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Friday Dolphins Mailbag: Tua, Teddy, Replacing Ogbah, and More

What's the biggest reason for Tua Tagovailoa's success? Why have the special teams regressed? Those and other questions from Miami Dolphins fans

Friday edition of a bye-week-long supersized SI Fan Nation All Dolphins mailbag:

From Curt Rosenstein (@phinman13):

Any idea the last time the Dolphins were in 1st place this late in the season?

Hey Curt, I actually wrote a story about that very topic Sunday after Buffalo lost against Minnesota, and the last time the Dolphins were alone in first place through Week 10 was in 2000.

From Keith Strini (@keith_strini):

Who's available on other folks PS that might fit in the 5 tech and edge as a replacement for Ogbah (Takk McKinley)? Or do we use the extra spot to grab a DB (Terrell Burgess) and get them up to speed these 2 weeks?

Hey Keith, I’d think the Dolphins want more of a D-lineman type to replace Ogbah than a pure edge defender (3-4 OLB), and McKinley might be a liability against the run. He’s also been signed to the Cowboys practice squad and I just don’t see the Dolphins signing him to their 53. You’ll have to forgive me for not going through every other team’s practice squad at the moment, but I do think the Dolphins will sign a D-lineman before they sign a DB. And now I think the player who might be used in that role to replace Ogbah will be veteran LB Brennan Scarlett, who was signed to the practice squad Thursday and has the size to play that role.

From Cliffy Mac (@mclifford36):

This question is in regards to players going on IR and the salary cap. If a player goes on IR, does that free up any or all of that salary for that player to be replaced on the active roster?

Hey Cliffy, it does not. The player in question still counts against the salary cap, and having to sign replacements is why teams don’t want to operate at the absolute cap limit. If putting somebody on IR would create cap space, can you imagine what would happen to underperforming high-salaried players?

From Kyle Curran (@JeepVader13):

What do we do about Jason Sanders? Right now he’s one of the biggest question marks on the team.

Hey Kyle, what we know is that Jason Sanders is struggling, missing kicks he shouldn’t miss, and at some point you’ve got to figure that confidence is an issue. It’s not like he’s forgotten how to kick.

From Sam C (@FinsPost):

Tua or Joe Montana? kidding … No, seriously Tua or Joe Montana?

Hey Sam, great question … kidding … no, seriously … no, kidding. Or maybe let’s revisit that question in, oh, 10 years or so.

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From Joe Hall (@joehallpr):

Hey Alain. You mentioned a couple times in the past week that it was apparent early on last year that Will Fuller wasn't coming back. Can you expand on that? Always seemed like an odd situation. Thanks.

Hey Joe, yeah, the thing with Fuller is that there always were whispers about how much he loved the game and, even though it never was reported, rumblings about him having decided he was done. And, as it turned out, that game against the Colts last October indeed was his last in the NFL.

From Chris Bustin (@ChrisBustin13)

Hey, Alain. When the Dolphins had an insurmountable lead, Skylar Thompson came into the game. Should we take this to mean that it would be Thompson, and not Teddy Bridgewater, who is Tua’s official backup in the case of injury (knock on wood, though)? Thanks!

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From Taylor Simpson (@TaylorS34728333):

I had the same question, I noticed we had a run first approach, was Skylar in there due to the week’s game plan?

No, Teddy Bridgewater is Tua’s backup. Bridgewater was inactive for the game against the Browns because of a knee issue that flared up late in the week. There was nothing more to it than that. I’ve also never heard of a backup quarterback being selected on the basis of a specific game plan. The idea is for the backup to play only in case of emergency.

From Jose Carrasco (@JoseCarrascooo):

Now that we’ve seen 10 games, what does Tua’s success have to do more with, his weapons or more with him as a player growing into his own and dipping into his potential?

Hey Jose, how about all of the above? The way I see it is a combination of full support from his head coach, a crazy-good scheme (and play designs), stupid speed on offense, all of which have Tua playing confident and loose and maximizing what he does well — decision-making, quick decision, great short-to-intermediate accuracy. It’s all of those together, and you can put them in any order you’d like.

From Taylor Simpson (@TaylorS34728333):

Alain, thanks for the work, it’s appreciated. Why do you think special teams has regressed so much? Even our kickoff returns have been meh at best. Our kickoff coverage is terrible.

Hey Taylor, not sure exactly what’s going on and my best answer is that — with the exceptions of few teams — those things are cyclical and can go from bad to good to bad quickly. There are a handful of coaches who seemingly always have good special teams, one of them being former Dolphins assistant Darren Rizzi.

From pshibles (@pshbiles):

Why are some Dolfans so miserable? Waited 20+ years for a QB and now we act like the world owes us an apology for not believing sooner? Our track record sucked. Not Tua’s.

Hey there, it does boggle the mind why so many fans get in their feelings wanting apologies from anybody who ever questioned Tua instead of simply enjoying the remarkable season he’s put together.

From Morbius (@MIAmorbiuslover):

Alain, based on your recent comments on the Big O Show, do you think my 80-year-old grandmother with stage 3 dementia could produce a similar offensive output to Tua in this offense? Thanks!

Hey there, I had to include your question because it genuinely made me laugh. So, thank you for that. And the answer is it depends on whether she can hit a deep crosser.

OK, all joking aside, this stems from a comment in my regular appearance where I said that I did not believe there would be a significant drop-off in offensive production with Teddy Bridgewater at QB — if Bridgewater had the benefit of a full week of practice as the starter instead of coming into a game as a backup and if Terron Armstead was in the lineup.

While Tua’s 7-0 record in games he has started and finished comes up all the time — technically, he didn’t “finish” the Cleveland because Skylar Thompson came into the game in mop-up duty — it should be pointed out that neither Bridgewater nor Thompson has had the chance to start and finish a game this season.

Furthermore, in his two extensive appearances this season, this is what Bridgewater produced: at Cincinnati, he threw for 193 yards after coming in with 5:15 left in the second quarter, his passer rating was only 84.1 , but that was because of his late interception when Mike Gesicki never turned around as the ball flew by him. Minus that INT likely caused by the lack of reps in practice and the resulting miscommunication between the two, his passer rating would have been 102. Against Minnesota, Bridgewater replaced Thompson with 11:38 left in the second quarter and finished with 329 yards and a passer rating of 93.9. Without an interception that came as the result of Jaylen Waddle letting a pass slip through his hands, his passer rating would have been 106. And let’s not forget that Armstead was inactive for that Minnesota game and Bridgewater and Thompson were harassed all game to the tune of six sacks.

So, is it so crazy to think the offense still could function very well with Bridgewater at quarterback? Or would you and other Dolphins fans prefer to think the offense will go into the tank if Tua has to miss another game?

From Pat McCollum (@PatMcCollum):

Luck, analytics, or sorcery…how does McD keep winning the coin toss?? And for the person who questioned your football knowledge because you’re Canadian…you know about shooting the “A” gap. I bet he doesn’t know anything about covering the “5 hole.”

Hey Pat, ha! I wasn’t aware somebody questioned my football knowledge because I’m Canadian (guess it makes no difference I’ve covered the Dolphins, as indicated in my bio, since 1989). LOL. No, there is no science in the coin toss. Pure luck. Also know that it’s the visitors who call the coin toss, so that 9-1 record includes a 5-0 record on the road when the Dolphins (luckily) have made the right call.

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Thanks for reading. Make sure to bookmark this site and check back daily for the latest Dolphins news and analysis year-round. Also, you can follow me on Twitter at @PoupartNFL, and that's where you can ask questions for the regular All Dolphins mailbags. You also can ask questions via email at fnalldolphins@yahoo.com.