The Miami Dolphins are fast, like heyday Miami Hurricanes fast, in relation to their competition. With his current offense, Tua Tagovailoa must be currently feeling like he did while quarterbacking Alabama — the modern standard for college football athleticism. Back then his weapons on offense included DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and Najee Harris.
Those type of receivers can make life easier for a quarterback, but not in the same way as a quality offensive line. Tagovailoa started two seasons at Alabama, and four offensive lineman who protected him would go on to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Early in Tagovailoa’s career with the Dolphins, his offensive line was nowhere near the top of the league. Pro Football Focus rated the 2021 Dolphins’ o-line as the worst in the NFL.
A team that was supposed to be tanking finished that season 9-8, despite numerous questions on offense, and their head coach filing a discrimination lawsuit after being fired. Last season, the Dolphins’ offense was dynamic after adding Tyreek Hill to a wide receiver corps that already included Waddle. They made the playoffs for the first time since the 2016 season, but lost in the first round. In that game, the Dolphins started their third-string quarterback, Skylar Thompson. Pro Football Focus rated their offensive line 22nd that season, and Tagovailoa played in only 13 games, missing that postseason matchup against the Buffalo Bills due to multiple head injuries that season.
Through three 2023 regular season games, the Dolphins offensive line is one of the best in the league. The Dolphins destroyed the Denver Broncos, 70-20, and if head coach Mike McDaniel had decided to attempt a late field goal instead of taking a knee, his team could have accumulated the highest point total in NFL history.
Waddle missed the game with injury, and the Dolphins were still able to lap Sean Payton’s Broncos. Hill tallied nine receptions for 157 yards and a TD. Running backs Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane combined for 375 scrimmage yards and eight TDs.
During Miami’s offensive onslaugh,t Tagovailoa was pressured only three times. He has been sacked only one time this entire season, and left tackle Terron Armstead took the field for the first time this season against the Broncos. Per the Palm Beach Post’s Joe Schad, the last time that the Dolphins allowed only one sack through the first three games was 1989.
The Dolphins are running circles around their opponents, but for all of the eye-popping speed on the roster this 3-0 start would not be possible without strong offensive-line play. The blocking combined with the speed and Tagovailoa accuracy, and most importantly him remaining on his feet, has the Dolphins appearing ready to make a championship push.
Speed can kill, but without a front that provides protection, the attack won’t have the time to do damage.
That’s the biggest difference in what is looking like a Miami Dolphins juggernaut.
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