This headline is a nod to the birthday that occurred over the weekend. Everyone’s favorite Texas rattlesnake turned 54 on Friday so it was in good taste to honor Stone Cold Steve Austin in any way I could. It also seems that the Miami Dolphins, your 9-5 Miami Dolphins also felt compelled to honor the toughest SOB there is by taking a page out of his book and completely boot the boots to the New England Patriots thus ending their incredible 20 year run of always making the playoffs. Here’s what the Dolphins looked like for 60 minutes yesterday.
Pretty accurate visualization of what happened throughout the whole game yesterday. Like how Happy Gilmore learned how to putt the Dolphins learned how to run the ball and the run he ball they did.
The stat that leaps off the screen is that the Dolphins ran the ball for 250 yards. They did this with Salvon Ahmed and Matt Bredia as they’re primary ball carriers. I’ll say that again. Undrafted Salvon Ahmed and Matt Breida who was acquired by giving up a 5th round pick were the primary ball carriers for a team that ran for 250 yards.
Obviously, a major tip of the cap needs to go to the offensive line that was without one of their starters in Ereck Flowers. Once again, the offensive line sported three rookies one of them being Solomon Kindley, who got hurt in the second half and was replaced by second-year player Michael Dieter who hasn’t played a snap all season, played marvelously. They bullied the Patriot defense all day. The surge they got on every run play was the kind you see only on category 5 hurricanes. Hopefully, this will continue for the rest of the season because it sort of has to if the Dolphins are going to pull off this improbable run to the playoffs. Here’s what else I saw from the game.
The Dolphins need to wear these jerseys every week. I know it gets said every week by everyone, but it needs to happen. Petition the league to wear them the rest of the season. Do the right thing.
Right off the bat, Christian Wilkins is in Cam Newton’s grill. Seems that Christian hasn’t forgotten what happened after their week one encounter.
The Dolphins start on defense and Van Noy shows great discipline doing his job and bottling up an option play by Newton. Then on 3rd and 12, Ogbah sniffs out a screen pass which led to Van Noy cleaning it up and the Patriots punt. It was an excellent start to the game.
Miami gets the ball and they go three and out. Laird catches a pass on 3rd and 4ish and gets close to the sticks. Flores challenges it but I don’t think he should have. The reason why you don’t challenge it is because spotting of the ball challenges get overturned as often as the Mayans are at predicting the end of the world.
Dolphins force a punt but have to start at their own two-yard line. Not ideal. But Tua has some nice plays to guys who are as known as the 3rd tier guys on Jackass. Smythe. Shaheen, Bowden Jr., Hollins, and the return of Danger Ehren I mean Isiah Ford were the guys that Tua had at his disposal.
Even with Parker and Gesicki, the Dolphins offense just isn’t a down the field offense. Without them, you’re not going to get many passes that go further than 15 yards. These guys aren’t built for that. Everyone wants Tua to throw it all over the place like Herbert. That’s not going to happen and I don’t know if that will ever happen. Why? Because Stone Cold Brian Flores doesn’t want a low percentage passing game. He wants shorter passes that have a better chance of getting completed. That’s why you see seven rookies playing on one side of the ball. Deal with it.
Tua and the Dolphins have a great drive going and this happens.
tua sees lynn bowden late and tries to make it work. takes a big hit, resulting in the interception. dolphins were on the doorstep. pic.twitter.com/B0VV6gCJKy— josh houtz (@houtz) December 20, 2020
Obviously, we all know this can’t happen. Tua needs to sense that a millisecond earlier and take off running with it. This happens to rookies. It’s normal but in this microwave NFL that fans think exists, they want a guy with six starts to be Aaron Rodgers in his prime. That’s stupid on tons of levels. I don’t maybe reserve ultimate judgment after a few seasons. Not seven seasons but like three. Why is that unreasonable? Oh yeah, I know. Because Justin Herbert has really nice stats and his throws are cooler. Are you telling me you’d rather have the Chargers record but have cool throws and stats?
Tua had a very game manager day. He went 20/26 for 145 yards and the INT. You can see that Chan Gailey knew wasn’t playing with his full arsenal of receivers so the game plan had to be micromanaged more than usual. That and he discovered that the offensive line and running backs were a well-oiled machine. No reason not to keep handing the ball off when they’re getting five yards a clip.
Tua didn’t throw any TDs, but he did run a few in, which is nice.
Now many want to say that this was watching learn and Gin Blossom before our eyes because he didn’t step up in the pocket and take off earlier in the game and it resulted in an INT in the endzone and this time he takes off and scores. I don’t know if that’s what happens but this was the proper play and it worked out well. Tua has a wiggle to him that makes guys miss. He’s never going to run for big yardage, but he can do this. Good club to have in your bag.
Hopefully, Parker and Gesicki are back against the Raiders because they’re light years better than what Miami put out there yesterday.
Salvon Ahmed, a guy who promised his grandmother who’s in the hospital that he would have a 100-yard game, did just that. The word I use to describe him is sneaky. Not sneaky like the Repo Man, sneaky like he’s unassuming. He looks like a guy who doesn’t have the burst he does. But he does have that burst.
.@miamidolphins RB @ahmedsalvon carried the ball 23 times for 122 yards (5.3YPC) & 1 TD vs NE. ahmed's 122 rushing yards is the most in franchise history by an undrafted player in his rookie season & 8th most-all time by a miami rookie RB.— josh houtz (@houtz) December 21, 2020
here's every touch vs NE. #runahmedrun pic.twitter.com/QT2ejZ2WHd
Miami hasn’t had a 100-yard rusher in two years and an undrafted guy who backed up Myles Gaskin at Washington snapped that streak. Miami may have found a hidden gem in Ahmed. He needs to stay healthy, of course, but the trio of Gaskin, Ahmed, and Breida, three guys that all do the same thing could be a running game that keeps Miami in games for the rest of the regular season and postseason.
That’s right Matt Breida had himself his best game as a Dolphin. The offensive line had their best day as a unit run-blocking. Tua ran the ball himself. Even Patrick Laird had a huge run on 3rd and 8. Here’s Brian Baldinger salivating over what the Dolphins did. If this doesn’t make you fully torqued, you have a problem.
@MiamiDolphins were short handed in the passing game; but switched to a powerful rushing attack behind rookie FA @AhmedSalvon & @MattBreida to pound the @patriots for 250 and stay alive in the AFC P race. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/1kJ4V3TxxQ— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) December 21, 2020
Very encouraging day by the Dolphins on the ground. Are there areas that need to be improved? You betcha. Salvon Ahmed needs to be better at pass-blocking. But, if this performance can even be remotely duplicated, Miami will win many games because it will only allow Tua to throw the ball to more open guys.
The Dolphin's defense had themselves a game as well. They only gave up 12 points and were making plays all over the place. It was a real bend but don’t break kind of day for them. 316 yards(a bit eerie due to who the Dolphins were honoring) is what the defense gave up. There were times where I thought the secondary was letting the crossing routes to Myers happen too much. But then they stopped it. I thought Myers got a bit to open on square-ins a bunch. But, at the end of the game, he was nowhere to be found. I thought Michel was getting to the second level more than I thought he would. But, the Dolphins got a big enough lead where the Patriots couldn’t run downhill anymore. I thought Newton was too comfortable for much of the game. But, at the end of the game, the defensive line and backers, shut the door on him and took him down.
The defense only gave up four field goals. I thought it was weird that Belichick didn’t go for it on 4th and 3 at the end of the game and instead kicked it. But, that’s what they did. Assignment football is what Miami accomplished. Back in week one, Newton ran all over the Dolphins. The Patriots tried having him do that again but Miami only allowed 38 yards on nine carries. I wrote last week that Miami was better than they were from the September team that mauled by New England. I was right and the Patriots couldn’t generate much offense.
The Dolphins were in need of a big-play and then this happened.
LFG! brandon jones forces the ball loose and DPOY X takes it to the house! pic.twitter.com/NcStb2G5t8— josh houtz (@houtz) December 20, 2020
I lost my collective brain at this play. Miami was getting leaned on and needed something to go their way. Brandon Jones doesn’t give up, strips Cam and the DPOY picks it up and takes it the distance. But it wasn’t meant to be. Christian Wilkins was out of bounds when the ball touched his leg.
But, Howard would make another impact play later in the game. Enjoy the brevity.
It’s like Howard let Myers catch that ball on purpose just so he could punch it out. That’s what I think he did here.
Overall, the secondary played well. Cam had 207 yards but it was mostly underneath stuff. He tried pushing the ball downfield but it never really worked out. Miami played its man coverage and brought pressure. They sacked Newton three times but I thought there were a lot of times where they brought pressure but that pressure was easily picked up. When that happened, Newton was able to find his receivers.
I know when the Dolphins bring pressure and don’t get to the quarterback, that it means they’re open to getting gouged by any quarterback. Fortunately, it was Newton and he can’t complete passes regardless of the coverage. It’s the other quarterbacks that make me nervous. I know it’s what the Dolphins do and they aren’t going to change and they shouldn’t. It just worries me that’s all.
Real nice play Eric Rowe on this fullback. I swear I would have opened up a can whoop-ass on my neighbors if this guy one-handed that ball.
eric rowe with the nice coverage to force the incompletion (ball was high). FG was good. 12-15 dolphins lead. pic.twitter.com/0l3gKKiKDK— josh houtz (@houtz) December 20, 2020
The pride of Ferris State, Zach Sieler, with a nice sack of Newton. I love this guy. I don’t know how anyone can’t. To me, he’s the quintessential Brian Flores guy. Unheralded, humble, understand about seizing the day and just cares about putting in the work.
Christian Wilkins, Raekwon Davis, Andrew Van Ginkel, and Shaw Lawson played solid. Again, bend don’t break. Some of these guys almost got to Cam and for the most part, did well in stopping the run. This is an underrated unit on this team but one thing they have been is being reliable. They’ve gotten better as the year has gone on. I think the defensive line will be a unit that Flores will never think he doesn’t need to upgrade. He’ll draft more guys and bring in more young and cheap guys that are have underperformed on other teams. is
Kyle Van Noy had a nice game. He only had a few tackles but he was key in stopping the option running game by Newton. He also had that dropped INT that went right through his hands. Actually, if he didn’t go for it, which I know he would not try and get a pick, Howard was lurking right behind him ready to get to double digits in INTs.
Van Noy did say this about his former team;
Emmanuel Ogbah, a guy who has done a bit of a vanishing act as of late, got the sack that finished off the Patriots.
This guy will need to bring it the next two weeks against the Raiders and Bills. I know I know, that’s a real hot-take. But Ogbah has to make an impact for this defense. He has the capability to tee up INTs for the secondary with driving offenses backward.
One trend that I don’t like is that Miami has had 18 penalties in the past three games. They now have 73 for the season, which is still the 4th fewest. Miami had seven yesterday. This isn’t to say that the team is starting to play more undisciplined but it’s something that this team with this offense can’t have become a real thing.
Speaking of penalties that hurt my soul, another penalty on a genius special teams call negated a huge play.
matt haack to kamu grugier-hill and ANOTHER SCREW JOB pic.twitter.com/kEjHKQfZoE— josh houtz (@houtz) December 20, 2020
That classic Haack to Gruiger-Hill connection that we all know and love got taken away from us by a Montreal Screw Job. This is the second time a play like this was taken away due to a player not reporting themselves eligible. I don’t know what goes into doing that other than saying to the official that you’re eligible. But the idea of a trick play is to trick your opponent. It doesn’t seem right that you have to announce to the other team that “hey better keep your eyes open for anything on this one.”
I thought Charles Davis and Ian Eagle were good. Not just because Davis thought the Dolphins offensive line was getting better but I don’t recall them saying anything dumb like James Lofton always does.
Something on offense I wish the Dolphins would do more often is throw a few more screens to the backs. Gaskin, Ahmed, and Breida are decent enough at catching the ball and have shiftiness to them get a lot of yards. The offense has issues with moving the ball at times. You might as well try it because at worst is that it’s an incompletion.
Before the game, I tweeted that Bowden or Perry(what happened to him?) would throw a pass. They tried having Bowden do it but like Brian Baldinger pointed out, he did the wise thing and kept it.
Not saying he’s that Swiss Army knife that Taysum Hill gets labeled every 43 seconds by every analyst and talking head but Bowden has created a niche of being a guy that is multifaceted. Instead of Swiss Army Knife that I’m sure Hill has coined by now, Bowden can be the Scootboard of NFL players.
I think it’s safe to close the book on Antonio Calloway contributing to this Dolphin’s team. He played exactly zero snaps on offense with this receiver core that Miami trotted out there.
Here’s an observation that I made that doesn’t make me Isaac F’n Newton so don’t send Clint after me. But Brian Flores feels he can win games with lesser talented players on offense than he does on defense. I know injuries have something to do with it but there were a few times where the Dolphins had seven rookies on the field on offense. Tua, Kindley, Hunt, Jackson, Ahmed, Bowden Jr., and Malcolm Perry. Dieter a second-year guy Smythe is a 3rd-year guy and man alive this is a young core. On defense, Brandon Jones is the only rookie that’s getting real minutes.
I think this is something that’s a fundamental principle of Brian Flores. It’s why I wonder if he’ll really go offensive skill guys in the first round? I feel like he values linemen and defense than he does skills guys. I think he truly believes that he can get a guy to run or catch the ball anywhere and the offense will be alright enough. But he doesn’t want to see a world where he’s working with late rounders all over his defense. Just an observation, don’t hit me, Clint, you super dominated male in a 50s greaser uniform.
I wrote last week that the Dolphins playoff run started yesterday against the Patriots. It did and Miami is still alive. Here’s Steve Kornacki showing the playoff board.
Miami has a 43% chance of making the playoffs. The AFC is the most stacked it has ever been and it’s very possible that an 11 win team will not make a playoff system that has added a seed. Sheer madness is what this is.
The Dolphins play a Raider’s team that lost what feels like 100 games in a row. I know they miraculously beat the Jets a few weeks, but they are looking to get out of this season. Derek Carr, probably won’t be playing meaning the battle for the soul of Hawaii will be on display on Saturday night. Miami is on the road in Vegas, which has the Dolphins as underdogs. I have no good reason to think the Dolphins will lose since they have everything to play for and the Raiders don’t. But I’ve learned from the Denver game. Teams like the Raiders actually have some good players like Jacobs and Waller, who are big-time players who can score points. It’s going to be fascinating to see how the Dolphins handle this Raiders team. I really hope they get Parker and Gesicki back. They’re going to need them.
Enjoy your week, cruise into the holiday being in good spirits. two weeks left and the Dolphins control their own fate. Exciting times indeed.
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