Here’s the latest installment of our Miami Dolphins Q&A, where South Florida Sun Sentinel writers David Furones and Chris Perkins answer questions from readers.
Q: Was there a reason we didn’t seem to adjust our offensive scheme during that game when the Chargers were 100% focused on taking away the center of the field in the 15-20 yard range. – @ShopWithDave on Twitter
Q: Serious response: How are defenses taking away what was working prior to the 49ers game? – Chief Sully on Twitter
A: Certainly, much of what Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa likes in the middle of the field and at intermediate depth has been taken away in the past two losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Chargers.
The two teams did it in different ways. The 49ers played a lot of off coverage, either quarters or two-deep. They gave up a lot of underneath stuff and played their linebackers in deeper zones. Tagovailoa had open receivers but was off target or there were miscommunications on routes between he and his pass catchers.
The Chargers, despite being undermanned, played press-man coverage. They countered Miami’s speed outside with physicality at the line of scrimmage and dared receivers to beat them deep. That took Jaylen Waddle out of the game. Tyreek Hill outran Michael Davis for a 60-yard touchdown where Davis tripped. Hill had a couple of other opportunities, but Tagovailoa slightly underthrew an early deep shot that was deflected and there was the infamous pass that Hill couldn’t find in the air.
Offensive adjustments weren’t made. Miami insisted on taking deep shots that didn’t connect, and there was no consistent run game to pick up yards on first downs or easy underneath throws to get Tagovailoa into a rhythm.
Q: How different is this team with Byron Jones? – @HeybroAK on Twitter
A: We said it again and again at the start of the season. It changes a lot when defensive coordinator Josh Boyer doesn’t have Jones on one side and a healthy Xavien Howard on the other.
Allowing the combination to go to work on the outside in man coverage frees up a number of options with his patented exotic blitzes. There’s a trickle-down effect as it alters other aspects of Miami’s defense without Jones.
It’s a big reason the Dolphins defense hasn’t traveled well this season and can’t put together a decent outing on the road, despite how much talent is on that unit. It also hurts that safety Brandon Jones, nickel cornerback Nik Needham and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah have been lost for the season. All were expected to play pivotal roles. Credit undrafted rookie Kader Kohou for what he has done to step up, forced into this starting role so early in his career.
Q: Was Bradley Chubb worth it? – @InAbyss on Twitter
A: I see where the notion comes from. He had just one tackle against the Chargers. If you trade a first-round pick for a player, you want him to be a consistently dominant factor.
Chubb did have three quarterback hits on Justin Herbert, though. In his five games with the Dolphins, he has 2 ½ sacks and nine QB hits.
He has also replaced the production that was expected out of Ogbah before injuries derailed his 2022 campaign. Chubb’s presence has also brought a resurgence from Melvin Ingram, who had a sack in four straight games since Chubb’s arrival after five games without one. Jaelan Phillips has three sacks since Chubb arrived in Miami. Give this pass-rushing trio more time together, and it will pay dividends.
Q: I’m concerned about Tua’s health. I believe those concussions are a factor in his vision and possibly other things. I think he knows something is wrong but he doesn’t want to abandon his team and his fans. He’s fighting for them. – Christopher Vallo on Twitter
Q: Tua has arguably been off since this moment in the Texans game [when his body was twisted on a sack]. Coincidence, or is he injured? – Gage Mitchusson on Twitter
A: I wouldn’t put too much weight into believing the two blows to the head in five days at the end of September are affecting him now. He has since returned from the one diagnosed concussion and one instance of ataxia displayed on the field that did not result in a concussion diagnosis, and the head trauma was never brought up when he had three straight games of three touchdowns and no interceptions.
That sack before halftime of the Nov. 27 win over Houston is where I believe his ankle injury originated. The following week, ahead of facing the 49ers, he had it listed on the injury report, although he was able to practice all week. Tagovailoa had a noticeable limp between plays that game and ultimately made a exit late because of it. It could be affecting him somewhat, but it shouldn’t result in the falloff in play we’ve seen over the past two weeks.
Q: Are the Dolphins capable of scoring against any of the other AFC East defenses in winter? – Dave Satz on Twitter
Q: What will the outcome be for the #Dolphins after losing to the Bills this week? – Luis Hernandez on Twitter
A: We’re already chalking this one up as a loss for Miami, huh? Honestly, I was never going to pick the Dolphins in this one, even if they had beaten San Francisco and Los Angeles, and bumping the game up to Saturday night, after the team’s week-plus West Coast trek, is brutal.
I wouldn’t invest too much faith in the offense exploding at Buffalo or New England. But hey, the Dolphins’ finale at home against the Jets still counts as winter although temperatures will probably be about 70 degrees at Hard Rock Stadium.
Have a question?
Email David Furones, or tag @ChrisPerk or @DavidFurones_ on Twitter.
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