It’s hard to focus on takeaways after Thursday’s game when the most significant story is the injury of starting QB Tua Tagovailoa. He left in one of the scariest moments in recent football history, and it was tough to pay attention to what happened afterward. With that being said, here are some of the biggest takeaways from the disappointing result against the Bengals:
- Christian Wilkins Dominates
This may have been the best performance by the 2019 first-round draft pick, it’s true that the Bengals don’t exactly have the best offensive line, but Wilkins did his job and then some. He was a big part of the Dolphins containing Joe Mixon to 2.5 yards per carry, and causing interior pressure on Joe Burrow. He’s ascending into a Pro Bowl talent while somehow still being the most underrated Dolphins player.
- Byron Jones Can’t Come Back Soon Enough
When Byron Jones wasn’t removed from PUP, and he was out the first four games, the first game that popped up was the game against the Bengals, who boast one of the best receiver units in the NFL. Miami’s backup defensive secondary had a valiant effort, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to contain the Bengals. Kader Kohou is a nice story, and he’s an ascending player, but he’s no Byron Jones. Keion Crossen also struggled when Xavien Howard went out. Hopefully, both Xavien Howard & Byron Jones will be back in time for next week’s game, and Miami once again boasts one of the league’s premier secondaries.
I went in pretty hard on some members of the National Media last night for Tua coverage, it's just irresponsible what many are saying. I called a few out by name. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but you aren't entitled to make up facts to fit your story https://t.co/b9ycsJhxPx
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) September 30, 2022
- Dolphins’ Offensive Line Shows Improvement
Slowly but surely the Dolphins’ offensive line has shown glimpses of improvement. Terron Armstead isn’t fully healthy, and that’s showing up mainly in the run game as he’s not quite able to get in space and move people. Despite that,t Terron is an anchor in pass protection, and Connor Williams has also been a great addition. Even on Tua’s injury, he had plenty of time to get rid of the ball, and the offensive line did their job in that play. Still, the Right Tackle and Left Guard positions could use some help.
- Running Game Shows Signs of Life
When Mike McDaniel was hired, one of the biggest things he had working for him was the fact he was a vital component of the 49ers’ dynamic running attack; so far this season, this has yet to pay dividends for Miami. Last night’s game was encouraging as Raheem Mostert got 69 yards on 4.6 yards per carry. The fact Miami didn’t have their starting QB out there dictated more carries for Raheem and a change in the game plan, but hopefully, Miami keeps showing signs of improvement in the run game.
- Miami Has a Good Team
Despite Miami losing their first game of the season, I still believe they are an excellent team. Unfortunately, this game was a missed opportunity, but nothing left me thinking the Bengals are a better football team. The Dolphins’ defense had three days to prepare for the game; after playing in an incredibly grueling game where they played 90 snaps, their QB was knocked out in the 2nd Quarter, Xavien Howard was clearly playing hurt before having to leave & Jaylen Waddle wasn’t himself. While this may sound like excuses, I believe it’s more of an explanation for why Miami lost. Ultimately I think Miami is the better team, but it’s the NFL, and these things happen.