The Miami Dolphins did their best to let the Giants back into this game, but they were never in danger of dropping this contest. The game played out how we predicted in our preview article and the Dolphins cruised to a two-score victory against a quickly collapsing Giants team. The Dolphins dominated the trenches and it was their defensive and offensive line that were key to victory in this game. Let’s take a look at some of the keys to the game below...
The Defensive Line Delivers
We asked the question “if not now for the defensive line, then when” can they turn in a dominant performance? We’ve seen other teams have their way with this injury-riddled group for the Giants and hoped to see the same from Miami. Well, they did not disappoint in this one. Even without their best pass rusher (Jaelan Phillips) this group harassed Daniel Jones all afternoon.
Should preface this with two things:— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) October 10, 2023
1. The Giants' offensive line is decimated by injury
2. The game script worked against them
But Miami's defensive line dominated this game. Giant QBs were pressured on 51% of their dropbacks. 33 pressures, 7 sacks, and 12 run stops #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/FSOUT5ncG6
The biggest surprise was how much pass-rush production they got from the interior of their defensive line. Zach Sieler and Christian Wilkins are one of the best run-stuffing defensive line duos in the NFL, but showed off their pass-rush chops in this game combining for 12 total pressures and 2.5 sacks. The Dolphins also got good production from their edge defenders Andrew Van Ginkel (shocker), Bradley Chubb, and Emmanuel Ogbah. This was a game they were supposed to take over and they did. Hopefully, this is the kind of performance they can build on going forward.
Welcome Back Connor Williams
The Dolphins got their often-maligned (for the occasional errant snap) center Connor Williams back this week and the offensive line looked like its usual self again. Tua Tagovailoa was only pressured on 15% of his dropbacks and sacked just once during this game. Where the offensive line really shined though, was in the run and screen game.
I love to see Mike McDaniel's vision for the offensive line in action like this. The ball carriers will get the most love, but these guys are special athletes as well. These explosive plays don't happen if they can't get into space like this and put a helmet on a helmet. #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/JkoUFt6Vgi— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) October 10, 2023
This Shanahan outside zone scheme covets athletic offensive linemen and we can see why in this one. De’Von Achane has been getting the most attention over the last couple of weeks (deservedly so), but I want someone to tell me how many times he was touched on his 76-yard touchdown. The answer to that would be zero. Now obviously his game-breaking speed plays into that, but he doesn’t get to the second level without perfect blocking.
The number of plays where these offensive linemen got out on the perimeter and managed to block guys in open space was really impressive. As we talked about in the game preview, the Giants’ strength on defense is their interior defensive line. The best way to take them out of the game is to force them to run 15 yards to the sideline in order to make a play. You utilize your strength (athletic offensive line) and neutralize their strength at the same time.
The Offense Left Too Many Points on the Field
There is a lot of good that we can take from this game. They performed well enough on offense to put up 40+ points in this contest. They amassed over 500 yards on offense and averaged 9.7 yards per carry. The reality is that they did just about whatever they wanted against this Giants defense.
Now, for some of the things that could be a concern if they’re allowed to continue. Even though they won this game by 15 points, they lost the turnover battle 3-0. You can get away with that kind of stat line against an inferior opponent, but against the better teams in the NFL that will cost you a game. Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane both fumbled, while only Achane’s was picked up by the defense. Tua also threw two interceptions, one of which was an egregious read and throw in the red zone.
Now this doesn’t mean the sky is falling. Tua is by nature a pretty aggressive thrower of the football. Sometimes that will result in big plays and sometimes it will result in boneheaded decisions. We can live with that because we see way more positive from it than negative, you just hope to see positive moments in close games down the stretch. The fumbles are something that will just need to be monitored down the stretch. Mostert’s three fumbles this season are the most he’s ever had in his career, so it would be surprising for this to continue the way it has.
There is way more positive to take from this game than negative. The team played nowhere near their potential and still managed to win by 15 points. The defense didn’t give up a single offensive touchdown and the offense had no shortage of explosive plays. The bad to come from this is the minor injury to De’Von Achane that could see him miss a few contests and the turnovers from Tua Tagovailoa.
The Dolphins will have another outmatched opponent this week when the Carolina Panthers come to town. It would be encouraging to see this team put a cleaner performance on tape and really take care of business by half-time. This will be the closest thing they’ve had to a “trap game” this season, so it will be telling to see how they come out against the Panthers.