You may read have my blog previewing the Dolphins against the Broncos. After reading it, you may have thought to yourself that ole Sern is pretty confident about Miami’s chances against the Broncos. You’d be right. I thought the Dolphins were going to smash Denver. I thought this because the Dolphins were on a roll, playing fierce defense and Tua was getting better. That and the Denver Broncos were playing the exact opposite brand of football.
Hand up, I was wrong. The Dolphins started hot, like they’ve been doing for weeks and that was the end of them playing good football. Now, Miami is 6-4 and have made their chances of making the playoffs that much more difficult.
I’m writing this at 6PM on Monday night. I’ve had nearly 24 hours to think about everything that happened and how Brian Flores handled the quarterback situation. Here’s some of the unanswerable questions I thought of today;
Did the gruesome injury to Joe Burrow sneak into Flores’ head?
Does Flores plan on going to Fitzpatrick every time the team is down double digits late in a game?
If Flores is capable of making 180 decisions like benching his rookie quarterback to get a spark from Fitzpatrick, why wasn’t he capable of making any adjustments with his game plan?
Is coach Flores to reactionary?
Is there more weight to the idea of the season getting cut short due to the mega spike in Covid cases thus why Tua was inserted in the lineup in the first place?
At any moment did Flores think about simply lying to the media about why he pulled Tua? There was the video of his foot being bent back, could have easily said it was that and nobody would have asked questions about it.
Is there a growing divide in the locker room amongst the players on who they prefer at quarterback?
I’m sure I had more but these were the ones I remembered. The point of all this is that benching Tua, down 10 in the fourth quarter was something that’s odd to say the least.
Tua was having his worst game as a pro. There’s no other way to say that. He held on to the ball to long, missed open receivers, and couldn’t avoid Denver’s rush to save his life. I have little doubt in my mind that he was going to continue to struggle when the Dolphins were down 10 to begin the fourth.
But that doesn’t mean that you take Tua out. Let Tua deal with the problem and learn from it. What if next week against the Jets the same thing happens. Do you just take Tua out and put Fitzpatrick back in? Is Fitzpatrick a security blanket for Tua because if he is it makes Tua look like he’s being handled with kid gloves.
Now, if Flores pulled him because he was afraid of Tua getting hurt because he was getting his ass kicked seemingly every time he dropped back, then that I can sort of understand. We’ll never know that because Flores would never say that his offensive line weren’t able to block making his young quarterback a sitting duck.
Tua’s problems with the Broncos and Flores’ decision to take him out weren’t the only things that led to the Dolphins losing to Denver. Here’s what else happened.
It was nice seeing that Drew Lock was starting. Lock throws a ton of picks because he’s just a guy. I realize he had a good game, for his standards, but I still and will never feel bad when I see that Drew Lock is starting against the Dolphins.
I want to crush Chan Gailey’s offensive strategy for being to conservative. I’m pretty sure I can still do that. But, the Dolphins did go deep to Jakeem Grant two out of their first three plays. The second deep ball was a flat out miss by Tua to an open Grant down the sideline. If he connects with Grant, who knows how the game goes.
Broncos get the ball and Drew Lock does his thing.
Xavien Howard does it again. His 6th INT of the season and the Dolphins are in business. pic.twitter.com/3vXHLBeG3G— Will Manso (@WillManso) November 22, 2020
Xavien Howard is good. That makes six INTs on the year tying him for the 1st in the league. Howard is playing out of his mind right now and it’s fantastic to watch. This turnover made it 16 straight games with a turnover for Miami.
In doing the group celebration, which is the most played out thing in the world and it is getting close to cringe worthy at this point regardless of what team is doing it, Clayton Fejedelem, knocked over an official and the guy was trampled. The official was out for the game.
Another short field for Tua and the Dolphins that led to what would be their only TD of the day. It was a pretty pass to DeVante Parker.
And that’s the way to take advantage. Tua to DeVante Parker for the Dolphins touchdown. pic.twitter.com/yMznLhH8sP— Will Manso (@WillManso) November 22, 2020
Parker ended up with six catches for 61 yards. It was another averageish game for Parker. Mike Gesicki only had four catches for 43 yards.
Overall, the receiving core is really thin. Guys like Perry, Hollins, and Calloway who had his first catch are being asked to shoulder a lot of the load and they aren’t getting it done. The biggest issue is that their receivers, literally can’t get open. The receiving core is last or next to last in getting separation from defenders. You saw the throws. Every time Tua made a completion there was a guy on the back of his receiver. Why can’t Miami run any routes where a guy goes across the field and is open? If Grant is so fast, and he is, why can’t he get away from defenders when he runs a route? It baffles me.
Also, why can’t Chan Gailey find any creative ways to get the ball to Mike Gesicki? Gesicki is good and super athletic. We know he can play. But for the life of me, I can’t understand why he can’t be schemed open. Why does the offense have to, strictly, be one where it doesn’t matter who gets the ball as long as it’s the open guy? That philosophy is nice when you have a quarterback with the chops as Tom Brady, but this offense isn’t led by him.
Goes without saying, but a receiver or two that has legit skills is something the Dolphins will need to address in the draft and free agency in 2021.
Tua throws a bad pick but a nod from the Gods have a penalty on the Broncos. It was at this time that I said “everything is coming up Dolphins.” I was wrong.
Salvon Ahmed had a tough day running the ball. He hurt his shoulder, went out of the game, came back and proceeded to get blasted a few more times really really hard. But, he played tough and did what he could. I like him and even when Gaskin comes back, he needs a role because the Matt Breida experiment should be over. That guy can’t get anything going. I wish he was better but he isn’t. Don’t worry, he’s a prime guy to get released next year, sign with someone else and play good. That’s going to suck.
Tua steps up in the pocket and misses a wide open Parker for a big gain. I’ve never seen him this inaccurate. That’s his thing. Very frustrating, for everybody.
The Dolphin’s offensive line was a mess on Sunday. Nobody played well. Tua was sacked six times and plays that he wasn’t sacked he had guys all around him. Austin Jackson got pwned by Bradley Chubb all day.
The thing about it was that it wasn’t that the Broncos were bringing tons of pressure. They brought 4-5 guys. What they did was that their defensive line were stunting. I mean, that happens. Pretty basic stuff and the Dolphin’s line didn’t know how to handle it. Now, the Dolphins will be down a starting linemen.
We have placed G/T Jesse Davis on the reserve/COVID-19 list.— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) November 23, 2020
Next man up and that man will, probably, be Robert Hunt. Wonderful, three rookies on the line protecting Tua. Sweet.
Miami’s defensive line and linebackers didn’t fair to much better. They gave up 189 yards on the ground to Gordon, Lindsay and Lock. Denver were consistent with it. Even when they were down 7-0, they didn’t care. They just kept running it and it opened up play-action boots. Lock ate Miami up with those.
Raekwon Davis had another solid game. He blew up Lindsay on their first play and was mostly doing the right thing.
Where are the Dolphin’s linebackers? Baker, Van Noy, Strowbridge, and Roberts were invisible for the majority of the game. This is another position the Dolphins, hopefully, will address this off season. To many good or nice players not enough consistency.
Andrew Van Ginkel is a a linebacker that is all over the field. I can’t say to many negative things about how he’s playing.
Zero sacks by the Dolphins defense. Denver and Lock had Miami off balance all game. I knew things weren’t going well when Denver started running play-action on first downs. Never a good sign when a team can do that. They also had bad pass rushing lanes. I saw a few times where Lawson dipped inside and Lock drifted away only to find an open receiver. It happened to many times.
That amoeba defense is basically the Wildcat for defenses. It’s cool and interesting when it works, but it when it gets figured out it just shows you don’t have much besides it. Not great.
How annoying was it that we heard Dalton Risner’s name a billion times? Seemed like every run he pulled and we had to hear about it. The Dolphins couldn’t handle all the pulling linemen and never adjusted to it.
A very workman like day for Jason Sanders. You don’t have to worry about that guy.
The offense did something that I hate more than just about anything. It was in the 3rd quarter and they were backed up around the 15. They ran play action on 2nd and long. Why the hell would you think play action would work on 2nd and long when you can’t run the ball well and not a soul thinks you’re going to run it? The play ended up going nowhere. Such a stupid thing to do.
I wouldn’t of hated seeing some Wildcat plays. The offense was putrid so seeing something different may have helped. I do know that running the Wildcat wouldn’t have made things worse.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is in the game and wouldn’t you know it, they’re moving the ball. They get a FG and the game is now a seven point game.
Big time stop on 4th down by the Dolphins. It was also nice seeing coach Flores guarding the first down line.
Outstanding play by Van Ginkel not giving up.
Melvin Gordon fumbles at the 1. He isn't good enough to be fumbling this much.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 22, 2020
Already his 4th fumble on the season. pic.twitter.com/1vjoXviRPC
Only 98 yards to go.
Fitzpatrick is actually throwing the ball more than 6 yards, which is nice. He has Miami around the 18, at the two minute warning. Miami might pull this off.
But then, Fitzpatrick does his thing.
Fitzmagic to Fitztragic within a five minute span. Seen that before. But can you imagine what the world would be like if Miami actually won this game because of Fitzpatrick? It be nuts.
I’m on a roll thinking about this offense so here’s more thought on it. The offense because the offensive line can’t block is leading to Gailey designing plays that requires the ball to be out of the quarterback’s hand so fast that receivers can’t get any separation. The poor blocking or belief that they can’t block leads to the Dolphin’s having to put to together 12+ play drives. That’s tough to do every time you get the ball. It be nice that every once and in a while Miami can score in maybe 5 plays. Wouldn’t that be nice?
There’s still six games left in the season which means there’s a lot of opportunity for the Dolphins to win more games. They play the Jets this week and Flores said immediately after the game that Tua will be the starter.
It’s going to be extremely interesting to see how Tua and the offense responds.
Also, lets not get this twisted; Miami is still a young team led by a guy who ha played in four games. They won five in a row and have changed the trajectory of this franchise. I wish they won, I thought they would win, but being 6-4 isn’t awful. In fact, plenty of teams would love to be in Miami’s position with the Jets and Burrowless Bengals as their next two games. All is not lost. Believe that.
Hopefully in a few week, were looking up at an 8-4 team and we say that losing to Denver was what needed to happen.
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