Here are some of my highlights and takeaways from yesterday's thriller in Vegas.
(Please Note: This is the morning after.)
Highlights from the Miami Dolphins Week 3 Matchup vs. the Las Vegas Raiders
25 STRAIGHT GAMES!!! ELANDON ROBERTS PICK SIX!!!! pic.twitter.com/3zH1Vcw0ql— josh houtz (@houtz) September 26, 2021
The defense continued to make one big stop after another early on, and defensive end Zach Sieler and linebacker Elandon Roberts remain underrated AF. First, E-Rob was pretending to be Miley Cyrus on that wrecking ball.
And then, Zach Sieler's nice tackle for loss on a questionable 4th and 2 playcall. #TheMostUnderratedFootballPlayerInTheWorld
Malcolm Brown was running hard early on, and the offensive line was getting some push. I don't understand why the Dolphins continue to abandon the run. (More on this later)
Nevertheless, solid blocking up front and an excellent job by Brown to find the hole for six.
touchdown malcolm brown. 14-0 dolphins pic.twitter.com/n6pQ346IjH— josh houtz (@houtz) September 26, 2021
Even Austin Jackson had a pancake or two in this game, but he remains one of the usual suspects. He continued to be a liability in pass protection and was not very effective vs. the run.
The Dolphins' offense continued to struggle throughout the game. There's a lot wrong with this video below, primarily from the offensive line.
Brissett did everything he could to win this game, even if that meant running for nine yards and taking a mean hit stick from a Raiders' linebacker.
brisket with a nice run on 3rd and 9. took a mean hit. pic.twitter.com/jPsg4LjoZ5— josh houtz (@houtz) September 26, 2021
Usually, Xavien Howard is perfect, but he let up a few sizeable plays in this game. Henry Ruggs soared up like the ghost of Randy Moss to make an impressive catch and then Hunter Renfrow put him through the spin cycle.
4th and 8, Jacoby to DeVante Parker to keep the Dolphins' hopes alive. Great catch by Parker.
brissett to parker on 4th and 8 to keep the dolphins alive. pic.twitter.com/VIuIdA7ere— josh houtz (@houtz) September 26, 2021
Miami decided to run a few Wildcat plays and make things difficult for them to tie this game up. But on 4th and goal from the two, Brissett puts the team on his back like that Greg Jennings Madden video. #HodorStyle
Again, with their back against the wall, StudGod has some nice plays drawn up. Here's the two-point conversion to tie this game up and send it to overtime—nice route and grab by Will Fuller.
brissett to fuller for two…this game is going to overtime!!!!! pic.twitter.com/1iryceZVZB— josh houtz (@houtz) September 26, 2021
4th and 20... Brissett finds Mike Gesicki for a huge completion to keep Miami alive in overtime. (Las Vegas had already scored at this point) Fantastic job by Jacoby to step up in the pocket, shake off a hit and throw a dime to Gesicki. Unbelievable.
BRISSETT TO GESICKI ON 4TH AND 20 pic.twitter.com/dLai2htA91— josh houtz (@houtz) September 26, 2021
This play call was bold, but it worked to perfection.
3rd and 7. ballsy play call but it worked. dolphins in FG range. pic.twitter.com/rhbBopCpxv— josh houtz (@houtz) September 26, 2021
At first glance, this deep ball to Fuller looked like a good breakup. But after a much closer look, it was clear as day this was a game-changing non-call. However, DPI or not, Miami probably never belonged in this game.
This is what you want to see once or twice a game with both Fuller and Waddle in the lineup. Heck, DeVante Parker probably belongs in there as well. Take more chances and make the defense respect the speed and big-play ability this receiving corps possesses.
Jason Sanders ties the game up, 28-28.
And then this was the last image I took. We all felt like Jacoby Brissett after this roller-coaster of a game.
Dolphins fall to 1-2 while the Raiders move to 3-0. Miami will host the Colts next week, but before we turn the page on Las Vegas, here are a few random takeaways from this 31-28 overtime thriller.
Some Quick Thoughts on the Miami Dolphins loss to the Raiders
(Please Note: It is still the morning after.)
Co-Offensive Coordinators Eric Studesville and George Godsey are not the answer.
I don't know what the Dolphins' identity on offense is after three games, but one thing is for sure, the team has not taken the necessary strides this offseason to truly make a difference. And for a head coach that seems to do no wrong on the defensive side of the ball, the offense has been a little bit of a dumpster fire. Long story short, I'm concerned.
Maybe, Jim Caldwell leaving threw a wrench into Flores's plans, but there wasn't a need to fire Chad O'Shea after year one and hiring Chan Gailey—who, in hindsight, doesn't look so bad after all. But Chan was never going to be around long-term. So, faced with a big decision, Flores promotes.....from within?
He trusts Godsey and Studesville to build the perfect offense for Tua Tagovailoa—using RPO concepts. I bet that's why Charlie Frye is here, right? Nevertheless, it hasn't worked.
On Sunday, Jacoby Brissett's offense slugged up and down the field with a' tweaked' offensive gameplan. Unfortunately, they didn't do much of anything through two quarters, only cracking the 100-yard mark in the second half. And yet, regardless of how awful they seemed to play, it was still a game for five quarters.
Brissett had 215 yards passing…..on 49 attempts?!?!?— Sweep The Leg (@SweepTheLeg337) September 27, 2021
I'm not sure what the answer is here, but like Flores was so quick to take the keys out of Tua's hands at times last season, maybe he should do the same with playcalling. Perhaps, if one of the offensive coordinators isn't getting the job done, the other should get a chance.
I think that's how it should work, but only Brian Flores knows.
Dolphins continue to abandon the run.
The team still abandoned the run for most of the game until that gutsy draw on third and long late. Myles Gaskin continued to run the ball well, averaging over 5 yards per carry on only 13 attempts. Even Malcolm Brown looked patient and effective early on, but the team seemed to nix the very thought of pounding the rock altogether. (Unless you count those questionable Wildcat plays)
Overall, Godsey seemed gunshy, and it wasn't until late in the game did he became more aggressive. And that was only once his back was against the wall. Almost like it was desperation. One last rabbit out of a hat. With that said, you have two co-offensive coordinators for a reason. Pull the trigger if this continues and see if Studesville can get something started.
The Dolphins are 31st in the NFL in offensive yards per play, ahead of only the Bears— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) September 27, 2021
Miami's usage of Jaylen Waddle was strange on Sunday.
Last week, I wrote an article about how I liked the way the Dolphins used Jaylen Waddle. They were fabricating touches and finding a way to get him the football. And yet, for some reason, they continue to play him in a box. As a result, he's constantly running underneath routes or being used in a five-yard window. It's frustrating because he can do so much more by taking the top off a defense.
Yes, Waddle can kill the opposition from the slot—but he also had the ability to go downfield and make big plays. We need to see this team better utilize the 6th-overall pick from the 2021 NFL draft.
Waddle averaged 18.9 yards per catch as a career at Alabama. Only could Miami envision using him to the tune of 13 targets for 12 catches and 58 yards with a long of 9. 4.8 yards per catch. Only Miami.— Juan C 5RS (@exclusvty) September 26, 2021
Miami's offensive line looked improved at times, but the usual suspects still played poorly.
Early PFF grades have the unit as follows:
Liam Eichenberg is swell, but I think he belongs on the left side, where he had so much success in college. Let Robert Hunt play right tackle. Michael Deiter is locked in at Center. Jesse Davis can play one guard spot (he’s okay) while Solomon Kindley or...Austin Jackson. occupy the other? I still think Robert Jones deserves a chance too and we can't forget Durval Queiroz Neto. But moving Jackson to guard is interesting, and something my co-host Jake Mendel mentioned on the podcast.
Greg Little is also in the fold and could eventually supplant Austin Jackson if his struggles continue. Overall, the offense continues to struggle and a large part of that has to do with the offensive line’s inconsistent play.
I wouldn't directly blame the defensive backs, but I saw a lot more bad than good.
- Justin Coleman was bad—I don't think there's a nicer way to put it. Again, I'd have to go back and dive into the film, but he looked like a liability in coverage and had a critical penalty. If only the team had a young defensive back like Noah Igbinoghene that could earn those reps. But if Coleman's struggles continue, Flores will have to rely on someone other than his former pal from New England.
- Xavien Howard is still one of the league's best cornerbacks, but his matchup vs. Henry Ruggs didn't quite go as anticipated. Ruggs made a nice catch over Miami's shutdown cornerback. Howard also went through the spin cycle trying to cover Hunter Renfrow on a touchdown reception. I wouldn't dare say X was terrible, but he didn't play as well as he would have liked.
- Byron Jones had an amicable pass breakup vs. Darren Waller late in the game. I'd have to go back and watch, but he seemed like one of the standouts in that secondary.
- Derek Carr went 26/43 for 386 yards and two touchdowns vs. Miami's vaunted defense.
- Overall, the secondary looked like they were pushed to their breaking point vs. Las Vegas. Fewer snaps for Justin Coleman may have changed that, but again, when Igbinoghene can't get on the field, there aren't many other options Josh Boyer has.
Miami's run defense is still not good.
Las Vegas ran the ball 35 times for 140 yards. Backup running back Peyton Barber carried the rock 23 times for 111 yards and one touchdown. Kenyan Drake added 8 carries for 24 yards. The issue isn't so much that they netted 140 yards on the ground over five quarters. The issue is that through three games, Miami allowed 408 total yards on the ground and 5 touchdowns.
Would Benardrick McKinney have helped? Probably not. I doubt that Jamie Collins would change things, either. But Miami has to figure something out because being gashed on the ground and netting yards through the air is the perfect recipe for a losing season. Then again, if your offense can't sustain drives, there really isn't much else you can do.
The Dolphins' defense must improve greatly moving forward.
Miami Dolphins' Penalties
One of the best things about a Brian Flores coached team was their discipline. Since taking over in Miami, the Dolphins have been among the NFL's least penalized teams. However, that all changed this season as Miami is currently ranked in the top-6 with 22 penalties against. (179 yards)
The Dolphins shot themselves in the foot more than a handful of times on Sunday. The team in total had eight penalties called against them for 68 yards. Games are won and lost by one or two plays. If Miami wants to right the ship and turn this thing around—being cool, calm, and collected is vital.
Miami’s penalties per game (NFL rank)— Jake Mendel (@JMendel94) September 27, 2021
2021: 7.3 (24th)
2020: 4.3 (3rd)
2019: 5.6 (6th)
However, the lack of consistency from the refs also played a helping hand in Miami's loss. No, I'm not going to say the team was screwed like Brett Hart in Montreal, but there were definitely a few critical calls missed.
This next week is going to be an important week for the Dolphins. The team now sits at 1-2, and at some point, you have to think panic may settle in. In which case, maybe Miami does the unthinkable and trades for a veteran quarterback. Perhaps, they let Reid Sinnett take some first-team reps and possibly change the trajectory of this season. Or maybe, the team fixes the offensive line and gets the defense back to playing ELITE football. So that when Tua Tagovailoa comes back, Miami can go on a run and save this season.
Whatever Brian Flores and the Miami Dolphins decide to do, I'll be right by their side. Forever and always.
What are your thoughts on Miami's performance vs. the Raiders? What would you like to see done differently on offense? Defense? Which unit do you think played the best on Sunday? Will the team be able to right their wrongs before Sunday's matchup vs. the Indianapolis Colts? Let us know in the comments section below!