It wasn’t the way new Dolphins HC Mike McDaniel would’ve wanted things to unfold in his first game at Hard Rock Stadium.
With stars Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle still not being given a run out the offence looked a little stale as starter Tua Tagovailoa made his first appearance. As we head rapidly towards the regular season here are our three takeaways from the latest instalment of Dolphins action.
THE RUN GAME IS STRUGGLING
It was pretty obvious again that the run game is struggling. Even with free-agent pickup Connor Williams playing his first snaps as a Dolphin, and grading out a respectable 67.9 (per PFF.com), the run game average just 2.1 yards per carry on 18 attempts.
It’s still early(ish) days, so there’s time to salvage the situation, but if the Dolphins can’t muster a running threat many of the same problems as the last few seasons will rear their ugly heads. There’s still Terron Armstead to come in so that will surely help, but the concerns are real about this run game issue.
With the three carry-overs from the 2021 season all still struggling with run blocking, it’s not clear where the answers will come from, although the Dolphins staff does feature a large number of OL coaches, so if any team is equipped to improve it should be Miami.
Dolphins OL coach Matt Applebaum certainly has his work cut out in his first season in the NFL for eight-years after a spell coaching the Boston College offensive line.
One last stat to highlight the offensive line woes, third-string QB Skylar Thompson (60.0) graded as a better run blocker than Liam Eichenberg (48.5), Larnel Coleman (41.5), and Austin Jackson (38.8).
CORNER DEPTH IS AN ISSUE
When Nik Needham went down with a finger injury things got so much worse for the Dolphins secondary. At time of writing it’s not known the severity of the injury, but even with Needham the Dolphins have a serious issue at corner.
With Noah Igbinoghene still struggling, the season-ending injury for Trill Williams, Byron Jones not seeing the field after off-season surgery, and Xavien Howard being saved for the regular season, the Dolphins defensive back-field has looked very porous against only backups.
Playing against second, third, and fourth-string QB’s versus the Raiders all three completed at least two-thirds of their passes.
SKYLAR THOMPSON LOOKS GOOD, BUT MUST BE CUT
While it’s becoming clearer that Skylar Thompson could well be a backup QB in this league, the Dolphins have, once again, invested far too heavily in their backup QB to consider Thompson for that role.
And while popular opinion is you have to keep Thompson, it doesn’t actually make any sense. Unless you can trade Teddy Bridgewater, unlikely with his salary, carrying a third-QB when you have major issues on the OL and CB doesn’t make any sense.
If the argument is that QB1 and QB2 need cover because they are injury prone then at least one of this guys shouldn’t be on the roster. If you give a bak-up QB $6.5-million in guaranteed money for one-year he has to be the backup.
Taking two roster spots for guys you really don’t ever want to see play is counterproductive a waste of a spot. So as hard as it is, Thompson should be part of the final roster cuts, and hopefully the Dolphins get to stash him on the practice squad and next season don’t pay silly money for a backup QB.