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Miami Dolphins

Five Takeaways from Flores/Grier Press Conference

Earlier today, Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier and head coach Brian Flores met with the media for their end-of-the-season press conference. But despite Miami’s front office doing their best to keep things close to the chest, there were plenty of takeaways from this afternoon’s zoom meeting.

Here are five takeaways from Brian Flores and Chris Grier’s press conference.

Tua Tagovailoa is the Miami Dolphins starting Quarterback.

This shouldn’t need to be said, but with every national media outlet trying to spin a QB controversy in Miami, it needed to be.

With a normal offseason and an improved arsenal of weapons, 2021 Tua should look a lot more like the guy we fell in love with at Tuscaloosa.

Tua is the franchise quarterback of the Miami Dolphins.

Chan Gailey expected back as offensive coordinator in 2021?

Coach Flores didn’t say much regarding his coaching staff in 2021, but what he did say was that he expected his assistant coaches to be back in 2021. This means 69-year-old Chan Gailey will once again be calling plays for Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins’ offense. This might have been the most disappointing takeaway from today’s presser.

Here’s what Flores had to say when asked if he’d retain his staff for the 2021 season.

“Yeah, we expect everyone back. Hopefully you’re not jinxing me now. Last time I said that, we lost Karl Dorrell, we lost Pat Graham, so thanks. (laughter) Hopefully not, though. We expect everyone back.”

There’s an outside chance Gailey might still retire. But for now, it looks like Gailey will be Miami’s play-caller moving forward.

Brian Flores should be Coach of the Year, in Chris Grier’s opinion.

There are plenty of deserving NFL head coaches that could be nominated for Coach of the Year. However, if you ask GM Chris Grier, he will tell you no one is more deserving than Dolphins’ HC Brian Flores–and I agree. Yes, the Week 17 loss to Buffalo should leave a sour taste in everyone’s mouth.

Flores deserves to be the coach of the year, with or without playoffs.

Dolphins plan to add competition at all positions in the offseason.

Miami has a lot of options via free agency and the draft. For example, the team has 4 top-50 picks, and their ‘available balance’ in FA rivals what we saw last year. So with a large number of running backs and wide receivers hitting the market, Miami’s interest could be key. But As you would expect, Flores and Grier never speak in absolutes, but they did shed some light on the offensive line and receiving corps–two positions the Dolphins could address at No.3 overall.

The best is yet to come

10 wins is a great accomplishment for a team in year two of a rebuild. But make no mistake about it, that loss to Buffalo left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. And what this team does in the offseason to build around the young nucleus in place could be what ultimately decides whether or not the Dolphins take the next step from promising young team to legit-playoff contenders.

Coach Flores promised to leave no stone unturned.

Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker said it best.

Dolphins win Patriots

5 Takeaways from Dolphins Win Over Patriots

The Miami Dolphins (9-5) continued to prove doubters wrong with their comeback win over the New England Patriots (6-8) on Sunday. Miami’s 22-12 victory demonstrated the team’s resilience and drive, proving once again this franchise has the right coach and young quarterback.

With the win, the Dolphins kept pace in the AFC playoff race, holding their spot as the 7-seed. Gaining their ninth victory meant Miami secured its first winning season since 2016 and just their second since 2008.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Dolphins win over the Patriots.

Dolphins Run All Over Patriots in Win

One of the consistent struggles this season has been Miami’s inability to gain traction on the ground. The Dolphins have cycled through seven different running backs this season hoping to find the answer, but the team remained among the worst in the league in rushing yards-per-game and yards-per-carry.

But Sunday, the Dolphins found a ground game. Miami ran up a season-high 250 rushing yards against the Patriots and limited New England to 117 yards on the ground, 100 yards fewer than they allowed in their first matchup between these two.

This unexpected turn resulted in a total control of the ball game. The Dolphins rushed 42 times for a 6.0 yards-per-carry average. They punched in three rushing touchdowns and kept the ball away from New England. Miami topped the Pats in total plays (70 to 52) and time of possession (37:26 to 22:34).

Hogging the ball from New England forced the Patriots to rely on Cam Newton’s arm, which has not been a strength this season.

Ahmed Lays Claim to RB1 Spot

The Dolphins running back carrousel has spun for a few seasons now. This year, seven different backs have carried the ball.  In 2019, the team’s leading rusher was a 37-year-old quarterback, despite seven different RBs getting carries throughout the season.

And while the churn continues, there have been a couple of players who’ve flashed in their opportunities. The latest: Salvon Ahmed.

Ahmed became Miami’s first 100-yard rusher since Kalen Ballage put up 123 yards in Week 15 of the 2018 season. His 122 rushing yards are the most in franchise history by an undrafted player in his rookie season and the eighth-most by any Dolphins rookie.

Ahmed’s gained 288 yards on 63 carries this season, both numbers good for second-most on the team despite playing in only four games. His 4.6 yards-per-carry average tops Dolphins RBs with at least 15 carries. He averages 72 yards-per-game, which leads the team, and 17 of his 63 carries (26.9 percent) have gone for first downs.

Breida at His Best

The Dolphins finally saw a productive Matt Breida in the lineup on Sunday, too. Breida recorded a season-high 86 yards on 12 carries. His speed and shiftiness seemed like a solid addition for Miami this season, but inconsistent play and opportunity has limited the fourth-year pro.

Against the Patriots, Breida provided a lift Miami had yet to see from him this season. His 7.2 yards-per-carry led the team and may have earned him further opportunity, even if Myles Gaskin returns next week.

Breida sports great speed on the outside and good hands out of the backfield. Although he wasn’t involved in the passing game on Sunday, Breida’s caught 9-of-10 targets tossed his way this season for 96 yards.

Dolphins Defense Dominates in Win over Patriots

Miami extended its league-long takeaway streak to 20 games when Xavien Howard forced a fumble in the third quarter. The fumble stood as the Dolphins’ 26th takeaway this season, most in the league by day’s end. (Pittsburgh has 25 takeaways and is scheduled to play on Monday night.)

Howard’s third quarter play helped flip the momentum of this game and resulted his first forced fumble of the season. He’s now been involved in 10 takeaways for Miami this year (nine interceptions) and is well positioned for a Defensive Player of the Year push.

The Dolphins defense limited New England to just 12 points today, all field goals. It was the third time the Dolphins haven’t allowed a touchdown this season, making Miami just the second defense to accomplish the feat this season.

Miami allows 18.4 points-per-game, just two tenths of a point behind the Steelers for the league lead. The Dolphins rank first in third-down defense (32.5 percent) and are tied for tenth in sacks (37).

Dolphins Youth Movement in Full Effect

Thanks in part to injuries, Miami rolled out a starting lineup that included eight rookies, six on offensive. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time a team started six rookies on offense since December of 2018 when Arizona did so. And although Patriots head coach Bill Belichick sported a 20-5 record against rookie quarterbacks, the Dolphins didn’t seem to mind.

The offense started well and drove the ball into the Red Zone before a critical mistake by Tua Tagovailoa resulted in an interception. From there, the offense remained dormant throughout the first half.

But after being held scoreless in the first half for the first time this season, the Dolphins came to life offensively. Tagovailoa led the team on a nine-play, 72-yard drive, capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by Ahmed. Much of the ball movement on that drive came on the ground, behind an offensive line sporting three rookies: Robert Hunt, Austin Jackson and Solomon Kindley.

In the fourth quarter, Miami took the lead for good on a 14-play, 90-yard drive that ended on a three-yard TD run by Tagovailoa. The Dolphins began the drive down 9-7 and added a thrilling two-point conversion to make the score 16-9. Tagovailoa completed 4-of-5 passes for 19 yards in addition to the go-ahead touchdown. It was the second game-winning drive and fourth-quarter comeback of his career.

Tagovailoa rushed for two touchdowns, becoming the fifth quarterback in Dolphins history to have two rushing touchdowns in the same game, the first since Cleo Lemon on October 14, 2007 at Cleveland.

Rookies led the way for Miami against Belichick’s vaunted defense, particularly Tagovailoa at quarterback and Ahmed in the backfield. Rookie receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. led the team with six catches. The future is bright for this franchise.

Dolphins Patriots

5 Keys to Dolphins-Patriots in Week 15

The Miami Dolphins (8-5) enter Week 15 with a pivotal matchup with the New England Patriots (6-7). The Dolphins currently hold the final playoff spot in the AFC and may need to win their final three games this season to get into the postseason.

The game stands a rematch of the Week 1 contest between these division rivals. The Patriots defeated the Dolphins 21-11 in the season opener and that stands as Miami’s worst loss of the season. But in Week 15, the Dolphins are a different team.

Here’s a look at five keys to the Dolphins-Patriots matchup in Week 15.

Dolphins-Patriots: Keep Up the Solid Run Defense

The Dolphins sport one of the top defensive units in the NFL, but if there’s a clear weakness with that group, it’s the run defense. Miami allows 120.2 rushing yards-per-game (22nd) and 4.6 yards-per-carry (25th). In Week 14 against the Chiefs, though, the run D played well.

Kansas City managed just 94 yards on 24 rushes, good for 3.9 yards-per-carry. The Dolphins limited explosive rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire to 32 yards on 16 carries (2.0 yards-per-carry) and 12 of those came on one run.

Miami will need a similar performance in Week 15 against the Patriots, a team that ran all over them in the season opener. In Week 1, New England carried the ball 42 times for 217 yards and three touchdowns, good for a 5.2 yards-per-carry average. Those numbers are similar to the 189 yards and 5.7 YPC average put up by the Broncos in Week 11.

But the Dolphins run defense has improved since those losses. They haven’t allowed a team to rush over 100 yards or get over 4.0 yards-per-carry over the last three weeks.

Put Up Points Early

The strength of the Patriots offense is the ground game. New England leads the league in rushing attempts, and they use that attack to control the pace of play. In Week 1, New England hogged the ball, and the Dolphins only had four second half possessions. But the Patriots have a limited passing attack, coming in at 29th in passing (185.4 yards-per-game) and have thrown a total of eight touchdown passes in 2020.

If the Dolphins can get an early lead, it may force New England to abandon their strength to get back into the game. Cam Newton, who was benched in Week 14 after a horrible showing against the Rams, has thrown just five touchdowns this season. He’s thrown twice as many interceptions.

The Dolphins lead the league in first quarter scoring (7.5 points-per-game) and are seventh in first half scoring (15.5). The Patriots, meanwhile, are last in scoring in the first quarter (2.2) and 27th in first half scoring (9.2). And early lead could lead to Miami’s defense turning up the heat on Cam.

Dolphins-Patriots: Limit Newton’s Legs

As stated earlier, the Patriots lead the league in rushing attempts. Damien Harris paces the team with 137 attempts, good for 691 yards and two touchdowns. But second on the team in carries is Newton. His 113 attempts are third-most among quarterbacks.

In Week 1, the Dolphins allowed Newton 75 yards on 15 carries. He scored two rushing touchdowns. On the season, Newton’s piled up 451 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Miami has historically struggled against mobile quarterbacks like Newton and Arizona’s Kyler Murray. If the Dolphins are to win this game and keep their playoff hopes alive, they’ll need to keep Newton in the pocket.

Miami’s defense must find a way to limit positive gains on first down, forcing the Patriots into second- and third-and-long situations. Miami sports the top third-down defense in the league, allowing opponents to convert just 33.1 percent of the time on third-down. The long down-and-distance will allow the Dolphins to attack Newton. The Patriots surrender 2.2 sacks-per-game (Miami gets 2.6 per). And in Week 14, New England allowed four sacks in their loss to. The Rams.

Snag More Takeaways

This one goes without saying, but we’ll say it here anyway. The Dolphins are tied with Pittsburgh for the most takeaways this season (25). Miami’s streak of at least one takeaway in 19 consecutive games is the longest in the NFL.

And the Dolphins defense was particularly impressive last week, despite the loss to Kansas City. They intercepted Patrick Mahomes three times and forced a fumble. Mahomes had entered the Week 14 contest with just two interceptions all season.

Newton’s 10 interceptions this season are eighth-most in the league. The Patriots 14 total interceptions thrown are fourth-most. New England has lost four fumbles this season, so their 18 total turnovers are middle-of-the-pack. But in their seven losses this season, the Patriots are minus-six in turnover differential.

Xavien Howard will look to extend his personal interception streak to sixth game and push his league lead in the INT department. The Patriots throw 1.1 interceptions-per-game (fourth-most), so he’ll have his opportunities. If Howard snags his 10th INT, it will match the single-season franchise record.

The Dolphins defense has feasted on turnovers this year. They’ve returned a pair of fumbles for touchdowns and consistently set up their offense with a short field. Doing that would certainly help their rookie quarterback.

Dolphins-Patriots: Get Tagovailoa Settled In

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has a long history of dominating rookie quarterbacks. And Week 15’s matchup marks the first time Tua Tagovailoa will face a Belichick defense. Belichick sports a 5-20 record against rookie QBs and most recently put the clamps on Chargers rookie Justin Herbert.

Working in Miami’s favor is the fact that it’s a home game. All five of Belichick’s losses to rookie QBs have come on the road.

Tagovailoa has settled into the offense well over the last several weeks. He’s demonstrated positive chemistry with Mike Gesicki, who could play despite a shoulder injury, DeVante Parker and Lynn Bowden Jr. Tagovailoa spreads the ball around in the passing game and has taken well to the up-tempo, no-huddle attack.

Tagovailoa may need to focus on the short passing game to simulate what would come on the ground. But he’s been good in that range thus far, connecting on 76-of-95 passes for 617 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions on throws under 10 yards through the air.

New England tends to flood the field with defensive backs and doesn’t blitz at an alarming rate (just 24 percent of the time, ninth-lowest). Tagovailoa will need to be patient and take with the Patriots give him.

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Dolphins Loss Chiefs

Week 15 Dolphins/Patriots Odds and Prediction

 

 

The Miami Dolphins face the New England Patriots in Week 15 at 8-5 and in control of their playoff destiny.

 

Miami Dolphins (8-5) vs New England Patriots (6-7)

Sunday Dec. 20th, 1PM EST

Line: Dolphins -2.5

O/U 41.5

 

For the changing of the guard in the AFC East to be complete the Patriots must be eliminated from playoff contention outright, even though Buffalo has nearly clinched the division.

The Dolphins are just a slight favorite despite a better record and being at home. Both teams are in vastly positions after New England beat Miami convincingly 21-11 in Week 1. Cam Newton has struggled and the Dolphins’ defense has become one of the best in the league.

 

Newton has just five touchdown passes against 10 interceptions but his 11 rushing scores are tied for the second highest total in the NFL. In Week 1 Newton was very efficient through the air completing 15-of-19 passes for 165 yards. However it was on the ground where Newton did his most damage with 15 carries for 75 yards and two touchdowns.

Miami is playing much better on both sides of the ball and since Tua Tagovailoa took over at quarterback they are limiting mistakes with the football. Ryan Fitzpatrick started under center in Week 1 and threw three interceptions without a touchdown. Conversely Tua has so far thrown just one pick in seven starts.
New England is the 5th best rushing team in the NFL entering Week 15 averaging 147.5 yards per game, while Miami’s defense ranks 21st in the league allowing 120.2 yards per game. Where Miami excels is in pass coverage and their 16 interceptions are second in the NFL. Xavien Howard leads the NFL with nine picks and has firmly entered the Defensive Player of the Year conversation. Newton will be without wide receiver Julian Edelman which gives him even fewer weapons.

 

Miami will need to be careful as New England still has a solid defense led by Stephon Gilmore, they are right behind the Dolphins with 15 interceptions. Tua will need to take what the defense gives him, and if Mike Gesicki and Devante Parker can go that will give the offense a huge boost.

The Dolphins need to find a running game to help Tua against a tough New England defense, and Bill Belichick will try to take away anything easy. New England’s run defense is worse than Miami’s, ranking 23rd allowing 124 yards-per-game. If Miami can run the ball in this one it bodes well for success to close out the season.

I predict Miami will finally get the ground game going and control a fairly low scoring game. The Dolphins’ defense can force Newton into mistakes and I see that trend continuing in this matchup. Field position will be critical and the Dolphins have perhaps the best kicker and special teams in the NFL.

That could make the difference in a close game.

 

Prediction: Dolphins 24, Patriots 20

 

Related:

Dolphins Loss Chiefs

5 Takeaways from Dolphins Loss to Chiefs

The Miami Dolphins (8-5) took more than one tough loss on Sunday to the Kansas City Chiefs (12-1). Despite battling back from a 20-point second half deficit, the Dolphins dropped a meaningful game to the defending Super Bowl champs. Along the way, the team also lost several players to injury.

Although Miami maintained hold of the last playoff spot in the AFC by Week 14’s end, the path to the postseason has narrowed considerably. The Dolphins still control their playoff destiny, but there’s little margin for error. Miami may very well need to win-out to secure a Wild Card spot at this point.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Dolphins loss to the Chiefs.

Dolphins D Came to Play in Loss to Chiefs

The matchup between Miami and Kansas City highlighted a strength-on-strength tug-of-war. The Chiefs feature one of the most potent offenses in the league, while the Dolphins sport one of the NFL’s top defensive units.

Miami’s D held the upper hand early, picking off a pair of Patrick Mahomes passes. The Chiefs entered with only eight turnovers all season long, but by the time the game ended, the Dolphins added four to that tally.

Byron Jones nabbed his first interception as a Dolphin in the first quarter after Andrew Van Ginkel tipped a Mahomes offering. Safety Eric Rowe picked off his second pass of the year later in that quarter. Mahomes had thrown only two interceptions all season entering this one.

Later in the game, Jones added a forced fumble to the tally before Xavien Howard came away with an interception of his own.

All told, the Dolphins defense held the league’s highest scoring offense to just 24 points, six below their season average. (Special Teams surrendered a punt return TD and the offense gave up a safety.) Miami’s 25 takeaways this season now leads the league.

There’s no other offense in the league scarier than that in KC, so this performance should prove, when fully healthy, this defense can play with anyone.

Howard Makes His DPOY Case

Howard’s stellar play continued in this one. Some questioned if he would be up to the challenge, considering Mahomes and the offensive weapons at his disposal. But Howard showed not only that he’s at an All-Pro level but also that he should be the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Consider this: In 2019, Patriots’ CB Stephon Gilmore won the award on the back of six interceptions, 20 passes defensed and 53 total tackles. In 2020, with three games to play, Howard leads the league with nine interceptions and 17 passes defensed, and has 40 total tackles. When targeting Howard, opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of just 53.4, second-best among cornerbacks with at least 30 pass targets.

Howard’s nine interceptions puts him within striking distance of the single-season franchise record of 10, held by Dick Westmoreland who set the record in 1967. No NFL player has had at least nine interceptions in a season since Chicago’s Tim Jennings in 2012. No one’s had at least 10 since Antonio Cromartie picked off 10 passes in 2007.

Dolphins Exit Loss with Injury Issues

One of the big concerns for Miami in the wake of this loss remains the health of its frontline players. The Dolphins started the game without a pair of starting linebackers in Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts, but the injury list just got longer from there.

DeVante Parker exited in the second quarter of the game with a leg injury and did not return. He did not make a catch on his two targets. Jakeem Grant also went down with a leg injury as well. Parker and Grant, the team’s top wideouts, played just 27 and 31 snaps respectively.

Another huge loss came midway through the fourth quarter when Mike Gesicki sustained a shoulder injury after a short reception. Gesicki, who had five catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns, emerged as Tua Tagovailoa’s favorite target in this one.

There’s a good chance the Dolphins will be without both Gesicki and Grant come Sunday’s contest against the Patriots.

Safety Bobby McCain sustained an ankle injury during the game but was able to return. Unfortunately, his replacements Clayton Fejedelm and Kavon Frazier both gave up big plays in McCain’s absence, including a 44-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill.

Bowden Emerges as Slot Option

One of the positive takeaways from this spate of injuries might be the emergence of Lynn Bowden Jr as a slot receiver. Bowden has earned more playing time over the last several weeks and led Dolphins receivers in snaps in this one. He played 59 of 83 possible offensive snaps.

Bowden led the team with seven receptions for 82 yards, an 11.7 yards-per-reception average. Each of those set a new career-high for the rookie receiver. He was targeted nine times and six of his catches moved the chains. Bowden also carried the ball once for two yards and attempted one pass.

Bowden has emerged as a utility offensive weapon for the ‘Phins and has developed some positive chemistry with Tagovailoa. That chemistry will be necessary if the receiver corps continues to be thinned out.

One reinforcement this week could be the return of Isaiah Ford. Miami traded Ford to the Patriots for a conditional draft pick earlier this season, only to see New England cut the third-year wideout shortly thereafter. Ford has experience as a slot receiver and in Miami’s system.

Tagovailoa Nearly Pulls Off Epic Comeback

Tagovailoa completed 28-of-48 attempts for a career-high 316 yards in this one. He added two touchdown passes and his first career rushing touchdown. As the game unfolded, Tagovailoa lost most of his go-to offensive outlets, but the rookie quarterback still managed to make this interesting in the end.

Missing the top-8 skill position players (in terms of yards-from-scrimmage) by game’s end, Tagovailoa kept the Dolphins within striking distance. The team put up 17 points in the fourth and were an onside kick recovery away from making it even more compelling.

Perhaps the most impressive drive came after Gesicki was lost for the game. Tagovailoa navigated the offense 73 yards for a touchdown with Bowden and Mack Hollins as his most reliable receivers. The first touchdown drive of the fourth went 80 yards, capping with a 29-yard toss to Gesicki.

Dolphins fans can come away from this one that Tagovailoa has that “it” factor absent from Miami’s backfield since Dan Marino.

Dolphins Chiefs

5 Keys to Dolphins-Chiefs in Week 14

The Miami Dolphins (8-4) enter their Week 14 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs (11-1) coming off the soft section of their schedule. The Dolphins have won seven of their last eight games and now face their stiffest test of the season.

The Dolphins largely hold their playoff destiny in their own hands. Most assume the game against the defending Super Bowl champions is a loss, but if Miami manages a win this week, it will go a long way toward snapping their four-year playoff drought.

Here’s a look at five keys to the Dolphins-Chiefs matchup in Week 14.

Dolphins-Chiefs: Bend, Don’t Break

The Dolphins sport one of the top defensive units in the NFL. Miami allows the second-fewest points-per-game this season (17.7). They’ve allowed the second-fewest points total (212) and have surrendered just 23 points over the last three game. But this week, they matchup against a high-octane offense helmed by former NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes.

The Chiefs are second in scoring offense (30.8 PPG), first in total offense (427.6 YPG) and passing (314.4 PYPG), and 16th in rushing (113.2 RYPG) with the second-best third-down conversion rate (49.0 percent).

Kansas City will move the ball against the Dolphins. For Miami, it will be a matter of locking down in the Red Zone. The Dolphins Red Zone defense ranks ninth this season, surrendering a touchdown 58.3 percent of the time. Over the last three weeks, though, Miami’s Red Zone D is tops in the league, allowing touchdowns only 12.3 percent of the time.

The Chiefs are going to score, but if Miami can manage to hold them to field goals instead of allowing an avalanche of touchdowns, they’ll be in this game.

Keep the Offense Up-Tempo

The Chiefs strength is clearly on the offense, but that doesn’t mean their defense is bad. Kansas City ranks sixth in scoring (21.2 PPG) and 17th in total defense (358.2). They’ve won their last seven games in a row, but in three of their last four, they’ve surrendered 24 points or more.

What this means for Miami is they should have the opportunity to move the ball and put up points. And if they’re going to do that, they need to continue what started to work last week: up-tempo offense.

Miami went up-tempo in the second half versus the Bengals last week. Their first drive in the third quarter covered 70 yards in less than three minutes. Tua Tagovailoa zeroed in during that drive as well, connecting on all four pass attempts for 71 yards at the faster pace. After a touchdown to Mike Gesicki, the Dolphins came right back on their next drive moving in a similar fashion. All told, Tagovailoa completed 9-of-12 attempts for 137 and a touchdown on those two drives.

Another wrinkle could be the empty backfield looks. During Sunday’s win, 10 of Tagovailoa’s 39 passes were out of the empty package. He completed nine of those for 106 yards.

Dolphins-Chiefs: Pressure from the Front Four

The Dolphins defense has made a name for itself this season with big plays. What’s helped that effort is the pressure Miami pass rushers have put on opposing quarterbacks. The Dolphins rank in the top-10 in both total sacks (31) and quarterback hits (83). That pressure has led to strip sacks, fumbles and interceptions.

That pressure, though, largely comes thanks to a blitz-happy scheme. The Dolphins blitz on 41.1 percent of dropbacks, second-most in the league. They’ve masked their extra rushers in a variety of ways and they’ve sent the house, using a Cover Zero look, many times.

Sending extra rushers at Mahomes, though, hasn’t been a good idea this season. He’s faced a blitz on 104 dropbacks, which is the third-fewest among quarterbacks with at least 11 starts this season. What’s more, Mahomes has connected on 12 touchdowns and put up a 138.8 rating against the blitz, best in the NFL. He’s thrown zero interceptions in those situations.

This means the Dolphins should probably approach pressuring Mahomes with just their front four. Kansas City runs at least three wideouts out there more than 70 percent of the time, which will dictate Nickel or Dime packages from the Dolphins. Miami should probably flood the field with defensive backs in an effort to mitigate Mahomes’ weapons.

Generate Turnovers

This will be easier said than done. The Dolphins defense has secured a takeaway in 18 straight games, the longest current streak in the league. Miami’s 21 takeaways this season rank second in the NFL and it’s been the key element to the Dolphins’ success this season. Xavien Howard leads the league with eight interceptions, and he’s picked off a pass in four straight games.

Kansas City, though, takes care of the football. The Chiefs are tied with Tennessee for the fewest giveaways this season (8) and Mahomes has thrown just two interceptions in 463 passes this season. His 0.4 percent interception rate is lowest in the league.

Mahomes’ had some close calls, but Miami will need a takeaway or two to turn the tide in this one. Setting up Tagovailoa with a short field and swinging the momentum in Miami’s favor will go a long way to earning this win.

Dolphins-Chiefs: Don’t Abandon the Run

The Dolphins offense struggles to gain consistent traction on the ground. Miami’s 96.5 rushing yards-per-game ranks in the bottom third of the league. Their 3.7 yards-per-carry average is worst. But even though it’s been a struggle to run, the Dolphins must maintain some semblance of balance against KC.

Myles Gaskin’s return to the lineup helped last week. The second-year back gained a career-high 141 yards from scrimmage, 90 of those on the ground. A similar 4.3 yards-per-carry average would go a long way to helping Miami move the ball against the Chiefs. Last week, Miami gained 110 yards on 28 carries against the Bengals, including an 11-yard run from rookie Lynn Bowden Jr.

A creative approach to the run game, with jet sweeps featuring Bowden or Jakeem Grant, and outside zone runs, which were successful last week, will only help Tagovailoa. And Kansas City can be run on. Their rushing defense allows 132.4 yards-per-game (27th). Against the Broncos in Week 13, Kansas City allowed 179 rushing yards, including a 65-yard scamper from Melvin Gordon.

Keep the clock running and winning time-of-possession will also help Miami’s defense against Mahomes and the potent Chiefs offense. If the Dolphins can establish run and methodically move the ball, that will limit Mahomes’ opportunities to score.

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Dolphins win Bengals

5 Takeaways from Dolphins Win Over the Bengals

The Miami Dolphins improved to 8-4 with their win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. A lackluster first half gave way to a brawling second half. But after managing just six points, the offense came alive in the third quarter.

The win maintained Miami’s position in the AFC playoff race and gave Dolphins fans hope for what’s to come with rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. And while he’ll never admit it, head coach Brian Flores’s heated response to the hit that sparked the brawl also engendered hope and confidence, not only in the fans, but also the players.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Dolphins 19-7 win over the Bengals.

Dolphins-Bengals: Despite Ejection, Xavien Howard Remains Elite

In the first quarter, Xavien Howard intercepted a Brandon Allen pass, giving him a career-high eight interceptions this season. Howard became the first Dolphin since 1998 to intercept eight passes in a season. Both Terrell Buckley and Sam Madison had eight picks that year.

He’s now intercepted a pass in four consecutive games, tied for the second-longest streak in Dolphins history. It’s the second time this season he’s picked of a pass in four straight. The team record remains five consecutive games with an interception, and that’s held by cornerback Dick Westmoreland, who did it in 1967. Westmoreland also set the single-season team record of 10 INTs that year.

Howard’s play this season has propelled him into the Defensive Player of the Year conversation. He leads the league in INTs (8), is tied for the league lead in pass breakups (16) and QBs targeting Howard have a passer rating of just 48.9 this season. Great plays in the coming matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs could cement Howard’s DPOY claim.

Up-Tempo Offense Got Going

During Ryan Fitzpatrick’s time at QB this season, the Dolphins called the eighth-most No Huddle plays in the NFL. With Tagovailoa under center, Miami called the seventh-least No Huddle plays. In the second half, though, searching for a spark, the Dolphins offense incorporated the up-tempo style to much success.

According to Three Yards Per Carry podcast host Chris Kouffman, the Dolphins ran 15 No Huddle plays against the Bengals. That’s a major departure from previous games started by Tagovailoa. From Week 8 through the third quarter of Week 11, all with Tagovailoa at QB, the Dolphins ran five No Huddle plays total.

This move to the up tempo helped the Dolphins offense find a much-needed rhythm in the second half. Miami piled up 263 total yards in the second half, more than half of the 406 total yards on the day. Although they only scored 13 points in the second half, the movement and pace provided a tantalizing glimpse at the potential for this group.

Dolphins Defense Dominates (Again) in Win Over Bengals

The Dolphins limited the Bengals to just 196 yards of offense Sunday. It was the fewest yards allowed by a Dolphins defense since Oct. 8, 2017, when Tennessee gained just 188 yards.

Miami’s defense was even more stingy in the second half, surrendering just 25 total yards. It’s the fewest yards allowed in a second half by the Dolphins since at least 2000 and tied for the third-fewest allowed by an NFL team this season.

The Dolphins registered six sacks today, the team’s most in a game since Dec. 23, 2018 vs. Jacksonville. Miami’s 31 sacks this season are tied for 10th in the NFL. It’s the team’s most through its first 12 games of a season since 2014 (33.0).

Kyle Van Noy was particularly disruptive versus the Bengals. He recorded a career-high three sacks, as well as eight solo tackles and three additional QB hits. His tipped pass led to a Nik Needham interception in the fourth.

Interceptions by Howard and Needham pushed the team’s takeaway streak to 18 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL. Miami’s 21 takeaways are second-most this season.

Gesicki and Gaskin Came to Play

The Dolphins have struggled at times to find game-breaking skill position players. The lackluster offense bogs down without those difference makers, but on Sunday, a pair of young performers played a pivotal role in this win.

Mike Gesicki nabbed nine of the the 10 targets that came his way and gained 88 yards in the process. His nine catches tied Randy McMichael’s team record for most tight end receptions in a single game. His 537 receiving yards this season are fourth among tight ends and his 13.8 yards-per-catch rank third. Gesicki’s one-handed grab in the second half provided a highlight-reel moment and if he’s able to develop this positive chemistry with Tagovailoa, the Dolphins really have something.

Myles Gaskin returned to the field for the first time in four weeks during this win over the Bengals. He totaled 141 yards from scrimmage, a season-high for a Dolphins player and a new career-high for him. Gaskin gained 90 yards on 21 carries, good for a 4.3 yards-per-carry average. He also ripped off a 26-yard run, though he did fumble. Gaskin caught both his targets for 51 yards, gaining 39 of those after the catch. He’s clearly the best running back on the roster and it helped the offensive to have him back on the field. He played 71 percent of the offensive snaps in this one.

Tagovailoa Shines in Dolphins Win Over the Bengals

Although the first half left some cause for concern regarding Tua Tagovailoa’s performance, the rookie QB excelled in the second half, helping lead the Dolphins to the comeback win over the Bengals.

Tagovailoa had the most productive game of his career, notching career highs in completions (26) and passing yards (296). His 26 completions tied the Dolphins’ rookie record, which was set by Ryan Tannehill on Sept. 30, 2012 at Arizona.

Tagovailoa improved to 4-1 as a starter and has yet to throw an interception. (He had one called back thanks to a penalty.) He tied a team record for most consecutive starts without an interception, regardless of experience (Jay Fiedler, 2000) and he’s now the third QB in the Super Bowl era to not throw an INT in his first five starts (min. 100 attempts).

Tagovailoa was particularly good against the Bengals’ blitz. He completed 12-of-18 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown against the blitz. He sported pocket presence and maneuverability, particularly on one play where he evaded a free rusher and completed a pass to DeVante Parker in a tight window.

Tagovailoa’s ability to move the offense in the second half provided fans with a glimpse of this team’s potential moving forward. Although he made mistakes (questionable throws, misreads on RPOs), he was able to handle the up-tempo element and was largely on target. Had Jakeem Grant not dropped the perfectly placed bomb in the first half, the game might have unfolded very differently.

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Dolphins Cardinals

Tua’s agent may have just leaked who the Dolphins starting QB will be

The 2020 NFL season has been anything but ordinary.

Which could explain why the Dolphins have won 6 of their last 8 games and currently hold the 6th seed in the AFC.

Again, this has been a crazy year. But being a Dolphins fan never comes easy.

And after patiently waiting for The Franchise Tua Tagovailoa to supplant Ryan Fitzpatrick as the team’s starting quarterback, we’re now right back where we started.

Tua was unable to play last Sunday vs the New York Jets. And despite countless Twitter doctors misdiagnosing this as ‘JuSt A JaMMeD tHuMb’ , it appears that there is legit uncertainty surrounding who Miami’s quarterback will be Sunday vs Cincinnati.

Friday morning, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said Tagovailoa’s status was in doubt for Sunday’s game.

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We later heard from Brian Flores that the team would not be making a decision until IMMEDIATELY AFTER HE MET WITH THE MEDIA. Flores is treasure and is very much at the forefront of the Coach of the Year race. But this left a lot of Dolphins fans wanting to know more. And after roughly 24 hours, we may finally have our answer.

RUMOR: Tua Tagovailoa to start for the Miami Dolphins on Sunday (Not confirmed)

Minutes ago, Tua Tagovailoa’s agent Leigh Steinberg posted this on Facebook. And thanks to many diehard Dolphins fans, we may now have our answer as to who the quarterback is for Sunday’s game.

He later edited his post to say “Dolphins” instead of “Tua”. This was later confirmed by Twitter detective, Jimmy. Thank you, Jimmy.

What does this all mean? I really don’t know.

Maybe, Flores is trying to get back at Steinberg for leaking the news that Tagovailoa was going to be the starter earlier in the year. (Note: This has not been confirmed but we can all see the writing on the wall) Or, and more likely, Tua is going to be the starting quarterback Sunday vs the Bengals. A matchup that many believe Miami should win convincingly. But as we saw a few weeks ago in Denver and countless times throughout a league year, Any team can win on any given Sunday.

Final Yard

I’m not going to sit here and tell you with 100% confidence that Tua Tagovailoa will be the team’s starting quarterback Sunday, but it definitely seems that way. If reports are true that he practiced all week, why wouldn’t he be ready to go Sunday vs the Bengals? We’ve heard time and time again this is Tagovailoa’s team and if your plan is to have him play the Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, Las Vegas Raiders and Buffalo Bills with the playoffs on the line–you have to let him get back out there vs the Bengals.

Furthermore, if you want to allow Tua to develop and build chemistry with the wide receiver, live game reps are of the upmost important. Oh, and can we please open the offense up a bit more and #LetTuaCook?

I don’t know if Tua will be the Dolphins starting QB tomorrow afternoon, but I do know one thing. Brian Flores is on his way to the airport to have a ‘talk’ with Leigh Steinberg.

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Dolphins Bengals

5 Keys to Dolphins-Bengals in Week 13

The Miami Dolphins (7-4) enter Week 13’s contest against the Cincinnati Bengals (2-8-1) largely in control of their playoff destiny. Miami may have quarterback questions, but regardless of who starts for the ‘Phins, he’ll be better than his Bengals counterpart.

The Dolphins look to build on last week’s successes against the Jets and solidify their postseason position. Here are five keys to the Dolphins-Bengals game in Week 13.

Dolphins-Bengals: Continue Defensive Dominance

The Dolphins sport one of the league’s top defenses. Miami’s D trails only the Pittsburgh Steelers in points-per-game, allowing a paltry 18.6 per contest this season. The Dolphins are tops in third-down D. Opponents convert just 32.8 percent of their those tries. Miami comes in third in takeaways with 19.

The main weakness for Miami has been defending the run. The Dolphins are in the bottom third of the league, allowing 129.9 rushing yards-per-game. But Sunday, their match up is with a Bengals squad missing starters at running back (Joe Mixon) and quarterback (Joe Burrow).

Cincinnati rushed the ball just nine times in their Week 12 loss to the New York Giants. They relied heavily on backup QB Brandon Allen to little affect.

The Bengals manage 96.3 rushing yard-per-game (29th, but the Dolphins allow 4.8 yards-per-carry, tied for second-most. If Miami can limit the Bengal ground game and make them one dimensional, they’ll be in good shape.

The Dolphins should be able to push their takeaway streak to 18 against Cincy. The Bengals’ 17 turnovers, including three last week, are ninth-most in the league this season.

Attack Allen

The Bengals turned to Allen after Joe Burrow was lost for the season in Week 11. Allen’s offensive efforts resulted in just 155 total yards during the loss to the Giants. The offense managed just 10 points.

Allen completed 17 of 29 passes for 136 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He was sacked twice and lost a fumble in the process. The Bengals allow 3.5 sacks-per-game, second-most in the league.

The Dolphins defense, meanwhile, ranks 14th in the NFL, getting 2.3 sacks-per-game. And attacking stationary quarterbacks like Allen has been the team’s bread-and-butter on defense all season.

Consistent pressure on Allen should lead to the fourth year QB, who’s making just the fifth start of his career, to make multiple mistakes.

Dolphins Need to Limit Bengals’ WRs

The strength of Cincinnati’s offense remains their wide receiver corps. Tyler Boyd, A.J. Green and Tee Higgins have played well and managed to stress opposing defenses throughout 2020. Boyd leads Cincy with 72 receptions and 725 receiving yards.

Higgins is having a solid rookie campaign, with 48 catches, 673 yards and a team-leading five touchdown receptions. Green’s bounce back season has seen him make 35 catches (on 80 targets) with just one touchdown.

What helps here is it’s a strength-on-strength matchup. Miami’s secondary remains the top unit on the team. The Dolphins’ 11 interceptions are tied for fifth-most this season, and Xavien Howard’s seven lead the league. Miami comes in fourth in both passer-rating-allowed (84.3) and completion-percentage-allowed (62.3).

The Bengals offense ranks 26th in scoring (20.9 points-per-game), 24th in total offense (331.5 yards-per-game) and 18th in passing yards-per-game (235.2).

Find an Offensive Rhythm

Last week, Ryan Fitzpatrick started in place of the injury Tua Tagovailoa. While there’s been no word yet on who will start Week 13 for Miami, the offense needs to find a rhythm. Against the Jets, Fitzpatrick put up 257 passing yards and threw two touchdowns, but Miami managed just 20 points against the league’s worst defense.

Cincinnati’s D doesn’t scare anyone either. The Bengals allow 26.3 points-per-game (22nd) and 390.5 yards-per-game (26th). They’re 30th in sacks (13) and manage pressure on just 16.4 percent of pass plays.

The Bengals can be run on. They allow 136.7 rushing yards-per-game (30th) and 4.8 yards-per-carry. The return of Myles Gaskin could finally allow the offense to find some balance and rhythm. If Fitzpatrick starts, DeVante Parker may have another busy day. Last week, Fitzpatrick targeted Parker 14 times, resulting in eight catches and 119 yards.

If Tagovailoa gets the clearance to play, hopefully he can demonstrate similar chemistry with the receivers.

Dolphins-Bengals: Keep in Mind the Playoffs

The Dolphins vaulted back into the AFC playoff picture with their win last week. Miami enters Week 13 as the 6-seed and if things break right for the ‘Phins, they could get as high as fifth in the standings. At this point, Miami maintains a hold on their playoff destiny.

The Dolphins need this win, considering the coming slate of games. Miami hosts the Chiefs (10-1) next week, then the Patriots (5-6). After that, they close out the season with pivotal road matchups against the Raiders (6-5) and Bills (8-3).

Miami must enter that final stretch at 8-4. Anything less would jeopardize their playoff chances. The Dolphins are clearly the superior team this week and must dominate Cincinnati. They can’t afford mental mistakes and turnovers. A win this week, and wins against Las Vegas and New England, would all but guarantee a playoff berth.

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Dolphins win Jets

5 Takeaways from Dolphins Win Over the Jets

The Miami Dolphins (7-4) rebounded from a tough loss last week with a resounding defensive effort against the New York Jets (0-11). The Dolphins defense stymied any offensive output from Sam Darnold and Co., romping their way to a 20-3 victory.  The win, coupled with key losses by other teams, propelled the Dolphins back into the AFC playoff picture.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Dolphins win over the Jets.

Dolphins Defense Dominant in Win Over Jets

The Dolphins defense returned to its dominant ways Sunday. Miami limited the Jets to just three points, 10 first downs and 260 total yards. In 25 possessions this season, the Dolphins held New York to just 0.12 points-per-possession.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the three total points allowed is the fewest by an NFL team in two meetings against the same opponent since 2009. The three points allowed is the second-fewest by the Dolphins against an AFC East opponent in one season. Miami shutout the Baltimore Colts in both games played against them in 1972.

Miami extended its takeaway-streak to 17 straight games, the NFL’s longest active streak. The Dolphins’ 19 takeaways this season are third-most in the league.

Miami improved its scoring defense to just 18.6 points-per-game this season, which is second-lowest in the NFL. And the Dolphins have the best third-down defense in the NFL after limiting the Jets to just 3-of-13 on third downs. Miami’s 32.8 third-down percentage allowed leads the league, and the Jets’ 10 first downs were tied for the second-fewest in a single game this season.

No QB Controversy

Much of the discourse leading up to this game surrounded which quarterback gave Miami the best opportunity to win. Tua Tagovailoa was coming off of his worst professional outing, but he’s yet to turn the ball over through four games played. Ryan Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, coughs up the ball at an average of once per game.

A thumb injury shelved Tagovailoa against the Jets, robbing the rookie of a bounce-back performance. Instead, Fitzpatrick helmed the offense. And although some argue for the veteran to replace the youngster, there was no Fitzmagic Sunday.

Sure, Fitzpatrick piled up yards (257), but he provided just two touchdowns against the league’s worst defense. He flashed his chemistry with DeVante Parker, who finished with eight catches and 119 yards, but little else. In the absence of Tagovailoa, the Dolphins offense did little to indicate the rookie was the problem.

After the game, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores voiced his support of Tagovailoa going forward.

“If he’s healthy, he’s the guy,” Flores said.

Flores couched the statement by saying: “We’ll see how he does in practice over the course of the week. He’s a tough kid. It was very close to him being able to go, but we have to make good decisions for him as well. We’ll see how he does over the course of this week in practice.”

If he can go, Tagovailoa will face a Bengals defense that allows 26.3 points-per-game and 253.7 passing yards-per-game.

Dolphins Rushing Attack Leaves Much to be Desired in Win Over Jets

While the Dolphins defense continued to shine, the offense’s lackluster rushing attack reared its ugly head as well. Miami’s ground game lacked rhythm and was largely absent in the second quarter. While some of that falls on offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, as well as the offensive line, what’s clear is Miami doesn’t have a difference-making running back.

The Dolphins split 22 carries among three running backs and watched the trio gain 94 yards but cough up two fumbles. Matt Breida and Patrick Laird both saw their chances limited after the third quarter miscues.

DeAndre Washington submitted the best performance of the three, gaining 49 yards on 13 carries. He also caught two passes for 11 yards. He may have earned himself a few more snaps moving forward, even with the eventual returns of both Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed.

What’s become abundantly clear is that Miami needs a difference-maker in the backfield and that player is not currently on the roster. It’s particularly important to add one, considering one of Tagovailoa’s strengths is RPO. The “run” needs to be an option.

Xavien Howard, NFL’s Best Cornerback

Xavien Howard continued his All-Pro play, too. He nabbed his league-leading seventh interception, picking off Darnold in the fourth quarter. Howard matched his career-high with seven INTs and has five games to go. He became just the second cornerback in team history with multiple 7-plus interception seasons, joining Sam Madison (1998-1999).

Howard’s 19 interceptions since 2017 also pace the NFL. What’s incredible about Howard’s ball-hawking prowess is that he missed 16 games over that span. His career 0.37 interceptions-per-game is fourth-highest among players who made their debut in the Super Bowl era, per Elias Sports.

It’s not just interceptions, either. Howard broke up three other pass attempts, giving him 50 pass breakups for his career. He has 15 passes defensed this season, tied for second-most in the league and one behind the league leader.

Darnold was 3-for-10 for 37 yards and an interception when throwing at Howard. Opposing quarterbacks have just a 50.3 passer rating when testing Howard this season.

Dolphins Win Over the Jets Propels Team Back into AFC Playoff Picture

The Dolphins dominated the Jets to the tune of 44-3 this season. Those wins helped the Dolphins keep pace in the AFC. After Week 12, Miami remains just one game behind the Bills in the AFC East. With the win Sunday, coupled with keys losses by Indianapolis and Las Vegas, the Dolphins vaulted to the 6-seed in the conference.

Miami’s move up the standings comes thanks to a superior conference record (4-3) than both the Colts (3-4) and Ravens (4-4). But with five games to go, the Dolphins have a difficult task ahead.

The Dolphins will need to secure another win next week against the floundering Cincinnati Bengals (2-8-1). Minus Joe Burrow, this matchup has been robbed of its potential headline, but it remains as a must-win for Miami.  The final four games lack any easy opponents for the ‘Phins.

A win versus Cincy would put the Dolphins at 8-4 for the home stretch. Then comes the team’s stiffest test yet, a date with the defending Super Bowl Champs, the Kansas City Chiefs (10-1). After that, the Dolphins host New England (5-6), who could be playing for their playoff lives at that point.

What follows is another must-win: a road matchup with the Raiders (6-4). This could be a postseason play-in game. The regular season finale comes in Buffalo (8-3), and, considering the Bills have a stiff remaining schedule as well, it might very well be for the AFC East title.

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Voices

Tua vs Mahomes could be the beginning of something special

For the first time since 2003, the Miami Dolphins are 8-4 and currently hold the No.6  seed in the AFC.

Which is crazy, isn’t it? I mean, when you think about how far this team has come in such a short amount of time, it should give fans everywhere a reason to be excited.

After all, it seems like only yesterday when ESPN’s Mike Greenberg begged the league to punish the Dolphins for deliberately tanking. (OH THE IRONY!) But then things started to come together. And Brian Flores and his team were playing pretty damn good football towards the end of last season. This had many wondering whether or not the Dolphins had won too many games to get a franchise-altering quarterback.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.

The Dolphins drafted Tua Tagovailoa with the 5th-overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. And while some fans and experts are debating whether Tua will be a superior QB to Justin Herbert or Joe Burrow, there’s a much bigger question at play.

Can Tagovailoa become a generational quarterback capable of going toe to toe with the NFL’s elite?

We’re about to find out.

Tua Tagovailoa vs. Patrick Mahomes

First, let me start by saying that I know quarterbacks don’t directly faceoff against one another. This isn’t an opening tip-off in basketball. Or a penalty shot in hockey. Football is a team game. We all know this. And yet somehow, we sit here and view Sunday’s matchup between arguably the greatest QB to ever play the game and Patrick Mahomes… I’m kidding. But you get the point. Tua is not going up against Mahomes; he instead has to execute vs. Kansas City’s defense.

But all we continue to see is Mahomes vs. Tagovailoa.

And that’s not uncommon.

“He’s probably a left-handed Patrick Mahomes,” said one scout. “He does the same things Mahomes does. He gets out of the pocket. He doesn’t need to set his feet. He can throw the ball the length of the field,” the NFL scout said, via The Athletic. “Take a look at the LSU game. He had never been in that situation before in his life and he brought them back. … He does have inconsistent mechanics. He needs to square up and set his feet more. But left-handers do things differently.” 

Now, I’m not going to sit here and compare anyone to Patrick Mahomes. Well, maybe Dan Marino. But I’m not ready to compare Tagovailoa to Mahomes, and that’s okay. Nevertheless, Sunday’s matchup would be a huge step in the right direction. Moreover, it’s something that this fanbase, this football team, and this city deserve.

Listen to what Mahomes had to say about Miami’s young signal-caller

Now some might take what Mahomes said and dissect it, only to find out he was being sincere. I don’t think he meant anything bad by the “game-manager” comments. Because Tua himself would tell you this defense has played a huge part in the team’s success. And he hasn’t been asked to go out there and make the same plays as a Patrick Mahomes–not yet anyway. That will all change on Sunday, and Tua and Miami’s offense will be ready.

“I think we’re going to need to execute every time we go out there offensively. I don’t think we need to do anything new. We’ve just got to go out there and have all 11 guys playing together and being on the same page, really. We’ve just got to be able to go out there and execute, do that and in the red area, I know (Offensive Coordinator) Chan (Gailey) has something really good for us. But we’ve got to execute offensively. I believe we have the plays, just not executed the way we had done it in practice. It’s all about execution and you can only take it a play at a time and just don’t worry about anything else.”

Tua went on to praise Patrick Mahomes for the type of generational talent he is.

 

But please, temper expectations!

We’re going to have to continue to remind ourselves on Sunday that this is only year two of Brian Flores’ rebuild. And let’s face it, Andy Reid is one of the top coaches in all of football. Everything he touches turns to gold, and paired alongside Mahomes; it’s going to be a tough task. But Chiefs’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo could ultimately be the deciding factor. Not only is he one of the top defensive minds in all of football, but he knows how to get after the QB. It will be up to Chan Gailey and Miami’s young offensive line to not only get the team in the best position to succeed but to keep their franchise signal-caller upright.

Because let’s face it, if the Dolphins want to have any chance on Sunday, they’re going to have to get a superstar performance from Tua Tagovailoa.

You can still vote for Tua Tagovailoa for Rookie of the Week!

Final Yard

 

I don’t know that we will ever see another quarterback as talented as Patrick Mahomes. I think he’s that damn good. But football is a team sport. And with an elite defense by his side and all the tools to go toe to toe with the NFL’s elite, why can’t Tagovailoa outshine Mahomes in Miami? Why can’t Brian Flores do to the Chiefs defense–exactly what he did to them back in the AFC Championship game in 2019? Quite frankly, why not Miami?

If the Dolphins and Tua Tagovailoa hope to play meaningful football games well into January (any time soon), they’re going to have to get through Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs consistently.

Sunday’s matchup is just the first of what could become the next great QB duel. And I, for one, am here for it. Now, all Chan Gailey and the Dolphins offense has to do is #LetTuaCook.

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