Who are the 2021 Miami Dolphins? If you know who they are, can you please share with us, them, everyone? There does not seem to be an answer to that question, and, in Week 3 when teams are settling in for the 18-week NFL season, the Dolphins do not yet seem to know who they want to be.
Are they a running team, using the run-pass option to soften up the defense, then use the play-action pass to go over the top for the big play?
Are they an uptempo offense, using the no-huddle and versatile players to keep tired defensive players on the field and create mismatches?
Are they a pass-first team, using a ton of talent at the receiver and tight end positions to force defenses to pick their poison, then exploit whichever matchup makes the most sense?
Are they a team that can power ahead to pick up the short-yardage needed to convert on third down?
Are they a finesse team, looking to scheme opposing defenses into mistakes?
And it is not just an offensive thing.
Where is the amoeba look that worked so well for the team last year? Where are the blitzes that constantly pressured quarterbacks last year? The pass rush started to show up on Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders, recording three sacks during the game. Maybe they are starting to re-find that identity. It could be the injuries to the Raiders offensive line that allowed Miami to get through. Maybe it was a combination of things.
The Dolphins still create takeaways, recording their 25th straight game with at least one fumble recovery or interception. That is clearly part of their identity, but where is the rest of it? Where is the dominating defense leading the team?
Miami is currently ranked 29th in offensive yards per game, gaining just 268.3 yards. They are 29th in passing offense (175.7 yards per game) and 23rd in rushing (92.7 yards per game). They are scoring just 15 points per game this season, 30th in the league - only ahead of the Chicago Bears (13.3) and the New York Jets (6.7). In total points, at 45 scored this season, they are 29th, only because the Philadelphia Eagles, with 43 points, still have to play on Monday. The Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia’s competition later tonight, are already four points ahead of the Dolphins and are averaging 24.5 points per game.
On defense, the Dolphins have allowed 401.3 yards per game through Week 3, 25th in the league. They are 19th against the pass (265.3 yards per game allowed) and 27th in rushing defense (136.0 yards per game allowed). They are allowing 27.3 points per game, 23rd in the league.
For a team that is supposed to be explosive on offense with all their speed receivers, while dominating on defense, nothing seems to be going according to expectation.
There is still a lot of football to be played. Sitting at 1-2 three games into a 17 game season is not the end of the world. They need to find out who they are and establish that identity quickly, though. Over the next few weeks, there are some games that can help them right the ship - if they know who they are.
Who are the 2021 Miami Dolphins? Hopefully the answer to that question soon becomes clear.