The Miami Dolphins took down the Los Angeles Chargers by the score of 29-21. It was not perfect, but the Dolphins continue to play strong team football. Let’s go ahead and hit The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from this Week 10 contest.
Whether we like it or not everything revolves around the QB. Especially in a game that was billed as the battle of the 5th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft versus the 6th pick. Tua completed 15/25 passes for 169 yards, 2TD’s, and 0 interceptions. This lead to a 106.9 rating.
There is nothing about this stat line that will blow you away. However, what the stat line does not reveal is the poise, leadership, intelligence, and mobility that Tua displayed for four quarters. Tua avoided any costly turnovers and made big throws to keep drives alive. Sure, it has only been three games, but Tua is undefeated as a starter and has displayed his immense talent and potential that warranted him being selected 5th overall in the draft. The arrow continues to be pointed up with Tua as Miami’s franchise quarterback.
The running back position has been decimated. Myles Gaskins is on the IR. Matt Breida is still out injured. Jordan Howard has been a total bust as a free agent signing. (Jordan was released late November 16, 2020). So what did Coach Flo do? He plucked undrafted free agent Salvon Ahmed off the bench and inserted him as the starting running back. And, wow, did Ahmed pay his coach back with a strong performance. Ahmed had 21 carries for 85 yards and 1TD. Ahmed averaged 4 yards per carry. Ahmed displayed good vision and nice power and speed. This was certainly more than I expected from Ahmed. All in the Dolphins patchwork running back group rushed 32 times for 111 yards and averaged 3.5 yards per carry. That will work.
Howard came through with a crucial interception that looked for a moment like it was going to be a pick-six. Howard did not make it to the end zone, but he did run it back for 28 yards and gifted the Dolphins’ offense with excellent field position at the Chargers’ 32-yard line. Howard’s interception came in the 4th quarter with 14:19 remaining in the game and the Dolphins only leading 20-14. This was a huge momentum swing that allowed the Dolphins to increase their lead in the 4th quarter to 26-14.
Miami’s special teams continue to show up and ball out. Andrew Van Ginkel blocked a punt and Jamal Perry recovered it on the Chargers’ 1-yard line. Talk about a massive momentum-swinging moment that allowed the Dolphins to quickly go up 7-0. Miami’s special teams continue to be an essential ingredient of the Dolphins’ success.
Oh yeah, Jakim Grant also chipped in three returns for 57 yards. The Dolphins’ special teams also managed to foil the Chargers on their onside kick attempt.
Lastly, Jason Sanders continued to kick well. Yes, I know, Sanders finally showed that he is a human and not some T-1000 kicking machine. Sanders missed a 47 yard FG. His first of the season. I think we will all cut him tons of slack. Sanders has been fantastic this season. Plus, Sanders made a 50 yard FG, a 35 yard FG, and a 49 yard FG. And those crucial field goals? That would be the difference between the Dolphins and the Chargers in the final 29-21 score.
The Miami Dolphins went into the game with the Chargers without four assistant coaches. Outside linebackers coach Austin Clark, quarterback coach Robby Brown, defensive line coach Marion Hobby, and offensive quality control coach Kolby Smith were all out of the game on Sunday. Yet, Coach Flores still had his team operating efficiently during the game. It is easy to overlook being down four assistant coaches, but this is huge. Coach Flores being able to overcome this deficit during the Chargers game is flat out excellent planning and coaching.
Yes, the Dolphins defense allowed three touchdowns. But, one of those touchdowns was in garbage time. Plus, the Dolphins were facing a quarterback in Justin Herbert who came to Miami on a hot streak. That hot streak came to an end. The Miami Dolphins defense was up to the task. Herbert’s QB ratings coming into the game with the Dolphins were 94.4, 88, 137.9, 122,7, 111.3, 89.1, and 105.9. Against the Dolphins, Herbert had his lowest QB rating of the season at 86.3.
Herbert’s yards per attempts for the prior games were 9.42 y/a, 6.73 y/a, 11.60 y/a, 7.76 y/a, 8.07 y/a, 6.46 y/a, and 7.76 y/a. Against the Dolphins, Herbert managed just 5.69 yards per attempt.
Herbert’s passing yards for the prior games were 311 yards, 330 yards, 290 yards, 264 yards, 347 yards, 278 yards, and 326 yards. Against the Dolphins, Herbert managed just 187 yards passing.
When your defense holds a hot quarterback to his season lows for quarterback rating, yards per attempts, and overall passing yards you know they had a good game.
In addition to containing Herbert, the Dolphins did a solid job handling the ground game. The Chargers ran the ball 29 for 99 yards and averaged 3.4 yards per carry.
The Dolphins defense also did a nice job limiting chunk yardage plays (Any passing play for 25 yards or more and any rushing play for 10 yards or more.) The Dolphins allowed just one passing chunk play for 28 yards and two rushing chunk plays of 10 and 11 yards.
Mike Gesicki was targeted five times but only had two catches. There were a couple of passes that Gesicki dropped that he has to catch. DeVante Parker targeted seven times but only had two catches. If Parker is going to be the Dolphins WR1 then he needs to pick it up and help his rookie quarterback out more than he did in this game.
Failed Two-Point Conversion
The score was 26-14 with 11:44 left in the 4th quarter. Coach Flo decided to forgo the extra point and go for a two-point conversion. Kicking the extra point would have put the Phins up by 13. It is still a two score lead requiring the Chargers to score two TD’s in the final 11 minutes of the game in order to win. I did not see a need to go for two points at this moment in the game. And to top it all off, the Dolphins failed to convert the two-point conversion.
The Dolphins were up 14-0 in the second quarter and got the ball back on their 44-yard line. Karras managed to fumble the snap not once but twice during this drive. The first time, Karras fumbled the snap and Tua was able to pick up the ball and flash his athleticism and poise and complete a 28 year pass to Parker.
The second time, the Dolphins were not so lucky. The Dolphins had plowed their way through the Chargers defense and were at the Chargers’ 9-yard line. Karras then had an aborted snap that went to Tua’s calf. The Chargers picked up the ball and returned it all the way to the Dolphins’ 37-yard line. This was a critical mistake. The Dolphins were about to go up at best 21-0 and at worst 17-0. Instead, the Chargers started their drive in Dolphin’s territory and this turnover made the score 14-7.
All in all, the Miami Dolphins continue to trend upward. This was a good win and the rest of the season looks positive. Fins up!