The Miami Dolphins started the season off hot at three and zero, but after yesterday’s loss fell to three and two. With back-to-back conference losses, can the Dolphins rebound and keep their playoff aspirations alive?
After conquering what most fans thought was the “hardest part” of the Dolphin’s schedule, the Miami Dolphins sat at three and zero on the year, the division was theirs for the taking, and they sat alone as the only undefeated team going into Week Four. Yet, the NFL season is very long compared to a three-week stretch. And while the Jets will celebrate, they were up only two points with ten minutes left in the fourth, before it became all too obvious the Dolphins 7th round quarterback who was thrust into his first NFL action on Sunday, was not ready for live snaps.
The scoreboard obviously looks worse than it actually was. Skylar Thompson had a few plays yesterday that would make you think he’s got what it takes to be a solid backup in the NFL. Dolphin fans were still optimistic after Bridgewater went down on the first offensive play for the Miami offense. Though it only took a quarter or so for people to realize Skylar Thompson’s preseason showing where he posted the highest quarterback rating of all quarterbacks during the preseason was not going to translate to the regular season action.
On the play in which Teddy got hurt, he tried to get the ball off as Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner came free off the edge for a blitz. As Sauce made contact, the ball went forward though the trajectory was definitely affected by the contact. Officials didn’t see it as such and ruled he was trying to just throw it away, which made it a safety due to the foul occurring half a foot into the endzone. The NFLPA’s independent spotter ruled Bridgewater had stumbled after he got up, and said he was done for the day due to the NFL’s new concussion protocol.
Sauce Gardner causes Teddy Bridgewater to throw it away for an intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety! pic.twitter.com/bclS0s71Es — Barstool Cincinnati (@UCBarstool) October 9, 2022
The irony in the new rule first affecting the Miami Dolphins is enough to make one question the decision-making of the spotter. Bridgewater never left with any sort of head injury, nobody even questioned whether it was a head injury, it was actually the elbow that got driven into the ground. The NFLPA and NFL have overcorrected and now will dictate how games are decided with their ignorant overstep. They claim it’s about player safety, but an elbow injury shouldn’t put you into concussion protocol.
Dolphins Offense Flounders
Most of the sports world that follows the Miami Dolphins in any capacity was wondering just how different the Dolphin’s offense would look with Teddy Bridgewater under center in Tua Tagovailoa’s absence. I’ll speak for myself when I say I wasn’t even considering Skylar Thompson until he was warming up on the sideline and Teddy was tucked away in the NFL blue injury sideline tent.
What killed Thompson and the Dolphin’s offense the most yesterday is they had two turnovers that gave the Jets incredible field position that they would transition to 14 points on the day. It’s one thing to ask your defense to guard a short field a couple of times a game, but it’s an impossible ask to expect them to do it all day long. And that is exactly how it seemed yesterday.
In the first half, Thompson’s arm was hit on a dropback, and the ensuing pass would be picked off by Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner for his first NFL interception, and the first thrown by Thompson in his career. If it weren’t for the Miami run game yesterday, it probably wouldn’t have been close going into the fourth at all. Raheem Mostert averaged over six yards a carry ending the day with 113 yards on 18 carries. For an offense that has lacked a solid push in the run game, it was refreshing to see the zone-running holes open up and Mostert exploiting them.
All Teams Are Affected By Injuries, The Dolphins Are No Different
Missing Tua Tagovailoa is the obvious one people will say hurt the Miami Dolphins yesterday, though I think it’s fair to say there’s been a bad case of the injury bug going around Miami. With Byron Jones still not healthy and back from the PUP list, and Xavien Howard still nursing a groin injury, it forced the Dolphins to activate Noah Igbinoghene to play opposite Nik Needham as the outside corners. And it went about as good as one could hope for most of the game with both starting pro bowl caliber corners out.
The secondary held their own for the most part, but couldn’t keep the Jets out of the endzone when they had the short field on two positions late in the game. The defense line had decent pressure for much of the game, especially considering the Jets’ offensive line is one of the best units the Dolphins have faced this season. On the offensive side of the ball, the Dolphins’ best lineman in Terron Armstead left the game in the second quarter with the same toe injury he’s been nursing for the last two weeks.
Armstead’s future outlook is currently up in the air after it was reported he did not travel back with the team and stayed in New York to have a specialist look at his injured toe. There still isn’t a timetable for Byron Jones to return though I would say at least three weeks since he hasn’t practiced at all. There is speculation that Tua could return as early as next week, though that is dependent on whether he clears concussion protocol in time.
Dolphins Defense Takes A Step Back
Though the defense has been a factor in the Dolphin’s big wins early this year, they have been far from great even in those outings. Lamar Jackson had his way with them in the first half of the Week Two contest. Josh Allen and company drove up and down the field, but the Fin’s “bend but don’t break” defense held its own against the Bills.
We’ll cut them some slack on the 40 points given up, as they held the Jets under 20 until the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. Then Skylar Thompson held onto the ball for a century until it got knocked out of his hands and the Jets got possession at the Miami five-yard line. Most defenses give up points there.
Then Miami decided to go for it at their own 30 with seven minutes left in the game, only to lose two yards on a sweep to the right and turn the ball over at their own twenty-eight. It was a rough contest for a depleted team on the road, but that’s the nature of the beast in the NFL and the Miami Dolphins still sit at three and two with a lot of winnable games up ahead.
The Dolphins return home to face the Minnesota Vikings next week and open at two-and-a-half point underdogs. Expect that line to change if Tua is cleared to play.