The Miami Dolphins found their rhythm against the Houston Texans in week two of the preseason and we got a glimpse of what this team could be in the regular season. We should never get too up or too down with a preseason performance, but this came against the majority of Houston’s first team and DeMeco Ryans has a shot to put the Texans in contention for the (admittedly weak) AFC South.
Let’s take a look at some key areas on this team and where they are at this portion of the preseason.
The Offensive Line
Last weeks breakdown really focused on the competition at left guard and the play along the interior of the offensive line. Against the Texans, Robert Jones suffered an MCL sprain and is likely to be out 4-6 weeks and Liam Eichenberg missed the contest. This left the majority of those snaps at left guard for Isaiah Wynn. Wynn wasn’t quite as sharp as he was week one, but had a good enough performance to get him closer to locking down that spot on the offensive line (LG).
All of Austin Jackson's snaps against the Texans.— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) August 21, 2023
Movement looks crisp and play strength is improved. Easily the best he's looked at RT. If he can stay healthy, that right side will be locked down.
*Most of these are against Jerry Hughes (#55) and Will Anderson (#51) #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/YFmyiUnyvJ
The other main area of concern for the Dolphins (on the offensive line) is the right tackle spot and their swing tackle. Austin Jackson had a good performance against Houston’s top-two pass rushers. While his play strength still showed up as a problem on a Jerry Hughes bull-rush, his performance against Will Anderson Jr. (the #3 overall pick) was especially promising. He hasn’t reached his full potential, but this is a better version of Jackson and I can see why they are sticking with him there.
Kendall Lamm had a strong performance at left tackle with the first string offensive line. We had him pinned as the most likely player to be the swing tackle going forward, and that looks very likely. Lamm has been the first player to fill in for Terron Armstead all offseason. As most of Lamm’s experience is at right tackle, getting him these reps at left tackle should be very useful going forward.
This could look very different in a few days if the Dolphins end up pulling the trigger on Jonathan Taylor (I would be surprised if they did), but there is a lot to feel good about with these running backs. Through two weeks of the preseason they’ve racked up 309 yards on 57 carries (a 5.42 yd average) and have been a much bigger part of the offense than last season.
All of Salvon Ahmed's touches against the Texans (week 2-preseason).— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) August 23, 2023
The quintessential do it all scat-back (with 4.3 speed). He can get you 4 or 5 yards with the smallest crease. Plus receiver that is dangerous in the open field. Could have an expanded role in 2023 #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/YMabhWTKwJ
Salvon Ahmed was the star of the Texans game and looked like a big play waiting to happen. His ability as a receiver is likely to keep him on the roster and could help him carve out a larger role on the offense. Between Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, Chris Brooks, and De’Von Achane, you’re going to have to cut (at a minimum) one or two really talented backs. If you add Jonathan Taylor, that number jumps by one.
Is Tua Still the Guy?
After that first play of the game, even the most ardent Tua supporters had to feel a little uneasy. Luckily, he bounced back on the very next drive and looked like his efficient, quick, and accurate self. He looks more stout and his velocity looks great at this point of the offseason. If he stays healthy, this team will be dangerous.
How Does the Defense Look Under Fangio?
It’s hard to imagine how good this group would (or will) look with Jalen Ramsey, but even without him they should be vastly improved. They’ll be the exact antithesis of what Dolphins fans have grown accustomed to over the past couple of seasons and that should be a good thing. This squad has only given up one touchdown so far in preseason and under Fangio we are likely to see fewer big plays given up in the regular season as well.
One player that popped off the tape is new linebacker David Long. This was already one of the better run defenses in the NFL in 2022 and with the addition of Long ( and the development of Channing Tindall) it should be even better in 2023. As long as the secondary can stay afloat with some early season injuries, we should see the defense hold up their end of the bargain going forward.
A Promising Performance
While I know a lot of folks will point out that “it’s just the preseason.” It’s always better to see the team perform well in the preseason as opposed to struggling and looking sloppy. Week one didn’t look good on the box score, but had some encouraging performances. This one looked good from all vantage points. Let’s hope they can keep it going for their final preseason game against the Jaguars this Saturday.