When your franchise quarterback goes down to a blindside hit because your starting right tackle (and captain) completely whiffs, the result will always be the same. That result: A. BIG. FAT. LOSS—and that's precisely what happened on Sunday when the Dolphins lost mercifully to the Bills, 35-0.
Worst of all, the offense scored zero points.
It was embarrassing. And although a majority of the blame falls on the offensive line. The running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers didn't help the matter. I'll do a breakdown later this week on the offensive line, but first, I thought I'd take a look at what I believed was one of the team's lone bright spots.
Miami Dolphins WR Jaylen Waddle caught 6 of 8 targets vs. Buffalo.
Yes, Jaylen Waddle muffed a punt before the half. But my biggest fear when the team drafted the playmaking 'Bama wide receiver is that they wouldn't know how to utilize his skillset correctly. I wasn't sure they would target him the way teams should target a player with his skillset. The more Waddle has the ball in his hands, the better chance a big play is sure to follow.
That had to be what the Dolphins were thinking when they tried to break the game open by having their young wide receiver try to flip the script late in the second quarter. Unfortunately, he 'muffed' the punt. However, I'm still not confident his elbow wasn't down after recovering the initial fumble.
here's the jaylen waddle muffed punt. pic.twitter.com/vXLETNLNtO— josh houtz (@houtz) September 21, 2021
Nevertheless, after two weeks (and a preseason), I no longer have that concern that the team can't utilize him properly.
Last week, Waddle was targeted five times vs. New England (He caught four passes and scored a touchdown.)
On Sunday vs. the Bills, he was targeted eight times—catching six of those passes.
In both games, we watched proudly as Miami moved Waddle around to create mismatches. I even pointed out at times where he found himself lined up opposite of a linebacker. #goodnight (In this example, he trips, so maybe goodnight isn't the best description.)
how is a LBer supposed to stop this pic.twitter.com/0OyU3rDTGo— josh houtz (@houtz) September 19, 2021
It hasn't always been perfect. Waddle had a drop last week on a critical play and also had a few questionable plays this past Sunday. One was a clear drop on a screen pass, and the other was a 4th and two early in the game. Waddle ran a wonky route, but with Tua Tagovailoa only having 1.97 seconds to throw, I'm not sure there was ever a chance Waddle would break free of his defender.
Now I know, I know. A lot of the talk right now is that the Dolphins should've drafted Penei Sewell. I'm not sure whether that's true or not. But, again, I like what I've seen from Waddle. But much like the never-ending connection between Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert, Miami will always be linked to the DeVonta Smiths and Sewells of the world.
The Dolphins have a receiver with superstar potential, we're starting to see the different ways he's utilized. He can line up in the slot, and play out wide. And we all know that jet-sweep is going to happen
Let's take a look at Waddle's eight targets.
No matter who is at the helm this Sunday vs. the Las Vegas Raiders, Jaylen Waddle will have to continue to get involved in a variety of ways and help create opportunities, not only for himself but for others.
After all, it’s not only what Waddle can do with the ball in his hands, but the openings in coverage that he exploits for those around him. (Their bread and butter early on has been slipping that slant route behind the defender—all too worried about Waddle in the flats.)
Oh, and let me remind everyone, it's only Week 3.
Sure, Sunday's matchup was a disaster.
But now, we should all be trying to move on and find the good in some of the little things. Things that the team can build on. That's why I believe the Dolphins need to continue to fabricate targets for the young pass-catcher.
Waddle is a dynamic playmaker. The Dolphins drafted him to be one. #FeedHimMore
(P.S Let’s see him get 10 targets, this Sunday vs the Raiders.)
What are your thoughts on Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle after two games? Is it time to panic with the Dolphins WR corps? What are you hoping to see from this team as they travel to Las Vegas to take on the Raiders? Let us know in the comments section below!