The Miami Dolphins have had decent defensive teams over the past two decades, but the offense has struggled since Dan Marino retired. Are they finally able to win games on either side of the ball?
Finding a franchise quarterback in the NFL these days is like finding a needle in a haystack. Most, if not all, Miami Dolphin fans would attest to that after seeing Fielder, Culpepper, Pennington, Henne, Tannehill, Jay Cutler, and Ryan Fitzpatrick over the last 15 years. And I even left out a few names too, which makes it even more.
The signal-caller job in Miami has had a high turnover rate and while a lot of fans will now agree they have something in Tua Tagovailoa, some fans are still traumatized by a never-ending carousel of quarterbacks. Ryan Tannehill was probably the most consistent and tenured starter for the Dolphins over that period of time.
If I told you Ryan Tannehill held eight different Miami Dolphin team quarterback records, you would think he was pretty good considering Dan Marino held NFL passing records for two decades. And Tannehill was pretty good, sometimes. He is the kind of quarterback who may not lose you the game, but he’s not going to win it… without some sort of miracle.
I think the Dolphins can close their search for a franchise quarterback though. Tua Tagovailoa is the guy, and more and more sports media analysts are jumping on the Tua Tagovailoa bandwagon after only three weeks. The Miami Dolphins knew bringing in Tyreek Hill would help his development, but also the emergence of Jaylen Waddle as one of the league’s top wide receivers is helping Tua as well.
What I think gets left out about Tua and why he’s definitely the guy in South Beach, is his relentless work ethic. Most athletes would probably be done playing sports after suffering the kind of hip injury that Tagovailoa suffered in November of 2019 at Alabama. Now, less than three years post-injury, Tua Tagovailoa is second in passing yards, second in average depth of throw, fourth in completion percentage, third in touchdowns, and second in quarterback rating. Stellar for someone whose career could have been over before it even got started.
The running game has looked much improved compared to 2021, though we didn’t get to see it much Sunday with the Fins being limited to 19 minutes in time of possession. It’s still unclear whether Mostert or Edmunds will receive more carries this year as they’re about even currently in opportunities.
The Dolphin’s offensive line has looked much improved this year as well. Pro Football Network has them ranked 19th through three weeks, which is a huge relief for Dolphin fans as the unit ranked dead last in 2021. The additions of Terron Armstead and Connor Williams have helped, but the development of Robert Hunt has been the biggest surprise so far. He has played well the whole season so far but really stepped up in week three and received the highest PFF grade for any Dolphin player on Sunday at 94.3.
Defense Wins Championships
While the offense has been much improved this year, it’s clear and obvious that the Miami Dolphins’ defense is better than they were last year too, and that’s scary for opposing offenses. The Buffalo Bills possessed the ball for 41 minutes, and the Dolphins’ defense held their own. In the second half, the Bills had drives that spanned 20 plays, 6 plays, 17 plays, and 7 plays. And yet they only came away with three points for the whole half. A true bend but don’t break defensive performance.
Even though the Dolphins tallied four sacks on Josh Allen Sunday, the pass rush has been underwhelming. It seems the Dolphins have to bring extra rushers to get pressure, which won’t work every week. Miami’s big men upfront on the defensive line will need to find ways to win one on ones if Miami wants to have success down the stretch.
Melvin Ingram embarrasses someone every other snap pic.twitter.com/82VpbzzIL5 — Derrik Klassen (@QBKlass) September 26, 2022
If the Miami Dolphins want sustained success this season, they are going to need their defense to step again as they did against Buffalo. Hopefully, there aren’t too many games this year where the defense has to spend 90 plays on the field. It wouldn’t be a huge deal, but the Dolphins have a short turnaround this week for Thursday Night Football at Cincinnati.
The Dolphins Will Need Both Sides To Execute
If the Dolphins want to continue to compete with the league’s top teams, there will be weeks when we’ll need to be able to depend on either unit. This is the first time in a long time that Miami Dolphin fans can have faith that their offense can stretch the field and get points, even with limited possessions.
With this week’s battle on the road and the short week, the Dolphin’s offense will need to extend their possessions to give the defense rest. Look for the offense to emphasize the run game and the defense to put the pressure on Joe Burrow, the most sacked quarterback through three weeks.