The Miami Dolphins played their starters the entire first half on Saturday in what looked to be the final rehearsal for the regular season. There were many highs and some lows in Miami’s preseason victory, and today we will look at the top 5 takeaways from Saturday’s game.
1. Tua Tagovailoa looks like a different quarterback than last year
Quick-release, anticipation, accuracy, in command are some of the things that Dolphins beat writers have said that have seen from Tua this training camp. After 2 preseason games, it’s obvious that this is a different Tua than last season. Now healthy from that devastating hip injury in 2019, Tua has started to come into his own. On Saturday, Tua started the game again on a tear and led the Dolphins to back-to-back touchdown drives going 11-12 113 yards and a touchdown. Tua ended the game 16-23 183 yards and that one touchdown. Tua navigated the pocket well, including a nice job avoiding the rush to find Myles Gaskin for a touchdown. Tua’s best ball of the day was a 30-yard strike to Tight End Mike Gesicki over the middle. Tua has been trending up all off-season, and he showed exactly why on Saturday.
2. Myles Gaskin looks like RB1
Earlier in the week, Coach Flores made some headlines saying that Miami will be a running back by committee, but after Saturday night, it will be tough to convince anyone that Gaskin is not RB1. Gaskin started the game and instantly had his presence felt on the first drive catching a 21-yard pass from Tua and another 3rd down pass where he broke a tackle to get to the chains. He capped off the drive with a rushing touchdown. He caught a touchdown from Tua on the next drive and had 70 total yards and two touchdowns after just two drives. Gaskin is not a household name at the running back position, but he will look to slowly work his way there to have another strong season.
3. Liam Eichenberg looks good at Right Tackle
The Dolphins have been experimenting with their offensive line this training camp with 2021 2nd round pick Liam Eichenberg at left guard. Solomon Kindley got the start at left guard on Saturday, and Eichenberg came off the bench at right tackle. Eichenberg did not disappoint; working next to 2nd-year guard Robert Hunt, Eichenberg posted a 78.3 grade, which would rank him 2nd among tackles playing 40+ snaps. Eichenberg will likely get more opportunities to lock up the right tackle spot and help a struggling unit.
4. Austin Jackson could be a problem
The second-year left tackle Austin Jackson had a forgettable preseason opener, and his second game was better but still not good. Jackson often seemed to get pushed back on pass pro and even had a holding penalty on a Salvon Ahmed run. Jackson, who is still very young, will need to show improvement, or the Dolphins may look to put Liam Eichenberg (former left tackle at Notre Dame), Jesse Davis (can play anywhere but center on the offensive line), or 2021 7th rounder Larnel Coleman at that spot and give Jackson a much-needed kick in the butt.
5. Defense has a chance to be special
We all know the what strength of this team is, defense. Miami has a lot of talent on the defensive side, and it has shown in these two preseason games. Byron Jones gave up a catch early n the first drive, then locked up the rest of the time he saw action. X is X looks great; Needham has come a long way and looks good. The one area of concern that can hold back this defense is the run defense. McKinney, John Jenkins, Zach Sieler, Christian Wilkins, Elandon Roberts will need to stay stout because expect teams to test us on the ground. Sam Eguavoen looked amazing and might have locked up a roster spot with 11 tackles, 4 sacks, and a safety. As a blitzing linebacker, Sam looked great and could be a nice chess piece to this defense.