Dolphins Drown Panthers


Well at least one football team from Miami beat North Carolina this weekend! The Miami Dolphins improved to 5-1 and their record breaking offense continues to produce at historic levels. However, it did not start off as smoothly as it ended. The 0-5 (now 0-6) Carolina Panthers actually jumped out to a 14-0 lead as they easily drove down the field on Miami’s defense during their first two offensive possessions. Meanwhile, Miami’s offense looked uncharacteristically out of sync to start the game off. Was it going to be one of those “any given Sunday” moments where a bottom dwelling team beats a top ranked team at home? We ended up witnessing two undefeated teams in the NFC go down to perceived “lesser” competition, would Miami also fall prey to the trap game? The answer was quickly retorted, “no- not at all.”

After causing some concern, Tua and the offense came out to start the 2nd quarter firing like an Olympic skeet shooter. Pull! A dime to Tyreeek. Pull! A knifing pass to Waddle. Pull! A sweet swing pass to Mostert with a beautiful backside block by Smythe to seal the red carpet waltz to the endzone for Raheem. Before you knew it, the Dolphins offense had marched right down the field and scored a touchdown like they always do and the Panthers defense was tremendously dusted. We are getting tremendously used to watching this team’s offensive brilliance dominate score lines week in and week out. The 21-0 run in the 2nd quarter settled the crowd down in the stadium and the Miami defense as well. That first touchdown drive was the spark that started that run and it was also the reset we needed after such a tenuous start to the game.

The Panthers drove to midfield on their third drive before getting too aggressive throwing the ball downfield on 3rd down and almost catching the special teams napping on a 4th & 7. The fake punt was called because teams who are in tank mode with no wins often have an uber aggressive mentality since they don’t believe they have anything to lose. Thankfully, Campbell and Riley were alert to the danger and were able to make the play and knock Laviska Shenault out of bounds a few chain links before making the line to gain. That play was a turning point in the game because it snapped Carolina’s scoring streak and allowed Miami’s offense to get the ball back and go back to work. Had Carolina driven and scored again on that third drive it could have been a different game. Since the Panthers finally faltered in that spot, Miami seized the momentum and went on that 21-0 run in the 2nd quarter that we spoke about earlier. The complimentary football started to show its skin.

Raheem Mostert and Tyreek Hill both had monster days. If you had them on your fantasy team, you were probably a happy man. Mostert toted the rock well. He read the blocks, hit the holes, and broke tackles with expert precision. Raheem showed off his track speed and the 100 meter hurdles must have been his specialty with the way he hurdled over defenders on Sunday. 17 carries for 115 yards and 2 tuddies is a pretty good day at the office and the running attack kept the offense balanced. However, it was a hard hitting game. The Carolina defenders were out to break skin and see blood whenever they got an opportunity to tackle a Dolphin player. The word is out that teams think we are a speed finesse team that lacks physical toughness. So you will see this trend continue as teams try to physically bully us on the field since they can’t beat us. I didn’t like seeing Mostert take so many punishing hits knowing that Achane is already out with injury after taking similar hits last season. Salvon Ahmed got lit up on a pass play where he ran a wheel route like a receiver and Tua laid it out to him before he got rocked. I was also happy to see Brooks get an opportunity to run the ball as well late in the game, but unfortunately he had to be carted off with an injury. The running back room depth is starting to get very thin. We need to keep these guys fresh and healthy by rotating them more. The running back room is full of talent. All of those guys can run. Coach McDaniel needs to use them more often to keep guys from getting banged. If Achane is a Ferrari and not a Ford, Mostert is a Lamborghini and not a Lincoln. We need to watch the usage and hits that he is taking during the season.

Tyreek was as explosive as ever catching 6 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown as well. There was no one on the field that could guard him and they knew it. Tua, the triggerman was his usual efficient self, throwing downfield bombs and accurate darts over the middle when he got the looks that he wanted. The offensive line did a great job of not letting Tua get hit much and gave up no sacks on top of their amazing run blocking. The offensive line is definitely the unsung hero of this team. There was a scary moment where Tyreek left the game and went to the locker room holding his hamstring area. Thankfully he was just cramping and returned to the field of play shortly after receiving IV fluids and continued to torch any Panther DB that dared to try and guard him.

This Dolphins defense still concerns me greatly. The start to the game was about as bad as it could get and our game plan set out by Lord Fangs was absolutely the wrong one because we made the Panthers offense look elite in the first quarter. They were running the ball all over us and Bryce Young was throwing the pigskin around like an all pro. It was disorienting to watch Carolina just march up and down the field at will. I was stunned truthfully. Carolina’s offense had looked absolutely inept all season and all of a sudden they looked competent against our defense. The only real threat Carolina had was Adam Thielen and he was slicing and dicing the defense all game.

However, there were some positives from the defense as well, including the fact that after that 14 point 1st quarter, the defense pitched a shutout for the final 3 quarters. The defense was pretty good on 3rd downs, allowing roughly a measly 33% conversion rate. We still have the best 4th down defense in the league and the pressure on Bryce Young was constant and continuous, leading to 4 sacks including 2 by Wilkins and 1 by Sieler. It’s not every day the defensive tackles have more sacks than our edge rushers, but Sunday was one of those days. Next week the Dolphins will be playing the NFC leading Philadelphia Eagles fresh off their first loss at the hands of the Jets. Unfortunately, it is yet another primetime game that we are forced to play on the road. Last season 3 of our 4 primetime games were on the road and this season we are on the road again for these games. With that said, the defense will need to be up for the challenge and will need to be in a turnover producing mood because I am not confident that we are ready to shutdown good team offenses yet. We shall see. Fins up!

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