The Miami Dolphins kicked off their 2021 preseason game vs. the Chicago Bears on Saturday, and in typical Dolphins fashion, there were some ups, and there were plenty of downs. But what matters most is that the team made it out of Chicago without significant injury.
But before we close the book on the Chicago Bears, and turn our focus to the Atlanta Falcons, let’s take a look at some of the Miami Dolphins' big plays from Saturday’s loss, along with some nExT-lEveL analysis from yours truly.
Week 1: 2021 NFL Preseason: Miami Dolphins 20 vs. Chicago Bears 13
Jaylen Waddle’s first career punt return as a member of the Miami Dolphins was a memorable one. He looks explosive, and this is something I could definitely get used to seeing.
This was without question the offense’s most explosive play of the game.
Tua has time and throws a dime to Mike Gesicki who does some stuff after the catch. Nice touch on the deep throw, as well. But again, none of this is possible without time.
Eric Rowe with a nice pass breakup on third and short, proving once again that he can hang with some of the best tight ends in the country.
At first glance, I thought this was a bad throw by Tua Tagovailoa, but when you take a closer look, it might just be an excellent throw and catch. The timing between Tagovailoa and Mack Hollins appears to be in unison, which almost led to a touchdown after Gesicki’s big 50-yard reception.
A nice play by Tua Tagovailoa to elude pressure and find Malcolm Brown on the check down. However, Malcolm Brown needs to continue upfield. Trying to stop and put a move on a defender for what? An extra yard? This should’ve been a first down, IMHO.
tua eluding pressure and finding malcolm brown for 7 pic.twitter.com/HR4ga5CA6X— josh houtz (@houtz) August 14, 2021
I still don’t know what Tua Tagovailoa saw on this play, but as it was brought to my attention from another angle—you would have definitely loved to see Adam Shaheen work his way back to the football or try to contest it. Nevertheless, this was a bad throw and a poor decision with the Dolphins in field goal range and everything in their favor.
Nice job by Christian Wilkins to work his way back against the grain and lay a crushing tackle on the ball carrier.
The battle between punt returners continues, with another explosive return from Jakeem Grant. Is it possible the Dolphins go with a 2 PR system!?!?!
jakeem grant with an awesome 34-yard return pic.twitter.com/SG3fVQPNvI— josh houtz (@houtz) August 14, 2021
“This guy is money.” is what I think the announcer said. And he’s not wrong.
This game was up-and-down for Noah Igbinoghene, but he did make a nice play on a well-thrown ball from Justin Fields. Later in the game, however, Iggy got beat a few times despite having good coverage. Time will tell.
Fan-favorite Shaquem Griffin was relentless on this play, knocking the ball out of Justin Fields' hand. Griffin was making plays all over the field. It wasn’t a perfect outing, but he certainly looks like a guy I’d want on the 53-man roster.
better look at the FF since this might blow up pic.twitter.com/GwVc19LD6R— josh houtz (@houtz) August 14, 2021
Beautiful wheel route from Salvon Ahmed and Jacoby Brissett puts it in a
okay good spot for Ahmed to make the catch.
They got the call right on the field.
igbinoghene with suffocating coverage pic.twitter.com/sxVWRHD8TU— josh houtz (@houtz) August 14, 2021
A lot of the talk in training camp surrounded punter Michael Palardy, and a lot of us were like, ‘no way, that can’t be true.”
Welp, it’s true.
Defensive back Jamal Perry put a nice hitstick on the ball carrier to stop him dead in his tracks, forcing the punt. If Perry wants to make the 53-man roster, big hits and smart football is the way to Coach Flores’s heart. This play definitely stood out.
A nice play by Reid Sinnett to keep the Dolphins' preseason playoff hopes alive.
I wasn’t able to capture nearly as much stuff in the second half of yesterday’s game, but that’s okay. I promise I’ll be ready for week one of the regular season.
Five takeaways from the Miami Dolphins 20-13 loss to the Chicago Bears
- Tua Tagovailoa looked decisive and was accurate with the football. He continued to show great pocket presence, despite the offensive line crumbling around him at times, and he seemed to go through his progressions well. I saw improvement, and I think anyone that said they didn’t might already be too far gone.
The most impressive play from Tua Tagovailoa was the 50-yarder to Mike Gesicki, though he did make a few throws that showed good timing and, most importantly, accuracy.
In that same breath, I think we can all admit his interception in the endzone was costly and something we would rather not see out of our young quarterback.
- Austin Jackson struggled, and that is putting things nicely. I don’t know what the Dolphins plan is or what the ‘break in case of an emergency option is, but they need to figure it out sooner than later.
I also saw a play or two where Michael Deiter was picking himself up off the ground, and there were already concerns on the right side of the offensive line. So, yeah, things seem to be going exactly as we’ve come to expect as Dolphins fans.
- While we’re talking about Austin Jackson being a disappointment, I think we can
segwaysegue into cornerback Noah Igbinoghene. The second-year cornerback continued to look up and down throughout the game. Yes, he had an impressive pass breakup early, but afterward, he showed up on the replays for all the wrong reasons. Igbinoghene taking the next step and proving he is ready in year two would be a massive WIN for the Dolphins.
- Injuries are obviously part of football, but when you have several of the Dolphins' top receivers sidelined by injury, there’s cause for concern. On the offensive line, Jesse Davis and Liam Eichenberg are banged up, and so is fellow rookie Jaelan Phillips.
Yes, it’s still early. But if injuries continue to pile up, as we’ve seen with teams in the past, it’s going to be much, much more difficult for the team to take the next step myself, and all of you had hoped for this season. . Heck, Jaelan Phillips has been sidelined s, there’s a little bit of a reason to be worried that this could be the Achilles heel of the 2021 season.
- I talked about the run game a little bit and while it was improved (IMO) on the defensive side of the football, what we saw offensively, looked like much of the same from a season ago.
Much of this is obviously a testament to how spotty the offensive line was at times. Nevertheless, even with lanes and opportunities, there wasn’t much that stood out from the group—besides Salvon Ahmed’s touchdown. Could he be an asset in the passing game?
I did find it odd Malcolm Brown got the start, especially after it seemed as though this was Gaskin’s job to lose. Still, the unit as a whole has to be much better if this team wants to have sustainable success. After all, there’s no better best friend for a young quarterback than a #good run game.
- I know I said I was only going to do five, but I had to make sure to point out Shaquem Griffin’s stellar play. He was everywhere, and his forced fumble vs. Justin Fields was a masterpiece.
Moving forward, the plan will be for these to release every Monday. During the season, I will probably record more of the game and ultimately have a better breakdown of what happened.
The Miami Dolphins will now turn their focus to this week’s joint practices with the Atlanta Falcons.
What were some of your biggest takeaways from yesterday’s 20-13 loss to the Chicago Bears? How did you think quarterback Tua Tagovailoa played? Did you see improvement in the run defense? Is the offensive line going to be okay? Who were your top performers, and which players do you think should be a part of the first wave of roster cuts? Let us know in the comments section below!