Here’s a video of me after the Dolphins pulled off one of the more improbably victories in years.
I don’t throw out the buffet of emotions line a lot but this game was exactly that. Every human emotion that a person can have was experienced in one three-hour-plus game.
The result was as dramatic a victory that the Dolphins very much needed which put them firmly in control of their destiny to make the playoffs. And after what transpired in yesterday’s action, the Dolphins now have a 88% chance to make the playoffs according to the king of the burnt orange khakis, Steve Kornacki.
The Dolphins have four ways of playing postseason football. Beat the Bills, or have either the Colts, Ravens or Browns lose and the Miami Dolphins, your Miami Dolphins are in the 2020 NFL Playoffs. It’s crazy to think about considering what this year has been like and where the Dolphins were a year ago, but it certainly appears the Dolphins will have a chance to compete for a Lombardi.
But, sadly while also not the least bit predictable, that is not the story that came out of the Dolphin’s victory in Sin City. Nope, once again the story is do the Dolphins have an issue with their rookie quarterback, Tau Tagovailoa, since he once again was pulled for the veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick?
My immediate immediate reaction after the game was that there was no way Miami could start Tua next week. Within minutes of saying that and when my brain got back into the right resting spot in my skull from the freak out I did after Sanders made the final kick, I retracted that sentiment and said Tua is their guy so he needs to start. I still feel that today.
Why? Because Stone Cold Brian Flores said so, with a caveat.
Dolphins’ HC Brian Flores said Tua Tagovailoa will continue to be the starting QB in week 17 against Buffalo.
“If we’ve got to go to our relief pitcher in the ninth, that’s what we’ll do,” Flores said. “Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick), he’s always ready to go. “
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 27, 2020
You see Brian Flores doesn’t give a rip if me, you, or anyone else thinks he needs to stick with one quarterback. He doesn’t care if his locker room has a preference. He cares about winning and he doesn’t care how he does it. That’s the difference between Flores and fans.
Fans want it all. They want to have the team that’s been surprising everyone by winning the games they have while also having the rookie quarterback that’s doing the heavy lifting on why the team is winning those games. I admit I’d love it if the Dolphins were winning these games because Tua was throwing like Justin Herbert. I would able to brag to my friend that the Dolphins are winning games, are headed to the playoffs, have a stud quarterback, and have the third overall pick in next year’s draft. Instead, I have to deal with friends saying that Tua isn’t the guy, that he can’t throw deep. Guess what, that’s a small price to pay to have a team with 10 wins, on the verge of a playoff birth while also having the 3rd overall pick in next year’s draft.
As a guy who got a Tua jersey for Christmas, it hurts that he didn’t play well. But that will not stop me from wearing it again on Sunday.
This isn’t to say that Tua is fine and he’s looking alright out there. On Saturday, he didn’t look good. The NFL is designed to be taken advantage of offensively and when you only have 94 yards passing on 17 completions late in the 3rd quarter, it shows that something is wrong here.
It seems that Chan Gailey calls a different game when Tua is in compared to Fitzpatrick. But I think that is a bit overblown. I think the reason why the offense doesn’t push the ball even remotely downfield when Tua is in is mostly a Tua thing. This video, to me, tells you everything you need to know.
You really couldn’t have a better explanation as to what’s up with Tua https://t.co/HUIIo4zzQL
— Sern (@2ndSatSports) December 27, 2020
I really don’t think it’s much more than this. Tua, for whatever reason, is gun shy when throwing downfield. We know he has the arm strength to throw it 50 yards in the air with decent velocity but he won’t do it. I wish I had an answer as to why, but I don’t.
Fitzpatrick, as we all know, doesn’t have the same reservation on throwing the ball downfield giving his guys chances to make plays. And this has been said for a few weeks but Kurt Warner said it for everyone in the back. Warner said that Tua needs to learn that receivers aren’t going to be open like they were in college as they are in the NFL. 100 billion% right on Kurt. Fortunately, unlike accuracy, I feel that anticipation can be figured out with more reps.
Reality is often disappointing and the reality is that Tua has to not be afraid of making mistakes and let it rip more often. You can’t celebrate that and abuse it because if you do you have a Ryan Fitzpatrick like career. I would think that Tua and all of us wish better than that.
Ultimately, it’s like Flores said. He’s going with Tua but if he has to out Fitzpatrick in to generate offense, he has no reservation in doing that. Nobody else in the league would have the grapefruits to do that but that’s what makes Brian Flores better than most of the other coaches. Media repercussions mean nothing to him. Quite the way to live.
Oh, and other stuff happened during the game.
The Dolphins defense held on their first drive eating up Hunter Renfrow screens. I said at the time that the Raiders can run Renfrow screens all game. Then Renfrow had a 15 yarder later. Yep, sometimes I’m wrong.
Miami gets the ball and Salvon Ahmed was starting. I thought, for sure, Gaskin would get the nod and he and Ahmed would duke it out to see who would get the bulk of the carries going forward in the game. That part I was right about. Gaskin outperformed Ahmed. Gaskin had 14 carries for 87 yards while Ahmed had six carries for two yards. Matt Breida didn’t have a carry. Looks like it’s Gaskin and Ahmed going forward.
Gaskin, was consistent, finding daylight when he ran the ball when it didn’t look light that was any. He also put a clinic on catching the ball and taking it to the house.
I said last week that the Dolphins should run more screens. They did and wouldn’t you know it, it worked.
Myles Gaskin gets the first Dolphins TD of the game and ties it for Miami
— BetOnline.ag (@betonline_ag) December 27, 2020
But this catch and run was a thing of beauty.
Myles Gaskin putting the “run” in “catch and run”
— SpreadOption (@spreadoption_) December 27, 2020
Miami lined Gaskin up, a bunch of times, as an outside receiver. I think they did this partially because they’re so weak at receiver and that Gaskin can actually do the job and do it well enough for what they try and do. When Parker comes back, we’ll see if they continue with that.
The offensive line had an alright game. It wasn’t spectacular like it was last week against the Patriots but it wasn’t putrid either. Just, alright. Solomon Kindley was out but Ereck Flowers was able to return. The offensive line is what it is at this point. They’re bad at run blocking and decent at pass-blocking. It be nice if we were able to get more consistency in run-blocking, but you’re just not going to get that with this group.
Gaskin was the leading receiver with 82 yards. Gesicki was next with 54 yards. With Tua in there, Gesicki was a non-factor. When Fitzpatrick was in, he looked for him often. This play was nice.
Mike Gesicki Highlights are so Funpic.twitter.com/QUbvi8icNF
— Derek Brown (@DBro_FFB) December 27, 2020
I would have thought that Lynn Bowden would have a bigger impact, but I also would have thought Tua would have been better. Bowden’s production sort of relies on Tua. It will get better.
Defensively, the Dolphin’s front seven played well. Las Vegas had 104 on the ground and held Jacobs to only 69(nice) yards. Shaq Lawson didn’t play so that meant more Van Ginkel. AVG is smaller than Lawson so I thought there was a chance that Miami would get hurt by the Raider’s running game. They didn’t and AVG had a wonderful game.
AVG finished with six tackles, two sacks, two TFLs, and one pass deflection. This guy gets labeled as being a high motor guy for humorous reasons but it’s true. AVG is always giving everything he has and making impact plays.
A guy who had another quality game was Jerome Baker. I haven’t always been high on Baker because I think he doesn’t always read his keys well thus taking him out of the play. But over the last few months, he’s been reliable and playing good football. He had another sack on Saturday and joined some esteemed company.
Jerome Baker is the sixth NFL player since 2010 with 100 tackles and at least seven sacks in a season. The others: James Harrison, Daryl Washington, Lavonte Davis, Darius Leonard and Devin White. Baker has been lights out the past couple of months.
— Alain Poupart (@apoupartFins) December 27, 2020
Infuriating play alert- It was 3rd and 19 and the backup running back got 18. The game wasn’t going Miami’s way at this point and then this happened. Not pleased at all.
The Dolphins secondary didn’t have a great day. Eric Rowe got eaten up by Darren Waller seemingly every time they through it his way. I think this thought on Eric Rowe is accurate: Rowe is very good against average tight ends and not as good against the elite tight ends like Kelce and Waller. I don’t think I’m breaking any ground with that take. Waller is a special player who I feared going into the game. Luckily, we won’t have to see him again. Only Kelce is left for tight ends I fear.
Xavien Howard, a guy who still hardly gets talked about for DPOY, had a casual game where he held the receivers he covered to negative one yard.
Xavien Howard coverage stats vs. LV:
1 REC allowed for -1 yards
2 forced incompletions pic.twitter.com/fdLZdgD8ZD
— PFF (@PFF) December 27, 2020
If only INTs and pass deflections were as cool as sacks. Then, perhaps Howard would get mentioned in DPOY conversations more often.
Byron Jones, paid a ton of money and is playing like just a good cornerback.
NELSON AGHOLOR. 85 YARDS. #RaiderNation
— NFL (@NFL) December 27, 2020
Was it offensive PI? Maybe, but man I thought Agholor could hurt the Dolphins and he did. Jones is good but everyone is mad about the money Miami paid for him. That’s the league. Guys are going to make crazy money and then underperform a little bit at times. Overall, I’m glad we have Jones. He allows Flores to run the defense he wants to do. I’m really not worried about Jones going forward. Besides Howard, everyone gets beat here and there.
Finally, a trick special teams play where a member of the Dolphins didn’t get flagged for not reporting as eligible.
— Miami Dolphins France (10-5) (@MiamiDolphinsFR) December 27, 2020
Unfortunately, Jones got called for a terrible pass interference call.
This was called defensive pass interference. Yes or no? pic.twitter.com/BUTzoCkLjS
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) December 27, 2020
Here’s what former referred, Terry McAulay said about it;
The defender did not significantly hinder the receiver in #MIAvsLV and should not have been called. Certainly not after OPI was not called on the earlier LV TD. (I was okay with that until the DPI was called with what seem like much less effect).
— Terry McAulay (@SNFRules) December 27, 2020
We all know it was awful but thankfully everything worked out.
There’s a bunch of plays that made this game a roller coaster. Gesicki having to play defense on a badly thrown ball by Tua, the Dolphins defense stuffing Jacobs on a 4th and short, Tua and the offense going three and out after getting the ball on the Raiders side of the field, Grant bobbling an easy 3rd down conversion early in the game, Fitzpatrick gets inserted into the game. These plays and moments could be analyzed like the Zapruder film, but I’m not going to do that.
Okay, that penalty happens on Byron Jones and the Raiders are in the driver’s seat to seal the game with a TD. Jacobs takes a handoff up the gut and falls down on purpose. The Raiders are kicking the FG with 16 seconds left and go up 25-23.
Miami gets the ball at their own 25 with only 18 seconds left. This game is over and the Dolphins lose control of their own destiny. I’m slumped on my couch hoping that it just devours me. And then it happens.
— Pepsi Sheen (@CustomPink1981) December 27, 2020
This naturally led to all of us Dolphin fans to do exactly this…
Just how in the world does Fitzpatrick get that ball off while his face is simultaneously getting ripped off? Does he practice this because that ball fell perfectly into Hollins’s hands as if his head wasn’t getting ripped off? It makes no sense and yet if you think about Fitzmagic, it makes perfect sense.
Okay, have to contain myself. The Dolphins still have to make a 44 yard FG. What am I talking about? Mr. Money in the Bank will take care of everything. Sanders went 4/4 in the game.
JASON SANDERS FOR THE WIN!!!!
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) December 27, 2020
And just like that, the Miami Dolphins win a game where they had a 99% chance of losing.
— Eric (@oakland627) December 27, 2020
Miami wins the game and goes to 10-5 and now has 88% of making the playoffs. I know many of us to feel weird about what’s going on because Tua is underperforming but focuses on the whole situation. The Dolphins are likely to make the playoffs. That’s what should be what’s important. I’ve made peace with the fact Tua needs to play better. I’ve also made peace with the fact Brian Flores is the perfect guy to navigate the quarterback situation. No matter what happens, I trust in Stone Cold Brian Flores. You should too.
Who knows what Buffalo will do in terms of playing all their guys or for how long. It doesn’t matter. Go to Buffalo and take of your business and we’re golden.
Elandon Roberts was taken off on a cart and Jakeem Grant was injured as well. Grant has already been ruled out with a high ankle sprain for next week’s game. Hopefully, Parker can get back for it. Replacing Roberts will hurt. That guy has a nose for stuffing backs in their tracks. Not easy to replace.
No matter what, this team is making this year fun. Wild and unpredictable but really fun. Can’t ask for anything more than based on what this team looked like in August. Enjoy your week and get ready for Sunday at 1 PM.
Follow me @2ndSatSports