It ended up being a disappointing night for the Miami Dolphins as they dropped their second game of the season to a physical Eagles team. It is worth mentioning though, that this one felt significantly different than the Buffalo loss. The Dolphins had an early touchdown pass called back for holding, a walk-in touchdown dropped, a late red zone interception (with wonky spacing and a missed DPI), and a ten to zero (enforced) penalty discrepancy against these Eagles.
The actual play on the field was about as even as it gets. The only concern is that they’ve had these unfortunate breaks (or lapses) come against better football teams. Let’s look at some of the keys to this game and see where things slipped away.
A decimated offensive line expectedly struggled
In our preview article, we talked about the defensive interior being the biggest concern for the Miami Dolphins. Not having Connor Williams at center was already going to make this difficult, but losing Isaiah Wynn (LG) on the first offensive series of the game left them severely short-handed against one of the best defensive lines in football. It wasn’t a train wreck by any stretch, but they created pressure and smothered the running game enough to keep this offense out of rhythm.
The Eagles front seven came to play too. Tua was able to overcome some of these quick pressures, but the offense really wore down (especially the left side of the OL) as the game went on. Miami should consider OL at the trade deadline. pic.twitter.com/4OykklfTej— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) October 24, 2023
The left side of the offensive line especially struggled as the game wore on. We knew that Jalen Carter and these other front seven players would be difficult to deal with and Miami couldn’t quite overcome this mismatch. We have to hope that Miami adds some OL depth before the trade deadline or they can get healthy as the year progresses (and stay that way) because this offense struggles without (at least) average play up front.
The front seven had their best game of the year
The front seven held the Eagles to just 99 total rushing yards on 34 attempts (2.9 yds/attempt) and sacked Jalen Hurts three times. They also recorded a pick-six and a fumble recovery deep inside Philly territory. Let’s take a look at some of their best plays in this game.
Big positive from this game:— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) October 24, 2023
The front 7 stood up against what is widely considered the best offensive line in football. Baker and Long's best game of the season. The difference in this game was the big plays to AJ Brown. Have to think Ramsey/Xavien Howard limit that. #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/yyCQgt5rMy
This is really one of the best things to come out of this game. The front seven looked like their 2021-2022 selves. The defensive line stood up to a tough offensive line and our linebackers were absolutely flying all over the field. Defensively, they struggled to stop big plays to AJ Brown and Dallas Goedert... you have to wonder what this defense could look like as they start to get healthier in the secondary.
It’s unfortunate that this became the story of the game, but here we are. The impactful calls started early in this contest, with a holding call wiping away Miami’s first touchdown of the game. There’s no argument against it technically being holding, we just would have liked to see that sort of play get called against the Eagles as well (it wasn’t).
On the very next Eagle drive, the more egregious calls started with Christian Wilkins getting flagged for roughing the passer on a light shove one step after Hurts released the ball. It would have brought up a 3rd & 10 without that penalty, instead, the Eagles scored two plays later from 19 yards out. The worst excuse a fan base can use is the refs... but the way this game was called changed the outcome. No one knows if Miami would have won this game otherwise, but we know it would have been closer.
This was a tough loss for the Miami Dolphins. In some ways, they played well enough to win this game. They overcame some really big injuries on both sides of the ball as well as some lopsided officiating. This game was tied deep into the third quarter and on a drive to tie it up in the 4th Tua threw an interception on a play with wonky spacing and a missed DPI (shocking). Speaking of Tua, he was one of the major bright spots in this game.
This is such an insane throw to make with Jalen Carter in your lap. Carter just blows right past Lester Cotton and somehow Tua lays this in the perfect location for Waddle. BIG TIME THROW. #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/bSddqztyKh— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) October 24, 2023
We saw more high-level throws from Tua in this game than any other game this season (outside of the Chargers contest). He was regularly under pressure, but stood in the pocket and made some big boy throws. There should be no question that he is playing the position as well as anyone in the NFL right now (Lamar Jackson may have a word) and they will need more performances like this from him down the stretch.
It’s a loss, but we can take a lot of good out of this game. If the front seven continues to play this way as Jalen Ramsey/Xavien Howard rejoin the defense, we could be talking as much about this defense down the stretch as we have about the offense. Similarly, if Tua keeps up this level of play as the offense gets back Connor Williams, Terron Armstead, and De’Von Achane, they will be a difficult matchup for anyone. I know they’re officially on “fraud watch,” but don’t lose faith in this squad just yet. If they win these next two against KC and NE, we’re talking about a Dolphins team in the driver’s seat for the one seed. A lot of football left to be played....