Well, it wasn’t pretty.
Not everything went smoothly.
Tua Tagovailoa wasn’t perfect.
The offensive line wasn’t terribly effective.
The defense looked pedestrian at times.
Let’s take a look at what went right, what went wrong, and what was just downright ugly in week one for our Miami Dolphins.
Xavien Howard played like the superstar he is.
Did you notice how there weren’t a lot of shots of Xavien Howard on your television screen through the first three quarters of Sunday’s match-up with New England? When the player in question plays the cornerback position, that’s a very good thing. After loudly voicing his displeasure with his contract this offseason, Miami eventually acquiesced to Howard’s demands, restructuring the financial agreement to his liking and welcoming the All-Pro back to the field. Thank goodness they did, because in addition to Howard excelling in coverage against the Patriots, he hand-delivered the 17-16 victory on a silver platter by causing, and recovering, a 4th quarter fumble from New England running back Damien Harris with the ball on the Dolphins’ 9 yard line and only 3:35 left in the game. Players who are paid big money are expected to make big plays in big situations, and that’s exactly what Xavien Howard did in week one.
Line play on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball was subpar.
The Miami Dolphins’ offensive line was a major concern heading into the season, and it didn’t take long for those worries to be realized. There was very little push in the running game until the final drive which allowed Miami to run out the clock. Pass blocking was even worse, with Tua Tagovailoa having very little time to throw and with only one lineman grading over 70 for the contest according to PFF (Jesse Davis), while second year player Solomon Kindley scored a lowly 35.2.
The defensive line didn’t fare much better, with multiple chunk plays given up to Damien Harris and company on the ground. Mac Jones was only sacked once in the game, and that came on the opening drive. Any pressure that was generated was done so via the blitz, which left throwing windows open in the middle of the field. Miami will need to improve their line play on both sides of the ball if they’re going to have success as the season goes on.
Mac Jones looks like a problem.
In his first NFL game, Mac Jones looked Brady-esque, making quick, smart throws while finishing his debut with 281 yards on 29 of 39 completions (74%), and one touchdown. That was good for a 102.6 rating. He had just one turnover worthy play, and that came while under pressure during his first NFL drive, however his lineman recovered the errant backwards pass, so the play didn’t result in a turnover.
Conversely, Tua Tagovailoa turned in a performance that only earned him a 79.6 passer rating after throwing for 202 yards on 16 of 27 completions (59%), one passing touchdown, one rushing touchdown, and one interception – though he did have a couple of dropped interceptions in the contest.
Yes, Jones had the benefit of a better offensive line, but for his first start, he looked poised and in control, routinely converting third down throws with a blitzing linebacker in his face. If he continues his ascent, Miami will have another stellar quarterback in New England to deal with a minimum of twice a year for many seasons to come.
A win is a win, is a win, is a win, is a WIN... and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Going into New England and recovering three fumbles against a team and coach who pride themselves on winning the turnover differential is an accomplishment. There are plenty of things to work on moving forward, but 1-0 will always feel better than 0-1.
How would you grade Miami’s overall performance in WEEK ONE? What areas do you think need to improve? Do you think they have a chance to upset Buffalo next week? Let me know on Twitter at @MBrave13 and in the comments below! FINS UP!