Phin Tank: Dolphins face Jets without Tagovailoa (includes video story)

This Sunday, the Dolphins will resume action after a 10-day hiatus following their loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday Night Football. Miami will of course be without star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who has been all over the news after the concussion he suffered in week 3. The Dolphins will look to get back into the win column on the road at MetLife Stadium against division-rival New York Jets.

The Jets are the only team in the AFC East that head coach Mike McDaniel has yet to face during his short tenure. He will be put to the test by former colleague Robert Saleh, who served on the San Francisco 49ers’ coaching staff at the same time as McDaniel. The former offensive and defensive coordinators will now face off in a staple division rivalry.

Although Miami has dominated New York in recent years, winning 10 of the last 12 matchups, the Dolphins will have their work cut out against the new-look Jets. Second-year quarterback Zach Wilson debuted last week after missing the first three games due to injury and had the offense hitting on all cylinders. The Jets stole last week’s game on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and fans appear to have regained confidence after a few rough seasons. 

Miami must remain disciplined despite its recent success versus the Jets. Tagovailoa’s absence will hurt, and McDaniel will need solid contributions from around the team for Miami to take one on the road.

Here are the Dolphins’ keys to winning this game:

  1. Teddy Bridgewater must clean up last week’s mistakes.

Bridgewater entered last week’s loss at the end of the first half following Tagovailoa’s scary injury. The seven-year veteran has now endured a full week of practicing as the starting quarterback, and it is imperative that this is evident in Sunday’s game. Bridgewater’s performance in Thursday’s loss was inconsistent. While the former Louisville quarterback did have the Dolphins in the lead at one point, a late interception ultimately killed Miami’s chances of victory.

Should Bridgewater struggle once again in this game, it will be interesting to see if McDaniel turns to preseason standout, Skylar Thompson. Bridgewater has plenty of experience running offenses during his career and should have no problems given his weapons. A full week of practicing with the starters and building chemistry will be key for Miami to pull out a win.

  1. The play of Miami’s secondary

The Dolphins are battling several injuries in the secondary that could play a large role in Sunday’s game. In last week’s loss, Miami allowed Joe Burrow to throw for 287 yards with Tee Higgins racking in 124 of them. Miami’s defense is currently ranked 31 of 32 in passing yards allowed per game with another tough matchup approaching this weekend. Last week, Corey Davis led the Jets in receiving yards, and he is arguably Wilson’s favorite target. The secondary also has to account for second-year man Elijah Moore who is more than capable of making big plays.

To make matters worse, Miami could be without both starting cornerbacks in this game. Byron Jones, who has yet to debut this season, has not been cleared to practice despite being taken off the PUP (physically unable to perform) list this week. Additionally, former all-pro Xavien Howard suffered a groin injury in Thursday’s loss and is listed as day-to-day. Miami will turn to Nik Needham, Keion Crossen, and Kader Kohou should Howard miss or be limited in this game. 

  1. Build off of last week’s running performance

Despite the loss on Thursday, the Dolphins had their best game running the ball in quite some time. McDaniel appeared to lean more on the run game after Tagovailoa went down and saw some good results. Miami currently ranks 29 of 32 in rushing yards per game, only averaging 69.3 over the first four weeks. Last week the Dolphins finished with 85 rushing yards, and while that is not great, things seem to be moving in the right direction.

It is not uncommon for a team’s game plan to be more ground oriented when missing a starting quarterback. The Jets have allowed an average of 108.8 rushing yards per game this season, and Miami should aim to reach that total or better. Raheem Mostert proved why he deserves more carries last week, finishing the game with 15 rushes for 69 yards. While it may be unorthodox for the Dolphins’ offense, it would be nice to see a game where Mostert and Chase Edmonds combine for 25-30 carries. Miami saw far more success in last week’s game when the team combined play-action with a steady run game.

The Dolphins are set to kick off on Sunday at 1 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on CBS4 in South Florida.

Anthony Blanco wrote the story, Moises Pionell, Alfredo Banegas and Esteban Rodriguez made the video


Moises Pinell is a student at FIU majoring in communications with a track in Digital Media. He enjoys editing videos related to sports and business. He aspires to work for a television network, the Miami Heat, or in the film industry.

Alfredo Banegas is a junior at Florida International University majoring in digital journalism hoping to combine his passion of sports and writing to become a sports writer. Alfredo looks to make positive changes in the way sports are covered in today’s media landscape.

Anthony Blanco is a senior majoring in Digital Journalism with hopes of pursuing a career in sports journalism. Anthony is passionate about covering sports and hopes to one day make his passion his profession.

Esteban Rodriguez is a sophomore majoring in TV/Broadcast media. He is a producer for Caplin News and FIU's Sports show, Sideline. He hopes to pursue this path of producing for Sports Networks and/or Hollywood in the Film Industry.