By: Jason Sarney
For the first time since 2001 the Miami Dolphins have six wins and three losses. Similarly, too that season, it is arguably on the strength of a superb defense that gets to the quarterback, intercepts him as well, and has play-makers at every level on the field.
From Emmanuel Ogbah, to Andrew van Ginkel, to Xavien Howard and all the role players in between this defense, the unit has been playing so well that rookie quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, has not necessarily needed to be stellar as much as steady to help this Dolphins team win.
The 3-0 starter was 15-25 for 169 passing yards, a pair of touchdowns and most importantly, no interceptions.
In Miami’s 29-21 victory against the Chargers on Sunday at Hard rock Stadium, it was once again a total team effort.
With touchdown passes going to Durham Smythe and Jakeem Grant, the win was the embodiment of a team victory with Tua once again spreading the ball over the array of his arsenal, hitting 8 different Miami targets.
Grant lead the way with four catches for 43 yards and DeVante Parker had a pair of contested catches, and a third one if you count his gorgeous 1-handed corner end-zone stab, that was overturned.
If you ask me, the shin was in, but a win is a win and a roll is a roll
Speaking of rolls, this Dolphins team has won five in a row and six of their last seven games.
One theme that has been steady during the Brian Flores head-coaching era in Miami is the “Next Man Up,” mentality and stepping up of non-heralded, unsung and undrafted players such as Nik Needham, Benito Jones, and Salvon Ahmed.
Needham was stellar and started the game with a sack on Justin Herbert and not so long after a pass defended on West Coast buddy, Keenan Allen.
I think they know each other…wink, wink.
Ahmed rushed for a team leading 21 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown. In full team and committee mindset, Patrick Laird had a major 4th quarter run to help cement the victory, and keep his faithful legions of fans happy.
This was not a game of “Tua got the better of Justin Herbert” in the “Battle of the Rookie Quarterbacks,” as much as it was the Dolphins got the better of the Los Angeles Chargers, which is more important.
All three phases of the game clicked again, as the dynamic kicking duo of Jason Sanders and Matt Haack were once again great minus the end of a FG streak by inches.
Jason Sanders proved to be a mortal, and missed a 47-yard field goal to the right in the 4th.
The Dolphins made mistakes and made big plays and seem to have yet to play an absolute perfect game with this infrastructure of team with Tua as their leader.
Sure, the wins, which are always great are special, the true magic will start when this team clicks.
Remember Christian Wilkins was not playing in this game nor was Joey Bosa to be fair. Yet, like all things in football and of course in life, it is a process and the development this team is showing at 6-3 a few weeks before Thanksgiving in year two of Brian Flores’ tenure, is nothing short of a Miracle.
And Miami hasn’t needed to use a lateral yet. Their progress is nothing but forward from here on in.