Chitown Shootout

You know what the Midwest is? Young and restless where normally the Bears defense will snatch your necklace. The weather is also supposed to be freezing cold and leave you breathless, but Tua balled out once again and made his haters say less. Chicago in November is usually a bad weather nightmare. Freezing cold temperatures, heavy precipitation in the form of lake effect snow or torrential rain, and blustering wind blowing around the windy city. Ask Ohio State and Northwestern who played the day before how miserable their conditions were? The Football gods were definitely showing grace to the Miami Dolphins, as the team from sunny South Florida showed up to perfect Mediterranean wine country weather conditions. Clear skies, sunny, and 65 like coastal California is all of the time. Perfect fall football weather. Admittedly, the winds were blowing around quite drastically as evidenced by the puzzled look on the face of Jason Sanders as he narrowly missed that 29-yard chip shot field goal right before halftime. It looked like because he kicked the ball so high, the winds caught it and pushed it just wide of the upright. However, the aggressive winds did not appear to affect Tua’s accuracy one bit except for one deep pass that appeared to suddenly die in the wind instead of finding the wide open Waddle for a touchdown bomb.

Tua’s Day

He did it again and the haters don’t like it! All of the preseason narratives pushed by the national media and Tua haters have all been busted like myths on that popular Discovery Channel show. Tua has come back from the concussion crisis fully healed and after he flushed down a rusty performance at home against Pittsburgh, Tua has put up the best quarterback numbers in the NFL for the past two weeks. Tua had a perfect game against Detroit and against Chicago he was almost as good as he connected on 21 of 30 attempts for 302 yards, 3 touchdowns, and most importantly 0 interceptions. At this point it is evidently clear that Tua’s consistency is not a fluke. His passing efficiency is a feature and not a lucky bug in the system. The Samoan Sniper may not have the biggest arm in the NFL, but he is one of the most accurate passers in the league. Whenever the Dolphin offense comes onto the field with Tua leading the way, we are pretty much expecting the offense to drive at will and score a touchdown. The Dolphins can have a 3rd & 15, and no one is nervous about converting it because this offense along with Tua has been elite on third downs.


Receiving Duo

Tagovailoa would not be having the season that he is having without the elite contributions of Jaylen Waddle and NFL MVP candidate Tyreek Hill. These guys are a quarterback’s dream as it is impossible to play press man coverage against them and their speed and precise route running makes them hard to defend and easy to create separation. Tua also trusts them implicitly and throws early and with anticipation into windows that often aren’t visible to most quarterbacks yet. The chemistry between the quarterback and receivers on this team end up causing them to make doing hard things seem easy. It seems like Tua is making easy throws to wide open receivers all day, but the truth is he plays a factor in that as well. Tagovailoa is an elite defensive coverage reader, and his high football intellect allows him to go through his progressions quickly and know exactly where he should go with the football. This causes his read and reaction time to be quite brief and makes it hard for defensive pressure or blitzes to get home. He makes good quick decisions. Not just any quarterback can do what Tua is doing as evidenced by the drop from the performances of Waddle and the other receivers not named Hill when Tua was absent with the concussion injury.


Offensive Performance

The Bears are usually known for their time of possession eating ball control offense and stiff defenses that produce low scoring affairs, especially at Soldier Field, but the game on Sunday was a definite shootout. The Dolphins offense scored 28 points despite not having many drives. The Dolphins offense only punted once and if not for Tua slipping on a 3rd down pass completion before the half, a missed pass to Smythe on fourth down when the tight end inexplicably turned his head, and an under thrown ball to Waddle that should have been a touchdown, the Dolphins offense could have scored even more. Imagine that? The Dolphins offense put up 28 points on a Chicago defense and they made a ton of mistakes. When you win and still have things to work on to clean up, that is the best kind of win to get in the regular season.


Defensive Issues

The Dolphins defense has a bit of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde dichotomy. They are dominant at home and one of the worst defenses in the league when they are away from Hard Rock stadium. The Miami defense was absolutely torched by the ninja turtle looking Justin Fields as he pranced and danced all over the field for an NFL record 178 yards. The Bears offensive line is the worst in the league in giving up sacks and the Dolphins were able to create pressure but in most cases were not able to get him to the ground to get the tackle for loss or sack. They only sacked Fields twice and could only get him to the ground once. Jaelan Phillips kept going for the big play instead of setting the edge and keeping contain. Jaelan Phillips is for sure a freak of nature, so I understand his belief in himself that he could get after Fields. However, after Fields easily got outside of him a few times, Phillips needed to make the adjustment and set the edge to keep Fields in the pocket and force him to be a passer instead of letting him run around like Michael Vick in his prime. Bradley Chubb was able to get pressure but whiffed on the sack and Melvin Ingram displayed his superhuman strength as he one arm sacked Fields in the 4th quarter in what ended up being a big play that killed the Bears drive when they were in a very good offensive rhythm and keeping up with the Dolphins offense scoring wise.

The Dolphins defense did a good job keeping Fields in the pocket and making him a passer on the final drive by pulling Phillips and rotating Ingram, Chubb, and Ogbah to that side. Thankfully, the defense stepped up when we needed them to because the offense, who had carried the load the whole game, faltered on their last two drives. We needed to get stops from our defense to get the win. The defense has not played well the last two weeks on the road against NFC North opponents, but I will say this, they have come up with big stops in the 2nd half when they needed to. Now the defense gets to come back and get some home cooking before the bye. Cleveland is going to have to see us on Sunday, but we’re going to have our hands full stopping Nick Chubb and that vaunted Browns running attack. I will be there for it. Let’s go for four in a row. Fins up!

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