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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
The Dolphins finally beat the Bills after a 7-game losing streak against them. Even if the way it happened and the stats were not pretty, it potentially helps the Dolphins overcome a huge psychological hurdle.
I know the numbers aren't statistically pretty. The Dolphins allowed 400 yards passing and 2 TDs by Josh Allen. The Bills rushed for 115 yards, including a 43-yarder from Zack Moss. The Bills gained 31 first downs, were 11-18 in third down efficiency and held onto the ball for over 40 minutes. Yet, at the end of the game, the Dolphins defense was able to hold tough again. Another goal line stand. Another 4th quarter where they shut down an offense that was moving it at will. The numbers don't look pretty, but the big plays at the right time do.
The offensive line did struggle this game as the running backs had very little room in a 41 yards, 2.4 yards per carry performance. The lone bright spot in the running game was the 2 touchdowns by Chase Edmonds. Tua did only get sacked once and the pass protection wasn't horrific, but it could have been better and, at some point this season, the Dolphins are going to need to get the run game going.
The Dolphins may have one-upped the infamous Mark Sanchez butt fumble with the "butt punt". Honestly, I will probably catch heat for what I am about to type here, but I believe this was a poor decision by McDaniel. With so little room, it would have probably been better to just take the safety here. The Dolphins were fortunate that the ball didn't go straight up, as a Bills recovery in the end zone would have been a touchdown and completely changed the complexion of the game. A safety and a long safety punt were the safest course of action here, and while that is what wound up happening, it could have gone tragically wrong if not for the lucky.... bounce?
What can you say? The Dolphins are 3-0 to start the season. They have beaten the Patriots, Ravens and Bills. Kind of a murderer's row of football teams to face early in the year. In years past, the Ravens and Bills blow the Dolphins out. This year, you can definitely see the difference.
Now the Dolphins face the AFC Champion Bengals in Cincy on a short week. We can all agree that McDaniel's young tenure as the Dolphins head coach has been put to the test. No one expected 3-0, but if the Dolphins come out of this stretch 4-0, this will only make the start of the season that much more incredible.
How quickly the discussion changed on Sunday for Tua Tagovailoa. Everyone went from talking about how he hasn't gotten any better, some people were even calling for Teddy Bridgewater to start the second half. 469 yards and 6 TDs later, Tua can throw the deep ball and can lead his team on a comeback win. While Tua did have some rough spots in the first half, I saw signs of a guy that was growing more confident and bold as the game went on. Of course, no one could have predicted 199 yards and 4 TDs in the 4th quarter. That's just crazy talk. The deep bombs to Hill, the pass to the back of the endzone to Gesicki and the gutsy throw to win the game to Waddle are signs of a young QB coming out of his shell.
Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle set the field on fire, combining for 361 yards and 4 TDs. This is what the Dolphins envisioned when they traded for Hill, who took the top off the Ravens defense twice in the 4th quarter to help his team get back in the game. Deep bombs from Tua from 48 and 60 yards broke the Ravens back.
Coach McDaniel's composed demeanor throughout the game set the tone for his team to move on to the next play and do what needed to be done to get back in the game and then win it. His playcalling and decision-making so far as a gameday coach have been refreshing and a huge part of the early success of this team.
The offensive line did a great job of protecting Tua, especially in the 4th quarter when Dolphins offensive lines usually fold. The running game was also productive in a limited role, gaining 86 yards at a 4.8 ypc. Perhaps the total rush yardage would have been higher in a closer game, but the Dolphins had to air it out to get back in this one.
Special teams allowing a 103-yard return for a touchdown to open the game set the tone for the first half. No one touched Devin Duvernay on this return. This is something coverage teams need to clean up.
The defense got thrashed in the first half by allowing pinpoint downfield passes by Lamar Jackson. Even in the third quarter, they allowed Jackson to get a 79-yard touchdown on what appeared to be a designed QB run. It was a disappointing performance early on by the unit that is supposed to be the bedrock of this team. But as the offense started showing signs of life, the defense played complimentary football by holdings a red hot Ravens offense to 3 points in the 4th quarter. The run defense did the job when the Ravens decided to go for it on 4th down halfway through the 4th quarter on a Lamar Jackson run.
The Dolphins are 2-0 to start the season, getting a leg up on an murderous early schedule. The offensive has put the league on notice that they can be explosive, and not just against the soft teams in the league. They did it against a team who last year was the #1 seed in the AFC until they were decimated by injuries. And against a team that historically has given the Dolphins trouble. Perhaps this is an anomaly or perhaps it is a turning point for this team and this coaching staff. The Dolphins get another tough test against another top AFC team that has given the Dolphins fits over the past few years.
Here's hoping we see more of the same from the offense and the defense is able to clean some things up.