The Los Angeles Chargers entered Sunday night’s contest with the 30th ranked defense in the National Football League. The Dolphins seemed primed to take advantage of an advantageous matchup — but that didn’t come close to happening.
The Dolphins’ offense was outcoached, outplayed and overmatched against a defense many thought they’d be able to defeat to firmly establish themselves as a top threat in the AFC.
With the whole world watching, Miami laid an egg in primetime — a common theme for them for what feels like forever. When the clocks hit zero and the dust settled, Miami fell to Los Angeles by a score of 23-17, but it never really felt that close.
If the Dolphins went to California looking for gold, the only gold to be found was the fool’s gold they put on the field the past two weeks against the 49ers and Chargers.
This one stings, yet I’ve got a job to do. So, with that being said, let’s take a look back at the good, bad and ugly from Miami’s week fourteen loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Christian Wilkins and Jaelan Phillips wreak havoc on Chargers offense
While Miami as a whole did not play well, two players rose to the occasion and performed like superstars. Those players were defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and EDGE Jaelan Phillips.
All game long, Wilkins was beating his man and getting quick, disrupting penetration — wracking up multiple run stops, tackles for loss and even a first half sack of Justin Herbert. Phillips was doing the same — rushing from multiple spots on the line — en route to a sack (should have been two if not for an awful roughing the passer call) and multiple tackles for loss himself.
Cris Collinsworth was drooling over Wilkins’ tape in the commentary booth throughout the entire game as he and Mike Tirico discussed the possibility of a Pro Bowl nod or even an All-Pro selection for Miami’s fourth year player. Collinsworth would also sing Phillips’ praises — commenting on how he would be an impact player for the Dolphins for many years to come.
Stats won’t tell the whole story when it comes to how much Wilkins and Phillips disrupted the Chargers’ offense, but both put on a master class on Sunday night. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about many of their teammates — especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Has Miami’s offense been figured out?
Throughout most of the season, Miami’s offense has been one of the best — if the not the very best — in the National Football League. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was leading the league in many important passing categories. Tyreek Hill was dominating the competition and outpacing other wide receivers around the league in receptions and receiving yards. Jaylen Waddle wasn’t too far behind him.
Unfortunately, it seems that Mike McDaniel’s offensive gameplan has been deciphered by opposing defensive coordinators and his “genius” has gone missing during this California road trip. The San Francisco 49ers gave the rest of the league the blueprint — drop your linebackers to take away the middle of the field which had been an area where this 2022 Miami Dolphins’ offense had been feasting. The Los Angeles Chargers — missing three key defensive starters including superstar safety Derwin James — added their own wrinkle by pressing Miami’s wide receivers all night long, disrupting the Dolphins’ rhythm and timing, which allowed Tua Tagovailoa to complete just ten passes for 145 yards.
McDaniel hasn’t been able to adjust — seemingly refusing to establish any semblance of a run game to draw opposing linebackers back towards the line of scrimmage until it’s too late. Why acquire your former 49ers running backs if you have no plan to use them in significant ways during important games down the stretch?
Even if he stubbornly wants to stick with the passing game — which is somewhat understandable when you employ speedsters like Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle — why not try some underneath routes to keep the defense honest, especially with a banged up offensive line that has recently been giving up pressure more frequently?
These are questions that Mike McDaniel and the rest of Miami’s offensive coaching staff need to be asking themselves as they head into a pivotal matchup against the Buffalo Bills this Saturday night.
Jeff Wilson leaves game with a hip injury; Tyreek Hill plays through a painful ankle injury
To add injury to the insult of watching this team play embarrassingly bad in primetime once again, running back Jeff Wilson Jr. left the game in the first half after being dragged down awkwardly following a long gain on the ground. After being carted to the locker room, the team quickly ruled Wilson out for the remainder of the contest.
The bad news kept on coming, however, as Miami’s best player, Tyreek Hill, was treated at halftime for an ankle injury. Hill would ultimately gut it out during the second half, scoring a long touchdown on a deep throw from Tua Tagovailoa, however his play was hampered and his snaps were limited.
We’ll keep an eye on the practice reports throughout the week to see if either player can overcome their injuries in time to play on a short week against the Bills in Buffalo on Saturday.
Through thirteen games, Miami has a record of 8-5 after suffering defeat at the hands of the Chargers. Will the Dolphins offense be able to make adjustments and find success again this season? Do you think that Miami has any shot against the Bills on Saturday night? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter at @MBrave13. Fins up!