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Five Things I Think I Think About the Miami Dolphins - Week 18

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the offseason

New York Jets v Miami Dolphins Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Right on the precipice of the most disappointing collapse in modern memory, the Miami Dolphins managed to eek out a win against the division rival New York Jets and claim the #7 seed in the AFC to reach the playoffs for the first time in six years.

And that, my children, is something to celebrate.

The fact that they did it by winning one of the ugliest games anyone will ever have the displeasure of gutting through?

As Dwayne “Rocky ‘The Rock’ Maivia” Johnson would say: IT DOESN’T MATTER.

Everybody’s 0-0 again.

Now, let’s get to gettin’:

Skylar Thompson is (currently) a backup

Put your pitchforks down. Yes; he won the game and played admirably, especially considering he’s a 7th round pick thrust into a win-or-go-home game with one week to prepare as the starter. He was 20/31 (65%) for 152 yds, 0 TDs, and 0 INTs. The offense, despite their back-to-years’-past approach to pass protection only surrendered one sack. Oddly, Thompson’s QBR was 14.8. Don’t ask me how it’s calculated, but that’s a lot more harsh than I feel he deserves.

The reality is that Thompson plays like a backup because that’s what he is right now. That’s not an indictment, just an observation. Against the Jets (who, admittedly, have a very good defense), he was languishing through his reads and on ocassions where he had ample time to find a receiver and make the throw, the pass was poor.

All that said, I’m not down on the guy. Anyone who actually expected him to come in, make Pat Mahomes look like Pat White, and ride off into the sunset as Miami’s franchise quarterback of the future is out of their head. He did, however, do at least one thing better than Tua does (I SAID PITCHFORKS DOWN).

Thompson manipulated the pocket and, more importantly, got out of it when the protection broke down to extend the play more consistently than Tua typically does. I’ve said before that I think Tua’s inability (or maybe just unwillingness) to improvise is the main characteristic holding him back from being his best. Thompson appeared to have that skill (though neither of them are all that willing to take off and run with it when there’s space).

Putting the obvious injury bugaboo aside for a second and comparing based purely on ability right now: I don’t see Thompson challenging Tua whatsoever. I don’t even think he’s a better option than a healthy Bridgewater to win in the immediate term. I do think, though, that given his youth and what he’s shown so far, he should supplant Teddy as the primary backup and be given the chance to grow in Miami.

An ugly, boring game with so much on the line (and no one cares!)

There’s almost nothing to learn from a battle of third string quarterbacks. This game was a slog in every way except the outcome. And that’s all that counts!

Mike McDaniel leaned on the run game for (maybe) the first time all year, which fans had been pleading for him to do even when his top passer was behind center. Raheem Mostert looked dominant and the balance helped keep the offense as smooth as it could be given the circumstances. Mikedaniel also won his first challenge of the season, so that’s nice for him.

With the good also comes the not-so-good, it seems. Some of the play calls (looking at you third down screen passes) made me think that McD had been introduced to former Dolphins’ hope strangler Adam Gase at a cocktail party and taken some of his slurred advice to heart.

Knock it off. Don’t do that. Don’t do anything that guy would do.

Going for it on the first drive on 4th and 5 from midfield? Is that what we’re gonna do today? We’re gonna be stupid?

Every variable surrounding this game dictated it was going to be a chore, so play the field position game. Joe Flacco won a Superbowl, but that was before the invention of the automobile, so let’s make them march the whole field, whaddyasay?

Look, there’s not a lot of analysis to be had here. The game looked like two teams on long losing streaks led by third string quarterbacks. A one-legged ass kicking contest, if you will.

And Miami won. So we have the best leg in the game today.

The defense gave Boyer a good reference for his resume

Josh Boyer might as well be this guy right now because fans can’t seem to wait for him to become this guy.

I’m not sure if Boyer will receive the proverbial kingslaying, but whether he does or not (and deserves it or not), his defense put up a nice performance for what could be his regular season Fins’ finale.

They held the Jets to 149 yards through the air (yes, thrown by Joe ‘Did his homework by candlelight out of necessity’ Flacco) and 38 (!) yards on the ground. I mean. That’s good. That’s good defense. They only gave up two field goals. That’s also good.

The one knock you could give them was the lack of pass rush against an opponent missing three of its O-line starters while Joe Flacco’s ghost’s grandad huddled behind them for warmth. They didn’t record a single sack, despite Jaelen Phillips doing his darndest.

I can’t imagine a solid game against a bad offense is enough to move the needle for anyone who’s evaluating Josh Boyer (or any defender, for that matter). But it was nice of them to show up strong when the time came.

The announcers didn’t wreck my brain like they usually do

I often try to sneak in a point less about the game and more about something ancillary just to keep things fresh. Not infrequently that involves me ragging on the announcers for being bad at their very cushy jobs.


Daryl Johnston and Joe Davis did a nice job. Unlike other commentators, they weren’t clearly rooting for either team (which is, 100% of the time, the not-Dolphins option when it occurs). Being a former player, Johnston called out poor execution and bad play design, plus he had fair assessments for the most part on missed penalties: both ones that should have been called and ones that were called incorrectly.

Typically the commentary makes me want to bash my head in. Nobody’s perfect, but Johnston and Davis weren’t a detriment.

Miami’s hopes hinge on health

Oh yeah. The playoffs. Right.


Feels weird to write. Seems like a typo.

Almost unbelievably, the Dolphins will have to face the Buffalo Bills for a third time this season in the Wildcard round next week.

The Dolphins beat the Bills 21-19 in Week 3 and lost on a last second field goal 29-32 in Week 15. Miami can beat Buffalo.

Of course, the specific collection of players who just beat the Jets 11-6 probably can’t.

That’s not doomsaying, it’s just being practical. Miami needs some key players back healthy to give the Bills everything they’ve got.

Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle got dinged up during the game against the Jets, so they’ll need to shake those injuries by Sunday. Terron Armstead missed Week 18, but is desperately needed to keep the offensive line from imploding. Raheem Mostert was the bell cow back until he suffered a broken thumb and his availability is doubtful. Then, of course, the grandaddy of them all is Tua. Two weeks and change removed from a concussion, it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll be able to play or not.

Without at least some of those players back to 100%, Miami’s fighting an uphill battle to say the least. With each returning player, their chances go up. If somehow everyone is able to go next week, the Fins have a real chance to take the Bills down again and start their third winning streak of the year.

Playoffs? PLAYOFFS? For once, Jim Mora: yeah. Playoffs.