Before the Dolphins faced the Jacksonville Jaguars at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England, in Week 6 of the 2021 regular season, we examined five key storylines heading into the game.
We revisit those storylines and examine how they played out in the aftermath of the Dolphins' 23-20 loss.
1. Tua Time
BEFORE THE GAME: No matter who the opponent, no matter the location, Tua Tagovailoa returning to the lineup after missing three games with a rib injury would be the biggest story. The focus on this game not only will be on Tua being able to hold up, particularly if he takes a big shot in the pocket, but also how effective he can be after missing three full games.
IN THE GAME: All things considered, it was a successful return for Tagovailoa, even if the end result was another Dolphins loss. He put impressive numbers, including 329 passing yards and a 95.1 passer rating, and made plays with his scrambling and didn't show any ill effects from the rib injury.
BEFORE THE GAME: The Dolphins will try to end their four-game losing streak without the services of two of their best players, cornerback Xavien Howard and wide receiver DeVante Parker. Additionally, wide receiver Preston Williams also might have to sit out because of a groin injury. While injuries obviously are part of the NFL, the Dolphins are at a point where they need to have everybody contributing.
IN THE GAME: While there weren't any glaring breakdowns in the secondary, there also weren't many plays made on the ball and Trevor Lawrence did end up passing for 319 yards, so one can't help but think that the absence of Howard and Jones proved costly for the Dolphins defense. With Parker and Williams, well, as we mentioned Tua did pass for 329 yards without them, so they weren't as missed as Jones and Howard.
3. Reelin' In Robinson
BEFORE THE GAME: The player to watch on the Jacksonville offense — outside of rookie first overall pick Trevor Lawrence obviously — is running back James Robinson. The Dolphins had mixed results against him in the teams' Thursday night matchup last season; they held him to only 46 rushing yards, but he did average over 4 yards per attempt and scored two touchdowns in Miami's 31-13 victory. The Dolphins have allowed three 100-yard rushers in five games this season — Damien Harris, Peyton Barber and Jonathan Taylor — and Robinson is coming off a 149-yard out against Tennessee last Sunday.
IN THE GAME: Robinson did score a touchdown for a fourth consecutive game, but the Dolphins held him in check pretty well for most of the game. He finished with 73 yards on 17 carries, with 24 yards coming on one run in the third quarter.
4. The QB Clash
BEFORE THE GAME: Had things progressed as planned, the big story not only of this game but one of the biggest stories of the NFL weekend would be the QB matchup of Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence, two of the most acclaimed college quarterbacks of the past decade. They faced each other once in college when Lawrence had the upper hand in Clemson's 44-16 victory over Alabama in the 2018 College Football Championship Game. Lawrence passed for 347 yards and three touchdowns in that game, while Tua passed for 295 yards and two touchdowns but also two interceptions, including a pick-six to open the scoring. It certainly would be fun to watch to see the two QBs show off their college form in this game.
IN THE GAME: It's strange in a way because even though each quarterback passed for more than 300 yards, this certainly didn't feel like a shootout. Tagovailoa threw the only interception of the game, but Lawrence also committed a turnover when he fumbled while getting sacked by former Clemson teammate Christian Wilkins. This actually had the feel of a matchup between two former college stars finding themselves on struggling teams in the NFL.
5. Gaskin and the Running Game
BEFORE THE GAME: Running back Myles Gaskin had a really impressive outing against Tampa Bay, but it came mostly in the passing game. The Dolphins really have had no running game all season, with only one game when the team topped 100 yards and no player gaining more than 65 yards. This would be a good time to change that.
IN THE GAME: Man, that one didn't play out right for the Dolphins. Not only did Gaskin not get anything going in the running game (five carries, 9 yards), he had a brutal day as a receiver. He dropped a couple of passes, including a key third-down play late in the game, and then bobbled a screen pass to allow defenders to get to him quickly and turn what should have been at least a 3-4 gain into no gain. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, it wasn't just Gaskin who struggled in the run game because Malcolm Brown and Salvon Ahmed couldn't get much going either.