Another thrilling win, DolFans, and one I’m confident will make or have made all of your collective sleep much easier. In front for most of the game, The Fins literally hung on for dear life on the Pats’ final drive as Andrew Van Ginkel thwarted a desperation lateral attempt, which ended up an inch short of a first down. As I said last week, there’s no room to complain. Two road wins in games they typically have lost in years past. But we must do our Good/Bad/Ugly analysis. Fortunately, our list is top-heavy.
- Another road win. Only the 49ers and the Dolphins managed to open the season with two road wins—a rare accomplishment.
- Tua remains on the Good list. 21-30-249 and a TD. He made the throws when he had to and was generally on the money. Again, he made one bad interception, but his decision-making is quick and decisive.
- Raheem Mostert. Huge game. 18 carries for 121 yards (6.7 per carry) and 2 TDs, including a long 43-yarder. He’s got speed and power and kept the offense in balance. Dalvin who?
- Andrew Van Ginkel. Including the game-saving fourth down stop, AVG had a sack and a tackle for loss and was all over the field.
- Bradley Chubb. He had a huge hustle play, forcing a fumble, denying the Patriots points, and had a sack for a loss of 10 yards. It was nice to hear his name called during the game.
- The offensive supporting cast remains on the Good list. There are contributions made by many. In total, “The Others” had 12 catches for 123 yards as Tua spread the ball around quite effectively.
- Offensive Line. Run blocking was great. There was more pressure on Tua this week, but he was sacked once.
- Defensive Front. From last week’s 233 yards rushing allowed to just 88 this week. Throw in 4 sacks, moving this group from the Ugly list to the Good one.
- Eli Apple. Two consecutive defensive pass interference penalties and a host of completed passes were given up—the weak link of the secondary. The film won’t lie. Expect the Broncos to exploit #33 next week.
- Kicking game. I’m keeping it here rather than demoting it to the Ugly list because there was some good; however, it remains inconsistent at best. Jason Sanders hit only 1 of 3 field goals, although one was blocked and not necessarily his fault. His last kick could have clinched the game, but he missed a 55-yarder. Granted, that’s a long kick, but it wasn’t close. And once again, there was no competition brought in during the week. Jake Bailey started as usual with a short 37-yard punt. But to his credit, he answered with 55 and 52-yard punts—his first 50+ yard punts as a Fin. I’m still hoping Matt Araiza gets a call. Danny Crossman needs to get the special teams units playing better.
- Third and fourth down conversions. The Defense allowed 8 of 17 conversions to keep Patriot drives alive.
- Snaps from center. I’m leaving this one on the Ugly list. There were fewer mistakes, but there was a huge one when it counted most. Driving for the clinching score, Tua fumbled a snap, resulting in the Fins having to try a long 55-yard field goal. It wasn’t clear whose fault it was, but as we have been saying since the preseason, this HAS to be fixed. During the game, Cris Collinsworth said, “It’s hard to believe in professional football you’re having trouble with the snap.”
Up next, the Denver Broncos come to town for the Dolphins home opener. Vegas has the Fins favored by 5.5. The Broncos have shown nothing, losing two games at home as a favorite. Playing down to the level of competition has been an issue in the past. Have the Fins graduated from that? Let’s hope we see progression in that category as well next week.