“Handcrafted” is a term that’s jumped the proverbial marketing shark in mainstream American advertising these days.  The fact that human hands assembled your half-pound cheeseburger or footlong turkey sub has been overplayed for some time now across the commercial food industry.  The method is not as important as flavor, and the 2020 edition of the Miami Dolphins is proving to be a dish masterfully crafted using a full complement of hand-selected ingredients.  With Chris Grier “buying the groceries” and Brian Flores whipping up the weekly specials, who needs Instacart?

The Dolphins were back in the desert this past Sunday for a rubber match with the Arizona Cardinals dating back to 2012.  Looking to build upon their current three-game winning streak, this late afternoon contest would prove to be an early bird special.  Down a handful of coaches due to COVID-19 protocols and their top two running backs, Myles Gaskin and Matt Breida shelved with injuries, the Dolphins were seemingly at a disadvantage before their chartered flight even left the runway in Miami.  Kenyan Drake couldn’t even suit up for this contest and he was on the opposite sideline!  That didn’t matter to Brian Flores, because a good chef knows how to improvise.

At first glance, Tua Tagovailoa looks to be a much different quarterback than Ryan Tannehill, who played under center the last two occasions these teams went head to head.  Learning on the fly isn’t easy for a rookie quarterback in the NFL.  On image alone, Tua looks like a boy among men needing to chisel up and put on additional weight next offseason.  However, he clearly is not just another one-dimensional kitchen tool with a singular function.  Tua Tagovailoa is a highly precise Swiss-Army utensil capable of adding a new flavor to this entire Dolphins team, not just the offense.  His ability to process information with great speed and accuracy is quickly becoming one of his trademarks.   Just have a look at the triple check-down throw he made to Durham Smythe early in the game and his great use of the hard count to pick up a first down on penalty.

The last time I checked, bootlegging was illegal, but Tagovailoa is putting the rest of the NFL on notice.  His first-quarter misdirection dart throwing was a thing of beauty opponents will certainly need to add to their defensive game plans.  The decision Head Coach Brian Flores made to play Tua over Ryan Fitzpatrick was not an easy one, but after Sunday’s performance it was clearly the right call and the entire Dolphin organization will benefit from it.

But enough about Tua Tagovailoa for the time being.  We’ll let the aging process run its course and enjoy the weekly maturation.  Let’s talk about this Dolphins defense and the Grier/Flores fingerprints tattooed on each position.  Watching this synchronized defense is now just as much fun as the  Tua-infused offense.  Sunday’s contest against the Cardinals was a chess match between Brian Flores and Kliff Kingsbury.  Pride versus pride.  Both coaches are in their 2nd year at the helm and have fully installed their respective systems.  There’s no doubt Flores had extra motivation to not be on the losing end of this face-off.  Just ask L.A. Rams head coach, Sean McVay, about playing hardball with Brian Flores after his signature offense was stymied in Super Bowl 43.  Kingsbury arguably gave Flores more of a challenge on Sunday and certainly a more exciting game.  Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray vs. the Runner-up Tua Tagovailoa?  This script couldn’t have been written any better and Flores cooked up a masterpiece.  Next up, Justin Herbert and the L.A. Chargers come to town and I think it’s going to be a long day for this could’ve been Dolphins quarterback.  How’s that for drama?