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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
The running game was in beast mode against the Bills. Raheem Mostert gained 136 yards on 17 carries, with a long of 67. Salvon Ahmed tossed in another 43 yards on 6 carries. The Dolphins gained 188 yards on the ground, a welcome sight late in the year when the cold weather can become a factor in games. Honestly, there should have been more of this later in the game as the Bills never showed they could stop the run.
Tua tossed 2 TDs and 234 yards. There were two other touchdowns dropped by Trent Sherfield and Tyreek Hill. But Tua quieted critics about his ability to throw the ball in cold weather. He hit Jaylen Waddle in stride for a 67-yard bomb and also hit Hill for a perfectly placed 20-yard TD.
Speaking of Waddle, he had 114 yards and 1 TD on 3 catches.
I find this is starting to become a common theme, and I hate to do this, but the officiating was horrible. The refs missed a couple of clear pass interference calls and a very obvious intentional grounding call against Josh Allen. But they were conveniently on point when it came to calling a pass interference against the Dolphins on third down that basically decided the game.
The defense had it's moments. The strip sack by Jaelan Phillips was a thing of beauty. They forced a 3 and out coming out of halftime that set the Dolphins up to get back in the game. Unfortunately, the Bills had 29 first downs, gained 446 yards, went 8 of 14 on third downs. And worst of all, allowed 32 points scored.
The Dolphins have gone from being in the driver's seat to make the playoffs to now needing to get back on track to make sure they do not get left out. And while they played well in Buffalo and made it more of a game than everyone expected, the expectation is to make the playoffs. There were some good signs against the Bills, even in a loss, but the previous two losses to San Fran and LA made this one hurt that much more. Now the Dolphins need to get back on track to make sure this season doesn't turn into a flop.
For that to happen, the running game will need to continue producing and Tua will need to continue getting back on track.
Christian Wilkins and Jaelan Phillips were incredible and kept the Dolphins in the game. Wilkins consistently beat his man to make tackles or pressure the QB. Phillips SHOULD have had two sacks, but a crap roughing the passer call no one agreed with wiped one away. It is a shame the defense had to spend almost 40 minutes of playclock time and 78 plays on the field.
The offense, specifically the offensive coaching, was piss poor. The 49ers put the blueprint out there on how to slow down the passing game. In fact, Kyle Shanahan telegraphed the strategy before the game by calling out how well the Dolphins attack the middle of the field. The Chargers took that blueprint and expanded it by basically having their linebackers drop back 15-19 yards or parking a safety in the middle of the field, even if there was playaction or an RPO. The Chargers did not respect the run and did not respect the short or outside passing game and the playcalling on offense continued to go towards attacking 20-30 yards downfield. So I'm not going to blame the offensive line, except for again not being able to run block. I'm not going to blame the receivers. They were getting bumped around. I'm not going to blame the quarterback, unless he willfully continued to throw 20-30 yards downfield against his head coach's wishes. You saw the Chargers throw screens, outside quick passes etc etc to counter the Dolphins offense. The Dolphins seemed to continue going to the same cookie jar til just about the last drive of the game.
Long story short, McDaniel is a great motivator and good at establishing a culture. His game day Xs and Os and situational decisions need some work. He was outcoached by the Chargers.
Also, to win these road games in the future, the Dolphins need to build a running game. It's what wins in weather, in the playoffs and on the road. That doesn't seem like something that will happen this year.
The officiating was pretty bad. It was a clear offensive pass interference when Mike Williams caught that jump ball over X. X was playing the ball the whole way and all of a sudden found himself being pushed to the ground. The roughing the passer call on Phillips was absolutely horrible. What else, literally, is he supposed to do? Hate to blame the officials, but man, those were some bad calls.
And here we go, the schedule gets tougher and the losses start coming. Now the Dolphins have to go to Buffalo on a short week and play the Bills in cold weather. After the number they did on Mike White, I'm hoping the Dolphins do a better job of protecting Tua. After the Bills, the games become more winnable and the Dolphins still have a good shot at making the playoffs. But this is turning from a season where we're excited to be in first place to a season where we're hoping we don't poop the bed and miss the playoffs.
At least we're back to that, which is better than where we've been the past few years.