The trade deadline has passed, and a whole new Chicago Bears team is ready to host a whole new Dolphins team this Sunday. It’s not likely these teams' new additions will make a big impact in their first week, but the Bears should feel the loss of Roquan Smith and the continued loss of Robert Quinn, so that’s something, right?
Here are the 5 questions posed to the Phinsider’s Kevin Nogle with his accompanying response.
1. How scared must the Dolphins be of the Bears offense to trade so much draft capital for Bradley Chubb just before facing them?
Clearly they panicked heading into this week. And I guess the answer is about the same amount that the Bears are not afraid of Miami’s offense since Roquan Smith is in Baltimore now.
Really, though, a quarterback like Justin Fields is a nightmare for the Dolphins. They struggle with running quarterbacks, and when you have Josh Allen in your division, that is not a good weakness to have. Miami is definitely going to be looking to have a spy on Fields throughout the game, and I would not be surprised if Bradley Chubb plays into that scheme to some degree. Miami also wants to see their pass rush continue to emerge after a slow start to the season. Obviously, adding Chubb assists in that. This is an exciting move for the Dolphins, who appear to have moved from their tear down and rebuild process from the 2019 season and are in win now mode. They are no longer trying to acquire draft picks and look toward the future after two years of being one of the youngest teams in the league. They are going after proven players now and adding veterans to the developing players already in South Florida.
2. Speaking of frightening offenses, the Dolphins offense has looked impressive so far this season, and looks to have taken a huge step from the outside looking in. What has been the most important factors in that turnaround.
Confidence in Tua Tagovailoa, effective offensive line play, and the weaponry. Former head coach Brian Flores clearly wanted to move on from Tagovailoa throughout his time here, despite being the head coach when the Dolphins drafted Tagovailoa. He would say Tagovailoa is the starter, then do things like bench him for Ryan Fitzpatrick in a closer type of role. It was bizarre and it was destroying Tagovailoa’s confidence in himself. With the change to Mike McDaniel, there is a completely different attitude among the coaching staff when it comes to Tagovailoa and his future, and there is a completely different attitude from Tagovailoa. He realizes this is his team, he holds himself like a franchise quarterback, and he is playing like a franchise quarterback.
In front of him, the offensive line has started to play like a solid NFL-caliber offensive line. Miami had one of the worst, if not the worst, offensive line performances last year. Adding Terron Armstead at left tackle and acquiring Connor Williams and moving him from guard to center has worked. Then the younger players who struggled last year now have at least a year of NFL experience, and they have grown into roles on the line. This is not to say the Dolphins offensive line is a dominant unit that does not allow pressure, but after such a struggling performance in 2021, a solid unit is a huge step forward for the group in 2022. Better offensive line play has allowed Tagovailoa time to read his progressions and is has opened some running lanes.
And then, obviously, Miami added weapons. A fun fact for the Dolphins right now is wide receiver Jaylen Waddle is on pace to break the Dolphins franchise record for receiving yards by about 200 yards, and he is second on the team in receiving yards. Tyreek Hill is just ridiculous; he is on pace to be the first 2,000 yards receiver. Hill is clearly an upgrade when compared to DeVante Parker, so just having that upgrade is huge. But then you add in the addition of Raheem Mostert coming out of the backfield, and you suddenly have a track meet all over the offense.
Put confidence, decent blocking, and wide receivers and running backs that will burn you from anywhere on the field and the reason behind Miami’s offensive improvement is obvious.
3. Much like the Bears last weekend, the Dolphins' defense has been napping a little as the offense has started to thrive. What’s the biggest difference there? Do you think they will match up well against the Bears?
Injuries have crushed the Dolphins’ defense, especially in the secondary. Cornerback Byron Jones has been on the physically unable to perform list all year, cornerbacks Trill Williams and Nik Needham and safety Brandon Jones are on injured reserve, Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard has been slowed by groin injuries all season and missed a game because of them, and cornerbacks Kader Kohou and Keion Crossen have been injured and missed practice and game time as well. Miami really has only two cornerbacks, Noah Igbinoghene and Justin Bethel, who have not been impacted by the injury issues. Coverage issues lead to a lack of pass-rush success, given quarterbacks can find open receivers before the pass rushers can get the sack.
Adding Chubb to the pass rush, as we discussed, should help. It will be interesting to see how much he plays, if he can get up to speed in what can be a complex system featuring disguises and movement, and how the Dolphins linebacker rotation and assignments change with Chubb on the field.
4. How are Dolphins fans feeling about Mike McDaniel as their head coach? Honestly, he wasn’t high on Bears fans’ radar when we were doing our own coaching search, but he certainly looks like a good offensive mind that might have been useful for a team with a developing young quarterback.
McDaniel really did not seem high on anyone’s coaching candidate list except Miami’s and it seems to be working out well for the Dolphins. He is definitely different from most coaches, but it seems like he is just confident and comfortable in who he is. He jokes and has fun in press conferences and he just feels like a breath of fresh air, if that makes sense. As for the offensive system, the Dolphins use more motion and adjustments pre-snap than anyone else, and McDaniel has a great scheme to get Hill and Waddle open, even though opposing teams are obviously looking to find ways to stop both of them. He does a great job of talking to the players, finding out what works and does not work to motivate them and what plays they like. He has been able to make adjustments and keep the offense moving - but that really seems like something he excels at doing during halftime. We have not really seen a lot of adjustments on the fly during the game, just when the Dolphins come back out of the halftime break.
The other oddity is tight end Mike Gesicki. As much as McDaniel seems to build his system to the players, the tight end position is the one place where McDaniel does not seem to make adjustments. He wants a tight end who will block first, then be a receiver. Gesicki is a big receiver, with minimal blocking skills - he tries, but he just is not the blocker McDaniel seems to want. It has caused Gesicki’s role to be minimized in the offense. He is still seeing action, however, especially in the red zone so he has four touchdowns receptions, tying him for 10th in the league.
5. Draftkings has the over/under at 45.5 points. Since the Bears have averaged over 30 points their last two games, they should be good for 2/3s of that. Do you think the Dolphins will be able to scrounge up 15 points against the Bears' new Roquan-and-Quinn-less defense to make the over?
I would definitely take the over in this game. Miami has allowed an average of 24 points a game this year, giving up at least 20 points in five of their eight games this year. Miami can put up points, averaging 26 points in the games in which Tua Tagovailoa starts and ends the game, including 42 points in Week 2 against the Baltimore Ravens 21 points against the Buffalo Bills in Week 3, and 31 points last week against the Detroit Lions. Miami likes the shootout. I would expect another this week.
If a shootout is in the cards this Sunday, I’m glad the Bears finally have something in their holster that can pack a punch. Looks like this could be a fun battle between two feisty teams.
As always, if you want to bet the over, or just pick your gunslinger, Our friends over at DraftKings Sportsbook have you covered for this game and all the week’s NFL action.