Can Any Team Shut Down the Miami Dolphins?
A little over a month ago, it looked as though the Miami Dolphins season could have gone sideways. The team had looked great through its first five games of the season with a 4-1 record, but quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s scary head injury became the focus of the season and there were questions as to when – and if – he would play again this season.
Of course, the former University of Alabama quarterback returned in Week 7 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and helped the Dolphins score a 16-10 win. It wasn’t pretty, but Tua and the Dolphins have looked better with each passing week. They’ve now won four games in a row, including a dominant 39-17 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, and are in first place in the AFC East with a 7-3 record.
Miami opened as +4000 favorites to win the Super Bowl this season, which was considerably lower than teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+700), San Francisco 49ers (+1600), and Dallas Cowboys (+2200). The Dolphins are not only better than those teams but have a very real shot at winning the Super Bowl this season.
Tua’s Breakthrough Season
Miami added Tyreek Hill, arguably the best and most explosive wide receiver in football, this past offseason. Second-year wideout Jaylen Waddle was also expected to take a leap forward in his development. Still, many wondered if Tagovailoa was the right player under center to lead the Dolphins to the promised land. Through 10 games this season, he’s silenced the doubters.
Tagovailoa had 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season to go along with just 204.1 passing yards per game. He was solid but unspectacular. It’s been a different story in 2022.
Tagovailoa is 7-1 in eight starts, but has won every game in which he started and finished. He has 18 touchdowns, three interceptions, and 283.1 passing yards per game. He leads all quarterbacks in yards gained per attempt (9.1), yards gained per pass completion (12.9), quarterback rating (118.4) and QBR (82.6).
Relatively Easy Schedule
Miami moved into first in the AFC East with its victory and the Buffalo Bills loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Obviously, a division win would give the team a more favorable playoff matchup and perhaps even a bye if they can continue rolling and win the conference.
This isn’t out of the question. The Dolphins have a bye week in Week 11 and then play the Houston Texans, which should put them at 8-3. They have competitive games in the following three weeks (Chargers, Bills, and Packers), but end the season with games against the Patriots and Jets. A 13-4 season isn’t out of the question, while a 12-5 record may even be enough to win the AFC.
The Defense Needs to Be Better
There’s nothing bad to say about the Dolphins offense, but if the team isn’t able to advance deep in the playoffs, let alone reach the Super Bowl, it’ll be because of its mediocre defense.
Miami is a bottom 10 team in yards allowed per game (370.8), passing yards allowed (239.8), points allowed (24.1), and third down stop percentage (44.4).