Undefeated to .500

It feels like it was ages ago. The Dolphins were riding high on a 3-0 start and had just knocked off the big bad Buffalo Bills at home in a game that shocked the world and heralded the arrival of the new look Mike McDaniel led Dolphins. We broke the streak that Josh Allen had over us and were in first place in the AFC East for the first time in what actually has been ages. The Dolphins were atop the power rankings and on a magic carpet ride. Then things fell apart like a Chinua Achebe novel. The Salem Sports Witch Trials commenced, and the Dolphins were made to wear the black eye for all concussion protocol malfeasance that has existed in the NFL from the beginning of time.

The Drama

Persecuted relentlessly by the accusatory mob and national media, we had to watch our team get eviscerated in the court of public opinion and flounder against mediocre teams to average teams with no trigger man capable of filling the void that Tua left. We had to watch three weeks of unprepared quarterback play because Teddy B was suddenly inserted into a Thursday night game that he wasn’t ready for and then the following week he got knocked out after one play in a game that he was prepared for because of a concussion that he never had. Then after not being allowed to practice all week Teddy B ends up getting thrust back into the next game, which he wasn’t ready for because Skylar Thompson suddenly got knocked out of the game that he practiced all week for with a thumb injury.

The Schedule

When the schedule came out before the season, I would have taken 3 wins and 3 losses at this point in the season. The NFL did Miami no favors with the opening schedule, so I expected around a 500 start. However, when the Dolphins won all three of their first three games, I started having dreams of going 5-1 in the first six because I saw the Jets on the road and Minnesota at home as being winnable games. Quite frankly, on my predicted outcome schedule, I had penciled the Jets and Vikings in as most likely wins. They ended up being close and competitive fourth quarter affairs but the lack of offensive production and offensive efficiency along with untimely turnovers led to defensive breakdowns in the fourth quarter that cost the Dolphins both games. The fact of the matter is, without Tua this Dolphins offense is boring and unwatchable. Teddy B got good production yardage wise in the Minnesota game but it took him a while to get going and there was no fire and fury in the red zone to score points. The Dolphins were settling for field goals way too often. That gets you beat in the NFL and get beat we did.

Tua’s Effect

The timing and accuracy just aren’t as pinpoint without Tua out there running the show. Tua was leading the league in total QBR and was in the top 5 of all passing categories. Tua was winning games and scoring touchdowns on every other drive. The Dolphins were leading the league in points per drive and red zone efficiency. Tua was an assassin in the red zone. It was fun to watch, and it was depressing to see what our offense became without him. The fact of the matter is, if you were one of those who didn’t know already, now you do. Tua is definitely the engine and catalyst for this team winning games. The fact that he has a far better winning percentage than Burrow or Herbert is not a fluke. The guy makes a huge impact on our team. He settles our offense down and he makes our guys go. Tua makes accurate throws that allow our guys to run after the catch and make big plays in space.

Tua’s Health

Tua throws with precision and accuracy to make the offense hard to stop. Tua is elite at reading blitzes and coverages. He knows how to manipulate safeties with his eyes and where to go with the hot route. His one deficiency is his propensity to hold onto the ball and try to make something happen when it simply isn’t there and this causes him to take big hits. Hits that have gotten him injured. Hits that some believe have almost cost him his career. Tua isn’t the little shrimp that many people believe him to be. At his Alabama pro day, he measured 6 feet 2 inches and 230 pounds. Don’t believe me? Check the tape. He is listed at 6’1” 216 pounds which makes him bigger than Russell Wilson, bigger than Kyler Murray, and roughly the same size as Fitzpatrick and Mahomes. He’s Samoan tough and heals quickly from injury. Even with that said, no matter how not small he is, Tua can’t afford to keep taking big hits like he has been taking if he wants to stay on the field and continue to lead his team. Tua isn’t protected with Brady level roughing the passer penalties and to a 6’5″ 300 pound plus dude we’re all mighty mouses. Make no mistake, this can be a special team once everyone is back healthy, but to be special we absolutely need Tua to stay healthy.

Offensive Line Woes

Regarding the offensive line, there are a lot of moving pieces like a jigsaw puzzle but hopefully it will come together and form a cohesive unit to protect our QB1. It sounds like Austin Jackson is a no go as he has not been practicing this week with what is believed to be a high ankle sprain. However, Armstead looks like he will be a go for Sunday night against the Steelers. This is great news considering the shaky play we had at Left Tackle last week. Greg Little started off great in replacement of Austin Jackson on the right side, but now that there is film on him, and teams know how to attack him he has fallen off substantially and was abysmal on the left against the Vikings. Brandon Shell was elevated from the practice squad and played well against the Vikings on Sunday in place of Little, so I would not be surprised if Shell gets the start on Sunday night protecting Tua’s blindside. Liam Eichenberg needs to get traded for a bag of Frito’s and a pickled hot sausage as soon as possible, then throw the hot sausage away right along with Liam. The guy is not an NFL interior lineman. He can’t play tackle. He’s not a center. He can’t play guard, and he doesn’t have the lean physique or skills to be a long snapper. Maybe he can play “coach” in South Bend. Time for him to go before he gets someone hurt. The film on him is absolutely atrocious. There was one play against the Jets where the defensive tackle rode him like a surfboard all the way to Skylar Thompson’s lap as soon as the ball was snapped. Eichenberg needs to sit down somewhere far far away from an NFL football field.

Burner and Lightening

Tyreek Hill and Waddle are burning up the wide receiver production charts even in the absence of Tua. Cheetah is actually on pace to set the single season receiving record if he can stay healthy and stay on pace. Hill has been everything we needed and more to transform this team. Waddle has been explosive as well, but he needs to learn to catch with his hands more as opposed to his body. This will lead to less bobbled passes that turn into interceptions that should have been completions. Waddle also needs to protect the ball better when he is running after the catch. He had a bit of a fumbling problem his rookie year and it reappeared at an inopportune time in the Vikings game as the Dolphins were driving to take the lead and then Waddle fumbled the bag and the game. He was visibly distraught and being very hard on himself as his coaches and teammates tried to cheer him up. Waddle is an elite athlete, and we will certainly need him to achieve the highest heights that we can obtain this season. It’s so exciting to finally get Tua back. Let’s keep him healthy this time and kick Brian Flores to the curb on national TV Sunday night. Fins up!

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