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Dolphins Preseason Opener Highlights and Lowlights

A look at the highlights and lowlights for the Miami Dolphins in the first half of their 2021 preseason opener against the Chicago Bears:



-- Michael Palardy's first game punt for the Dolphins was a good one, traveling 55 yards. When the Bears were called for holding it forced them to start their first drive at their 20.

-- Nik Needham lined up in the slot on the Bears' first third-down situation and had great coverage and a nice breakup against Darnell Mooney.

-- Jaylen Waddle showed off his explosiveness as a punt return right away, taking back a 61-yard punt 22 yards. Waddle did head for the sideline ahead of contact, which is not something we hope becomes a regular occurrence.

-- On a third-and-4 on the Dolphins' second drive, the offensive line provided great pass protection for Tua, who found Mike Gesicki open downfield and hit him for a 50-yard gain.

-- The next play was a really good, quick slant from Tua to Mack Hollins that gained 6 yards.

-- On the second punt return, Jakeem Grant was back there and he almost matched Waddle's effort with a 21-yard return. On both occasions, the Dolphins returners took advantage of Bears punter Pat O'Donnell outkicking his coverage.

-- On Chicago's second third-down attempt, it was safety Eric Rowe's turn to provide great coverage and a pass breakup. And it came against tight end Cole Kmet, the same guy with whom he had a bit of a skirmish in practice Thursday.

-- Tua threw a dart to a well-covered to convert a third-and-6.

-- Tua converted a third-and-9 with an equally impressively accurate pass to Hollins down the middle in the face of some pressure.

-- After some short-yardage failures, the Dolphins finally succeeded when Malcolm Brown converted a fourth-and-1 with a 1-yard run.

-- Two plays later, a great seal block by tight end Durham Smythe sprung Myles Gaskin for a 14-yard run.

-- Christian Wilkins broke through the line to upend former Dolphins running back Damien Williams after a 1-yard gain. Wilkins earlier had been on the receiving end of a holding penalty.

-- Grant had a third long punt return, returning this one 34 yards. It was another example of O'Donnell outkicking his coverage and another example of the Dolphins' explosiveness in the return game.

-- Wilkins had yet another big play, batting down a Justin Fields pass at the line of scrimmage.

-- Needham made a second great pass breakup, this one on Chris Lacy and Noah Igbinoghene came back on the next play with superb coverage on a deep pass by Fields intended for Rodney Adams as the Dolphins held the Bears without a first down on their first four possessions.

-- On a play that could fall into both the highlights and lowlights category, safety Clayton Fejedelem tipped away a Justin Fields pass but Javaris Davis failed to come up with the interception after going low for it.

-- Brissett had his best play of the first half when he threw a dart down the middle to Lynn Bowden Jr. for a 17-yard gain in the two-minute drill.

-- It was the first of five consecutive completions for Brissett on a brilliant two-minute drive that ended with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Salvon Ahmed, who beat the Chicago defender on a wheel route.

-- The Dolphins defense did not allow a first down until the final minute of the first half.


-- Linebackers Duke Riley and Sam Eguavoen showed great pursuit in dropping Khalil Herbert for a 1-yard loss after a short reception.

-- Some great blocking on the right side by Robert Jones and Adam Pankey created a huge hole, and Salvon Ahmed burst right through for a 20-yard gain.

-- Igbinoghene did a nice job of closing and tackling Justin Adams short of the first down on a third-down completion, though he was injured on the play.

-- Patrick Laird showed good hustle on special teams (and why he might remain on the 53-man roster) to tackle Jon'Vea Johnson at the Chicago 2-yard line after Johnson muffed a Michael Palardy punt and decided to take it back out of the end zone.

-- Jamal Perry came up with a big stick to drop Artavis Pierce immediately after a short completion on third down, leading to a stop and a Bears punt to start the fourth quarter.

-- On the first play of the fourth quarter, Malcolm Perry had the fourth punt return of 20 yards or more on the day for the Dolphins.

-- Tyshun Render's pressure forced a Nick Foles incompletion in a third-down situation.

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-- Sinnett showed some good mobility when he avoided pressure and scrambled for 17 yards to convert a third-and-15.

-- Benito Jones had a nice series in the fourth quarter, stuffing Artavis Pierce for a 3-yard loss and later coming up with a tackle after a 1-yard gain.



-- On the Dolphins' first pass attempt of the preseason, tight end Adam Shaheen failed to come up with a tough but makable catch near the sideline.

-- On third down, Jakeem Grant appeared to cut his route short when Tua was expecting him to go deep and that led to Tua just throwing the ball out of bounds. It was overall a very disappointing opening drive for the offense.

-- It really was disappointing to watch the Dolphins settle for a field goal after having a second-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Malcolm Brown ran twice and just flat-out had nowhere to run on consecutive plays that went for 0 and minus-2 yards.

-- On the first play of the Dolphins' third drive, Austin Jackson was called for holding to negate a really nice Tua throw to Mack Hollins.

-- Five plays later, Jackson allowed major penetration on a Malcolm Brown running play that ended with a 5-yard loss.

-- Tua's first bad play of the game came on a first-and-10 from the Chicago 14 when he tried to force a late throw down the middle to Shaheen in the end zone, only to be picked off by DeAndre Carson-Houston.

-- The offensive line was called for a second holding penalty, this one on Solomon Kindley.

-- Jacoby Brissett's first drive as the quarterback ended with a third-down incompletion when the Bears defender had a hold of Robert Foster's jersey and easily could have been called for defensive holding or DPI.

-- On a running play that went nowhere, Cethan Carter sustained a left leg injury when Gaskin fell into him while being tackled. Carter completely neutralized the Bears defender on the play.

-- The offensive line allowed pressure on a third-down play, which forced Brissett to scramble and eventually his pass was broken up.

-- On Ahmed's touchdown, Jackson allowed the Bears defender to get around him and he was bearing down on Brissett before he released the ball. It was a rough first half for the 2020 first-round pick.

-- The Dolphins defense allowed the Bears to drive 42 yards in the final minute of the first half to get a field goal.


-- Noah Igbinoghene had great coverage deep against Rodney Adams on the first drive of the second half, but he never turned around to watch the ball and that allowed Adams to come down with a 25-yard reception.

-- The Dolphins had Khalil Herbert stuffed in the middle of the line of scrimmage on a first-down run, but allowed him to bust it outside for a 16-yard gain.

-- The defense couldn't handle Justin Fields' scrambling, which was the biggest key on the Bears' touchdown drive to open the second half.

-- The biggest example was Fields' 8-yard touchdown scramble on a play when linebacker Sam Eguaoven was flagged for defensive holding.

-- Rookie running back Gerrid Doaks was flagged for an illegal block in the back on the first Dolphins kickoff return of the second half.

-- The Dolphins' first drive of the third quarter ended when Brissett was pressured on third down.

-- The defense gave up a 9-yard run to Herbert on a fourth-and-1 when the Bears offensive line opened a big hole up the middle.

-- On the next play, defensive end Tyshun Render allowed Fields to get outside and he scrambled for a 21-yard gain.

-- The Bears took a 17-13 lead on a busted coverage when they ran a misdirection and tight end Jesse James was left to run downfield wide open. Linebacker Duke Riley was the closest to James but he was still nowhere near James.

-- The Dolphins' first offensive snap of the fourth quarter took place in Bears territory, but tight end Chris Myarick fumbled after catching a Sinnett pass and Chicago recovered.

-- The Dolphins appeared to have converted a fourth-and-5 from the Bears 35 in the fourth quarter on a completion from Sinnett to Patrick Laird, but Kirk Merritt was flagged for a somewhat dubious offensive pass interference call when he ran straight ahead into the defender who ended up covering Laird.

-- On the same possession when he had two tackles after short gains against the run, Jones could be seen on replay giving up when it appeared Pierce was stacked up at the line of scrimmage, only to break loss for a 51-yard gain.

-- The offensive line gave up pressure against Sinnett on a key fourth down late in the game, two plays after Jordan Scarlett let a pass go through his hands.

-- The Dolphins lost their final hope at a comeback when they allowed a 39-yard run by Ryan Nall on the final third-down play of the game.