Hey there. Me again. Looks like you’re going to be listening to me shout at clouds once a week with the ‘Five Things I Think I Think’ about the Dolphins series. “How can you possibly make meaningful conclusions about the team after only one week?” You said meaningful. I said shouting at clouds. Let’s get cracking on Week 2.
I love the Jacoby Brissett One Yard Express
Tom Brady ran a QB sneak on 3rd and 1 without fail for decades. Literally for tens of years I watched him go to the line every single 3rd and 1, every single human being on the planet knowing full well it was a QB sneak, and it still succeed anyway. So when we trot out Jacoby Brissett, the Dr. Evil to Tua’s Mini-Me, I don’t care that it’s obvious what we’re doing. I’m all for it. Brissett is big, so let him be big. Fall forward for a yard and keep the chains moving. Use the talent you have in the best way you can and don’t get wrapped up in fabricated expectations. “Good coaches use good talent goodly.” - Bear Bryant, I bet
We need to steal a little from the Belichick QB playbook
The *Patriots have been running the same core system for as long as Bill Belichick has been vandalizing sweatshirts: get the ball out instantly to short routes as an extension of the running game. It was the Brady special and worked for other Hall of Fame QBs like Jimmy Garoppolo and Matt Cassel. Now Mac Jones gets to pick up the Dink and Dunk Dynasty. I’m not ready to anoint Jones the second coming of Subway Sandwich Shops’ own Tom Brady because the system is pretty user-friendly. There’s a reason just about anyone can do it: it’s easy and it works. You know who else could benefit from leveraging that system? Everyone. Turns out Tua and the rest of the Dolphins are part of everyone. Our offensive line is suspect (as is tradition) and Tua has looked shaky so far in his limited exposure to heavy pressure. I think we need to swap our habit of using former NE players for a habit of using some NE playcalling. We have some elusive skill players, so let’s try getting the ball into the playmakers’ hands ASAP and let them run wild.
Our offensive line has to stabilize
I guess one of my 2021 Season-long predictions came true-ish when Liam Eichenberg stepped in at LT for Austin Jackson in the opener. He didn’t dominate the opposition, but he was the second highest-rated Miami lineman in terms of pass protection according to PFF (65.5 behind Jesse Davis’ 76.6). With how badly Jackson seemed to struggle in the preseason, maybe Eich stays put. Whether that’s the case or if Jackson retakes his spot, the offensive line needs to ignore the urge to play musical positions and start playing as a unit. The Dolphins’ eternal offensive line woes are well documented in the minds of all fans with eyeballs and they seem to get exponentially worse when players start moving around, due to injury or otherwise. I can’t say that a consistently stable group of guys will definitely solve our blocking troubles, but an inconsistent unstable group of guys definitely won’t.
Our run defense scares me a bit
I hope to be able to say “I think my previous concerns about our run defense were overblown” within the next couple of weeks. And really, it might be fairer to say “Our short yardage defensive schemes scare me a bit”. Whatever the proper classification, I saw a boatload of plays within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage work for New England all game long. Holding them to 3 and 4 yard gains might have looked good at first, but when we surrender them every snap, it still results in a new set of downs. To be fair to the defense, Raekwon Davis went down early with what’s hopefully a minor knee issue and the offense didn’t exactly do them any favors keeping them off the field with three consecutive drives under 95 seconds (and a fourth at a whopping 1:37). Nonetheless, the *Patriots’ game plan was obvious (as it has been for all eternity) and if it weren’t for some timely turnovers, allowing them to execute it with seemingly no adjustments on our end might have cost us the game. I’m not an NFL Defensive Coordinator (JK, I’ve been Dick LeBeau this whole time), so I don’t know the schematic answer. I just know, as a fan, seeing the methodical three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-self-importance offense work makes me a little Joe-Philbin-queasy about other teams following that blueprint.
We can beat the overrated Bills
Josh Allen’s career completion percentage coming into the 2018 draft was 56.2%. He played in the Mountain West Conference, just for reference. His rookie season in the NFL saw 52.8%. Then he improved it to 58.8% and finally broke the 60% mark last year with a huge leap to 69.2%. Analysts take that as illustrative of his meteoric growth and ascension to becoming one of the league’s best passers. I, as a fan of his cross-division rivals, see it as an outlier. 56, 56, 53, 59, 69. One of these things is not like the others. I expect a regression back to his former ~58% glory this season (his Week One % was 58.8, FWIW). As Allen goes, so go the Bills, especially with that ginormous contract he just signed. The Steelers, who I think will be middle of the pack this season, have already made sure the Bills won’t be challenging the ‘72 undefeated record this year. Ben Roethlisberger was born during that magical season and still managed to get the win. I haven’t watched the full replay yet, but what I was able to catch of the Steelers v. Bills showed an ineffective Bills pass rush and some vintage Allen misses. If we can take our cues from Pittsburgh, the Dolphins could put last year’s Week 17 embarrassment in the rearview. I know Josh Allen loves to have his best games against us and he very well might do it again. Regardless, Week 2 will be a great litmus test for where the Dolphins really are and I think we can stay sitting on top of the AFC East for at least another week.
Don’t agree with me? Secretly a Josh Allen fan masquerading as a Dolphins fan? Actually, a cloud who just doesn’t like getting shouted at? Run your mouth in the comments.