On Sunday October 16th the Miami Dolphins welcomed the Minnesota Vikings to Hard Rock Stadium. Needless to say, it was a frustrating day for fans of the Dolphins. Bad pass protection, fumbles, dropped passes that are miraculously intercepted... and penalties, can’t forget the penalties.
What I aim to do with this column is break down the film and present to you a few reasons for continued optimism (we’ll also have one focusing on some of the negatives). To be honest, this game showcased several reasons for optimism.
Overall, the defense played well and the offense showed signs of life. It came down to some bad penalties and bad luck, but they outplayed the Vikings in most aspects of the game. For today, we are going to look at two reasons to feel good as a Dolphins fan going forward and what impacts these can have on the future of the team.
Skylar Thompson looks like an NFL Quarterback.
Not the sexiest headline in the world, but this is important for the team going forward. As a seventh-round pick, most fans had very low expectations for Skylar when he was drafted. He performed well in the preseason and, after a shaky outing against the Jets, had a really impressive start to this game.
I know I have to preface this with the fact that I am not a Skyler stan-Tua is 100% the guy. With that said, look at the window he throws this into!— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) October 18, 2022
Eric Kendricks takes one wrong step and that's all he needs to get this ball to Gesicki. Really impressive play for a rookie QB. pic.twitter.com/Qew9h1gGz9
Tua has made these throws look routine, but I assure you they are not. He comes off his first read, and as soon as he spots the linebacker (#54 Eric Kendricks) take a wrong step he rifles this throw in there. Some fans have speculated he was going to Waddle here, I disagree. Good read and an even better throw.
Love love love this play. Send Cheetah in motion prior to the snap. PA with Liam pulling to the right absolutely freezes the backers. Conner and Tyreek clear out all the deep defenders.— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) October 18, 2022
Look at how open the middle of the field is... and a great throw by Skyler. A+ all around. pic.twitter.com/CWjg32OZVj
This one gives you two things to be excited about going forward. First of all, I love the design and execution of this play. The play action really draws in the linebackers, and Tyreek Hill/Tanner Conner clear out all the deep defenders.
That leaves a huge amount of grass in the middle of the field for Jaylen Waddle. Thompson drops a dime over the linebacker Kendricks right into Waddle’s arms.
What does it mean going forward?
Well, it likely means that they can save some money on a backup quarterback next year. I know that isn’t the most exciting thing, but that is five to ten million dollars they can spend elsewhere, perhaps on the offensive line?
Skyler Thompson isn’t likely to see a ton of reps going forward, and certainly not against the Steelers next Sunday evening, but having a QB room on rookie contracts gives you a lot of roster flexibility.
Jaelan Phillips is taking a step forward in 2022
This one should get the fan base a bit more excited. Phillips has been under a microscope since he was drafted #18 overall in 2021. Dolphins fans are clamoring for an elite edge rusher, and we may be watching Phillips grow into one right before our eyes.
His sack totals are not very inspiring, but he has been disruptive. He logged the 5th highest pass-rushing grade for any edge defender this past week per PFF. Phillips has all the tools to be a top edge defender, and he’s starting to play like it.
First off, he is an absolute weapon on these inside stunts. He's just too explosive for these guards to get in any kind of decent position. He's usually in the backfield before they know what's happening. pic.twitter.com/sjEJyJmwng— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) October 18, 2022
His athleticism is on full display with these inside stunts. He’s just too much for the vast majority of centers or guards. Look for the Dolphins to use him on these stunts even more going forward.
I feel bad for #86 on this play. They try to pull him across the line to block Phillips and he just gets killed here. JP is relentless on the play and finishes the sack. pic.twitter.com/VzKEivfT1x— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) October 18, 2022
This was Phillips’ only sack of the game. The Vikings try to pull a tight end across the formation to block Phillips. In one of the least surprising developments, it doesn’t work. He slows Phillips down, but Jaelan is relentless and eventually gets home.
The biggest question with young edge players is whether they can line up opposite an offensive tackle and win. Phillips gets around the edge on the first play here and then drives Darrisaw into Kirk on an awesome bull rush. Both times he forces Kirk to get rid of the ball. pic.twitter.com/bj6fYE0N2R— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) October 18, 2022
These are the kind of reps that I get most excited for. Athletic edge players can usually make an impact running stunts and different things, but once they can line up across from quality tackles and beat them regularly, they become real game-wreckers.
Phillips wins by getting around the edge on the first play and just bull rushes right through Christian Darrisaw on the next. Once he begins to make plays like these more regularly, we can start to talk about Phillips as one of those top pass rushers.
What does it mean going forward?
The Dolphins have been looking for a top edge rusher for some time. If Phillips continues to play at this level, they may have found him already.
In Pittsburgh next Sunday night, Phillips will square off against Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor. Neither of those players are as good as either tackle he just faced (Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill). This game could be Phillips’ coming out party in a nationally televised game.
It was not a great day for the Miami Dolphins. They dropped their third straight game and were sloppy enough to cost themselves a victory. Fans are expectedly frustrated with this team over the last couple of weeks.
With that said, some of these penalties and turnovers are the product of bad luck, and bad luck will eventually turn. The emergence of Skylar Thompson and Jaelan Phillips are both positive developments for a fan base struggling to see the brighter side of things. Look for Phillips to continue his strong play and for the Miami Dolphins to get back in the win column next Sunday against the Steelers.