Miami Dolphins fans, how sweet it is: the first victory of the season!
The wide majority of people around the country, including myself, did not expect the Fins to win this game; it’s safe to say we owe Ryan Fitzpatrick and the rest of the Dolphins an apology.
Out of the gate, Miami was on fire, engineering a scoring drive on their first possession for a lead that they never relinquished. When it was all said and done, the scoreboard was lopsided in favor of the Fins, 31-13. It was Miami’s first win of 10+ points since the 2017 season against the Denver Broncos — a 38-game span.
In the coming days, we’ll take a deeper dive into what happened, but for now, let’s review the rapid takeaways from Miami’s first win of the season.
As always, questions or comments? Ask me on Twitter! @Donny_Diablo7
From the first whistle to the last, Miami asserted their dominance all night. Offensively, the performance of Ryan Fitzpatrick could only be described as utterly brilliant. “Fitzmagic” began the game completing his first 12 passes — the most in his career — and finished with an impressive 18-of-20 for 160 yards, two TDs, and 0 INTs. The Fins scored on their first three possessions, the first time they have accomplished that feat since 2011, according to CBS Sports.
Fitzpatrick spread the ball around all night, completing a pass to eight Dolphins, including himself on a batted-down pass in the fourth quarter. He would open the scoring with an impressive tight-window throw to receiver Preston Williams in their first series, swinging early momentum in favor of the Fins.
Mike Gesicki entered the game leading all tight ends in receiving yards, and made his presence felt with a score on his only reception of the night, as well as drawing a pass Interference call in the red zone to set up another Miami score.
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of last night was the success on the ground. Myles Gaskin established the run game early, toting the rock eight times for 35 yards on their first scoring drive. Gaskin finished the game with 66 of Miami’s 138 total rushing yards, and hammered the nail in the coffin with a 15-yard carry on a 3rd-and-8 play inside the Miami five-yard line.
Of course, we can’t forget about 2019 Dolphins rushing champion Ryan Fitzpatrick. The 37-year old Harvard grad carried the ball seven times for 38 yards and a score on the ground, extended some drives, and brought a new energy to the Miami offense.
(Editor’s Note: Did you know Ryan Fitzpatrick went to Harvard? Because, if not, we’re reminded in every NFL game he’s played. Someone should make a supercut and put it on YouTube.)
Despite the impressive performance of running back James Robinson, the Jaguars were never in position to take over this game. The Miami secondary smothered the Jacksonville receivers for the duration of the contest, routinely forcing Gardner Minshew to resort to check-downs to Robinson out of the backfield. When receivers were lucky enough to catch the ball, they were greeted by a pack of white jerseys. It was nice to see the amount of gang-tackling that happened over the course of night.
Aside from a blown coverage leaving receiver Chris Conley wide open, the secondary limited any big passing plays from Minshew down the field, particularly in the second half, where Minshew did not complete a pass over ten yards until under three minutes in the fourth quarter.
The front-seven had their best game of the season, constantly pressuring Minshew all night to the tune of four sacks and ten quarterback hits. Aside from going into prevent defense too early, in my opinion, Dolphins defensive coordinator Josh Boyer called a great game.
Boyer utilized a mix of exotic packages and blitz schemes to keep Minshew and the Jacksonville O-Line under duress. For instance, beautiful execution from LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (pictured above) on an interior blitz, resulted in a turnover-on-downs after the Jags opted to go for it on fourth down inside Miami territory, before the half.
Kyle Van Noy delivered the most decisive defensive play of the night, strip-sacking Minshew and recovering his forced fumble to set up Fitz’s rushing score. Miami needed to be more opportunistic on turnovers, and they rose to the occasion, winning the turnover battle. Their second opportunity came from an Xavien Howard interception later in the game.
I, for one, am excited after this performance. The Dolphins finally put it together on both sides of the ball and showed they can play a complete game. The energy that we saw on Thursday night was non-existent in the team’s previous two outings; hopefully, this momentum carries into future games.
For now, the Miami Dolphins will get to enjoy a mini-bye week to celebrate their first win of the year, before they prepare for Russell Wilson and the red-hot Seattle Seahawks. The extra time will also aid in the recovery and return of cornerback Byron Jones (groin) to their secondary, as well.