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Ten Thoughts on the NFL: Dolphins Edition

The week the Dolphins dropped 70

Denver Broncos v Miami Dolphins Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Last week in this space, I suggested that if the Bears were headed toward another tough season, that it might be nice to follow another team that would provide slightly more enjoyment. I said my choice was Mike McDaniel and the Miami Dolphins, who proceeded to go out on Sunday and drop 70 on the Denver Broncos. This column is dedicated to them.

1. Scoring Play: (Shotgun) T. Tagovailoa pass deep middle to T. Hill for 54 yards, TOUCHDOWN. The Dolphins acquired Tyreek Hill before last season from the Kansas City Chiefs for five draft picks - a 1st, 2nd, and 4th rounder from the 2022 draft and a 4th and 6th from the 2023 draft. The Dolphins had to then sign Hill to a massive deal worth $120 million over four years. More than a few questioned the sanity of a deal like that. Could Hill really survive without Patrick Mahomes? Could his new quarterback get the speedster the ball?

So far, the answer is a resounding yes. Hill recorded his fourth 1st Team All Pro honor last year and is well on his way to a fifth. That would tie him with Terrell Owens for third all time and put him in excellent position to be a Hall of Fame wide receiver. Cheetah provides speed, yes, but he’s so much more than just a speedster. The Dolphins peppered Hill with 170 targets last year, exactly 10 per game. So far this year, Tua has targeted him 35 times through 3 games.

2. Scoring Play: (Shotgun) D. Achane left end for 8 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Achane is only the second player in NFL history with at least 200 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs, and 2 receiving touchdowns (Billy Cannon). Impressive start for the rookie.

3. Scoring Play: T. Tagovailoa pass short middle to D. Achane for 4 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Tua Tagovailoa is known for getting the ball out quick and being accurate. Pretty good combination, but the book on him was that maybe he didn’t have a big enough arm to really pressure defenses. Well... that hasn’t really played out with this offense.

Tua has recorded the lowest amount of time to throw early in the season (not surprising) but he has the 3rd highest “aDOT” or Average Depth of Target. That really shouldn’t be possible, but he’s reading out the defense quickly, diagnosing where to go with the ball, and delivering it confidently to his fast playmakers.

4. Scoring Play: R. Mostert up the middle for 20 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Raheem Mostert spent his first two seasons bouncing around the league, including two games with the Chicago Bears, before landing in San Francisco in 2016. When the Shanahan regime took over, McDaniel got a chance to work with him in San Francisco’s run game. By 2019, Mostert played in every game, logging 137 carries at 5.6 yards per carry. Injuries robbed Mostert of half of 2020 and most of 2021 before McDaniel signed him in free agency with the Dolphins as one of his first moves. The speedy back has averaged over 5 yards per carry on his 222 career carries in Miami so far.

5. Scoring Play: (Shotgun) R. Mostert left guard for 3 yards, TOUCHDOWN. According to NFL Communications, “Achane and Mostert are the second pair of teammates in NFL history to each score four touchdowns in the same game, joining Kansas City’s Derrick Blaylock and Priest Holmes (four touchdowns each) on October 24, 2004.” Yes, this team put up 70, but their running backs scored 8 touchdowns.

6. Scoring Play: R. Mostert up the middle for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN. The Dolphins are just the second team in NFL history to have over 700 yards of total offense. With 350 yards rushing and 376 yards passing, the Dolphins put up one of the most effective balanced attacks you’ll ever see. Tua was near perfect finishing 23/26 for 309 with 4 TDs, Achane went over 200 yards rushing, Hill over 150 yards receiving, and Mostert over 140 yards from scrimmage. A fantasy football dream for anyone lucky enough to roster any of these guys.

7. Scoring Play: (Shotgun) T. Tagovailoa pass short left to R. Mostert for 19 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Mike McDaniel was Kyle Shanahan’s running game guru. If you’re familiar with the Shanahan system, it’s famous for making unheralded backs into stars. Putting star players in the system can take it to the next level. Much of that genius was propelled by McDaniel, embracing his role with the team.

This excellent article from Sky Sports explains: “It’s why Shanahan deems him indispensable and it’s why McDaniel is poised to follow in his footsteps as one of the NFL’s most creative offensive play-callers in years to come.” It’s also why every run in the Dolphins system has pass concepts and counters off of it. He’s not just drawing individual plays up on the board, it’s a system.

8. Scoring Play: T. Tagovailoa pass short middle to D. Achane for 10 yards, TOUCHDOWN. This thing was just cool. One of those easy plays that’s going to make the rounds for awhile. No-look pass!

9. Scoring Play: (Shotgun) M. White pass deep right to R. Chosen for 68 yards, TOUCHDOWN. You guys remember Robby Chosen... you just might remember him as Robby Anderson, who gave us an all-timer with “what is that Bear doing?”

If there really is any pushback on McDaniel running up the score in this one, I will point to the second to last TD being Mike White to Robby Chosen as evidence to the contrary. You have to be able to stop a team but you particularly can’t complain about it when they’re running their backups out there.

10. Scoring Play: D. Achane left tackle for 67 yards, TOUCHDOWN. The rookie running back Achane recorded a stunning 4.32 second 40 yard dash. The Texas A&M product has explosive play ability and was one of those “perfect fit” reviews from basically every draft analyst as soon as the pick was announced. Achane gives McDaniel yet another speed threat on his track team. Running the ball late in the game and they break off yet another explosive run for a TD. This play was the fastest a player has recorded though the first three weeks at 21.93 mph.

The Dolphins are fast, obviously, but they have showed that in spades so far this year. In fact, the Dolphins have the five fastest speeds on record for 2023 so far with Mostert posting one and Hill and Achane pitching in two each. Jaylen Waddle, who missed this scoring buffet, recorded the 12th fastest time so far this year in Week 1.

All told, 10 TDs, 70 points, 3 behind the league record set by the Chicago Bears in the 1940 NFL Championship game (while pitching a shutout). The Chicago Bears will need to score 23 points this weekend to reach 70 on the season.