How did the Miami Dolphins win? A missed 50-yard field goal, dropped interceptions by the New York Jets defense, and Sam Darnold at quarterback.
It took until 5:49 left in the first half for either team to convert a 3rd-down. Miami threw for only 139 yards and rushed for only 64 yards. They only accumulated 7 first downs all game. And yet, they stand before us victorious.
Though somehow, in victory, there is still an aura of defeat. The Dolphins continue to inject us the worst possible feeling and that’s hope.
After starting the game, both Laremy Tunsil and Reshad Jones left the game with injuries and did not return, making Dolphins fans further wonder why this team is cursed.
The Dolphins have won 5 of the last 6 meetings with the Jets.
The starting quarterbacks in those five games:
Ryan Tannehill x2
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 4, 2018
Below are a few observations from the Dolphins 13-6 victory against the Jets:
Miami’s Inept Offense
There is no quarterback controversy in Miami, Ryan Tannehill is a better quarterback with his opposite arm than Brock Osweiler is completely healthy.
Brock Osweiler’s accuracy cost Miami a potential touchdown to a wide-open Danny Amendola as well as a 1st-down pass to Kenyan Drake on the same drive. His deep ball is never close to the intended target, and he has a hard time leading receivers, forcing them to catch the ball behind them or cut their route short.
Mixed in with Miami’s sub-par quarterback play is their below average play calling that goes along with it.
Another punt of the first drive of the game for the #Dolphins under Adam Gase, since 2016.
That's 28 punts, three interceptions, a fumble, a missed field goal and a turnover on downs, outside of just 8 scores on the opening drives in 41 games. #FinsUp
— Safid Deen 💯💯💯💯 (@Safid_Deen) November 4, 2018
Miami’s 3rd-and-short play calling has been abysmal, and you’re right to criticize it, but there’s a key component missing when the team does decide to pass: a tight end. We watch 4th-round rookie Chris Herndon catch 4 receptions for 64 yards while 2nd-round rookie Mike Gesicki did not have a catch this game. It’s evident MarQueis Gray is a bigger loss than most people realized at the time. Miami is missing the availability of their tight end in these play calls, and it’s yet another detriment to an offense that features a good amount of skillful players, yet can’t seem to complete a pass 10 yards down field.
To be fair, the few times Miami did try rushing with Frank Gore on 3rd-and-1 they came up short.
Is it safe to say Miami’s offense is worse than the Jets? Look at what the Dolphins defense gave their offense in terms of field position compared to what the Dolphins special teams gave the Jets offense (all teams started on their half of the field):
Miami’s starting field position: 25, 35, 39, 43, 27, 40, 8, 41, 40, 25, 50
Average: Own 33.9 yard line
Jets starting field position: 15, 12, 16, 25, 14, 25, 25, 20, 18, 15, 25, 18, 11
Average: Own 18.4 yard line
One team is also starting a rookie quarterback while the other team’s starting quarterback has 20 more starts in their career. And both displayed the same, puzzling decision-making.
Miami would have had the benefit of starting two 1st-round picks at offensive tackle, but both players might be dealing with nagging injuries going forward. Ja’Wuan James left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury and returned in the 4th-quarter. Shortly after his return, Laremy Tunsil injured his knee and hobbled off. He did not return to the game.
Uh-oh. Tunsil to lockerroom pic.twitter.com/xrfiDEPDQw
— Chris Perkins (@chrisperk) November 4, 2018
Todd Bowles is an aggressive playcaller, and the Jets took advantage of Miami’s thin offensive line depth. Zach Sterup was abused for 3 sacks after replacing James, minimizing any chance the Dolphins had at developing a drive. After Tunsil went down, Sterup replaced him and was adequate playing at his natural position (albeit, for only a couple drives).
What this also enhances is Miami’s ineptitude on either side of the trenches. Why is it that other teams are able to capitalize on Miami’s backup offensive linemen while the Dolphins expensive defensive line can’t penetrate their opponent’s depth?
The Jets starting center, Spencer Long, had a dislocated middle finger and couldn’t snap the ball or block nearly as well. It took until the 4th-quarter before Miami was able to capitalize. The final line says 4 sacks, but the first three quarters told a different story.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 4, 2018
This victory came in spite of the Dolphins offense.
Miami’s Victorious Defense
Going to be hard to find a reason to fire Matt Burke this week. Yes, Burke’s passive playcalling at the end of the second half cost the team 3 points, but I blame that more on Xavien Howard, who missed a tackle on a running back fresh off of injured reserve which gave the Jets a big gain and the momentum to pursue the points.
Howard also dropped a Sam Darnold interception that was right in his hands. He didn’t have a bad game, per say, but #1 corners that are about to get paid make those plays.
Miami’s linebacking unit continues to shine for this defense, despite how nervous they might make us. Raekwon McMillan and Kiko Alonso both had good games, which is on par for them this season.
Darnold fails to see Kiko underneath and throws it right to him pic.twitter.com/yfgkOIgVJ1
— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) November 4, 2018
However, the real star here is Jerome Baker. Baker had 5 tackles, a pass defended, and what ended up being the game-clinching pick-6 with just over 10 minutes left to play as the rookie linebacker continues to improve with each game he plays.
Jerome Baker and the Buckeye defense kicked Sam Darnold’s ass in last year’s Cotton Bowl.
Different uniforms, similar results. pic.twitter.com/lPYrXKeuVA
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 4, 2018
2018 will have plenty of storylines, but this defense is going to evolve into something really scary in 2019.
The biggest storyline of the day might be Reshad Jones sitting out the second half and part of the second quarter with a “non-football injury”. Personally, I have to think it has something to do with the torn labrum he’s been playing with this season rather than it being performance based. Miami would rather wait for clarifying results on Jones’ shoulder than admit one of their players is playing injured – though I’m sure it’s no secret to opposing teams. This will be something to monitor as the season continues.
Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said safety Reshad Jones pulled himself out of the game
— Antwan V. Staley (@antwanstaley) November 4, 2018
Anyone else notice right after the Jets first time out of the game, Minkah Fitzpatrick walk over to (I believe) Reshad Jones and begin to communicate about the opposing playcall? This rookie learns on every single play. He might not win rookie of the year, but he is a tremendous prospect.
Fitzpatrick started and played boundary corner today and looked very good. You don’t need to be a smart football fan to realize that Minkah Fitzpatrick needs to be on the field as much as possible. He rarely makes mistakes and certainly makes an impact.
Though for what it’s worth, Bobby McCain also had a good game. He looked more like the corner that deserved a contract extension than the player coming off an injury and playing out of position against the Houston Texans last Thursday. That doesn’t excuse the mental lapse of letting DeAndre Hopkins go uncovered in his zone (while he’s playing man), but that Texans game is an outlier in an otherwise solid past two seasons for McCain.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) November 4, 2018
Taco Charlton: New Acquisition Analysis
Dolphins go back to the 2017 first round defensive end well, claim Charlton from waivers
The 2017 Dolphins were, sadly, one of the more anticipated teams this organization has assembled in recent memory. Fresh off a surprise 10-win season, heading into year-two of the new system, and bevy of players returning from injury had fans feeling optimistic.
Patching up the perceived holes on the roster — like the defensive end position — started with an atrocious Andre Branch extension, and ended on the draft’s opening night with a handful of edge rusher prospects ripe for picking.
Derek Barnett came off the board before Miami could pluck the future Super Bowl hero, but everyone else was available. Jonathan Allen was selected five picks ahead of the Dolphins, but he was billed more as a three and five-technique inside player, not a true edge rusher.
That left Charles Harris, Taco Charlton, Tak McKinley and T.J. Watt. Two of those players are off to sterling starts in their young careers — the other two are nearing their respective last legs, and both are now Miami Dolphins.
Charlton received his release from the Cowboys earlier this week after an under-whelming 34-game stay in Big D. Taco’s snap count is revealing of the feeling about the player among the Dallas staff.
|Year||Taco Charlton Defensive Snaps Played (% of Cowboys’ Defensive Snaps)|
A 40-percent snap-taker is typically indicative of one of two things for an edge player. He’s either a situational savant — whether that’s to support the run game or pin his ears back and get after the quarterback — or that he’s the second option in the rotation, A.K.A. a backup.
Charlton’s production suggests that he was the latter, and only because of his draft status. His descent into a game day inactive signaled the end of his time with the club that drafted him.
Rumors of a trade were speculated as the reason Charlton was a healthy scratch for the season’s first two games, but Head Coach Jason Garrett referred to the numbers game. “We have 10 guys on the active roster on the defensive line and we dressed eight for the game. It felt like the guys we had up there gave us the best chance,” Garrett said via a report from Bloggin’ The Boys.
Still, we have 800 reps to look at to figure out where it went wrong for Charlton, and if he possesses a legitimate shot to fit this scheme and carve out spot in the future plans of the NFL’s most steadfast rebuild operation.
First, let’s start with the type of player Charlton was supposed to be coming out of Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan program.
The Dolphins are a team that adheres strongly to prototypes all over the field, but particularly in the trenches. Explosive metrics aren’t nearly as important as length, strength, read-and-react skillsets, intelligence to process and execute a variety of roles (stunts, twists, slants, picks), and most importantly, playing with heavy hands.
His fit begins with his build. At 6’6’’, 270-pounds with 34.5-inch arms, Charlton looks like plenty of defensive ends in a Brian Flores (Bill Belichick defense) before him. Charlton doesn’t check off all those boxes from the previous paragraph, but he hits enough of the buzz words to justify a flier.
This from Lance Zierlein of NFL Media.
That immediate get-off and quickness would’ve suited him better in Miami’s wide-9 alignment under Matt Burke. The length will benefit him, especially as he forces tackles to quickly get into their pass sets. The challenge will be developing a secondary move to work back inside and underneath the tackle.
The glowing praise for his twist, bend, and lower-body control will serve him well in a defense that will stunt, stunt, and stunt some more.
Most of all, the length will help him excel in this scheme as a run defender. To lock out and hold the point of attack are keys, and those are areas that put Charlton on the map as a first-round prospect.
The weaknesses from that blurb are alarming. Getting washed out of his gap by power and allowing blockers into his frame will earn him a quick ticket right out of town — those are the departments where the surprise cuts in Nate Orchard and Dewayne Hendrix struggled.
Lack of consistency, takes plays off, needs a coach that will push him — those are the final takeaways from Zierlein’s conversation with an anonymous AFC Executive.
If there’s any one thing you can point to with Flores as far as his football acumen — this excludes leadership and communication — it’s his ability to coach football (novel idea, huh?) This feels like a Flores pet project.
Let’s get into some of Charlton’s Dallas tenure, starting with his metrics from Pro Football Focus.
Charlton has 38 total pressures in his two years as a pro (4 sacks, 8 hits, 26 hurries). He compiled those numbers on 464 pass rush reps, a pressure on 8.2% of his pass rush snaps — not good. His 4.1 weighted pass rush productivity mark in 2018 ranked 132ndamong all edge rushers.
Charlton missed four tackles on 34 opportunities — an 11.8 missed tackle percentage, also not good. He made 23 run-stops on 346 snaps against the ground game. That mark — 6.6% — landed Charlton at 73rd among edge defenders in 2018, and 143rd in 2017.
The majority of Charlton’s work came from the right side of the defensive line (position vacated by Robert Quinn, currently held by a cast of many in Miami). Charlton lined up for pass rushing situations on the right side for 67.3% of his total reps.
Now, for the tape.
Quick Taco Charlton film thread. Looking at the applicable traits that make him a potential fit in Miami’s scheme, where he needs to get better, and why coaching can make a difference.
First, the get-off paired with lateral agility will suit him well in a stunt-heavy defense. pic.twitter.com/Qgd0kzPzlp
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) September 19, 2019
If Charlton can piece together the finer points of his game and develop a better arsenal or rush moves, he’ll stick as a building block. The decreased workload this year, his lack of production dating back to college, and inconsistencies makes one wonder about the drive and work habits.
We’ll quickly find out about the character of Charlton. If he embraces this opportunity, it’s a great landing spot for him. If not, he’ll be back on the unemployment line in short order.
Josh Rosen Named Starting QB vs Cowboys; Claim DE Taco Charlton
Only minutes after the Miami Dolphins’ Week 2 loss against the Patriots, Head Coach Brian Flores maintained that Ryan Fitzpatrick was the starting quarterback… “Right now”.
By Thursday afternoon, it became clear that “right now” had passed as Josh Rosen was announced to take over the starting QB position ahead of Miami’s first road trip this Sunday against the Cowboys.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 19, 2019
Fans had caught intermittent glimpses of Rosen’s abilities through the preseason and he has seen the field during replacement duty in Weeks 1 and 2, so far completing 8/21 passes for 102 yards, 2 INTs and a 38.1% completion percentage.
While Rosen has not yet led the Dolphins to regular season points, the second year passer will find his opportunity to do so in Dallas and the Dolphins will be able to make further evaluation of 2018’s tenth overall pick.
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s veteran standing and experience had given him the early advantage, but the time has arrived in for the Dolphins to see what the future may bring – if anything – for Josh Rosen in Miami.
Whilst the national attention seems to be focused on Chris Grier’s rebuild of the roster, the Dolphins have claimed former first round pick, DE Taco Charlton, released by the Cowboys on Wednesday.
Dolphins have claimed former Cowboys DE Taco Charlton, source confirms. Charlton was Dallas 2017 first-round pick who the team waived Wednesday.
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) September 19, 2019
The Dolphins are getting Taco Charlton for a bargain: 2 years, $2.5M.
— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) September 19, 2019
Charlton was the Dallas Cowboys’ first round selection in 2017, having played in 27 games (7 starts) and registered 4.0 sacks and 47 combined tackles.
Dolphins Cowboys Week Three Preview
Dolphins Search to Stop the Bleeding in Big D
Who: Dolphins (0-2) at Cowboys (2-0)
When: Sunday September 22, 1:00 PM East
Where: AT&T Stadium — Arlington, TX
Vegas Slant: Dolphins +21
The hits keep coming for Miami. Another prominent fixture of the roster has been jettisoned, and another loaded team is on the docket for the downtrodden Dolphins.
This current iteration of the Dallas Cowboys is akin to what Miami hopes to build in a couple years’ time — stout trench play, emerging young quarterback, and star-studded skill positions.
Three touchdown underdogs for the second consecutive week, the Dolphins are introducing college point-spreads into the National Football League. Miami’s 19-point home handicap last week was the biggest such spread for a host team since the 2007 season, and the Dolphins are now channeling the 2013 Broncos-Jaguars game that climbed up over 25 points before betting closed.
The Dolphins were far more competitive last week, even if the scoreboard didn’t show it. Contributions from star Cornerback Xavien Howard, upstart Linebacker Jerome Baker, and surprising recent addition Vince Biegel were the silver linings in the 43-point thrashing; we’re looking for more of those in Dallas.
The switch from Scott Linehan to Kellen Moore might’ve been the biggest upgrade in the NFL this offseason. Moore, a coach’s son that made it to the NFL for his cerebral prowess at the quarterback position, is dressing up Dallas’ offense with disguise, misdirection, and tendency breakers.
Dallas varies it’s running scheme, but the talent to execute simple gap-schemes and power concepts allows Moore to get creative with the play action game. Cowboys players praise Moore for his nuance and emphasis on getting players in position to exhibit their best traits.
Scheming chunk-plays in the passing game, running the football to keep the offense on schedule, and devising red zone concepts to free up pass catchers in the condensed area already has Moore’s name circulating as the next hot head coaching candidate.
On top of impeccable front-seven talent, the Cowboys borrow concepts from some of the most accomplished, revolutionary defensive schemes in the history of the league. Rod Marinelli still carries the title of Defensive Coordinator, but it’s a co-op with he and the up-and-coming Kris Richard.
With elements of the Tampa-2 from Marinelli’s days with the Bucs — and more recently in Chicago — fused with Richard’s rendition of the wildly popular scheme originated by Pete Carroll, Dallas is successful in a multitude of packages and pre-snap disguises.
Creating one-on-one rush opportunities from their elite pass rushers, while playing a variety of cover-3, 2, and 1 on the back-end, the Cowboys can apply pressure while dropping seven — the ultimate goal of every NFL defense.
Look for Chad O’Shea to attack this defense with more in-breaking routes. That means high-low and drive concepts (designed to displace zone coverage and attack the middle of cover-1 and Tampa-2 defenses) and seam shots with the Cowboys drop two deep.
Dak Prescott is off to an MVP-caliber beginning to his 2019 season. Prescott handles pressure in two ways — the type of pressure applied by ferocious fronts, and the pressure of big moments. He’s accurate, creates opportunities off-script, and allows Kellen Moore to utilize designed runs.
Then there’s Zeke Elliot, who’s just getting rolling. Zeke, behind arguably the NFL’s best offensive line with the healthy Travis Frederic, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith and La’El Collins, Dallas can line up and push teams off the football.
The Dolphins must get big showings from Davon Godchaux and Christian Wilkins to hold the point-of-attack and free up Jerome Baker and Raekwon McMillan to meet Zeke in the hole.
Amari Cooper is one of the game’s best route runners, and he pairs that with size and speed. He’ll be a tough matchup for Miami, unless Xavien Howard wants to travel with the Cowboys play maker. That opens up another bag of worms, especially as Miami will be working in a new safety alongside corner-convert, Bobby McCain.
Jason Witten is back, but he serves mostly as an additional lineman and the forgotten man in the red zone (as far as the defense is concerned, Witten has two touchdowns already on plays that schemed him wide open). Michael Gallup will miss this game while the resurgent Randal Cobb will help keep the Miami defense honest horizontally in the misdirection game.
Jaylon Smith leads the defense with his instinctive, urgent playing style that pairs well with uncommon physical traits. He and Leighton Vander Esch set the tone in the middle of the Dallas defense, and a lot of the scheme is designed to free these two up to wreak havoc. Smith’s athleticism allows Marinelli to keep the Tampa-2 concept alive.
Demarcus Lawrence is set to have a field day. Miami haven’t been able to block anybody this year, and now will have to handle one of the game’s best pass rushers against deafening crowd noise.
Byron Jones has fallen out of favor in Dallas. The dependable Jeff Heath, and the underrated Xavier Woods make it so, while Chidobe Awuzie locks down the opposition’s number one receiver. Dallas’ vulnerability in this position group from the perimeter corner position opposite Awuzie. Jones has been playing corner to pair with slot specialist Jourdan Lewis and Awuzie.
If Miami can create one-on-one passing opportunities into the boundary, look for O’Shea to attack vertically and hope to steal some points — the best bet here is likely Preston Williams.
— mike fisher ✭ (@fishsports) September 18, 2019
Quite literally all over the football field. Dallas can line up with power and milk the Dolphins defense dry. They can attack vertically, or in the controlled passing game with well-timed shot plays built into the offense, all on top of exceptional red zone production in the early going of 2019.
Demarcus Lawrence leads the team in pressures, but he’s only pulled the quarterback down once — that ties the team lead. This Cowboys pass rush is going to be champing at the bit to pad those stats, and there’s no reason to think Miami can handle the relentless pressure, even without blitzing.
Special teams might be the one area Miami can spark some magic. The Dolphins are off to a slow start in this department as well, but Jakeem Grant’s big-play ability will be needed if Miami are to pull the miracle upset.
Finding vertical shots — whether it’s Mike Gesicki splitting the Tampa-2, Preston Williams winning an outside release into the boundary without safety help, or getting a fly-by from Grant, Miami needs some fireworks.
The Projected Outcome:
The game plan came together defensively in the first half against the Patriots, but it’s a challenge for even the league’s best stop-units to carry a lifeless offense. Unless the Dolphins can finally sustain some drives and convert in the red zone, this game will get out of hand. It’s doubtful Miami can do that, so look for an aggressive offense that tries to hit the big play.
Dallas just has too much star power and excellent coordinators for Miami to pick them off — or even cover.
- Taco Charlton: New Acquisition Analysis September 19, 2019
- Josh Rosen Named Starting QB vs Cowboys; Claim DE Taco Charlton September 19, 2019
- Dolphins Cowboys Week Three Preview September 19, 2019
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