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The Dolphins Applied a Sleeper Hold on the Chargers and Never Let Go

First off, my apologies for not getting this out on Monday. Life stuff got in the way and I couldn’t get it out when I typically do.

Secondly, the Dolphins made some moves yesterday that are not very surprising. Zach Crockett Jordan Howard was released. I think the writing was on the wall once Salvon Ahmed had a real nice game against the Chargers and the writing was we thank you for your service and wish you the best on your future endeavors. Howard was one of Flores’ and Grier’s few swings and misses. It happens. Also, the Dolphins signed Zach Sieler to an extension. Since Sieler showed up late in 2019 he’s been nothing less than force that can’t be handled by to many. I hope the money doesn’t go to his head and he does something foolish like get rid of the RV.

As for the game on Sunday, the Dolphins put the LA Chargers in a sleeper hold or possibly a Million Dollar Dream, had it synched in and never let go. It didn’t matter that the referee dropped the Chargers arm three times. The Dolphins were a team possessed and wouldn’t release the hold.

If you’re aren’t picking up on the sleeper hold analogy, I feel bad for you. I’m saying the Dolphins were in control the entire game and never had to worry about the Chargers beating them. Miami won by 8 but the game was never in doubt. Don’t get twisted about that it was a one score game. Full disclosure, the majority of games by any team is a one score game. That’s how the league is designed. The Dolphins went out and did their job and made sure that no amount of effort from Los Angeles would be enough to make them nervous. Here’s what I saw.

Right off the bat, anyone with eyeballs can plainly see that the Dolphin’s throwback uniforms weaken knees. Even folks that, unfortunately, don’t have the eyeballs can feel the electricity that radiates off of them. Flores is flirting with the idea of bringing them back in the future full-time. I think that happens in a few years.

From the get go, the Dolphins weren’t going to let Justin Herbert get comfortable. Nik Needham applied stellar pressure and brought the big man down.

The Dolphins defense had six total quarterback hits on Herbert. Compare that to the Charger’s defense, which only had one quarterback hit and you can already see which passer had an advantage.

Eric Rowe had two quarterback hits.

Alrighty, the Dolphins force a three and out after the Needham sack and get the ball back. Can’t wait to see Tua and the offense. Except, AVG had other ideas...

I wrote after the Cardinals game that the Dolphins can’t rely on these defensive and special teams scores and big plays. But maybe, they can because for the last few weeks the defense and special teams has created, enormously, big plays. They’re making life for Tua very simple. I’m fine with that.

Andrew Van Ginkel, the winner of the best acronym award for the Dolphins just makes plays. He’s another guy that has been given an opportunity and he’s running with it.

With the ball at the one yard line after the AVG blocked punt, the Dolphins wasted no time on putting points on the board.

Lets talk about Salvon Ahmed. This guy I thought would get shown the pine after the Cardinals game because Flores didn’t like how he blinked or something. But, due to injuries to Gaskin and Breida, Ahmed started against the Chargers and he played very well. Salvon had 21 carries for 85 yards and one catch for five. He showed a quick burst that coincides with decisive cuts. He looks like what you would get if Gaskin and Breida were put in the Large Hadron Collider. Not sure what this will, ultimately, mean to the backfield when Gaskin and Breida return. This stat is telling because it means they trust Salvon in pass blocking.

Flores will probably just go with who practiced the best or who has the hot hand.

The offensive line had a good day.

Robert Hunt ended up being the odd man out on the line. The other five guys had what was their best day as a unit this year. The Dolphins would do well to stick to this starting five and stop tinkering. Let this unit pick up where they were before Jackson was injured. Tua will get all the publicity but the offensive line will decide how far the offense goes. I don’t think I’m breaking any ground with that take.

Karras had that bad snap to Tua as the Dolphins were on their way to score. I’m not to worried about that becoming a thing. Here’s what Ted said about it.

Things are going the Dolphins way right now. The Chargers dropped an INT and committed a penalty on a FG giving the Dolphin’s offense another shot at scoring.

Wonderful job by Tua to find Jakeem Grant sitting down in a hole created by other receivers. 14-0 Dolphins.

Here’s a great tweet that sums up the first quarter.

Back to Jakeem Grant. This guy has been playing, potentially, the best football in his career since Tua became the starter. Yesterday he had this stat line;

Here’s more stats about Grant’s involvement since Tua became the starter;

Keep catching the football and the quarterback will keep coming back to you. Grant is starting to show the world that he’s more than a return guy. It’s so much fun to watch when he gets the ball in his hands. I always feel like he’s taking it to the house.

Tua had another fine day. He finished 15/25 for 169(nice) two TDs and no INTs. He should of had at least one pick but the football gods are on the Dolphins side for once and will not allow it. Maybe it’s an Angels in the Endzone type situation occurring but everything is coming up Tua and the Dolphins. Here’s some Tua highlights.

I’m not sure what throw was better. The one where the snap was on the ground and he picked it up and got it to Parker or the opening throw where he was going to check it down to Ahmed but instead went to Gesicki? Hard to say. What isn’t hard to say is that Tua has lived up to the hype and is executing Chan Gailey’s offense as well as he can.

He’s eventually going to throw a pick and make mistakes here and there. But, poise, accuracy and anticipation, at the moment are unchallenged and I simply can’t wait until Sunday to watch him do it again. I mean how many players are asking for another player’s autograph after that guy just beat you?

So cool. I’m, obviously, closer to calling Tua the savior the team has looked for since Marino. I still want and need a little bit more time. But, nothing shows me that Tua is going to have a drop off in production any time soon.

Shout out to Chan Gailey. I despised the signing of him. But, I was wrong. The guy is putting in the work and the offense is humming. His work with Tua’s development has been splendid. The plays he calls, especially, at the goal line have been outstanding. Love the hire , now.

The Dolphins defense is, seemingly, playing with house money. Everything they do works. I wrote in my notes that it looked like they were playing an amoeba defense. The amoeba defense was a phrase that was thrown around about a decade ago. It was basically the RPO for cool sounding defensive buzzwords that folks said to sound like they were football guys. It just means nobody is in a three-point stance at the line of scrimmage. The Dolphins did this a few times against the Chargers and it worked.

The defense evolves every week pending on who they’re playing. They’ve been more blitz heavy the last few weeks, but this week they brought less guys. I imagine the thinking was that Herbert has done will against pressure. Good call by Flores and Boyer.

Always nice when you can get a turnover making it 15 straight games for the Dolphins forcing a turnover.

Xavien Howard is the Dolphin’s best player right now. The guy is covering guys to death, not allowing them to breath and is second in the league with five INTs. There’s also this;

He’s earning every penny of his contract. He also is showing Flores that it would be dumb to get rid of him next year. I said before the season that Howard feels like a guy that Flores gets rid after the season. He didn’t draft him, has an injury history, and they signed Jones and drafted Igbinoghene. With Howard playing the way that he is, it would be hard for Flores to justify trading him unless he fetches a haul.

When you’re Emmanuel Ogbah, you sack the quarterback. It’s what you do.

Ogbah can’t be stopped and I hope he’s another guy that gets signed to a long term deal.

Another rookie who is on the defensive line who is starting to put it all together is Raekwon Davis.

Davis led the team with seven tackles on 36 snaps. His growth has been fun to watch and has helped everyone around him.

Nice to see Kyle Van Noy return to the game after what looked like an injury that was going to be worse.

Kalen Ballage revenge game? Not to much. I mean, he did infinity times better than he did for the Dolphins last year but he was stuffed often.

But you wouldn’t know it if you listened to Rich Gannon. Gannon couldn’t stop praising Ballage on his incredible 18 carries for 68 yards with five grabs for 34. You would have thought it was the Jim Brown out there they way Gannon was talking about it.

The Dolphins secondary gave up only 187 yards. Coming into the game, Herbert hadn’t passed for less than 264 in any of his starts. Miami clamped down on Keenan Allen and the rest of the Charger’s receivers. Howard, Jones, the other Jones, Rowe and McCain are playing excellent. They are making life difficult for quarterbacks.

The defense is playing at as high of a level that hasn’t been seen in years. They’re must watch because they are making impact plays at a high rate. Defense is all about attitude and the Dolphin’s defense has plenty of it.

I take full responsibility for Jason Sanders not being perfect anymore. I wrote last week that Sanders is Mr. Perfect and poof, he misses. I should have known my words had that kind of power. I won’t let it happen again until I do it again.

The Dolphins are now 6-3 and are a half game back of the Bills thanks to DeAndre Hopkins. I think it’s time to say that the Dolphins have a more than likely chance of making the playoffs.

Still a lot of football to be played but the Dolphins have their next three games against the Broncos, Bengals and Jets. They very well may win all those games. Other teams like the Titans, and Ravens are trending down. It looks like Miami, yes your Miami Dolphins have a great chance to not just play in the post season but to actually win in the post season.

There’s no reason why this team can’t win games in the playoffs. For one second, imagine this team headed to the playoffs in two years. What’s the only thing you’re unsure about? The answer has to be Tua. But has he done anything that shows he might not be able to get the job done No, no he hasn’t. He’s getting better every week. I also don’t care about the idea of teams getting film on him. He’ll adjust when he has too.

The Dolphins go on the road to play a terrible Broncos team with a quarterback that enjoys throwing INTs. No reason to think the Dolphins don’t squash them in Denver.

Keep adjusting to the new feelings y’all are having about rooting for a football team that’s actually good. Not flash in the pan good, like for real good. Like top five team in the league good because that’s where the Dolphins are headed.

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