By: Shawn Williams
The Miami Dolphins defense is getting better by the week. They only had two sacks but were in Jared Goff’s face all day long. They forced 2 Goff fumbles, and added 2 first half interceptions. Byron Jones continued to show his dominance in locking down receivers. Despite a terrible time-of-possession difference (36:29 to 23:81) they never buckled in the Miami heat.
Speaking of heat, do not underestimate the advantage it brings. At one point there was a 60-degree difference between Miami’s and the Ram’s sideline. Miami strategically designed for their own sideline to be in constant shade, while the opposition sits in the sun. An overlooked aspect of a unique form of NFL home-field advantage.
Miami had not forced 4 turnovers in one half since 2016 when they faced the Arizona Cardinals. Today, Andrew Van Ginkel had a 78-yard fumble recovery for a TD and Christian Wilkins recorded his first career interception. Eric Rowe’s hard work has flown under the radar all season but was rewarded today when he brought in his first interception of the season (he dropped another for what would’ve been an easy pick-6). Goff’s second fumble (Shaq Lawson) was returned by Kyle Van Noy to the Rams 1-yard line.
For all his talent and potential, Preston Williams continues to struggle with drops. He had three on the day today.
Myles Gaskin had a rough day today. He was held to 47 yards on 18 carries (2.6 yards per carry average) with one touchdown and a fumble. While he’s been given a lot of praise for his surge up the depth chart, the Dolphins have to find a way to get him and the run game going. Prior to today, Gaskin was averaging 4.1 YPC good for only 32nd in the league. As QB Tua Tagovailoa continues to grow, hopefully a consistent RPO (run/pass option) offense emerges.
Miami’s offense has had periods of stagnation throughout this season. This must stop if they want to continue winning. The coaching staff obviously had the training wheels on Tua today. I can understand a careful approach when you are facing the Rams vaunted defense, led by Aaron Donald, but it’s hard not to imagine how much differently today could’ve gone if not for the Defense and Special Teams.
The Dolphins defense was on the field for over 33 minutes today in sweltering heat. You could see the effects of being overworked when both Byron Jones and Nik Needham had to leave the game with cramps. After a visit to the locker room they luckily both returned to action. This could have been a recipe for disaster. Miami hasn’t suffered many serious injuries this year, but games like this could have an unfortunate impact.
The Wildcat offense needs to be re-retired. This team hasn’t produced any big plays in this formation, and more often times than not they’ve resulted in negative plays. For the love of everything, please get rid of it.
Malcolm Perry made his NFL debut today and contributed a rare first down on a 10-yard completion. He also took a hand-off out of the wildcat for a 5-yard loss. In an offense that’s devoid of big plays, I’m interested to see what Perry can contribute. Just not in the Wildcat.
Didn’t today just feel like a Jakeem Grant “kind-of-day”? Jakeem had his first punt return for a touchdown since 2018. He also had a nice 15-yard reception.
Tua Time!!! Tua made his debut as the starting Quarterback today, but fans were not rewarded with much (he did throw for his first NFL touchdown on a three-yard pass to DeVante Parker). It is going to take time for Tua to get into a game flow after missing nearly a year, and it’s important for fans to be patient (more-so for their own mental health). Give the kid a chance to build chemistry with his receivers, and maybe wait for a game where he’s not facing the team with the 3rd most sacks in the NFL.
Being patient with Tua DOES NOT excuse the offensive play-calling; I couldn’t even tell what their game plan was today. Was to just run and throw quick slants and outs, and did they really think this was the best way to attack one of this League’s best defenses? This isn’t the first time the Dolphins have suffered from questionable play-calling this season, but I hope as they enter the “softest” part of the schedule, they attempt to get this offense in a rhythm.
Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins are up next. Luckily, this defense has me believing they’re up to the challenge. The offense should have a better opportunity as the Cardinals have allowed the 10th most passing yards and own one of the worst rushing defenses in the NFL (131.1 yards per game). As long as the offensive line can keep the pressure of Tua (the Cardinals have the 7th most sacks) we should see considerable improvement.
Please welcome Shawn Williams to PhinManiacs and please check him out on Twitter @swilliams3205