The Miami Dolphins’ offense exploded on Sunday, gaining 369 yards on the day and scoring 31 points. The offense was led by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who threw for 382 yards on 29-for-36 passing with three touchdowns and a career-high 138.7 passer rating. He threw 12 of those passes to wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who gained 188 yards on the day, while fellow wide receiver Jaylen Waddle caught eight passes for 106 yards with two touchdowns. All three players spoke to the media after the 31-27 win over the Detroit Lions.
“We feel like the only guys that can stop us are ourselves,” Tagovailoa said.
Hill agreed when asked if they feel unstoppable, “Always. Always, that’s all – I mean, that’s all of our mindsets. As a competitor in this league, as one of those teams who has a chance to go the distance, you’ve got to have that mindset, because if not. your opponent, they will dominate you.”
Waddle, meanwhile, downplayed the offense’s success to some degree. “I mean, we kind of go in confident,” the second-year receiver stated. “I wouldn’t say unstoppable, but we felt good. Like I said, we had a good week of preparation. That kind of always translates.”
After a first-drive fumble at the Lions 22-yard line, Miami scored on their next five possessions. The punted once in the game, three minutes into the fourth quarter. They only other drive was the game-ending drive when Tagovailoa knelt on the ball at the Lions’ 24-yard line to kill the clock. Miami’s offense was fairly unstoppable, even as the team dealt with penalties all game. The team had 15 flags thrown on them on the day, eight of them on the offense. While not all of those were enforced, the sheer number of penalties is concerning.
“We did have some miscues on guys misaligned at some points and guys kind of moving their feet when we have motions going on,” Tagovailoa said. “Those are all things that are correctable, so we’ll look at the tape and we’ll move on from there.”
When asked directly about the penalties, Tagovailoa responded, “Yeah, I would say there is some level of concern, but there is also a lot of things going on with that as well – communication with the play call, communication with the personnel. Sometimes it gets to a point in the game where the full play call isn’t called, so I have to kind of adlib at times. So I kind of put our guys in a bad situation, knowing where to line up on plays and whatnot, and not really giving them time to think before they’re going out because of how fast I am getting the play-call out. So that’s why we have practice, and it will be good for us to work on that throughout this week.”
When Miami added Hill in the offseason, the expectations for the offense quickly rose. Miami, with Waddle and Hill, along with the addition of running back Raheem Mostert, suddenly had a track meet of an offense, able to put speed all over the field and attack defenses from multiple directions.
“Yeah, this is sort of what I envisioned,” Tagovailoa explained. “The greatest thing about this game is that you can never get content. You have to continue to keep growing. We’ll go and watch the film and look at things that we could’ve done better. So, that’s the best part about it.”
Again, Hill agreed with Tagovailoa, both on the offense being something like that they envisioned, but also that it could get better. “Yeah, but I feel like we can be lightyears better, and that starts with me being the leader of this young receiver group, preaching to the guys that we’ve got to get in and out of the huddle faster,” Hill remarked. “We’ve got to do the small things right. We all want to make plays, we all want to be in the spotlight, but we’ve got to make sure that we do the small things by getting out of the huddle (and) making sure that we’re set, so Tua can go through all of his reads. So once we get that clear, we start working on those small things, I feel like we’ll be exactly where we want to be.”
Tagovailoa added that the offense is not yet fully developed. “I wouldn’t say so,” he stated. “Not yet. Not yet. Too early still.”
Waddle remarked on the team’s confidence in the offense, saying, “I feel like we’re confident enough to know nothing is out of reach with the type of offense that we have and the offensive weapons that we have. We’re confident that we can come back, and it’s finally going to click.”
Both Tagovailoa and Waddle also pointed to the play calling from head coach Mike McDaniel as to why the offense was so successful. “I think Mike did a good job calling plays today,” Tagovailoa said. “He put us in a really good position to get yards after catch on plays, trying to move the spot for the defenders (and) D-linemen getting it back there. I think for as much as we passed with, what, maybe two sacks that we had? That’s a really good job upfront. I think a lot of things married with routes, action passes within the run game, so I think we felt really comfortable. After moving the ball the first series, second series, started feeling really comfortable just going with the gameplan.”
Waddle added, “We’re seeing what we like. I think Mike did a good job of calling the plays, getting us into position to make plays. It goes hand in hand. The O-line stood up, and Tua delivered. It’s not just us out there making plays, it’s a team effort, for sure.”
The Dolphins will now look to take the play calling and the explosive offense back on the road in Week 9 when they visit the Chicago Bears. They have a week to try to fix the penalties issue and continue to tune the offense to meet the expectations of their quarterback and superstar wide receivers.