The Miami Dolphins were eliminated from the playoffs last night after an embarrassing 34-3 loss to the Tennessee Titans. This is despite starting the day occupying the final wildcard spot and having the latest bye week in the history of the league, which was seen as a positive when the schedule was released earlier this year.
Wins for the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders meant that despite being just a win ahead of Miami, the fact they play each other meant that all playoff hopes were killed off. Along with the Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, Miami had a week off in Week 14 due to the addition of an extra game this season.
However, did this bye week come at the wrong time for Miami?
Bye Week Killed Momentum
I know what you are thinking. The Patriots and Eagles all secured postseason football this weekend, and the Colts are all but in.
Despite this being the case, the Patriots entered the bye week 9-4 during the bye week, whereas the Dolphins finished week 13 with a 6-7 record. The Colts went in 7-6, and the Eagles were 6-7, but both had a far easier schedule than Miami.
Philadelphia faced Washington twice and the Giants after the bye week, who have combined for ten wins. Indianapolis did face the Arizona Cardinals and Patriots, who have combined for 21 wins this campaign, but they went into it with seven Pro Bowlers compared to Miami’s one.
Duke Johnson may have had a 100+ yard rushing game in the Dolphins’ first game back after the bye week as they beat the New York Jets but couldn’t muster more than 40 in the Monday Night Football win over the New Orleans Saints. This is the difference. Miami may have an excellent defense, but the offense is lacking the number of weapons that most playoff team have.
Was Tua’s Momentum and Dolphins Career Crushed By Bye Week?
Another factor that played a big part in Miami’s poor performance was the disappointing display by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. He struggled early on during the 1-7 start. Both his and the team’ performances started to improve during the seven-game win streak.
Putting stats aside, he struggled when it came down to it and mattered. In an important game, he looked lost out on the field. Looking at the games this season in more detail, he has had three games where he has not recorded a single touchdown. These came against the Buffalo Bills, Ravens and Titans. The Titans are division champions. The Bills are likely to follow suit. Baltimore are still marginally in the hunt for the playoffs and would already be in if Lamar Jackson was not injured.
There have been four games where he has thrown for 2 or more touchdowns. These teams have been the Jets, Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons, the latter in which he threw for 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. These four teams have combined for a 17-47 record this season.
The Contrast Pre and Post Bye Week
He went into the bye week with two consecutive games without an interception. During the four games leading up to it which saw the Dolphins beat the Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, Carolina Panthers and New York Giants. Tua was playing some of his best football in a Dolphins jersey before the bye week. He never looked quite the same since, with a significant drop in his numbers.
|Week||Yards||Touchdown(s)||Interception(s)||Average per game|
|Weeks 10-13.||905||5||1||226.3 yards, 1.3 TDs, 0.3 INT|
|Weeks 15-17.||599||3||4||199.7 yards, 1 TD and 1.4 INT|
The former Alabama QB seems very much like a confidence player. It appears that the bye week has seen him lose his flow. He also played well against bad teams and couldn’t deal with good teams. The offensive line hasn’t helped but there have been many mistakes that you can’t blame outside of Tua.
Currently, at 8-8, Miami has one week left as they try to end with a winning record rather than a losing one. They face their long-time enemy at home in the Patriots, who they beat on the road in Week One. This Dolphins side will hope to prevent any possibility of New England winning the AFC East.
Playing against the Jets, it is likely that the Bills will win this and subsequently the division no matter what happens in Miami’s game. Nevertheless, it would be nice to put an end to any slim chances.
In terms of the offseason, the talk of replacing Tua is likely to continue after the loss and being eliminated from playoff contention for the fifth straight season.
Calls for head coach Brian Flores to be fired will exist, even if many argue this would be unfair. There is chatter that someone will lose their position. After how the 2021 Draft class has performed of late, Chris Grier is likely to be safe. This should be the same for Flo.
Expect an eventful offseason for the Dolphins