The Miami Dolphins are coming out of their bye week into one of the most exciting weeks in recent memory. This upcoming weekend, the Dolphins officially begin the Tua Tagovailoa era, turning the offense over to the 2020 fifth-overall pick and hopefully continuing what appears to be a successful rebuild of the franchise. Miami is facing the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday in Miami, and a win would keep them within striking distance of the AFC East lead.
Before we get to the Dolphins and Rams, however, we will take a look back at the first six games of Miami’s season, reviewing each position group as of the team’s bye week.
Starter: Tua Tagovailoa (R)
Reserves: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Practice Squad: Reid Sinnett
Fitzpatrick: 138-for-197 (70.1%), 1,535 yds, 10 TDs, 7 INTs, 10 sacks, 95.0 rate
Tagovailoa: 2-for-2 (100%), 9 yds, 85.4 rate
Where else to start this but at the quarterback position. Tagovailoa has been named the team’s starter, but that should not be seen as a judgement on the way Fitzpatrick has been playing. Miami is 3-3, in second place in the AFC East, and coming off two dominating wins with Fitzpatrick at the helm. Miami is just at the point where they are ready to see their rookie, and that means Fitzpatrick heads to the bench. The Dolphins quarterback position seems solid with a chance to be spectacular, though we will all see rookie mistakes over the next few weeks as Tagovailoa gets used to the speed of the game.
Starter: Myles Gaskin
Fullback: Chandler Cox
Reserves: Matt Breida, Jordan Howard, Patrick Laird, Salvon Ahmed (R)
Gaskin: 82 att, 340 yds (4.1 ypc), TD; 27 recs, 182 yds
Breida: 33 att, 115 yds (3.5 ypc); 7 recs, 79 yds
Howard: 18 att, 14 yds, (0.8 ypc), 3 TDs; 1 rec, -3 yds
Laird: 3 recs, 11 yds
Cox: 2 recs, 9 yds
One of the biggest surprises of the year for the Dolphins has been just how ineffective Howard has been. Signed as a free agent to fix Miami’s ground attack, Howard started the year atop the Dolphins depth chart, only to now be listed as third and to be inactive for the last two games. On the other end of that, Gaskin has jumped from third on the depth chart to become the team’s clear number one back. Breida has not had a breakout yet where he can showcase his speed, but the Dolphins running game should see more action as they look to find ways to take pressure of Tagovailoa, which could allow Breida to see some increased opportunities. Laird has worked primarily as a depth option. Cox has seen plenty of playing time this year as the lead blocker, playing 21 percent of the available snaps so far this year.
Starters: DeVante Parker, Preston Williams
Reserves: Jakeem Grant, Isaiah Ford, Mack Hollins, Lynn Bowden, Jr. (R), Malcolm Perry (R)
Practice Squad: Matt Cole (R), Kirk Merritt (R)
COVID-19 opt-out: Allen Hurns, Albert Wilson
Suspended: Antonio Callaway
Parker: 29 recs, 364 yds (12.6 ypc), 2 TDs
Williams 12 recs, 213 yds (17.8 ypc), 3 TDs
Ford: 17 recs, 174 yds (10.2 ypc)
Grant: 13 recs, 136 yds (10.5 ypc)
Bowden: 1 rec, -1 yds (-1 ypc)
Parker has looked like the player we saw breakout last year, though he has been battling a hamstring injury early this year. He left the team’s Week 6 game against the New York Jets in the fourth quarter with a groin injury, so how that has recovered over the bye week will still need to be seen. Williams started slowly but is starting to look like he trusts the recovery of his knee following an ACL tear last year, and the Dolphins could be set with two dynamic receivers to give Tagovailoa options. Grant and Ford have had some exciting moments, but Grant has to stop having to double clutch the ball on punt and kick returns. Hollins and Bowden have seen some offensive snaps this year, but nothing significant. Perry has yet to make his NFL debut. The health concern opt-outs by Hurns and Wilson took away two weapons for the Dolphins this year, but the team seems to be finding options to fill in those gaps.
Starter: Durham Smythe
Reserves: Mike Gesicki, Adam Shaheen
Practice Squad: Chris Myarick
Gesicki: 18 recs, 281 yds (15.6 ypc), 2 TDs
Shaheen: 5 recs, 58 yds (11.6 ypc), 2 TDs
Smythe: 4 recs, 41 yds (10.3 ypc), TD
The depth chart as released each week still lists Smythe as the starter, even though Gesicki is clearly the top tight end in the passing game. Smythe has become more of a threat as a receiver this year. Miami signed Shaheen to a two-year extension this week, showing they trust him to continue to be a part of the offense moving forward.
Left tackle: Jesse Davis
Left guard: Ereck Flowers
Center: Ted Karras
Right guard: Solomon Kindley (R)
Right tackle: Robert Hunt (R)
Reserves: Julien Davenport, Michael Deiter, Adam Pankey
Practice squad: Tyler Gauthier, Durval Queiroz Neto, Jonathan Hubbard
Injured reserve: Austin Jackson (R)
Miami’s offensive line is not great, but it is definitely better than it has been over the past several years. Jackson was looking good at left tackle before landing on IR. Davis moved from right tackle to left tackle, but he is probably better on the right side. Kindley has looked like a mauler in the interior. Flowers and Karras have been solid. Hunt is developing quickly at right tackle - a position that becomes critical as Miami moves to Tagovailoa at quarterback, a left-handed thrower making the right tackle spot the blind-side protector. Pankey is seeing playing time as the team’s sixth offensive lineman in big sets.