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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
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.
The defense overcame some good early scheming by the Patriots to take over the game. 271 yards allowed, 78 yards rushing for 3.5 YPC, two forced fumbles, one interception and two sacks. Brandon Jones had 11 tackles, 1 sack and one pass defensed. His sack led to a fumble and a Melvin Ingram touchdown. Another stud on defense and a huge surprise was the undrafted rookie, Kader Kohou. Kohou had one tackle for a loss, one pass defensed on a tight end that is 5 inches taller and 56 pounds heavier.
Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle came out to do what they were supposed to do. Hill had 8 catches for 94 yards. Waddle had 69 yards, including a 42 yard touchdown on a gutsy playcall.
Speaking of that, Mike McDaniel showed some of the guts missing from previous coaches. McDaniel's playcalling took the Dolphins from 3rd and 19 to 4th and 7 to a 42 yard touchdown catch from Waddle. McDaniel kept the offense aggressive in a day which they struggled mightily. He definitely played to win where previous coaches would have probably paid not to lose.
The offensive line played better than last year, but that's not saying much. The Dolphins still only ran for 65 yards on 23 carries. Protection looked better than last year, but there were still too many instances of free rushers getting to Tua. This unit is still definitely a work in progress. Going down to their 3rd right tackle certainly didn't help. The player that stood out to me as playing the poorest was Connor Williams, who generated little push in the run game and missed some assignments in pass blocking. To be fair, the Patriots front 7 is always good and this season will probably be no exception.
We saw some good and bad from Tua. The statline looked good with 270 passing yards and 1 TD on 69% completion. But later in the game, it seemed Tua was feeling the pressure of producing and he appeared to force some throws that could have led to disastrous turnovers. There are definitely some things to clean up but some things to build upon. Let's remember again the front seven he was facing as well as Bellicheck's ability to put together coverages that confuse even the best quarterbacks in the league.
It's nice to see the defense lead the way early in the season. Early last season, they couldn't stop a high school team. Perhaps the considerable decline was saw last season was due to Brian Flores and the defense improved once he backed off? We can only speculate. One thing we do know is the defense played well despite missing Byron Jones. But it could also be due to what appears to be a mediocre Patriots offense.
We start the season with a win against a division rival. McDaniel is the first coach to win his first game as head coach of the Dolphins since Nick Saban in 2005. Here's hoping he can prove this year that he is the future of the franchise. We all know we've been waiting for this since Shula retired.