Close, but no cigar. Brian Flores said there are no moral victories in the NFL. The Dolphins may not have deserved a win on Sunday, but they almost got one anyway. Too bad Flores is right. The moral is: no victory.
When it comes to offensive coordinators, two is not better than one
Some might argue that we don’t have the talent to call the plays we want to call. I’d counter that with the fact that I’ve seen us run plays that work with our current roster. DVP catches a mean slant. Mike Gesicki can snag outs and corners. Jaylen Waddle can run for days on a crosser. And for Flying Spaghetti Monster’s sake, Myles Gaskin can pick up some decent yardage when the run game isn’t abandoned like I was in a Piggly Wiggly parking lot when my stepmom went to the corner store for a pack of Newports back in 1973. She’ll be back any day now and hopefully so will some intelligent playcalling in Miami. Do we even need to bring up the single worst play of our collective lifetimes? I had advocated a quick passing game to extend the run game while the offensive line continued to be wacky wavy inflatable arm flailing tube men. But that’s only one way to help a struggling offense. Balancing it with a stable run game is another and the Dolphins were on their way to that goal against Las Vegas. Malcolm Brown and Jacoby Brissett each had a touchdown on the ground and Gaskin was averaging 5 yards per carry. The only problem is, there were just 20 carries by running backs to go around. Meanwhile, backup QB Brissett, in his first start since 2019, threw 49 times! Maybe one OC calls runs and the other calls passes and the guy calling passes won the weekly arm wrestling match? I don’t get invited to the team sleepovers to know how we got here, but we need to fix it. We haven’t had a great track record of offensive coordinators since Brian Flores arrived, but it’s pretty clear the two headed monster isn’t the long term solution. Such an unbalanced game in favor of passing hardly ever results in wins, even for the top quarterbacks in the league, let alone for backups thrust into the spotlight like Brissett. Speaking of...
Brissett needs to trust his arm more
Contradictory, right? I’m not going back on my previous sentiment: 49 attempts is way too many. However, once Brissett started to let it fly a bit more when the team was in crunch time, he looked pretty pretty pretty good. He made some critical throws, particularly the OT 4th and 20 to Gesicki and the shoulda-woulda-coulda been game-winning-PI toss to Will Fuller in the end zone. He moved well in the pocket, avoided pressure, ran when he needed to (for the most part), and protected the ball. Frankly, there’s not a lot more you can ask of your backup in his situation. We didn’t discover a secret Hall of Famer, but Brissett showed he has the ability to lead a team to wins. Since Ryan Fitzpatrick is on IR, maybe we can convince him to stop by Jacoby’s house and talk him into throwing up some of those patented jump balls. Close your eyes, make a wish, and huck that sumbitch into outer space. Taking deep shots has as much likelihood of catching a PI in today’s NFL as the receiver does catching the ball, so the more the merrier. We supposedly have all this speed to burn, so send them downtown and let Jacoby smoke. As in smoke brisket. You know, like Let Russ Cook. You get it? Shut up Russ. #letbrisketsmoke
The rearranged OL was better, but still has a ways to go
This week saw an offensive line of LT Austin Jackson, LG Jesse Davis, C Michael Deiter, RG Robert Hunt, and RT Liam Eichenberg. They were better. Bear in mind, being better than surrendering 38 QB pressures in a single game leaves a lot of room for improvement. There were dropbacks early in the game where Brissett had a decent pocket and some time to throw, but he didn’t pull the trigger (see previous point). Without the All-22, I can’t say if that was due to lack of receiver separation, poor vision, or whatever else, but the line did its job here and there, which is a colossal improvement over the previous week. That said, I still think they need to keep tweaking. I’m a proponent of letting Eichenberg man his natural LT spot (especially since he kinda tanked it at RT according to PFF), putting Robert Hunt over at RT where he was capable last year, and letting everyone else fight it out for the guard spots. Among Austin Jackson, Jesse Davis, Solomon Kindley, Robert Jones, Greg Mancz, and even Greg Little, somebody has to be able to hold down the interior spots. A line of Eichenberg, Jackson, Deiter, Davis, and Hunt would be the most intriguing to me as a guy who doesn’t know anything. There’s a lot to be said for cohesion and consistency on the offensive line, but we need to find a combination of players who are at least functional first so when they become consistent, they aren’t consistently terrible.
The game was much better than I had anticipated
Despite my Dolphins fanaticism, I try to be realistic most of the time. I expected a fairly sound drubbing from the Raiders. Their QB was on fire, they were at home, and we were throwing a backup QB to the wolves behind a line yet to be up to the task. I figured 31-13 wasn’t an unreasonable assumption. Thankfully, the Dolphins wanted to prove me wrong. Not enough to squeak out a win, mind you, but enough to show they don’t go down that easy. Gaskin ran hard, Brown stepped up, Waddle and Gesicki were heavily involved in keeping us alive, and Brissett played well above my expectations. The defense continued their takeaway streak and finally generated a decent pass rush. It was too little, too late, no question. But I’ve seen Dolphins teams of the past lay eggs like we did against Buffalo, then come out and lay a full carton more the following weeks, hanging their heads, and acting like they aren’t being paid millions of dollars to play a game. This team fought and fought hard. No moral victories is right, but playing tough to the end of overtime behind a backup QB bodes well for the team’s collective attitude going forward. Imagine if our offensive coordinators become Voltron instead of Andy Garcia in Family Guy. Imagine if we find the right combo of linemen to come together. Imagine if the team stops being so helter skelter and plays up to their potential. In that world, we can definitely beat the Colts.
The Colts game is winnable and can be a tone-setter
The Colts aren’t very good. Jacoby Brissett should want to beat them and I think he can. We’re at home while they’re coming off a bigger loss than the one Miami just suffered. I don’t believe in Carson Wentz. If we focus on stopping Jonathan Taylor, actually calling plays that make use of our players’ skill sets, and balancing run vs. pass (along with balancing the time the offense and defense are each on the field), we should be gucci. If, on the other hand, we drop a third game to finish the first four at 1-3, we’re really gonna need some help.
Think the refs cost the Dolphins the game against Las Vegas? Think the refs don’t know what most penalties even are anymore? Think the refs are the best part of the game and want to see more of them every week? You know where to rant.