Miami Dolphins Earn Road Victory Over Improved Chicago Bears

Dolphins Road Chicago Bears

QB, Tua Tagovailoa

Chicago, Il – Three, three, and three. The Miami Dolphins have now won their 3rd straight game after losing three straight and winning three straight before that. The Dolphins did so by defeating the Chicago Bears on the road at Soldier Field 35-32. Their 6-3 start matches the 2020 season for their best nine-game start since the ’01 season. Be that as it may, Miami didn’t surpass 11 wins in either of those seasons. However, with some very favorable matchups in the next few weeks against non-playoff teams, Miami has a chance to finish with the best record they’ve had since they won 12 games in 1990. That season, they returned to the playoffs after missing it for four seasons. This time around, it’s been five seasons without a playoff run, but look around… The 90’s are back in style.

A 32-Year Parallel

In 1990, Miami had an emerging Dan Marino leading a high-powered offense who finally got support from a good defense. Fast-forward to 2022, Coach Mike McDaniel inherited an emerging Tua Tagovailoa in a struggling offense, but with a strong defense built by ex-head coach Brian Flores. Although, Credit to GM Chris Grier for his excellent offseason, bringing in a young offensively-minded coach along with the players to execute his system.

Front Office Flair

Miami’s offense now ranks #11 in the league in points/game. Compare that to #22 last season. The defense has taken somewhat of a dive since the change in administration, but Mr. Grier stayed busy at the trade deadline, trading for pass rusher, Bradley Chubb from the Denver Broncos. He also got Jeff Wilsonn Jr. from the 49ers who scored his 1st Fins TD today.

Grier is truly a man that thinks ahead. Remember Laremy Tunsil? Well, he became Jaylen Waddel, Tyreek Hill, and now Bradley Chubb. If the defense can get even just close to what they were under Brian Flores, Miami will be a serious threat to win the Super Bowl.

High Power

On the other hand, we shouldn’t need to have the best defense in the league to win big games against tough opponents. Sometimes, winning a good old-fashioned “shootout” is the way to go. Miami’s gotten it done this season. They beat Baltimore, 42-38 early on. Last week, on the road, they came back and beat the Lions 31-27. And now this week, the Dolphins earned another road shootout win against the Chicago Bears.

Everybody put three fingers in the air for Tua’s third season. He seems to be back to where he was pre-concussion. The kid is balling. He’s exactly where fans wanted him to be right now. He’s the only QB in the entire NFL with a passer rating greater than 110 (112.7). On top of that, he’s the only QB in Dolphins history to have consecutive games with 300 pass yards, three passing TDs, and zero INTs. Not even Marino did that. A stark contrast to the Tua we saw last season. We’ve got to give credit to coach McDaniel and his staff for putting Tua in a position to succeed. Tua also put in the time this offseason and it shows.

That being said, the scary part is that there are still clear areas where he can grow! He’s not yet at the level where he steps on the neck of the opposition when they’re down. He had two opportunities today to put away the game and his passes were way off. The first, a 4th & 1 from Chicago’s 14-yard line was a short dump off to the right, but it was underthrown. The second, on their next possession, was a deep ball on 3rd down from Miami’s 23-yard line, but again, severely underthrown to Jaylen Waddle.

A One-Two(a) Punch

As great as Tua has been this season, a lot of his shortcomings are covered up by the Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle tangent. Those guys have to come back, and/or slow down for underthrown passes at a somewhat alarming rate. Be that as it may, those two can quite possibly be the best WR duo Miami has ever had. Sorry, Marx bros. Hill and Waddle have combined for 1,688 total receiving yards this season, which is the most by a pair of teammates in their team’s first eight games of a season in NFL history. That being said, Miami does lead the league in dropped passes (18). However, their biggest culprit, Chase Edmonds was just traded to Denver as part of the package that brought over Chubb. Because of that, we should see an even greater improvement in the passing game.

The Bears’ defense hadn’t allowed a 300-yard game or a three-TD game to any QB, but Tua did both today. Also, he had another zero INT game. In fact, neither team had a turnover in the game. Miami’s special teams did block a punt (Jaelan Phillips) though. It was recovered and returned for a TD by Andrew Van Ginkel. Miami might’ve lost the game if not for that play, as they would’ve been trailing 14-17 at the half, and then were outscored in the 2nd half  14-15. Imagine losing a game where your QB throws 300+ yards, three TDs, and zero INTs. Miami’s defense has to figure out how to get back to where they were the past 2 seasons.

The Opposition… Not Too Shabby

Although, Justin Fields played like a maniac today. He also had three passing TDs, accompanied by a 61-yard rushing TD, and 178 rushing yards total. The Bears did their damage on the ground with 252 total rushing yards. Through the air, not so much. Fields only threw for 123 yards, and Xavien Howard almost got his 1st INT of the season, but it was called back due to offsetting penalties.

Miami won the game, but failed to cover the spread, as they were 4.5-point favorites and only won by three.

Next up, Miami hosts the 3-5 Cleveland Browns. Look for Cleveland to try and put pressure on Tua and force him to rush through his progressions. Their pass rush is led by Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney. If they can throw off Tua’s timing, or disrupt his pocket movements, that’s where he makes mistakes. Miami should take care of business with a W, and cover the spread.

Fins Up Juice

  • WR Tyreek Hill has 1,104 receiving yards so far this season. That’s the most by a player through a team’s first nine games in the Super Bowl era.
  • S Jevon Holland is the only player in the NFL this season with multiple interceptions, a forced fumble, and a sack.
  • WR Jaylen Waddle has 1827 receiving yards and needs 89 receiving yards to reach 1,916 and set a Dolphins franchise record for most receiving yards in the first two seasons of a career (Jarvis Landry, 1,915, 2014-15). Cold-blooded.

📸Credit: Miami Dolphins

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