The Miami Dolphins have fans buzzing after recording their seventh victory of the season and fourth in a row on Sunday.
Miami continues its impressive season as it heads into the bye week with a 7-3 record – good for first place in the AFC East after a Buffalo Bills loss over the weekend.
Tua Tagovailoa continued his stellar third-year campaign with yet another superstar performance, this time going head-to-head against former Dolphin backup quarterback, Jacoby Brissett. Tagovailoa was not forced to do everything, however, as Jeffery Wilson Jr. and Raheem Mostert ran all over Cleveland’s defense en route to victory.
The Dolphins remain undefeated in games in which Tagovailoa starts and finishes this season with a perfect 7-0 record. Miami appears to have asserted itself as a contender at the moment and is in a great spot heading into its week off.
Here are three things we learned watching the Dolphins’ big win over the weekend:
Miami’s defense deserves credit for rebounding
The Dolphins conceded a record-breaking performance to the Chicago Bears’ Justin Fields during last week’s win. Fields finished the contest with 178 yards on the ground, the most by a quarterback in a single game ever.
With top running back Nick Chubb coming to town on Sunday, there was certainly a concern from Miami’s side that there could be a repeat of last week’s rushing barrage.
Christian Wilkins and the rest of the defensive unit surely answered the call.
The Dolphins held Chubb, the running back with the third-most rushing yards in the league this season, to just 63 yards and a touchdown. A rather pedestrian day by his standards. They also forced the former Georgia Bulldog to cough up the ball late in the first quarter, that being his first fumble of the season.
Not only did the defense do a great job containing Chubb and the Browns’ run game, but they were also able to get pressure on Brissett, who was sacked three times.
The Dolphins spoiled his return to Miami, but even so, the six-year veteran finished 22 of 35 for 212 yards and a touchdown. The former third-round pick got nearly half of his yards on throws to wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones who finished with five receptions for 99 yards.
Head coach Mike McDaniel has to be much more content with the way his defense came to play this week as compared to its last two performances. After allowing a touchdown on the opening drive in this game, Miami’s defense really stepped up and found a way to string together consecutive stops to ultimately control the game.
Miami’s offense is elite.
McDaniel and the Dolphins seem to have cracked the code that has plagued Miami for so long, and that is a strong, consistent offense.
Miami managed to eclipse the 30-point mark for the third straight week, and there is no question they are firing on all cylinders at the moment.
Tagovailoa has been the catalyst for the offense’s success in games he’s played this season. As a result, Fin nation rightfully showered the third-year quarterback with “MVP” chants all afternoon. The former Alabama quarterback has thrown for three touchdowns in three consecutive games now and has 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions since returning from the concussion that held him out for three weeks.
Despite the Hawaiin prodigy’s big afternoon, the star, or stars, of the game were Wilson and Mostert in the backfield.
Miami has been searching for any kind of production from its running backs for what seems like forever at this point. Well, the prayers have been answered, as McDaniel’s two former backs from his time in San Francisco have brought a whole new dimension to the Dolphins’ offense that it’s lacked for some time now.
Wilson impressed once again, leading the way with 17 carries for 119 yards and a touchdown. The undrafted back also caught two passes for 24 yards through the air. With only two games under his belt in a Dolphin uniform, it has been exciting to see just how fast he has acclimated to his new team and what he’s done for the offense in such a short period of time.
Mostert continues to be a steady force for the offense, this time rushing only eight times, but still managing to rack up 65 yards and a touchdown. While his carries will certainly take a hit with Wilson’s production at the moment, having Mostert as a guy who can come into the game in relief of your starter is certainly a luxury.
Miami totaled 195 yards on the ground in this game.
The Dolphins’ dynamic receiving tandem didn’t put up the numbers we have been used to seeing from them but contributed nonetheless. Jaylen Waddle led all Dolphins receivers with four receptions for 66 yards. Tyreek Hill had his worst game of the season yardage-wise with five receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown.
Tagovailoa did a great job spreading the ball around, completing a pass to eight different receivers, and making some beautiful throws in the process.
It was encouraging to see the level Miami’s offense was able to achieve prior to the bye week. If the momentum continues, the Dolphins are primed for a deep run this postseason.
Miami deserves to be atop the division.
The Dolphins enter their bye week with a 7-3 record and first place in the AFC East. This is a testament to the players, coaching staff, and most certainly, the front office.
Fin nation will be the first to tell you that this team has a special feel that has been missing for decades. There is no doubt right now – the Dolphins are good.
You can’t go anywhere around the city right now without seeing teal and orange being repped in some form, and with good reason. With this game essentially serving as the “halfway” point of the season, Miami has most definitely over-achieved up to this point and deserves a ton of credit for the season they’re having.
McDaniel and the Dolphins have found a way to not only answer all the questions people had about its first-time head coach but also silence all the critics who dubbed the team a failure before the season ever began.
Even so, there aren’t many people who could have envisioned the success this team is having this year, but there’s one thing that’s for sure, and that is that Dolphins fans will enjoy every moment they have at the top.
With the amount of adversity that this organization and the fans have had to withstand over the past few seasons, to be in this position is about as poetic as anything in the NFL.
Miami will resume play in roughly two weeks when the team hosts the Houston Texans following the bye week.