Metlife Stadium has been relatively friendly to the Miami Dolphins in recent years.  If there was ever a better time for a stretch of “get well” games in the Dolphins’ schedule, it would be right now.  On Sunday, the Dolphins put forth a workman-like effort and took care of business against a lowly New York Jets team destined for next year’s top pick (Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence) in the NFL Draft.

Timing is everything right now in an NFL season complicated by a COVID virus wreaking havoc on team rosters league-wide.  Take last week’s humbling loss to the Denver Broncos, for example.  The Dolphins would have surely beaten the Broncos if their past two games were flip-flopped.  Instead of going  2-0 in those games, Miami would have to settle for a 1-1 split due to the entire Denver quarterback room contracting “the invisible virus.”  Yet, the Dolphins did what was necessary versus the Jets by playing dominant defense and being just good enough on offense.  That seems to be the script Dolfans have come to know all too well over the past twenty years and was good enough again in their defeat of the Jets.

While Dolfans may not like the idea at the moment, this team is now 11 games into their 17-week journey for an offensive identity.  That identity will be largely based upon which quarterback is leading the huddle any given Sunday.  While there are always points to address on the defensive side of the ball, let’s just assume for a moment that the Dolphin defense is sufficient and shift our focus to the offense.  This Miami offense is far improved from where it was only a year ago.  The re-built offensive line, in particular, has enabled this team’s skilled players the time and space to make plays.  Additionally, the combined performance of the defense and special teams have deflected some of the growing concerns on offense that are becoming hard to ignore.

For this Dolphins team to remain competitive in its quest for a division title and favorable playoff seed, there are three issues that must be addressed with five games remaining in the regular season.  First and foremost, there needs to be some clarification on the quarterback position.  The Dolphins are fortunate to have the ultimate team player in Ryan Fitzpatrick.  What he brings to this team are intangibles in the form of experience, leadership, and passion that unite this Dolphins franchise.  Yes, gunslingers like Fitzpatrick bring with them elements of risk, but with risk comes reward and a 7-4 record heading into December is all the evidence we need at the moment.  With Tua Tagovailoa’s left thumb injury limiting his immediate availability, it’s more apparent than ever that the Dolphins starting QB for the rest of the year will be week to week.  That is something we will have to come to accept.  If Tua is healthy, then great.

Secondly, while DeVante Parker has established himself as a legitimate “#1-ish” WR, the Dolphins clearly are in need of another alpha-receiver to round out their group.  DK Metcalfs don’t grow on trees folks, but remember, he was a low 2nd round draft pick (#64).  At least one of Miami’s four draft picks in the first two rounds of the 2021 Draft must address this glaring need.  Devonta Smith from Alabama sure would look good opposite Parker.  Availability is the best ability and Preston Williams needs to be on the field.  Jakeem Grant is a nifty gadget player but it’s hard to reliably complete passes to a guy listed at 5’6″.  How tall is your mother?

Third, the Dolphins seem to be close to having a full stable of running backs, once Myles Gaskin returns from his injury hiatus.  Gaskin was a major contributor early in the season and seemed to find his niche in this Miami offense.  With his likely return, coupled with his old college teammate, Salvon Ahmed, the Dolphins have themselves a nice little duo at the RB position.  While both are similarly sized and possess similar skillsets, it will be difficult for opponents to game plan when either of them is in the backfield.  Miami’s offensive coaching staff needs to plan how these two players fit in their weekly schemes moving forward.  The addition of DeAndre Washington, I believe, will prove to be a sneaky little pickup for the Dolphins.  He’s a nice veteran presence whose value comes in handy on 3rd down situations.  Washington has shown out nicely since being acquired by the Dolphins in a trade with the Raiders, one of Miami’s upcoming December opponents.

The Dolphins are fortunate to be playing another injury-ravaged team at home this Sunday, in the Joe Burrow-less Cincinnati Bengals.  There will be plenty of opportunities in the future for a Tua-Burrow showdown, but it won’t be this Sunday. Bigger games lie beyond the Bengals with the Chiefs, Raiders, Bills, and Patriots looming on the horizon.  It’s time to hunker down.