PHILADELPHIA — Going through a first-and-10 from their very own 25-yard line, the Miami Dolphins set as much as run their first offensive play in opposition to the Philadelphia Eagles and their defensive entrance on Sunday evening. The Eagles’ thunderous crowd tried to will its approach into the sport by way of a mix of cheers, chants and a complete lot of booing. The Dolphins broke the huddle and had been able to try to accomplish what they’ve most weeks this season — leaving their opponent in a cloud of mud and scoring touchdowns on the pace of sound.
Then, they had been hit with an unfamiliar consequence for a group with the extent of polish and element they exhibit on a routine foundation:
A delay of recreation. On the primary tried play.
It ended up foreshadowing how the sport, a 31-17 loss to the Eagles, would go for the normally high-octane Dolphins. Their first 15 performs accrued simply 21 yards earlier than they pieced collectively a landing drive going into halftime. As a substitute of having the ability to transfer the ball up and down the sphere at will, the Dolphins had been on the mercy of what the Eagles’ defensive entrance allowed them to have.
“We had been behind the chains greater than we’re used to,” Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel stated. “We had some small, nuanced particulars of some performs. Hats off to the Philadelphia Eagles, as a result of they made us pay each time. You understand, perhaps our observe was somewhat too tight or too extensive, or an offensive lineman was a hair off.”
The Eagles spent most of this recreation punishing a beleaguered Dolphins offensive line that was already lacking left sort out Terron Armstead and heart Connor Williams, and misplaced Isaiah Wynn early within the recreation. That outcome was virtually anticipated, contemplating Philadelphia’s defensive position featured Jalen Carter, Fletcher Cox, Haason Reddick, Jordan Davis and Josh Sweat. The movement of the sport and the Dolphins’ harm state of affairs up entrance boxed of their league-leading speeding assault, churning out simply 3.8 yards per carry after averaging 6.5 yards per carry the primary six weeks.
“We depend on the working recreation to have a profitable offense,” McDaniel stated. “We bought it going somewhat too late within the recreation. That’s one thing that we take satisfaction in and we’ll you should definitely get higher from transferring ahead.”
The Eagles made the Dolphins one-dimensional in a approach that they weren’t even of their 48-20 loss in opposition to the Buffalo Payments in Week 4. In that recreation, they a minimum of had contributions from explosive rookie working again De’Von Achane, who’s at present on injured reserve with a knee harm. Raheem Mostert carried the load for the Dolphins’ floor recreation Sunday, however he had solely 9 carries as a complete. Operating again Salvon Ahmed and Tagovailoa mixed for 3 extra carries — and nil speeding yards.
“In a approach, it does change how we go about taking part in on the market,” Tagovailoa stated. “There’s actions off of these runs that we’d prefer to get and when the run recreation’s not going the way in which you’ll count on it to go, that mitigates the way in which we run-pass. It’s extra only a dropback form of recreation.”
Tagovailoa stated Miami made some changes within the second half to get issues transferring within the run recreation, but it surely in the end wasn’t sufficient.
An underrated issue of shuffling round and lack of depth throughout the offensive line is readjusting the communication requirements for brand spanking new gamers within the lineup or entrenched gamers taking part in new positions. The connection between a quarterback and his offensive line is one which closely depends on clear verbal communication from the time the play name is distributed within the huddle to the purpose of the ball being snapped. That may get muddied as totally different gamers are put into the beginning lineup — and the Dolphins’ offense was visibly discombobulated with their patchwork offensive line.
“The communication up there and getting that orchestrated for these guys isn’t as simple because it appears,” Tagovailoa stated.
How can Tagovailoa assist? By doing a greater job ensuring gamers really feel assured of their roles, he stated, as new faces and our bodies get launched to a unit that’s closely influenced by the chemistry of the gamers they work with. Offensive line is a place group the place one weak hyperlink can create a nasty day, so the message is necessary.
“That is what the play goes to be,” Tagovailoa stated. “Simply be alert for this look or this look and so they can talk that on the sideline earlier than we begin drives.”
Within the present NFL, discovering high quality depth alongside the offensive line is almost an not possible job. Changing these guys mid-game in opposition to the perfect assortment of defensive position expertise within the league may even handicap an offense that’s as mighty because the Dolphins’ group.
The mismatch within the trenches additionally popped up within the passing recreation for Miami. In response to the NFL’s Subsequent Gen Stats, Tagovailoa struggled when he confronted strain, finishing 5 of 10 pressured makes an attempt for simply 20 yards and an interception. When Tagovailoa didn’t face strain, he largely appeared like his regular self, finishing 81.8% of his passes for 8.9 yards an try in these eventualities.
Similar to the Loss of life Star, the machine often called the Dolphins’ offense has an open exhaust port proper now that’s change into a vital flaw in opposition to the caliber of groups that they’ll see within the playoffs.
There isn’t an offense within the league flashier and extra thrilling than the Dolphins — that is nonetheless true even with this lead to hand. What’s change into obvious is that flash isn’t at all times sufficient, and the down-to-down substance of high quality offensive line play remains to be key for this group.
If Miami may be was a one-dimensional, dropback offense prefer it had been Sunday evening, the Dolphins can change into a vessel for empty yards as a substitute of the scariest power of nature the NFL has to supply.