The New York Jets try to climb above the .500 mark when they host the Miami Dolphins this week. Previewing this matchup, Kevin Nogle of The Phinsider was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding the 2022 Dolphins.
Check out the Q&A below, and be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook for all your betting needs this season.
1. Everyone knows the Dolphins acquired star receiver Tyreek Hill in the 2022 offseason. Could you bring Jets fans up to date on any other significant additions to the Dolphins’ roster this year, including the 2022 draft class? How have those additions been working out so far?
Terron Armstead at left tackle is another huge piece the Dolphins added this offseason and he has done a great job of locking down the left side of the offensive line. One addition that seemed to slide past everyone, including Dolphins fans, was the addition of Melvin Ingram. He was seen as a veteran addition to provide depth when he was signed, and he was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month for the first month of the season. An undrafted free agent has been a really nice surprise this year as cornerback Kader Kohou out of Texas A&M-Commerce has had a really nice start to the year. With Byron Jones on the physically unable-to-perform list to start the year, there were question marks about the Dolphins’ cornerback depth, but Kohou has been impressive - to the point that Pro Football Focus rates him as a top-ten cornerback for the first quarter of the season and their highest rated rookie.
2. Tua Tagovailoa has taken two hits in the last two weeks that seemingly left him concussed (though in the first one the official report denied a concussion). As a result Tua will not be playing against the Jets on Sunday. How is Tua doing, is there any timetable when you think he might return, and how do Dolphins fans feel about how this situation was handled?
I think Dolphins fans are really wanting to see the official report from the league and players union investigation into what exactly happened. The injury against the Buffalo Bills was deemed a back injury, and if you think about how many people were cramping up and the possibility that Tagovailoa did have a back issue that spasmed, it could explain his stumble - though the shaking of his head does make it seem like it was a concussion. The team and independent doctor both cleared him to return and head coach Mike McDaniel has been adamant that the issue was a back problem, not a head injury. The injury against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday Night Football was clearly a concussion and a scary one. I was actually surprised he was released from the hospital and cleared to fly back with the team. I thought for sure he was at least going to have overnight observation.
The NFLPA immediately asked for an investigation after the first injury, and it is ongoing now as we approach Week 5. The union terminated the independent neurologist who cleared Tagovailoa in the Bills’ game, but they put out a joint statement with the league shortly thereafter stressing that no medical errors or improper protocols in the diagnosis had been found as of then. So if there were no issues found at that point, why did they terminate the doctor? The league has said the report will be released to insure transparency, and nothing so far has said anyone did anything wrong, but the end result was still a very scary situation for Tagovailoa.
Since the Bengals’ game, Tagovailoa returned with the team but was wearing a neck brace. He has been in the team facilities but is still in the concussion protocol. Multiple tests after the injury have found no other issues to Tagovailoa, including no further injury to his back or neck. He has tweeted he is feeling much better, while McDaniel and Hill have both said he is doing well. They are not releasing a timetable for his return, but I would have to imagine he will miss at least a couple of games.
3. In Tua’s absence Teddy Bridgewater is expected to start at quarterback for the Dolphins. How will this impact the Dolphins’ offense? Do you expect any change to the distribution of targets, the Dolphins’ offensive scheme, and/or the level of offensive production with Bridgewater in at quarterback?
Mike McDaniel has said he expects it to be the same offense under Bridgewater, but it obviously will have to change some. I think they are both accurate quarterbacks who are not gunslingers, but I think the Dolphins will turn the focus back to making sure the run game, which has struggled early this year, gets going early this week. Miami’s offense is built around the run-pass option and the play-action pass, but under Tagovailoa, they have had success without the run game. Under Bridgewater, I think they have to get it going. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle will still be the top two receiving options on the offense, but I would not be surprised to see Trent Sherfield have a bigger role and I think Mike Gesicki could see an uptick in targets as Bridgewater looks for players with whom he has comfort. The offense looked like it could still operate under Bridgewater, but it did not seem to have the same spark as what it has under Tagovailoa. We will see if they can find it with Bridgewater having a full week of preparation.
4. The Dolphins have had very little success running the ball this year, with the team never exceeding 86 rushing yards in four games thus far. What are the reasons for the Dolphins’ struggles running the ball, and do you expect more rushing success this week against the Jets?
I really do not know. In past years, the easy answer is the offensive line. While they have not been great this year, they are not the miserable unit they were last year. The Dolphins added Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds this year to give the team an upgrade at the running back position, but it just has not come together yet. “We need to have really a better commitment, starting with me, in the plays that are called,” McDaniel said this week. “And we need to have better execution by everyone on the team, including the quarterback, at operating the run plays.”
It just seems like a full combination of things. The Dolphins have to commit to running the ball. They have to make better play calls. The offensive line has to open better holes and the running backs have to hit those holes, break the first tackle, and use their speed to their advantage. The Dolphins have relied on Tagovailoa’s left arm to bail them out when the running game is not working, but now that they have to turn to the right arm of Bridgewater, there is no proof he can operate without the running game in concert. They have to get it started this week.
5. If you were a betting man which team would you bet on winning this game and why?
The Jets are, I think, a surprising team early in the 2022 season and they are playing well. If Tagovailoa were available for this game, I would think Miami would be in a position to put away the Jets early in this game, but based on how the Jets have been playing and the change to Bridgewater, I am not as confident. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Dolphins are three-point favorites for this game. I think that is probably about right, but I would give the points and take the Dolphins to win by more than three this weekend.