Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Assessing the Miami Dolphins Win Over Jacksonville

Miami Dolphins got their first win of the season on Thursday. A 31-13 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars moves Miami’s record to 1-2 before their matchup next Sunday against the in-form Russell Wilson and Seattle Seahawks.

Miami were given a tough start with the first two weeks against division rivals New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills. Before the season began, people felt this would be the Dolphins’ easiest game of the season.

However, with the 27-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts and 33-30 loss to the Tennessee Titans, the Jaguars went into the game as favourites.

The Jacksonville Jaguars surprised many with their werk 1 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

The Miami Dolphins, after a 0-2 start, won this game despite the overwhelming backing of Jacksonville pre match.

It ended up being comfortable with the score at 21-7 at half time. The Miami Dolphins didn’t really hit the same heights in the second half but didn’t need to, thanks to the defensive display of Miami as well as the poor showing of Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars offense that clearly missed wide receiver D.J. Chark.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 0 interceptions in week 2 and once again successfully threw 0 picks in the 31-13 win over Jacksonville. He also threw for two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown as well as throwing for 160 passing yards and a 90% completion rate (18 from 20). Fitzpatrick is a cult hero in the NFL and plays with such fun and enthusiasm. When on form, Ryan Fitzpatrick is a joy to watch.

Fitzpatrick was efficient and it took him until late in the second quarter to throw his first incomplete pass of the day.

Elsewhere on offense, tight end Mike Gesicki once again showed his importance to this Miami offense. He only had one reception compared to his 8 in week 2 but his one catch of the ball resulted in a 15 yard touchdown to put Miami 21-7 up.

Mike Gesicki catching the pass for his touchdown.

Alot of great Premier League strikers have games where they do not see much of the ball and then score a goal out of the blue. This felt the same with Gesicki against the Jaguars.

The fact that the only reception Gesicki had was when Miami were 14-7 up in the second quarter, needing a play to go 14 points ahead, shows the trust that Brian Flores and Ryan Fitzpatrick have in the former Penn State tight end.

Miami Dolphins players celebrating Mike Gesicki’s touchdown.

Jacksonville Jaguars’ rookie defensive back C.J Henderson was beaten in coverage by Mike Gesicki for the tight end’s touchdown but also earlier in the quarter by DeVante Parker, which showed Henderson’s rookie status. This reminded me an awful lot of defensive back Noah Igbinoghene’s rookie struggles for Miami against Stefon Diggs in week 2.

I was critical of Igbinoghene last week and the decision to put him up against Diggs but this week we saw the potential of Igbinoghene. There were two moments that stood out for me. There was the good stop on 3rd down to deny Laviska Shenault a first down for the Jaguars and there was the 1st and goal chance that Collin Johnson had for the Jags in the fourth quarter where Igbinoghene got a hand to the ball to deny a Jacksonville Jaguars touchdown.

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr., center, runs for yardage after a reception before being tackled by Miami Dolphins cornerback Noah Igbinoghene during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

With the exception of the pass to Keelan Cole allowed by Miami that led to the first touchdown for Jacksonville by James Robinson, Miami were generally very good at stopping the big plays.

Kamu Grugier Hill got a sack with Jacksonville on 4th and 6 in the second quarter. We saw Kyle Van Noy strip the ball out of Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew’s hands to force a turnover on 3 and 13 in the third quarter that put Miami in a very good offensive position. We also saw Emmanuel Ogbah get a sack mid fourth quarter on a Jaguars second down as well as Andrew Van Ginkel get to Minshew and sack him on fourth down. This was with just over 4 minutes left to effectively seal the game for the Miami Dolphins.

Sep 24, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53) reacts during the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins defense allowed the Jaguars a 30% success rate on third down (3 out of 10) and Jacksonville were 0-3 on fourth down conversions. On the other side of the ball, Miami were far more effective on offense than Jacksonville. The Dolphins converted 7 out of 13 third down and were 1 for 1 on fourth downs.

In terms of the Miami Dolphins running back room, once again we saw Gaskin make an impact as well as head coach Brian Flores’ trust of Jordan Howard in the redzone. It is clear to see the impact Gaskin has made on the coaching staff as he ran for 22 rushing attempts, more than weeks 1 and 2 combined.

Being a seventh round pick in the 2019 draft, Flores and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey probably expected to use Gaskin sparingly. This is especially so, considering they went out to get Howard and Matt Breida in the 2020 off season. Clearly Gaskin has impressed but one thing he has yet to do is score a touchdown. This has been the responsibility of Jordan Howard.

Jordan Howard has three touchdowns so far this season, including one against the Jaguars, with a combined yardage of 12 yards from 16 rushing attempts. The former Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles running back is clearly the man trusted in the business end of the field. Howard has largely been ineffective in the middle of the field but he seems to be the man to get Miami touchdowns.

Jordan Howard running in for the touchdown.

The Dolphins will be confident after this win and the move to 1-2 but face a tough fixture next Sunday against the Seahawks. The Dolphins will take inspiration from the defensive performance but the Seahawks will be a different proposition. The Miami players have to view this as a free hit. Noone expected them to win this game when the schedule was released and this viewpoint hasn’t changed after the way the season has gone so far. Nevertheless, there are plenty of positives to take from this game.

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