We should not get this twisted, I am ecstatic about the outcome of the Dolphins flexing all over the Rams in a 28-17 victory that was not that close. I jumped out of my seat on numerous occasions. Best of all, I had a sort of tears of happiness moment when the Dolphins defense created their 4th turnover. It was the feeling Morpheus had when the machines started exiting Zion and he knew the war was over. For a brief moment, I felt that the 20+ years of being a doormat for the AFC was finished. Waking up today, my enthusiasm has been curbed a bit, but I still feel decent thinking that the Dolphins are trending in the right direction.
Reasons for this train of thought are their coach is creating game plans that are working, a culture of losing has, seemingly, been reversed in only a year, they have a franchise quarterback, though far from guaranteed, will have a chance to be great for years to come, and they still have so many draft picks next year. The future is finally, realistically, bright. That is something we have not been able to say for decades. Cheers to that.
As for yesterday’s contest, a lot of strange stuff happened. Stuff that nobody had predicated and that is fine. I do not care how the Dolphins win and I am pretty sure Brian Flores would agree. I know everyone wanted, including myself, to see the Dolphins offense led by Tua light up the stat sheet. That is not at all what happened. Instead, it was the defense that carried the team. We should be smitten that the Dolphins can win in different ways. Here is what else I saw from the game.
Another game, another Dolphins defensive stop to the opposing team’s first drive. I do not know how many in a row this has happened. It feels like it is around three. I love it. It feels great seeing the other team have to punt. It just feels that there is less pressure for the offense after seeing the defense do their part.
Miami gets the ball and it is finally Tua Time. All right, things are going to be great, he is going to get in there and show everyone that he is the best of all the rookie quarterbacks. Avoid Aaron Donald, know where he is, and everything will be fine. Ok, break
I am confident in saying that was not the start that any of us were looking for. Welcome to the NFL I guess. Tua got hit, he fumbled but he got back up. He experienced that hit and a few others. Here is what Tua had to say about the hit after the game...
tua on that first big hit— josh houtz (@houtz) November 1, 2020
"that was a good hit. it was a good hit. that's football. i tried to step up, donald swiped at the ball behind me, idk who took me off my feet and bodyslammed me but that's football. i'm not going to lie, i enjoyed getting hit that first time.
First hit, first turnover, and first turnover that led, directly, to points for the other team. They are all out of the way so we can shut up about how he will respond to getting knocked around.
We can also say that Tua looked very pedestrian. It is okay to say this. Tua went 12/22 for 93 yards with one TD and, zero INTs. It is also important to mention that after getting sacked on that second play of the game for him, he did not get sacked again.
But like I said, it was a pedestrian performance. What needs to be, clearly, understood was that much of Tua’s outing was dictated by the game flow. Loads of Dolphins beat writers and talking heads on the networks are and will say that Fitz would have done better and that may be. Besides the one jump ball to Gesicki, it certainly seemed that the Dolphins kept the training wheels on Tua. Although, the offense did not look that different than when Fitz was in there. The idea is to get the ball out of your hands quickly. I thought Tua did that.
I am sure we would have seen more of Tua being unleashed if the Dolphins did not have a defensive TD, a special teams TD, and a fumble return to the one-yard line. Like, that should not be hard to understand. The Rams do have a really good defense, remember? When Tua got the ball with that big lead, Chan Gailey did not get wild with the play calling. He rode out the defense and that is fine. Tua will have an easier time next week against the Cardinals. They are no slouch but they are not as physical as the Rams.
Also, let us not act like we all did not lose our brains when this happened...
That was awesome. First of all, hopefully, 600 more to come.
I know many fans look at the performances of Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, seeing the numbers they are putting up. But both of those guys are a combined 4-9 as starters. Go ahead and ask them if they wish they had a better team around them like Tua does so that they do not have to do everything.
Besides how Tua did, the biggest takeaway from the Dolphins offense was the lack of push from the offensive line. They only gave up the one sack, but they were getting pushed around, albeit, from a much more talented unit in the Rams defensive line. But still, it was not fun watching them get nothing accomplished. Miami only had 55 yards on the ground. That is not going to cut it. I know Gaskin is just an average player but when games get tighter later in the year the o-line is going to need to step up their game.
If you needed to see the story of the Dolphins defeating the Rams, from a number standpoint, this is all you need.
The Rams held the ball for 13 minutes more than Miami and ran a whopping 44 more plays. If you would have said before the game that Miami would run half as many plays as the Rams there’s no way you would pick Miami to win this game. But they did and they did it because Brian Flores is always ten steps ahead of Sean McVay.
The game plan that Flores came up with for Goff, McVay, and the Rams were to bring the house early and often and man did that pay off. Here are all of the Dolphins defensive plays that tore the house down. There are so many more plays of Miami getting pressure making Goff look like Ben Dinucci but I went with the key ones.
Of course, Christian Wilkins would be dropping into coverage. What else would he be doing?
Due to the onslaught of pressure that Goff was under he throws a duck right to Eric Rowe. Rowe dropped a pick-six later in the game. Rowe is a beast and I think I am going to write about him this week in a deep dive type of blog.
Shaq Lawson flies off the edge, destroys Goff and Van Noy returns it to the one-yard line.
And of course, the defensive play that broke everything open and had me feeling all the feels, the play that we look to at the end of the year, if the Dolphins make a run, as the play that put Miami, seriously, on track to make some noise is this one. The Rams looked like they were going to score and Emmanuel Ogbah said f-that. AVG did the rest.
There were other INTs dropped by Howard, AVG, and Rowe. Goff looked like the guy I know him to be. A guy that cannot do anything if play-action is not available. Flores and Josh Boyer took it away by bringing pressure to his backside, away from strength all game long. Needham and McCain brought that pressure all day and Goff could not handle it. The little dumps off of boot were incredibly hard to complete with guys hounding Goff every snap. Dare I say, a blueprint has been made?
The Dolphins were shooting gaps in the running game as well. One guy, in particular, Elandon Roberts was all over the field. In this play, he brought his big boy pants.
elandon roberts with a massive hit stick pic.twitter.com/rHgclAgyja— josh houtz (@houtz) November 1, 2020
Jerome Baker also was a force when he was blitzing. Any defender you want to name had a very good game. The secondary was sort of quiet because the ball, rarely, got to their level. You do not see that a lot but this was a weird game.
One defensive wrinkle I saw that I thought was brilliant was when the Rams would go with their bunch look. It is tough to guard and Miami had trouble with it early. The Dolphins were playing right up on it and trying to jam the apex. But Woods was still getting by it and getting open on crossers. Then the Dolphins decided to play way off the bunch letting the receivers come to them. The result was the receivers were not getting the separation they were getting earlier. Coupled with the front seven bullying (too soon? I think we’re good) the hell out of the Rams o-line, it was genius.
Then there was one play where the Dolphins represented that they were bringing the house and when the ball was snapped, they dropped seven in coverage. This resulted in Goff’s brain breaking and not knowing what to do. Goff was used and abused all day. Flores toyed with Goff and McVay letting him know who has the bigger brain. I should have seen this coming since Flores stomped on this same team, minus Todd Gurley, in the Super Bowl a few years back. Guess I cannot think and remember everything.
We cannot talk about the game without talking about this...
You know things are going your way when you get a punt return and man alive it was sweet. I was waiting for the typical holding or block in the back call but nope. It never came. I was down on Grant a few weeks ago and now I like him again. It is like when he plays better I like him more. I think I need further research into this phenomenon.
Matt Haack is a silent assassin for this team. Naturally, he gets overlooked but there is no denying he is one of their best players. He is fourth in touchbacks and routinely gets the ball to the sideline not allowing much of a return. He is Pro Bowl bound.
Cannot talk about specialists without talking about Mr. Perfect. Jason Sanders did not have any field goals but he was four-for-four on extra points. I forget what kicker it was yesterday, but they missed a field goal making Jason Sanders the last kicker who does not have a miss. How could he? He is this guy.
Jonathan Vilma loved that Pat Mahomes and the ketchup on the steak commercial. Like he enjoys it. He also put Kellen Moore in a body bag when he said there were not any QBs on the list of guys who have thrown a TD as a lefty in the last five years.
When they put that graphic up of which Dolphins quarterbacks who have started since Marino are still in the league, the announce team, somehow, forgot about Chad Henne. They mentioned it later in the game, but the damage was already done.
Man, did I love hearing about how much Chris Shula loves football. Did you know he loved football that much? I did not know that he loved football that much. I am glad I know this now.
Miami did squeeze in Malcolm Perry in the lineup. He got one catch for 10 yards and got manhandled by Aaron Donald on a Wildcat snap. I would like to see where his path goes with this team. I am going to say we see him throw a pass within the next three weeks. Book it.
This was a weird game. I think we know this. What needs to be understood is that there is much to be improved on the offensive side of the ball. As much as I loved it, the Dolphins cannot rely on a defensive touchdow, a special teams touchdown, and another turnover that was returned to the one. Tua, the running backs, and the offensive line need to step up their game if they want to go on a run. And the Dolphins could go on a run. They have the Cardinals, Chargers, Broncos, Jets, and Bengals in their next five games. Miami will probably be favored in four of those five games. Remember, there is a 7th-seed now in the playoffs. You have to think if you get to nine wins, you have a great chance of getting that seed. The Patriots look like garbage and will probably be worse later in the year and the Bills have, predictably, come back to Earth. The Dolphins are in a wonderful position to do real winning this year.
I know Tua looked pedestrian but I think he will improve. I think he is really good and now has real game action under his belt. He will be fine and Gailey will scheme up game plans that highlight his skill set, I hope.
The defense has that look like they are Neo once he realized that he is the one. Everything is starting to slow down and everything they do works. It looks like this...
Take this final stat with you;
The Dolphins are now ranked the NFL’s No. 1 defense in points allowed. And I don’t know if there’s literally a single person aside from Dolphins fans who could name more than one — maybe two — starters. No defensive players over 30 years old. Sign of a very promising future.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) November 2, 2020
Enjoy your week. Celebrate this win and let us just let the machine that is the Miami Dolphins keep moving. Something special is happening and it is fantastic to watch it unfold.
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