Firing On All Cylinders

J. Phillips

The Dolphins put together their most complete performance of the season this past Sunday as the offense, defense, and special teams (except for the missed point after touchdown try by Jason Sanders) all played well and were all impactful in creating a 4th straight win for the Phins. The Panthers offense couldn’t do anything all game. The Dolphins offense moved the ball up and down the field at will. They left a few plays on the field in the redzone that ended up resulting in field goals, but overall, the offense had its way. Special teams got the party started early with a blocked punt, recovering the block, and pushing in for a touchdown. We knew from that point on it was going to be a good day. Football is lovely when the weather is crisp and cool in South Florida and the endzone at Hard Rock Stadium is painted with full aqua. The field was so well manicured on Sunday that it looked like a designer birthday cake with icing made of fondant. I wanted a slice of that cake but it’s clear that the Carolina Panthers wanted no parts of it.

The Dolphins defense held Cam Newton to a mind-blowing 5 completions all game! With numbers like that you would have thought the Panthers were running the triple option veer offense. Tua Tagovailoa threw for an unreal 87% completion percentage by hitting on 27 of his passing attempts. For perspective, Cam Newton only had one more completed pass than Tua had incompletions. Let that number hit you in the face then wash over like an aggressive wave at a cold-water beach. Then, acknowledge the fact that Tua has been over 80% passing in two straight games. Now that’s what I call getting it done. Especially because Tua is no check down Charlie. He isn’t afraid to throw the ball down the field.

Now that Tua has officially passed the 16 games started threshold he is no longer a rookie in my eyes. Sunday’s game was actually Tua’s 18th start, and the Dolphins are 11-7 in those 18 games. In Tua’s first 16 starts he was 9-7, hit on 67% completions, 3500+ passing yards, 21 touchdowns passes, 11 interceptions, 6 rushing touchdowns, and a passer rating of 90.5. Not too shabby for a guy who constantly has to play looking over his shoulder as his organization flirts with another quarterback on a different team, gets bashed by media pundits, and traded by his fanbase.

In the past three games Tua has gone 60/77 for 78% on completions, 661 passing yards with 4 touchdowns (1 rushing), 1 interception, and most importantly 3 wins to 0 losses. In those three games Tua has finally started to win over some members of the media and the fanbase which is very odd to me because Tua’s not playing that differently from brilliant games that he had last season against Arizona on the road and the Bengals and Kansas City at home last season. In those games Tua hung in their shootouts against Kyler Murray and Pat Mahomes. Tua’s performance in his victory against the Chargers last season was understated as well because he had a couple well thrown deep bombs dropped by Jakeem Grant in that game that if caught would have made his numbers very impressive when he outdueled Herbert as well.

I also want to give a special shoutout to Jevon Holland and Jaelan Phillips. These guys are playing like their pre-draft grades said they would because Brian Flores finally got back to playing the aggressive style of defense that made the Dolphins tough to beat last season. Jevon Holland and Jaelan Phillips were drafted to be play disrupters and chaos starters- not to drop back in zone coverage most of the time. These young studs have been finally turned loose and they are absolutely balling.

Jevon Holland is blowing up plays with impunity and incredible range. Don’t look now but Jaelan Phillips is now leading all rookies in sacks. Jaelan had two sacks in Sunday’s home game against the Panthers and created three more that his teammates benefited from as a direct result of his activity. Jaelan has earned that number 15 that he took from Albert Wilson and Jevon Holland is making Grier look like a very smart man for taking him over Moehrig. Grier hitting on Waddle, Holland, and Phillips along with the continued development may save Grier’s job but I still think he made too many mistakes to be retained for another year.

The big glaring mistake was reaching on Austin Jackson at #18 and he is now playing guard, spending a first round pick on a special teams kick coverage/practice squad guy in Noah Igbinoghene when Trevon Diggs was available and Miami already had two top quality starting corners, not drafting future all pro tackle Rashawn Slater, and drafting Hunter Long who doesn’t play any games in a not so covert move to try and replace Gesicki rather than pay him (which will almost assuredly blow up in their face). We shall see how the next few games play out against two New York teams that seem to be directionless at the moment. For now, let’s just keep winning baby!

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