Here’s the latest installment of our Miami Dolphins Q&A, where South Florida Sun Sentinel writers David Furones and Omar Kelly answer questions from readers.
Q: This is merely speculative, but did Tua’s injury really change the Dolphins’ fortunes that much or was this always a team that was going to do poorly? — @Adamatopoeia on Twitter
A: The timing of the question is natural after Tua Tagovailoa’s return from missing three games — plus most of the Week 2 loss to the Bills — still did not produce a win, extending the Miami Dolphins’ losing streak to five. Worse yet, it snapped the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 20-game losing streak, dating back to last season.
What that loss showed was that this team’s problems go far beyond the quarterback. Because Tagovailoa played well, for the most part.
Sure, a good argument can be made that, if Tagovailoa never got injured, Miami could’ve flipped the results in the losses to the Las Vegas Raiders and Indianapolis Colts. There were certainly throws through the first three and a half quarters of those games that Jacoby Brissett was hesitant to make that Tagovailoa may have fared better in those situations — especially considering the way he was slinging the ball in his first game back from the fractured ribs. The run-pass option aspect of the Dolphins offense was also minimized with Brissett under center.
But taking the quarterback play out of the equation, there are still too many issues with the Dolphins: They don’t run the football; they don’t stop the run; they can’t pass protect; they’re injury prone at wide receiver; the defense doesn’t get off the field on third downs and isn’t creating turnovers like last year.
Those last two areas are probably the biggest reasons why the Dolphins haven’t been able to replicate last season’s success. In 2020, Miami ranked No. 1 in third-down defense and topped the NFL with 29 takeaways. Through six games this year, the Dolphins are 31st in third-down defense, and their seven turnovers forced aren’t nearly impacting games the way the takeaways were last year.
Of course, it hurts playing without your top two cornerbacks in Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, like the Dolphins did in their loss to the Jaguars. Howard’s presence, with 10 interceptions last year, was the No. 1 reason why this team was able to force so many turnovers.
Then, the Dolphins thought veteran defenders like Kyle Van Noy and Bobby McCain were expendable and dumped them in the offseason. They have been missed.
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The roster construction from general manager Chris Grier has been questionable, missing on draft picks, letting key players depart and failing to make a splash in free agency. Where are the stars on this team? Only Howard was voted a top 100 player in the NFL before the season.
In the case of the loss to the Jaguars, Brian Flores was outcoached by Urban Meyer in the key late situations — the turnover on downs on Miami’s side of the field, not going for the earlier fourth-and-1, giving up the middle of the field when the Jaguars had a timeout on fourth-and-8 with five seconds left.
Entering this season, it was conceivable that, after Flores took Miami from five wins to 10 in Year 2, the Dolphins could take that next step in 2021, becoming serious contenders. Everyone who submits season predictions at the Sun Sentinel picked the team to finish with a winning record, but as the year has progressed, it has become evident that last year was more of an anomaly than something consistent the franchise can build upon.
If Tagovailoa was the only problem — or even a problem — it could be thought this team is a quarterback away, igniting those trade rumors, but no quarterback alone is turning around this team as presently constructed.
Have a question?
Email i">>David Furones, or tag i">>@OmarKelly or i">>@DavidFurones_ on Twitter.
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Will O-line go through more changes?
Does Tua’s injury reignite Deshaun Watson talks?
How should three Dolphins running backs be used?
How much of an impact will Jaelan Phillips, Jevon Holland make?
Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/dolphins-q-26a-was-2021-team-already-destined-for-failure-before-tua-e2-80-99s-injury/ar-AAPHvT63773