December Dolphins

The best way to get over a bad loss is to follow it up with a good win. I know you are probably rolling your eyes saying to yourself: “the Jets? They’re terrible! That’s not a good win if you beat them.” However, as the Tennessee Titans so surprisingly showed us last week, this is the NFL and any given day you can be beaten by any opponent because even bad teams have good talent. If you don’t come to play, you get beat. The Dolphins were spotted a 14-point lead with 3 minutes to go at home, their undefeated cathedral, and found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Over 700 games have been played in that situation in the past 7 years and we were the team that found a way to lose from such a secure position. It was tough to watch and brutal to endure. These are the December Dolphins. We cannot take another matchup for granted, especially not a divisional matchup that will have major ramifications for the AFC playoff picture. Especially not with the current injury prognosis of the team.

The meltdown and fodder around the team has been as noisy as it has ever been from the national media to the Dolphins fan base. One singular loss has seemed to cause a cacophonic nuclear emergency almost as catastrophic as Chernobyl. It is true there are things to be concerned about. There are some disturbing trends that the Dolphins have displayed this season that can cause some questions to be asked. For example, physical teams with active defensive tackles seem to be a weakness for the Dolphins. Also, teams that play two safeties deep and allow sideline throws while junking up the middle seem to make Tua uncomfortable.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) prepares to take the snap of the ball at the line of scrimmage with offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg (74), offensive lineman Lester Cotton (66) and running back Raheem Mostert (31) during an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans Monday, Dec. 12, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Doug Murray)

It is also true that we have seen Tua come up small in clutch time moments like the final drive against the 49ers last season. Against the Packers at home on Christmas day when he played the 2nd half with a concussion. On Sunday night after his concussion absences early last season, Tua returned to play against his former head coach and he needed his defense to be clutch and bail him out. We have also witnessed Tua struggle this season in late or last minute drives against the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs in Germany.

It is also important to remember that Tua has been clutch as well. Tua Tagovailoa has delivered in big moments as well. Tua has seven game-winning drives on his resume already, including against the Ravens on Thursday night when Flores tried to bench him for Jacoby Brissett. Also against the Ravens last year in the season opener at Baltimore. Against the Detroit Lions in the sensational shootout last season. Have we already forgotten about this season’s Week 1 Road victory over the Chargers and that beautiful fade throw to Tyreek for the win? Tua is a better than good quarterback and he is a young developing quarterback. He is a top 10 quarterback in this league that has led the NFL in just about every passing statistical category for the better part of the last two seasons despite missing many games due to injuries. However, he is not perfect. Tua has things that he can work on and being more consistent in pressure situations is one of them. But he’s a pretty good quarterback nevertheless. This is not the time to jump off the bandwagon. This is not the time to bury a team sitting atop the AFC East and one game back on the 1 seed in the AFC. This is the time to buy more stock because the price of the team and triggerman is low but their market share and earnings in this league is on the rise.

People say that this Dolphins offense is terrible without the presence of Tyreek Hill. I say show me a team that only has their starting right tackle on the field that is going to ball at peak levels? Show me a team that has two backup offensive linemen, a third string guard, and a third string tackle/guard playing out of position at center that is going to excel without their all pro receiver? Tua was running for his life on most downs because he did not have a lot of time to throw. With that said, there were many times where Tua had a clean pocket and time to throw and he did not trust the play. There were open receivers that he saw and he did not let it rip on time. Tua held the ball and started scrambling unnecessarily at times and oftentimes fell in a very clumsy way. The all-22 film study on the Monday night game was a bit tough to watch. There were some frustrating plays to watch like the final offensive snap for Miami. It was 4th and 2 (gotta have it), Tua has an outbreaking receiver open with an effortless sideline throw within 3 yards of the line of scrimmage. If he makes the throw it’s an easy first down. However, Tua was afraid to trust his arm and make the throw. I believe Tua is still being impacted by the two interceptions he threw against the New York Jets on Black Friday and instead of stepping up and taking the check down, he ends up tripping over Liam Eichenberg’s foot (when Eich actually had good pass protection) and the game is over. Frustrating.

Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel walks on the field during an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans Monday, Dec. 12, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Doug Murray)

This was a total team loss. No one is absolved. No one is innocent. No one is free of blame. Tua has some responsibility to take for this loss. McDaniel does as well by refusing to run the ball more often, even though we have the best rushing attack in the league. The red zone passing plays were especially frustrating because we could see the pattern of them not working and the running game plays were working in the red zone. Two field goals for the offense on drives not started by turnovers is not going to get it done.  The defense has some blame to take as well, allowing those two final drives to take place while sitting in prevent defense and never sending pressure to rough up the young quarterback was inexplicable. Will Levis was shredding us and D Hop was popping up all over the field finding open space wherever he wanted. We also struggled to cover their running backs in the pass game. I never saw much adjustments to what they were doing well. The blocked field goal. The extra 4 points the Titans got after the inexcusable Brad Chubb penalty. We will wear this black eye together as a team, but it is time to move on. It is time to beat the Jets and put the pressure on Buffalo to see their season go up in flames early. Fins Up!

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