthers, all of it started to come together.
Coming out Party
Against an offensive line ranked among the worst in the league, Phillips was able to tally three sacks, a pass deflection, and a pressure leading to an INT.
The numbers, however, weren’t as impressive as the tape on the plays themselves.
In particular, his work from the inside, with Emmanuel Ogbah on the edge, was spectacular. With Ogbah taking an outside route, Phillips was often left 1-on-1 with a guard. His combination of size and speed left these guards in the dust, and him in the backfield at will. With a skill-set as refined as Phillips’, it will be very difficult to stop him without tackle help.
It’s clear that Miami has something special with Ogbah and Phillips, and I suspect they will use that pairing on the same side more often.
These concerns lingered into the season, as Miami’s offense was dwelling near the bottom of the league. Many were calling for the jobs of Studesville and Godsey, and Miami had lost seven straight.
However, they seemed to have found their stride in the winning streak, both of which continued on Sunday.
Operating out of heavy pistol sets with lots of pre-snap motion, Miami was able to create misdirection. The threat of motion-man Albert Wilson stressed defenses to his side, while Jaylen Waddle and Durham Smythe were able to find soft spots in coverage.
Miami also used these looks to create counters from a play they love to run: the wheel to Albert Wilson.
Against both the Jets and Ravens, Miami teased this formation, running a deep wheel route to Wilson in both games. It was clear Miami wanted defenses to pick up the idea, and I had clamored on Twitter for counters.
Those wishes came to fruition on Sunday, as Miami ran almost their entire offense out of this formation. This base set led to several different runs, short and intermediate passes. With the Panthers expecting the wheel route, Miami was able to catch Carolina off guard and tear them apart underneath.
The offense will still need to improve over the coming weeks, but they are trending up during the most important stretch of their season.
Area Of Improvement
Even in a 23-point win, there were areas of the team that were less than ideal. One that stuck out was the offensive line.
On three separate occasions, Miami’s offensive lineman gave up pressures or bad snaps that ruined potential scoring drives.
On separate drives, Jesse Davis and Liam Eichenberg were beaten badly, leading to crucial sacks on Tua and then punts.
The other drive, before the half, contained one of Austin Reiter’s several bad snaps. After going too low, Tua was unable to recover the snap, and Carolina turned a potential Miami FG into one of their own.
If Miami is to continue their streak, eliminating drive-ending mistakes is crucial, and those start with the OL.
The Bottom Line
The Miami Dolphins are showing signs of life, and are only two games below 500. With games against the Giants and Jets upcoming, Miami has a chance to contend for a playoff spot.
Whether it’s too late is yet to be determined, but Miami has continued to improve over the last month. The tape continues to get better, and Miami looks like the team we envisioned back in August.
The coming weeks will be the most telling, and it will be exciting to see if Miami can complete the miraculous comeback season.
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 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.
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.
The Dolphins are 1-7 in their first year with expectations, and it’s time for them to admit they were wrong and start over.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dolphins ATB look ahead to this weeks divisional rival matchup away to Buffalo. On a run of six consecutive losses can their fortunes change?
Date: Sunday October 31
Time: 13:00 ET (17:00 UK Time)
Venue: Highmark Stadium, Buffalo, NY
TV: CBS and NFL Gamepass International
Records: Dolphins (1-6), Buffalo (4-2)
After nearly a month away from writing due to the pressure of starting my new career, I am finally back with this weeks preview. In my last preview prior to the Colts game, it seemed like the cracks were getting bigger and now on the back of consecutive last second losses against poor teams, everything has come crashing down. The Dolphins organisation is a shambles.
Widely considered a playoff contender prior to the season, they are now the worst team in the NFL. I am not even sure the Dolphins beat the Texans Week 9, but lets not spoil next weeks preview… There is very little fight within this team and the days of complementary football are now a distant memory. Nevertheless, it is my job to put all of this discontent that has been brewing over the last month to one side, and tell you how Miami can win this game. Should be easy right?
Reflections on Week 6 & Week 7
As last weeks game was drawing to an end, the main thought that raced through my mind was “surely not again”. Having been in London for the Jags game, wanting the ground to swallow me up as 60,000 fans went crazy with the final kick of the game, the Dolphins wanted to provide that same feeling to all fans back at Hard Rock against the Falcons. The Dolphins were the most supported team in London, yet it seemed that the fans of every other team were very much anti-Dolphins.
While the Dolphins have not played well enough across 4 quarters to deserve to win the game, they certainly did not deserve to lose. This is no exaggeration, but the Dolphins are literally 2mm from winning the last two games. Had things gone differently, they would have been out of sight. 2mm from being 1-6 to 3-4, or maybe even 4-3, if the DPI was called on Fuller against the Raiders. The 2021 Miami Dolphins have not done themselves any favors in their performances, but my god they have been incredibly unlucky.
The one positive over the past two weeks is the performance of Tua Tagovailoa. Since his return Tua has a 102.7 passer rating, 620 passing yards for a completion percentage of 74.7% leading to 6 TDs. 3 interceptions unfortunately continue to leave a mark over what have been positive performances. What is more impressive, is that Tua’s best performances during his tenure with the Dolphins have been when his starting receivers are out of the game.
People regularly question whether Tua is a QB who can win game for the team. In the past two weeks he has gone 20/24 with 3 TDs and 1 INT in the 4th quarter. In the 3 games that Tua has played this season, the team has always been in a winning position when he has left the field for the final time. Yet, a dark cloud filled with Deshaun Watson rumors continue to linger over the franchise.
Expectations Heading into the Game:
Over the past three weeks Miami have given up 1,066 yards passing and 337 rushing yards. The decline of the defense has been a key element of the Dolphins’ decline this season. Next up Josh Allen…
That being said in Week 2, despite being blown out 35-0, the Dolphins defense held Allen to 179 yards. This is the lowest allowed by the Dolphins all season and the least gained by Buffalo. It did not make a difference in that game, and in all honesty I cannot see it being any different this week either.
Buffalo have the number one defense in the league, allowing the fewest points per game and the fewest yards per game. In contrast, Miami rank 31st in points allowed (29.6) and 29th in points scored (18.1). It seems somewhat fitting that this game is being played on Halloween, as it has been a nightmare matchup for the Dolphins in recent years.
Keys to Success:
No Mistakes– What the past 5 weeks have taught us is that the NFL is a game of fine margins. The slightest of mistakes on one play can prove to be so costly. Tua has been very impressive. Despite a few mistakes being sprinkled into his performances he has for the most part bounced back on subsequent drives. Against an elite team like Buffalo mistakes will be critical.
Control Time of Possession– The defense has been poor in recent weeks. Keeping Allen off the field will be essential in keeping the score down and within reach for Tua and the offense to attempt to stay in the game. This will require the offensive line to actually keep Tua upright this time.
Defensive Return to Week 2– Miami’s defense played well against the Bills last time around. The scoreline was not reflective of their performance but the offense’s. The offense has since improved (couldn’t get any worse) while the defense has regressed. If Miami are to stand any chance in this game the defense HAS to improve.
With Deiter still on IR and Mancz being questionable, it seems that Austin Reiter will continue to be the Dolphins center. We did not hear much of Reiter in his first game for Miami which is always a good thing on the offensive line. Parker seems like he could feature amidst several trade rumors. Biggest loss could be Jerome Baker who is questionable with a knee injury. The injury is nothing major, but it is clear that he is dealing with considerable discomfort. One positive is Byron Jones and Xavien Howard are now back in full practice.
It has been a testing season for us Dolphins fans and likely to continue. Buffalo are coming off a bye week and well rested. As fans we need a bye week just to give ourselves some relief, but we will have to wait until Week 14 for that. Brace yourselves. The observant readers will notice that the ATB writers score predictions are missing from this weeks’ preview and for good reason. However, stranger things have happened in the NFL. Maybe, just maybe on Halloween, the Dolphins will treat us all, and the defense returns and makes Allen see ghosts. Fins up!