Just about everything that could go right for the Miami Dolphins did and they trounced an overmatched Denver Broncos team 70-20 (feels like a typo). We are beginning to see an offensive identity emerge in Miami and when this offense is balanced they are nearly impossible to slow down. On the defensive side of the ball, the Broncos created some problems for Fangio’s defense but Miami came up with several high impact turnovers that helped put this game out of reach for Russell Wilson.
Let’s go through our keys to the game from the preview article and recap how Miami thoroughly dominated this Denver Broncos squad.
A Sour Return for Vance Joseph
This was about as bad as it gets for defensive performances. We knew that they were going to be overmatched personnel wise for this contest, but it was their lack of effort in the second half that really allowed this game to get out of hand (in a record setting way). That is a difficult pill to swallow for any coach and this group will have a lot of soul searching to do.
Let’s take a look at how the Dolphins attacked this Denver defense.
This crack toss was one of their favorite plays against the Broncos. They can run it out of different formations with different lead blockers and different players cracking down.— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) September 26, 2023
I imagine we'll be seeing it a lot this year with Miami's speed at RB. #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/IY0clJhgRV
When we went over Denver’s last game against the Commanders, we saw how much success Washington had when they got their players into the open field using screens. Mike McDaniel had a similar game plan, but used several different play calls to get his speedy backs to open grass. This crack toss was one of his favorites from the afternoon and they continued to execute it all game long.
Mike McDaniel is always a step ahead when it comes to play calling. They've been killing them with that crack toss all day, so what do you do to keep the defense honest?— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) September 26, 2023
Run some inside/split zone with that inside pitch he popularized in San Francisco. #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/Oe0VE03t6b
As they had more and more success with outside toss plays, McDaniel began to incorporate these inside pitches as a way to take advantage of the defense cheating outside on those tosses. In reality these are pretty standard inside and split zone runs but since the vast majority of pitch plays in the NFL are outside runs, the pitch motion tends to get defenders out of position and opens holes between the tackles. As we predicted, the Dolphins also ran a variety of screens to test Denver’s ability to tackle in the open field.
Stopping a Talented Denver Offense
Three weeks into the season and the Fangio “bend but don’t break” defense has mostly lived up to it’s reputation. They allowed over 350 yards to the Broncos, but only 13 points (one of the touchdowns was on special teams). This was because they were able to cause turnovers at crucial times in the game to give their offense more opportunities.
Idk if there is a more versatile safety in the NFL than @quickdrawjev— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) September 26, 2023
Can play in the slot, deep 1/2, centerfield, or the box and does them all at a high level. Incredible range and such a nose for the football.
Defensive player of the game against Denver. ⛄️ #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/ErWXkEPRKV
No one caused more turnovers in this game than safety Jevon Holland, who forced two fumbles. Holland is really a Swiss Army Knife for this defense. He plays all over the field and just has a nose for the football. Safeties have historically played well in Fangio defenses, and it’s looking like Holland should land his first pro bowl this season (pretty egregious that he hadn’t previously).
Disruption from the Defensive Line?
This felt like a game where the defensive line could really take over. They were disruptive and came up with some huge plays, but weren’t quite as dominant as we’ve seen them in the past. Jaelan Phillips left the game early with an oblique injury and wasn’t his usual self in this game. The defensive line as a whole registered 17 total pressures and 7 run stops-not a bad day at the office.
The defensive line played well against the Broncos, but not up to their full potential. Jaelan Phillips didn't look like his usual disruptive self, which makes you wonder about his back and oblique.— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) September 26, 2023
Nice bounceback game for Emmanuel Ogbah though #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/v2vrk1Ly2V
The guys who popped on tape were Emmanuel Ogbah and Christian Wilkins. Both made big plays in the backfield and it was a nice bounce back performance from Ogbah who has struggled to make much of an impact this season. It will be worth monitoring Jaelan Phillips’ health for next weeks game because they will need a more impactful performance in Buffalo.
Well the final prediction for this game was a 31-21 victory for the Miami Dolphins. I expected the Dolphins to take care of business and win by two scores... not by SEVEN scores. This was the most impressive Dolphins performance that many of us have ever witnessed and honestly the best performance an NFL offense has ever had (they could have broke 80 if they wanted to ).
They’ll be travelling to Buffalo next week for a huge early season show down. Maintaining balance on offense will be crucial against a tough Bills defense. This will be the best team they’ve faced so far and a win there will set them up as the team to beat in the AFC going forward. What a time to be a fan of the Miami Dolphins.