The Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars hit the field at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London this morning, taking their intra-Florida matchup across the Atlantic Ocean. This was a game featuring a team on a four-game losing streak despite having pre-season playoff expectations against a team on a 20-game losing streak. In the end, it was a team on a five-game losing streak coming up on the wrong side of the score line as a team won for the first time this year.
On a side note, I am going to change up the format of the recap a little. I am still going to recap the game, but I am just going to include my reactions under each paragraph with them in italics.
Dolphins 20 - Jaguars 23
The game started with a re-kick needed as a fan ran on the field and all the way up to the Jaguars line just as they looked to kick. After that was solved, the Jaguars kicked to Miami, with the ball landing in the endzone for a touchback. Tua Tagovailoa ran onto the field for the Dolphins, returning after sustaining fractured ribs nine plays into Week 2. The Dolphins offense tried to get in their own way, but Tagovailoa was not having it. After a one-yard loss on a Myles Gaskin run, Tagovailoa threw to Jaylen Waddle for a seven-yard gain. Then Waddle was called for a false start, so Tagovailoa went to him for a 10-yard gain and a first down. Austin Jackson was called for a false start immediately after the gain, so on 1st-and-15, Tagovailoa threw to Mack Hollins for 17 yards. After that, Tagovailoa continued to be decisive and accurate, throwing complete to Waddle, Hollins, Mike Gesicki, and Durham Smythe while only having two incomplete passes on the drive. Tagovailoa threw an alert pass to Waddle for the touchdown, checking out of a run play on a pass option. Dolphins 7-0.
Wow that felt so much better. The offense just looked like they were immediately in a rhythm and Tagovailoa was in control. It was one possession against an 0-5 team, but it was good to see the Dolphins come out and immediately move the ball. Can they keep it up?
On that drive, Waddle caught four passes, including the touchdown, Hollins caught two, Gesicki had a catch, and Smythe had a catch. Myles Gaskin and Isaiah Ford were “targeted” on throwaways from Tagovailoa, the one incomplete passes. Basically, without DeVante Parker, Will Fuller, and Preston Williams, Tagovailoa is spreading the ball around. Though I would expect Waddle to come out of this game with around 753 receptions.
Jacksonville began their first possession at their own 22-yard line after the kickoff. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence came out throwing, picking up 24 yards on his first pass attempt to Jamal Agnew, then adding another yard with the same connection on the next play. James Robinson picked up seven yards on a 2nd-and-9 run, followed by a pass from Lawrence to Dan Arnold for 19 yards. The drive stalled after that, however, and the Jaguars would ultimately settle for a field goal. Dolphins 7-3.
How is it possible that the field goal for the Jaguars was their first field goal of the season? It is Week 6. I know Josh Lambo has had issues this year, leading to Matthew Wright seemingly overtaking him on the depth chart, but Wright has also kicked this year. That is just a really bizarre stat.
The Dolphins secondary is not playing badly, despite a couple of big pass gains, without Xavien Howard and Byron Jones in this game. Both players are inactive with injuries. You know Howard would love to have a shot at interceptions off a rookie quarterback, but he is missing the game after trying to play through a groin injury last week.
The Dolphins came back out, once again with Tagovailoa firing. He started the drive with a beautiful 22-yard touch pass over the defense Gesicki. Gaskin picked up four yards on a run, fumbling but recovering it at the end of the play. Salvon Ahmed then picked up another five yards to set up 3rd-and-1. Miami replaced Tagovailoa on the short-yardage play, bringing in Jacoby Brissett for an apparent quarterback sneak attempt - but the play was a 25-yard pass from Brissett to Smythe. Tagovailoa came back in and found Ahmed for 15 yards, moving the team down to the Jacksonville 10-yard line. A holding penalty on Cethan Carter penalty backed up the Dolphins to the 20-yard line, with Tagovailoa finding Gesicki for three yards to end the quarter.
That may have been the best pass we have seen from Brissett this year.
Miami started the period with the ball at the Jacksonville 17-yard line on 2nd-and-Goal. Gaskin picked up two yards on the play, then Miami came back to him on an attempted screen pass, but it fell incomplete and they had to settle for a 33-yard field goal from Jason Sanders. Dolphins 10-3.
Tagovailoa has a 116.1 passer rating thus far. They should have been able to make it 14-3, but the holding penalty just crushed the momentum.
The Jaguars started at their own 25-yard line after a touchback, but then backed up to the 13-yard line after a clipping penalty. They would not be able to do anything with the possession, clawing back to the 20-yard line but punting on a three-and-out drive.
Miami’s next possession was not much better. Malcolm Brown picked up 16 yards on a first-down rush, ut the drive basically ended there, leading to a Miami punt.
Jacksonville would again go three-and-out, with a net loss of two yards on the drive after a false start moved them backward.
The Dolphins started at the Jaguars’ 38-yard line after a 27-yard punt from Jacksonville. After an incomplete pass, Tagovailoa found Carter for eight yards to set up 3rd-and-2. Tagovailoa had the first-down conversion if he had run the ball, but he chose to try to throw a touch pass over the top of the defense, badly overthrowing Waddle. The team took a shot on 4th-and-2, with Tagovailoa hitting Hollins for a 20-yard gain. The drive would essentially end there, however, and Miami settle for a 24-yard field goal from Sanders. Dolphins 13-3.
That third-down play from Tagovailoa was stressful. Too many times have we seen Miami have a clear first down chance, only to not pick it up and then immediately stall. Then to come back and look deep on a 4th-and-2, that was a lot of emotions in a little span of time. The Dolphins need to stop settling for field goals, though. They are outplaying the Jaguars right now. It is time to put them away. Do not get conservative - especially when you are willing to go deep on a 4th-and-2 play - and get this out to a big lead.
The Jaguars’ offense actually started moving the ball on the next possession, starting with a six-yard pass to Marvin Jones, Jr. Lawrence then threw to Arnold for an eight-yard gain and then to Laviska Shenault, Jr., for nine yards. A facemask penalty could have stalled the drive, but Robinson picked up 11 yards on the next play, then Lawrence found Jones for a 20-yard gain. At the end of the possession, however, the Jaguars would have moved just 35 yards on eight plays before having to punt.
The Dolphins defense started looking more like last year’s defense on this possession. The amoeba looks started to show up. The pass rush started pressuring Lawrence even if they were not getting home for the sack. If the defense can wake up and start playing like last year’s unit - especially when Howard and Jones return - they could turn around this season.
The Miami possession started at the three-yard line after an excellent punt and punt coverage. They picked up nine yards, with Gesicki stretching to try to get one additional yard on a five-yard pass on 3rd-and-6, but not quite getting there. Miami punted on the three-and-out.
Anywhere else on the field, Miami may have been tempted to go for it on fourth down there. That was less than a yard, but back at their own 12-yard line, the punt made sense. Unfortunately, that was a crappy punt.
Starting at the Miami 49-yard line after a 37-yard punt, Lawrence was able to find Shenault for 10-yards. After an incomplete pass, Robinson picked up four yards. After an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-6, the Jaguars converted the fourth-down play with a seven-yard pass to Shenault. The next play had Lawrence look deep to Jones in the endzone, with Noah Igbinoghene in good coverage, but the receiver making a better play and coming down with the score. Dolphins 13-10.
The pass rush did not come back on this drive, and it allowed Lawrence time to move the ball. Clearly the field position hurt the Dolphins’ defense, but the touchdown was simply a good play by Jones, going up and over Igbinoghene.
Miami got the ball with 40 seconds remaining, but no timeouts. Tagovailoa looked deep toward Smythe on the first play, but the two were not on the same page and it fell incomplete. Tagovailoa then looked deep to Hollins for 20 yards, then to Brown for seven yards. After a spike to stop the clock, Tagovailoa threw to Gesicki for eight yards, with the tight end getting out of bounds to stop the clock. With just five seconds remaining in the half, Sanders attempted a 58-yard kick, but pulled it wide right.
That was a solid drive from Tagovailoa and the Miami offense with limited time and no timeouts. The play of the drive was probably Hollins on the 20-yard gain, not for the gain but for the receiver’s work after making the catch. He caught the ball in the middle of the field, then turned and sprinted for the sideline, getting there just as he was being tackled, stopping the clock and giving Miami a chance to keep moving the ball. Great understanding of the situation and determination to get out of bounds.
The Dolphins look better this week. Maybe it is because they are not facing teams like the Buffalo Bills or Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but whatever it is, they are playing better on both sides of the ball. That said, they are not dominating this team despite 259 yards of offense in the first half and a six-minute time of possession advantage. They are moving the ball well, but they are not finishing the drive, even when they reach the redzone.
The Jaguars received the second-half kickoff, starting their possession at the 25-yard line after a 27-yard return. Lawrence threw a bullet to Chris Manhertz for 11 yards on first down, then the team was backed up on a false start penalty. On 1st-and-15, Miami linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel was able to bat down the pass attempt. Lawrence then found Agnew for 29 yards, just avoiding the rush from Van Ginkel. Lawrence then threw a pass to Arnold, with safety Jevon Holland breaking up the play - only to be called for helmet-to-helmet contact. Robinson then picked up 24 yards, rushing down to the Miami one-yard line. Robinson then punched it in on the next play. Jaguars 17-13.
That was too easy a scoring drive by the Jaguars. That said, Jacksonville clearly benefitted from a dumb helmet-to-helmet penalty. Holland was clearly making a play on the ball, with no intent to even hit the receiver. Yes, their helmets collided, but it was with no intent and was incidental contact. Just a bad ball. The good thing was, the pass rush appeared to be showing up again. Van Ginkel was active on the drive. Now it is time to get home and get the sack, shutting down the possession.
Miami started the possession at their own 23-yard line. After a short run and a five-yard catch from Gaskin, Tagovailoa picked up the first down on an eight-yard scramble. After a one-yard run from Brown and a false start penalty on Liam Eichenberg, Miami faced a 2nd-and-14. A seven-yard scramble from Tagovialoa and a 14-yard pass to Waddle, let the Dolphins make up for the penalty. The drive was killed after that, however, when a 21-yard pass to Hollins was called back for a 15-yard offensive pass interference penalty on Hollins for a push-off. The Dolphins punted three plays later.
The Dolphins offense has the ability to be explosive and get chunks of yards, but they continue to make mistakes and get called for penalties. They are fighting against themselves on every possession.
Jacksonville again started moving the ball, with the running game finding itself. Robinson picked up four yards, nine yards, and three yards on the first three plays. Lawrence then threw to Jones for 11 yards before scrambling for 12 yards. Lawrence again went to Jones for 11 yards before Robinson was stopped on a one-yard run. Defensive end Christian Wilkins came around clean on 2nd-and-9 to record the strip-sack, with Zach Sieler falling on the ball for the Dolphins.
The defense made the play that was needed. Jacksonville was starting to take full control of the game, and Miami needed something to happen. Wilkins stepped up and said enough is enough.
Tagovailoa threw the ball to no one on the next play, apparently looking for Waddle deep but badly underthrowing the ball and it was picked off.
Well that momentum swing did not last long did it? Tagovailoa just completely missed on that play. That was just horrible
Restarting eight yards back from where they were before the fumble, the Jaguars looked to just keep moving. Lawrence threw a short pass to Luke Farrell, with it turning into a 21-yard gain. Robinson then picked up two yards to end the quarter,
Miami’s tackling is just embarrassing at this point. Maybe it is too much of a focus on trying to get the turnover, with players trying to strip the ball more than they are simply pulling down the ball carrier. Whatever the case, they have to fix that.
Lawrence started the final period with a four-point lead and the ball at the Miami 16-yard line. On 2nd-and-8, a pass to Robinson picked up seven yards. An incomplete pass on third down set up a 4th-and-1 play, with Miami stuffing Robinson for no gain and a turnover on downs.
The Dolphins offense needs to (a) put up some points and (b) hold on to the ball long enough to let the defense get some rest. Too many short possessions are crushing the defense right now.
Miami came out firing, with Tagovailoa finding Gesicki down the field for a 32-yard gain down the right side. He then came back over the middle to Gesicki for a 20-yard gain. After a screen pass to Waddle lost a yard, Ahmed picked up five yards on the ground. The Dolphins went back to the big play passing game, with Albert Wilson picking up 12 yards, then Smythe gaining 18 yards, with a taunting penalty adding another three yards. On 1st-and-Goal from the two, Waddle moved in motion, lining up as a fullback, then leaking out into the flat for the touchdown reception. Dolphins 20-17.
That felt a lot more like the offense the Dolphins need to have. Looking for big chunks of yards, use the tight ends, and rely on the arm of Tagovalioa. Yes, he will have horrible moments like the interception, but he is only in his 12th start, and that includes the nine-snap game in Week 2 when he was injured. He is still growing, but that felt like how the offense should play.
The Jaguars started their drive at the 13-yard line after a short return on the kickoff. A 14-yard pass to Agnew on second down gave Jacksonville a first down, but the drive would do nothing more as a false-start backed up the Jaguars. Despite a 10-yard pass on second down, the Jaguars were forced to punt.
The Dolphins defense went back to the amoeba looks that gave them so much success last year, and it worked. Who is rushing? Who is in coverage? What exactly are the Dolphins going to do? It is so good when the Dolphins can get into and create confusion. Need to keep it going.
Miami was unable to do much with the possession. A first-down pass to Waddle for 12-yards was followed up by a Ahmed run for no gain. Then a nine-yard pass to Smythe was followed by an incomplete pass to Gaskin, with Miami losing the challenge to review if it was a catch. The Dolphins then tried to draw the Jaguars offsides, but they did not jump and, following a delay of game penalty, Miami punted.
The punt bounced over the returner, with Mack Hollins grabbing it in the endzone. It was close enough to being touched on the return that Miami challenged, but the call on the field stood.
Odd that Brian Flores had not challenged a play all year, then had back-to-back challenges. Not sure the incomplete pass challenge was worth it, but the potential special teams touchdown was a smart challenge. It was so close, and there were replays that appeared to show a finger touch the ball, you can take a chance there.
After the punt, Lawrence came out throwing, picking up seven yards to Shenault, then 10 on a pass to Robinson. After a Robinson run for two yards and an incomplete pass, Lawrence was able to find Jones downfield for 20 yards. The drive would stall there and Jacksonville would settle for a 54-yard field goal to tie the score. Tied 20-20.
That field goal was crazy. It started dead center, drifted wide right, then hooked back to the left to cross just inside the upright. Miami’s defense allowed some big plays on the drive, but also held up to force the long field goal attempt from a team that has had kicking issues all year.
The Dolphins started their drive with an eight-yard pass to Waddle, followed by a run from Ahmed for a yard, then a run from Bown for three yards. Miami ran again, picking up four yards from Ahmed, to run the clock down to the two-minute warning. After a drop from Ahmed, Gesicki caught a pass for five yards, trying to stretch for the first down but coming up short. Miami went for it on 4th-and-1, but Brown was unable to pick up the yardage and the Dolphins turned the ball over on downs and their 49-yard line.
Going for it on fourth down there made sense, but the Jaguars stuffed the run.
Jacksonville started their possession with a false start, then Miami tackled Lawrence on a run attempt for a one-yard loss. Emmanuel Ogbah then sacked Lawrence on second down. Lawrence found Shenault for 12 yards to move the ball to the Miami 44-yard line. After a nine-yard pass to Shanault left one second on the clock, Wright kicked a 53-yard field goal to win it for the Jaguars. Jaguars 23-20.
That was a ballsy play call from the Jaguars to throw a pass with five seconds remaining, with the hope of getting the timeout with a second remaining. They executed perfectly. If only Miami had not touched him as quickly after he made the catch - but there really is no way to not reflexively touch down the ball carrier.
This was Miami’s game early, and they did not put away the Jaguars. Two redzone drives ending in field goals was the difference here. They needed to keep the pressure on the Jaguars, and they let them escape. This did not feel as bad as some of the recent games, but the result is just as bad. The Jaguars had not won since Week 1 - of 2020. The Dolphins now fall to 1-5 and still have way more questions than answers.