The Miami Dolphins rolled into Denver on a five-game win streak to face the struggling 3-6 Broncos and promptly got dropped like Kofi Kingston facing Brock Lesnar. Sunday marked a regression for Tua, Coach Flores, and the Miami Dolphins’ offensive line. Things are not going to get any prettier in this article. Let’s go ahead and hit The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from this Week 11 contest.
3rd Down Defense
The Dolphins’ defense continues to be impressive on 3rd down. The Miami Dolphins held the Broncos to just 4-12 on third down. This is a strong foundation for the Dolphins’ defense to build from going forward.
The Miami Dolphins held Drew Lock to 18/30 for 270 yards and 1 INT for a quarterback rating of 75.7. At this point in Coach Flores’ rebuild, it is clear that the Dolphins’ pass defense is progressing at a superior rate to the Dolphins’ rush defense.
Sanders is Miami’s version of Bullseye. The guy just does not miss. Sanders continues to be brilliant making a 41-yard field and a 53-yard field goal. It is encouraging seeing how strong Miami’s special teams continue to be on a weekly basis. Having such a reliable kicker is a huge asset for Flores’ rebuilding football team.
Howard nabbed his 6th interception on Sunday. Howard is a beast and his early interception set up Miami with excellent field position and an early lead. This has been a pleasant trend of the Miami Dolphins’ defense as of late. Just imagine how much worse this game would have been if the Dolphins’ offense was not gifted such excellent field position early in the game.
Tua looked dazed and confused from the very start of this game. Before being pulled from the game, Tua completed just 11/20 passes for a measly 83 yards and 1 TD. This yielded a quarterback rating of 81.9. Tua was terribly inaccurate with a mere 55% completion percentage.
Tua had the “deer in the headlights look” for the entire game. It was obvious that Vic Fangio’s defense had Tua utterly bewildered. The Broncos made Tua look exactly like what he is: a rookie quarterback making his fourth start of his career. Tua’s head was spinning and it was obvious he had no answer for the Broncos defense was doing all afternoon.
Of course, it did not help any that the offensive line allowed Tua to get pummeled on so many plays. To be fair, some of those sacks were completely Tua’s fault. Tua held on to the ball for a ridiculously long time allowing the Broncos defense to come down with some of those sacks.
Tua needs to learn when to either throw the ball away to protect himself and to avoid creating negative yardage plays. Or Tua needs to be quicker at realizing nobody is open and pull the ball down and run and slide for however many yards he can get.
The Miami Dolphins got the ball back with 10:44 remaining in the 4th quarter down 20-10. At this point, Flores decided to bench Tua and insert Ryan Fitzpatrick into the game. Flores defended his decision in his post-game conference by saying he was looking to provide a spark to the team to try and win the game.
However, what happened was just the opposite. Fitzpatrick tossed an interception and the Dolphins lost. But, in the process, Flores has now placed into his rookie quarterback’s mind the thought that he could be benched at any point going forward.
This was a flat out awful decision. Flores should have let Tua finish the game and gain a valuable learning experience. It does not matter if Tua had been able to bring the Dolphins back for a win or not. All that matters is that Tua would have been able to use this game as a learning moment.
Look no further than last week’s game between the Dolphins and the Chargers. Justin Herbert was awful in that game. But, Coach Anthony Lynn showed faith and support in his rookie quarterback and let him take his licks and use the game as a learning experience.
Football is not baseball. There is no such thing as a relief quarterback. Flores needs to make a commitment to his rookie quarterback and stand by him for the remainder of the season. This was bad coaching by a defensive-minded coach who does not understand how to handle quarterback.
Fitzpatrick entered the game in the 4th quarter and proceeded to complete 12/18 passes for 117 yards. Fitzpatrick’s had a 66% completion percentage and a quarterback rating of 61.6.
To be sure, Fitzmagic passed for more yards in less than one quarter than Tua did for a little over three quarters. But, Fitzpatrick also did what Fitzpatrick does: commit costly turnovers in the red zone. Fitzpatrick’s interception in the end zone sealed the game and gave the Broncos the win.
The Miami Dolphins’ offense was putrid. Make no mistake about it. The Dolphins had a total of ten possessions. One possession ended in a TD. And that drive only had to go 22 yards. There were two possessions that ended in field goals. The remaining seven possessions yielded zero points. Even worse, of those seven possessions, five of them were three downs and out. The other two? One went eight plays for a measly 15 yards. The other one ended in a Fitzpatrick interception. All in all, the Miami Dolphins offense was as ferocious as a kitten.
The Miami Dolphins offensive line stunk on ice. To be fair, the offensive line made sure they were as bad in pass protection as they were in run blocking. The guards allowed pressure right up the middle. The tackles allowed pressure flying off the edge. And running the ball? The Dolphins rushed 17 times for 56 yards for an average of 3.3 yards per carry. There was absolutely nothing positive from the offensive line all game long.
I know this could be lumped into the offensive line section. But, this really deserves its spotlight. The Broncos sacked the quarterback six times for a loss of 33 yards. Overall, there were a total of 8 quarterback hits. And there was constant pressure all day. This is a great way to get your rookie quarterback, who already has an injury history, killed.
It was such a joy to see the Dolphins step out onto the field looking resplendent in their throwback uniforms against the Chargers. This made it that much tougher to see the Dolphins back in their Miami Sea Aquarium uniforms against the Broncos. Seriously, Stephen Ross, just pull the plug on these uniforms. I get that rich men hate to admit they made a mistake, but….you made a mistake.
The Miami Dolphins’ run defense was the Glass Joe to the Broncos’ Little Mac. The Dolphins got pummeled in the face by the Broncos rushing attack for four quarters. The Broncos’ offense had 33 rushes for 189 yards and 2 TDs. The Broncos running backs averaged 5.7 yards per carry.
If Melvin Gordon did not pull an Ernest Byner on the two-yard line in the 4th quarter then the final score would have been 27-13 and would have looked even uglier.
The Broncos completely exposed the Dolphins’ run defense. Fangio provided a successful blueprint on how to attack the Dolphins’ defense. I would fully expect to see more of this from the Dolphins’ opponents as the season progresses.
The Miami Dolphins as an organization took a step back against the Broncos. However, this should not diminish the progress that the Dolphins have made this season. If you told Dolphins’ fans at the beginning of the season that ten games into the season the Miami Dolphins would be 6-4 I do not think any fans would have believed you. The fact is that Miami is one of those teams who could beat just about anyone on their schedule and….lose to anyone on their schedule, too.
To comment on this article and other Miami Phins content, visit our Facebook page, our Twitter feed, and our Instagram feed. Also, catch up with all of Rokk’s other musings about sports, geek news. TV shows, movies, and more over on his Twitter page.