First Place Fins!

The Miami Dolphins are 7-3 and in first place in the AFC East for the first time in 20 years and like Tony! Toni! Tone! said “IT FEELS GOOD!!!” As I watched the game on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, I could not help but let a beaming smile invade my face as pure, total, complete, and utter happiness crept from into my mind. As a Dolfan I am used to being battered and pessimistic. We are not usually allowed to be happy because we know the inevitable anvil is going to drop at any moment. We have had a couple good years to break up the monotony of losing, but this time feels different though. This time feels like we built the team the right way and the organization has a strong foundation.

History is History

Twenty years of mediocrity. Twenty years of basement dwelling. Twenty years of domination by the New England Patriots. Twenty years since we have had a playoff win. I reflected on the good times and the bad. I remembered how excited I was when Greg Camarillo housed that touchdown pass to beat the Ravens and save us from having a winless season. I remembered the wildcat breakout year that gave us some hope before retreating back into our typical lackluster performances. I remembered choosing Culpepper over Brees. I remembered quarterbacks like Lucas and Lemon and Fiedler and Frerotte.  I remembered the two Chads, Pennington and Henne. I remembered Saban lying to us about not leaving like the Wolf of Wall Street, but then he ended up running out of Dodge with his Tuscaloosa tail tucked between his legs like an untrustworthy weasel. It all came rushing to me and I came to a conclusion. We as Dolfans have been through a lot, and we deserve this! We have waited patiently, and it finally feels like we have a team worthy of our support.

Impact of Mike McDaniel

I was excited about the hire of Mike McDaniel, but I must admit that I did not realize his impact would be so revolutionary and expeditious. McDaniel has imbued Tua with confidence and has him playing like an MVP candidate. This Dolphins offense is scary good. The passing attack is innovative and hard to stop. Waddle and Hill have speed to burn on the outside and teams who like to play man coverage are forced to spend most of their days in zone, letting us dictate their defensive scheme. Tua has become an exceptional coverage reader and is able to quickly assess whether he should accept the first window throw or veto and wait for the second or move on to the next eligible receiver in his progressions. Tua’s pinpoint precision passing is surgical in nature and frustrates cornerbacks who are already under a considerable amount of pressure and stress pre-snap.

Elite Passing Attack

Many times, when the cornerback has great coverage, it does not matter, Tua is able to make the throw where only his guy can get to it anyway. Linebackers have to deal with watching the same plays over and over that have legitimate run actions built in with pulling guards setting up for counters, but it turns out that Tua is able to ball fake very well and uncork a quick pass in the blink of an eye. One false step causes the defender to hesitate and that’s all this offense needs. You think, you blink, it’s over. This offensive scheme is built on using leverage and angles against the defense. It’s trigonometry more than athleticism. It’s physics over physicality. With Tyreek in motion before every snap it is impossible to jam him at the line and Cheetah with a free release already running full speed is almost impossible to cover. You try to turn and run, and it’s basically like trying to get away from Michael Myers in a horror film. Forget about it. Hill puts a quick twitch move on his defender that gets him 5 yards open and there is not much the defender has done wrong to get out of position. It’s scary stuff for sure. Not to mention, Waddle’s elite route running on the other side is torturing his defender to an equal degree.

Wilson leads the way!

Couple the lethal passing attack with the addition of Jeff Wilson Jr. raising the level of our running back room and we now have a balanced offense that can travel on the road and play well in cold bad weather playoff games. Jeff Wilson may turn out to be the steal of the trade deadline that not enough people were talking about. While the movement of star players like Chris McCaffrey and Bradley Chubb stole the headlines, Jeff Wilson coming in with no learning curve has proven to be a productive trade for the Dolphins. A close friend who is a diehard 49er fan told me on trade deadline day that we would love Jeff Wilson, and he was not lying. That may have even been an understatement. Simply put, Jeff Wilson is better than Mostert at making himself skinny and squeezing through small holes and creases even when his shoulders are squared. He is also better at reading blocks, setting up his blocks.  Wilson is decisive when he makes his cut, and runs down hill quite physically. Wilson does not possess the top speed of Mostert, but he is no slow tortoise by a long shot. The Dolphins with a running game and allowing Tua to get out of games untouched with his jersey looking like he just picked it up from the dry cleaners is a very scary thing for the rest of the league. If the Dolphins are able to get home field advantage throughout the playoffs, lookout!

Defensive Dominance

The Dolphin’s defense is quite dominant at home and against Cleveland they absolutely shut down one of the best running backs in the league in Nick Chubb. Chubb was held to only 63 yards and that included a 30 yard plus touchdown run on a busted play. The Dolphins are legit contenders and have one of the best offenses in the league, one of the best home defenses in the league, the best receiver in the game, and a top 5 quarterback playing MVP level football this season. Tua Tagovailoa is doing things that not even Dan Marino achieved. Three straight games with perfect or near perfect passer ratings, averaging 300 yards passing, with three plus touchdowns a game and no interceptions. That is balling! Tua is leading the entire NFL in quarterback rating and it’s not even close for second place. Tua is top three in touchdown passes and top ten in passing yards, and he missed three games. Tua is a winner. He is 7-0 this season and is 16-2 in his last 18 starts. That’s nothing to sneeze at because the kid is an absolute winner. Burrow and Herbert’s win-loss records are not comparable.

A Fins Summary

The Dolphins head into their bye on a 4-game winning streak and would have scored 40 plus points in their last outing if Jason Sanders had made some very makeable kicks. This offense is one the best that we have seen since the greatest show on turf, and I am not sure how to stop them. You can’t blitz Tua, you can’t play man against the route concepts, and you can’t press the Dolphin receivers. The setup of this offense forces you to play with one hand behind your back and two left sided shoes. When they play both safeties high to take away the deep ball or zone to try to take away the middle of the field, now those defenses have to deal with Mostert and Wilson running all over the field. I would hate to be a defensive coordinator trying to come up with a game plan to contain these guys. Tua is on another level right now and it turns out Chris Grier was right to pick Tua #5 overall. I am so happy that he did, and I am so happy that he chose Mike McDaniel as the head coach to lead this squad. He has brought Alabama Tua back and Miami is a legit title contender. I also want to thank the team formerly known as the Redskins for preserving the 1972 Dolphins perfect season. Let’s enjoy this bye week and get ready to attack the rest of the season after this well earned and needed week off. Fins up!

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