Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins escaped Soldier Field in an exciting victory over the Chicago Bears Sunday afternoon. Miami showcased its two new additions, Jeff Wilson Jr. and Bradley Chubb, acquired at the trade deadline last week. While the Dolphins failed to contain Chicago quarterback Justin Fields, Mike McDaniel’s squad improved to 6-3 and is now 0.5 games out of first place in the AFC East.
The Bears fall to 3-6 with Sunday’s loss despite achieving their season-high in points scored in a game. Fields’ record-breaking day was ultimately spoiled after a late drop by wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown gave Miami the ball back with 1:29 left in the fourth quarter. The former Ohio State star broke Michael Vick’s record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game with 178 on 15 carries.
Here are three things we learned watching the Dolphins’ scrappy victory in Chicago over the weekend:
- Jeff Wilson Jr. is a threat to take Raheem Mostert’s starting spot
The Dolphins acquired Wilson Jr. at last week’s trade deadline after sending a fifth-round pick to the San Francisico 49ers. The veteran running back claims he feels as if he has “been on the team since camp” which shouldn’t come as a surprise, as McDaniel was San Fransisco’s Offensive Coordinator just a year ago.
McDaniel now has both of his former running backs on the roster with Mostert, also following the new head coach from the Bay to Miami during free agency.
“Raheem is probably the first friend, the first friend/brother that I made coming into the league,” Wilson told the media after the game. “He’s never changed to this day.”
The two shared the backfield, with McDaniel giving each nine carries in Sunday’s game. Wilson was far more productive with the football, rushing nine times for 51 yards, three receptions for 21 yards, and a touchdown midway through the third quarter.
While Mostert has not had a bad season, McDaniel will surely look to feature the back who is most successful in the offense and gives Miami the best shot at winning. For this reason, Wilson may get his number called slightly more as the season progresses.
- Tua continues to pick apart every secondary he plays
Tagovailoa logged his second-straight elite performance Sunday with a three-touchdown day against Chicago. The third-year man finished 21 of 30 with 302 yards through the air Sunday. Miami improved to 6-0 in games that Tagovailoa plays in its entirety.
The Dolphins have been night-and-day in games that Tagovailoa starts this season. The former Alabama star has put up MVP-like numbers despite missing three games after his concussion in Week 4. Miami dropped all three games that Tagovailoa missed this season and has been perfect since his return to the lineup.
There is no coincidence that Tagovailoa’s breakout season is coming after Miami acquired superstar Tyreek Hill over the summer. Both Hill and Jaylen Waddle continued their dominant seasons against the Bears with seven receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown and five receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown respectively. McDaniel has done a great job constructing the offense to showcase its two playmakers, who have made defenses pay when Tagovailoa gets them the ball.
Miami’s big three is on track to break several significant records such as Calvin Johnson’s receiving yards in a season record that has been in place since 2012. Additionally, the receiver tandem leads the league with receiving yards for a duo by a wide margin.
- Miami’s run defense needs to step up
Sunday’s game was probably closer than it should have been, and that is largely in part to how well Chicago ran the ball. Miami has been poor at stopping big rushing performances all season and currently ranks directly in the middle at #16 in rushing yards allowed per game.
The Dolphins’ 117.4 rushing yards per game average was blown out of the water by Fields and the Bears. Chicago finished the game with 252 yards on the ground with David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert contributing 36 and 23 yards respectively.
Chicago’s ability to dominate on the ground allowed its passing game to open up and nearly led to a Bears’ comeback. Apart from Field’s record-breaking day running the ball, the second-year quarterback finished 17 of 28 through the air for 123 yards and three touchdowns. The mobile quarterback did a great job escaping the pressure and making throws on the run.
Fields managed to escape newly acquired Dolphins’ pass rusher Chubb who nearly had multiple sacks but was not able to successfully add any to the 5.5 he already has this year.
The Fins will look to extend its win streak to four games when they host the Cleveland Browns at Hard Rock Stadium next Sunday. The Browns are 3-5 on the season and will enter Sunday’s game well-rested coming off a bye week. Cleveland’s last game before the week off was a dominant, 32-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football. Superstar running back Nick Chubb led the way with 101 yards and two touchdowns, another reason Miami’s run defense needs to come better prepared for its next game.
The game will be broadcast on CBS4 in South Florida.