This has to be the marquis matchup for those dwelling across the puddle. The 1-4 Miami Dolphins taking on the 0-5 Jacksonville Jaguars in London. These two teams have been near the bottom statistically as their records indicate. The Dolphins have the 31st ranked offense in PPG at 15.8 and the Jaguars are a few ticks higher at 28 scoring 18.6 PPG. The Dolphins are allowing 30.8 PPG on defense good for 30th in the NFL while the Jaguars are slightly more stingy allowing 30.4 PPG good for 29th in the NFL. Those of us not in London will have to wake up early to watch this game, I will be in transit that morning heading not for London but to the Sunshine State of Florida for Fest X, the 10th celebration of Dolphins fans and friends.
How did the Dolphins fall back so far? How have we become among the worst on offense and defense after showing so much promise in a 10-6 season last year? All the draft picks we accumulated, all the trades up and back in the last couple of drafts armed with multiple 1st and 2nd RD picks, and somehow with the infusion of all that young talent, we have not just taken a step backward, we have been pushed to ground on our ass and unable to get up. The way I see it, we probably shouldn’t have escaped with the win in New England but for the heroic playmaking of CB Xavien Howard who not only forced the fumble but recovered that fumble as well to allow the Dolphins to preserve their slim 17-16 victory. The Raiders game is really the only other game we were competitive in losing in OT 31-28. Buffalo and Tampa Bay beat us to the tune 80-17 (BUF 35-0) (TB 45-17). Yes, we’ve played 4 games without our starter, but Jacoby Brissett is a veteran NFL starting QB, but for a few reasons, he has been unable to use the talent we have at the skill positions like Jaylen Waddle, DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki.
Our coaches have struggled to find the right combination of 5 players to get this O-line working to NFL standards. We haven’t pass blocked or been able to run the ball effectively and have basically resorted to using 2 TE’s and a RB (Malcolm Brown) to block. This takes yet another playmaker in Myles Gaskin off the field. It’s not like we haven’t invested in the O-line, we have. From left to right we have Liam Eichenberg pick #42 (2021), Austin Jackson #18 (2020), we traded for Ravens C Greg Mancz (2022 6th for Ravens 7th), Robert Hunt #39 (2020), and UDFA Jesse Davis at RT. So 3 top 50 picks in the last 2 years have been spent on the O-line. If you remember the Dallas Cowboys a few years ago, they built one of the best offensive lines in football by drafting the trenches early and often. LT Tyron Smith (#9), LG Ronald Leary (UDFA), C Travis Frederick (#31), RG Zack Martin (#16) and Doug Free (#122) at RT. A year later they were able to secure La’el Collins, who I really wanted the Dolphins to get after he went undrafted due to character issues which turned out to be untrue and was picked up as an UDFA outbidding every NFL team paying Collins the highest salary. Anyway, the Cowboys O-line was a beast, and they enjoyed years of success as one of, if not the premier offensive line in the game.
We purged our defense of some veteran players in the offseason, including one we traded for in the offseason, LB Benardrick McKinney. We let go Kyle Van Noy and traded Shaq Lawson to acquire McKinney. I had no problem with either move for the record. I wanted to see more of up and coming LB Andrew Van Ginkel and then of course we drafted Jaelan Phillips so I want to see more of him as well. I really thought the front 7 of LE Christian Wilkins, NT Raekwon Davis and RE Emmanuel Ogbah, OLB Andrew Van Ginkel, ILB Elandon Roberts, ILB Jerome Baker and OLB Jaelan Phillips would be a force this season. It’s still possible, but so far, they have looked inept and ineffective. The vaunted secondary of corners Byron Jones and Xavien Howard, along with promising rookie FS Jevon Holland and veteran SS Eric Rowe should have been a turnover machine, or at the very least a shut down secondary, yet we have seen neither. To be fair, Raekwon Davis just returned from injury last game and played sparingly, veteran John Jenkins who is not the freak athlete Davis is was in for a few games. Jaelan Phillips is starting to show positive signs. It’s been AVG who shined so brightly last season that has taken a big step back. The coaches rolled the dice on AVG over KVN, and so far have lost. I would have done the same so I won’t kill them for that.
We now travel to London for Game 6 against the winless Jacksonville Jaguars. The silver lining is we most likely get our starting QB Tua Tagovailoa back this week, although whether he starts has yet to be determined. I’ll take an upgrade anywhere we can get it. Despite veteran savvy, Jacoby Brissett didn’t help our offense and was largely ineffective in every game. For the Jaguars, young Trevor Lawrence, Round 1 Pick #1 hasn’t fared so well this season. He’s completed less than 60% of his passes and has 6TD’s against 8 INT’s. If Tua did that his first five games the pitchforks would be out in force, but who am I kidding, the Miami Dolphins fanbase has their pitchforks out anyway (SHAMEFUL!!!) I don’t know what Tua can do and I obviously have no idea how restricted he will be with his rib injury. I just know we need a boost, and I hope the young man can have a day and get us going in the right direction on Sunday.