Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said one thing that’s true after Sunday’s 20-7 season-opening win over the New England Patriots, and that’s the team is a defensive team first until proven otherwise. The defense is what set the tone for the game on Sunday. Outside of the opening possession of each half, the Dolphins didn’t give up many sustained drives to the Patriots. When it looked like the Patriots would get something going, the defense came up with a big turnover, like Xavien Howard’s deflection that led to Jevon Holland’s interception on the opening drive or Kader Kohou delivering a big hit to force a fumble in the 4th quarter. The defense, at least early in the season, will carry the team. 

That’s not to say the Dolphins’ offense won’t come around, but the reality is they have a new offensive system, and it will take some time for them to come around. The offense showed flashes on Sunday, with Tyreek Hill taking a simple short 2-yard pass and turning it into a 15-yard plus gain with his speed. Or the play that put the game away before the half, when quarterback Tua Tagovailoa hit Jaylen Waddle on a slant pass on 4th and 7 for a first down and took it the distance. Those types of plays give me hope this offense will start to come around. However, there are a lot of things that still have to come together. 

 Of course, it starts up front with the offensive line, and they had some ups and downs against the Patriots. They allowed 3threesacks and didn’t really open up any running lanes with any consistency, but Tagovailoa wasn’t under duress all game long. Terron Armstead was solid at left tackle, and Connor Williams did well at center. Liam Eichenberg sometimes struggled at left guard and might need more time. The Dolphins problem in the game was when Austin Jackson went out with an injury, and Greg Little had to come in. Then Armstead went out briefly,, so the Dolphins had to juggle the line so the depth will be tested, especially if Armstead and Jackson do miss time. It sounds like Armstead will be fine, but Jackson is another story. The Dolphins did a good job this training camp keeping guys at the positions they were given, but now they might have to go to plan B. With the Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills coming up, that could be a challenge against two good defensive football teams. 

 Tagovailoa played well for the most part, but there is still a need for improvement. He got away with two interceptions. Hill bailed him out, reaching for a catch, and a Patriots defender batted a ball away that surely would have been intercepted by Devin McCourty. Plus, Tagovailoa narrowly lost the ball on some fumbles, or being fortunate his knee was down. He seems more in command of the offense and more confident, but he has to play better than last Sunday. 

 The Dolphins have the potential, and I hope it comes around and not be a flash in the pan, but the defense will have to lead this team moving forward until the offense comes around, or if it does. Twenty points aren’t going to cut it in winning games. The Dolphins’ offense has to come around because there will be a time when the defense has an off game. The question will be, can the offense pick this team up? Right now, the answer is no. That has to change especially with the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals coming up because those teams can put points on the board. Hopefully, that will change.