It was another week and another win for our boys in aqua and orange – this time, a 24-17 divisional road victory against the hated New York Jets. That makes three victories in a row for the Miami Dolphins who now sit at 4-7 – just three wins back of the New England Patriots, a team they defeated in Week One of the season, for the division lead.
It’s probably delusional to think that Miami has a shot at catching the red-hot Pats, but we’re Dolphins fans... We live of f of hope and delusion, so, unlike some other folks who cover this team, I’m not going to tell you to not get your hopes up about a potential playoff run. Get ‘em up, if you want to. Get ‘em up high!
In the next few weeks, Miami plays a very beatable Carolina Panthers team, followed by a disappointing New York Giants team, then they get their BYE week, only to play these same New York Jets once more. By the way, those three games are all at home. After that stretch, Miami closes the season with a road game against the slumping Saints, at the Titans who have losses against the Jets and Texans this season, and then they host New England for the final game of the year.
It’s going to take a bit of luck, and some major improvements in multiple areas, but these Dolphins somehow have a shot at sneaking into the playoffs if all goes right over the final seven weeks of the season.
Dream on dreamers! But in the meantime, let’s take a look back at Sunday’s win against the Jets, and analyze the good, bad and ugly of that contest.
Miami’s Tua to Waddle connection is thriving
Miami Dolphins’ quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, completed 27 of 33 passes for 273 yards, two touchdowns and one interception – good for a 108.7 passer rating – on Sunday against the New York Jets. His day included a beautiful 65 yard touchdown bomb to Mack Hollins who was streaking down the left sideline. Tua had to step up to avoid pressure on the play, yet still delivered the TD to Hollins for six.
Of his 27 completions, eight went to his former college teammate, Jaylen Waddle. Waddle continues his outstanding rookie campaign, as he has now caught 68 balls for 622 yards and three touchdowns. He has a fourth touchdown – this one of the rushing variety – that he added to his statline this past Sunday against New York. Waddle has a chance to break the rookie receptions record currently held by Anquan Boldin (101) as he is on pace for 105 receptions at this point in the year.
Pessimists will look at Waddle’s low yards per reception average as a way to knock Miami’s first round investment in the player, but the fact of the matter is that this offense isn’t designed to consistently push the ball down the field due to the limitations of their offensive line. Whether it’s Tua or Jacoby Brissett, this line never gives their QB time to throw, meaning downfield routes are nearly impossible to develop. As this line improves – if this line improves – we will see Tua and Waddle connect for longer completions.
Miami’s defense takes a step backwards against the Jets
The New York Jets are a bad football team with a bad offense, yet on Sunday, newly reacquired quarterback, Joe Flacco, completed 24 of 39 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns – good for a 101.5 passer rating. Rookie running back, Michael Carter, rushed for 63 yards on 9 carries – 7.0 yards per rush. Rookie wide receiver, Elijah Moore, caught 8 balls for 141 yards and a long touchdown.
While playing just well enough to get the victory, Sunday’s defensive showing was not nearly as fulfilling as their Week 10 drubbing of the Baltimore Ravens. The Jets’ offense averaged a whopping 5.7 yards per rush, going for 102 total yards on the ground.
Against a team like the Carolina Panthers – one that boasts a powerful rushing QB in Cam Newton and an elusive stud at RB in Christian McCaffrey – that kind of effort from the run defense just won’t cut it. If Miami wants to have a chance to extend their win streak to four games next Sunday, they’re going to have to play much more stout up front. Maybe the big-bodied new edition at defensive tackle, Andrew Billings, gets the call up from the practice squad?
Inconsistent calls from the referees almost cost Miami the victory
I’m not one of those sanctimonious football fans who believes one should never call out the referees for their bad calls. The men and women in stripes make mistakes, just like the rest of us, and just like you or me, they should be chastised for performing poorly at their jobs.
On Sunday, the officiating crew assigned to Miami’s game against the Jets apparently forgot what a pass interference call was supposed to look like. Miami was charged multiple times with phantom offensive pass interference penalties which took chunk plays away from the offense.
In one instance, Mike Gesicki was clearly being held by his defender, so he swiped the guy’s arm away as the ball was released. This was just a textbook example of a man having the right to fight for the ball, the same as a defender would. However, after Gesicki took the play for a first down and much more, the refs called OPI, negating the big gain.
Another play saw Waddle flagged for the same violation, this time due to a supposed “illegal screen,” which really just amounted to the rookie wide receiver stepping in front of a defender while running his route. The call was so ticky-tack that even the announce team admitted there was nothing worth flagging on the play.
Miami’s offense needs all the help they can get at times. They don’t need to be playing against the referees in addition to their opponent.
How are you feeling after Miami’s third consecutive victory? Does the prospect of facing such a talented rushing offense like Carolina’s worry you? Do you have a prediction for Miami’s final record this season? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter at @MBrave13. Fins up!