I’m sure we all did our share of moaning, groaning, and complaining during 3+ hours of the Dolphins’ thrilling 36-34 win over the L.A. Chargers. But the bottom line is they won. And for that, nobody can really complain. I’m still dumbfounded even an hour and a half after the fact. But analyze we must, so here’s my weekly game rundown without further ado.
- They won. Simple as that. Unlike years gone by when a game like this they were sure to lose, they pulled out the victory.
- Tua. 28-45-466 and three touchdowns. Those are Marino numbers. Yes, there were some underthrows and a bad interception, but he led the Fins to a come-from-behind win and, for the most part, was on the money with his throws and decision-making.
- Tyreek. The guy said he’s going for 2,000 yards. Yeah, right, Mr. Hill. The joke’s on us. 11 catches for 215 yards and two scores. He’s on a video game-like pace for 3,655 yards for the season. I’ve been watching this team for 53 years, and he has to be THE most exciting player this team has ever had.
- Offensive supporting cast. There are contributions made by many. Jaylen Waddle had his usual steady game. 4 catches for 78 yards. Raheem Mostert ran strong and kept the defense honest. Durham Smythe, Braxton Barrios, River Craecraft, and Alec Ingold all had at least two big plays each and had over 30 yards receiving.
- Offensive Line. Considering its bad reputation, Tua was not sacked! For the most part, he had time enough to throw, and the run blocking was good enough.
- Xavien Howard. Three defensive pass interference penalties for the highly-paid secondary star.
- Coverage schemes. Dolphin cornerbacks and safeties played well off Charger receivers allowing them to convert easy first down in obvious passing situations. The Chargers converted an alarming 60% of third downs.
- For 58 minutes, the pass rush. It was non-existent. Nick Chubb remains invisible. I thought his old defensive coordinator would revive his game. But when it counted most, somehow, the Dolphins came up with two sacks to seal the win, and for that, I moved the pass rush out of the ugly category.
- The Kicking game. Just when you thought Jason Sanders had figured it out, he missed a critical extra point which we all thought was a ‘game over’ moment. I wrote about this during the preseason about this guy being a Jekyll and Hyde act. He was given the job without competition. Perhaps bringing in another kicker would at least give Sanders an indication that his job isn’t a lock. Next up, Jake Bailey. Fortunately, he only had to punt once. That being a line drive 38-yarder. He continues to be unimpressive. He had a bad preseason, and yet again, no competition was brought in once Michael Turk had a cup of coffee early on in preseason. I know Matt Araiza had some personal issues, but he was cleared. Let’s bring in a guy who averaged over 50 yards per punt, shall we?
- Vic Fangio. Doctor Defense was supposed to shore up last year’s Swiss cheese defense. Alas, that did not nearly come to fruition.
- Run defense. The Chargers ran over, through, and around the Dolphin defense to the tune of 234 yards and a 5.9 average per rush. The Chargers’ top two running backs combined for 208 yards on 32 carries for a whopping 6.5 average.
- Snaps from center. Connor Williams and Tua need to figure it out. This basic fundamental has reared its ugly head all preseason without improvement, and it showed up again four times during the game. Four bad snaps for the whole season would be considered a lot for most teams. Williams/Tua managed to botch four of them in one game.
We are 1-0 and beat a team they will be fighting for as a most likely wild card team. Having the head-to-head tiebreaker sure will help. Up next will be an angry Patriots team who lost at home to the Eagles 25-20. If the Dolphins can erase some of these uglies and bad, they have a great chance at going 2-0.