Dolphins Defeat Jacksonville: Instant Reaction
The Miami Dolphins certainly made a statement while recording their first victory of 2020.
After disappointing losses against the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills, the Dolphins put on a clinic against the Jacksonville Jaguars, dominating from start to finish on their way to a convincing 31-13 nvictory.
And the star on this night was, appropriately enough, Ryan Fitzpatrick, who certainly made every bearded man proud.
Fitzpatrick showed everyone who keeps asking why Tua Tagovailoa hasn't been inserted into the lineup yet why head coach Brian Flores has so much faith in him.
Simply put, Fitzpatrick was brilliant, completing his first 11 passes, threw another two touchdowns with no picks, and scoring on a third-quarter quarterback draw to boot. Fitzpatrick even had a catch after he grabbed the carom when his fourth-quarter pass was batted at the line of scrimmage.
And watching his teammates mob him after his touchdown also showed what his teammates think of him, another reason he's in the lineup.
But it wasn't solely about Fitzpatrick on this night.
There actually were contributors everywhere.
And since the defense played so poorly in the 31-28 loss against Buffalo, we can start there.
This was a very good performance.
The pass rush came to life, getting pressure on Gardner Minshew II and his mustache on a regular basis.
Kamu Grugier-Hill came up with a huge fourth-down sack late in the first half when Jacksonville was in Dolphins territory, and later Kyle Van Noy had a rare triple play of sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery to set up Fitzpatrick's rushing touchdown.
Zach Sieler and Emmanuel Ogbah then combined for a sack in the fourth quarter, and Andrew Van Ginkel all but clinched the victory with a fourth-down sack.
One key to the success on defense was the pass defense, and the Dolphins made the wise decision to use a lot more zone coverage than man-to-man, which got them in trouble against Buffalo.
This was the best performance of the season for newcomers Shaq Lawson and Ogbah.
And finally Xavien Howard got his first interception of the season.
Dolphins fans haven't seen the team have offensive success at the start of games very often in recent years, but what the team did Thursday was some kind of impressive.
Of course, it all started with Fitzpatrick, who was absolutely spectacular in the first half.
His passes had zip and they were on the mark, sometimes with tight coverage by Jacksonville defenders. One great example was his first touchdown pass to Preston Williams, when he threaded the needle on a slant in the back of the end zone.
As has been the case all season, it was second-year player Myles Gaskin who was the feature back and he had an eye-opening eight rushing attempts on the opening touchdown drive.
It bears repeating that, yes, the Dolphins brought in veterans Jordan Howard and Matt Breida in the offseason but that it's been Myles Gaskin who's been the team's best back. And he was at it again against Jacksonville, with his quickness hitting the holes.
The first two drives also saw Jakeem Grant be a factor on offense for the first time this season. He had a nice diving catch, after which he showed great awareness in getting up because rookie C.J. Henderson never bothered to touch him down, then had a nice gain on an end-around where he got the chance to use his great speed.
The Dolphins ended up scoring touchdowns on their first three drives, the last coming on Fitzpatrick's TD pass to tight end Mike Gesicki.
Those three touchdown drives covered 84, 80 and 75 yards and kept the Dolphins comfortably ahead the whole night.
After Jacksonville scored to make it 14-7, the Dolphins answered with a 12-play touchdown drive that was kept alive when Fitzpatrick scrambled for 2 yards on fourth-and-1.
On the flip side, the Dolphins held three times on fourth down.
The final stats — in terms of total yards — were pretty even, but they're not reflective of how the game played out.
The Dolphins dominated this game and very much deserved their first victory of the season.