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Dolphins Mailbag: Tua Thoughts, Inactive Predictions, a Surprise Week 1 Contributor, and Much More

Breaking down various topics dealing with the Miami Dolphins season opener against the New England Patriots

The latest SI Fan Nation All Dolphins mailbag before the Miami Dolphins take on the New England Patriots in their season opener at Gillette Stadium.

Here we go:

From jorge boyd (@raga 1922):

Hi Alain, where are the Pats more vulnerable on defense?

Hey Jorge, the strength of the New England defense clearly is the linebackers, while the defensive line is deep but lacking in big names. The secondary could be very good, but it's the vulnerable spot right now because Stephon Gilmore is still on PUP and projected starting cornerback Jalen Mills has an ankle injury that has listed as questionable for Week 1.

From Chris Roney (@ChrisRoney0):

Which of these unheralded players will surprisingly impact the game for Miami significantly on Sunday?

A. TE Hunter Long

B. RB Salvon Ahmed

C. DL Adam Butler

D. EDGE Jaelan Phillips

Hey Chris, I think the two rookies will be contributors at some point in the season, but I'm not sure how much I'd expect from them in Week 1. Ahmed had a huge game against New England last December, but I don't see the Dolphins duplicating their running game success Sunday. So that leaves me with Butler as the answer because I think his pass-rushing ability could cause problems for Mac Jones.

From MermAndy (@iamMermandy):

Think Miami’s D is going to have a field day vs. Mac Jones tomorrow, but I’m not seeing the same sentiment elsewhere. What are your thoughts?

Hey Andy (or is it Merm), the Dolphins confused Justin Herbert with their different looks last year, which certainly would bring optimism they can do the same thing against Mac Jones. The big difference, though, is that the Chargers offensive line in 2020 was an absolute mess, while the Patriots should be among the five best in the NFL in 2021. So I don't expect quite the same degree of success against Jones as Herbert, though I certainly don't think Jones is going to light up the Miami defense.

From Q Dantley (@DantleyQ):

Saw your interview with Big O when you both were discussing the Tua/Captain thing. You seem to have certain reservations about Tua. What are they?

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Hey Q, you are correct. I do have reservations about Tua, and they actually go back to his Alabama days. Quite frankly, what I saw there was a good (very good, excellent) point guard feeding the ball to LeBron James and Kevin Durant all game — if you'll allow the basketball analogy. I do think Tua can be effective if everything around him is functioning the way it's supposed to, but it just doesn't happen that often like that in the NFL. There are clear physical limitations (size, arm, speed) that are going to prevent Tua from becoming an all-world QB like a Rodgers, Mahomes, Brady, Josh Allen, etc. Having said all that, I'm not saying Tua can't have success and I also will say he's looking better than he did in 2020, but I'm not buying the notion he's a slam dunk to become a franchise quarterback. And, finally, I do find it a little troubling that there are 27 teams that have elected season captains and 25 of them elected their QB. The two QBs among those 27 teams who aren't captains: Tua and Mac Jones. 

From Josh Leggatt (@Joshmleggatt):

Who do you think gets cut to make way for Fuller for Week 2?

Hey Josh, not sure I want to go ahead and pick one guy, but here's where I would tell you to look. Look at the positions where there's a surplus based on the norm. We can start with wide receiver and one option would be putting Preston Williams on IR, which would sideline him for three weeks and give him more time for his foot injury to heal. Then you can look at the secondary and the 13 players there, though Jamal Perry will revert to the practice squad after the New England game.

From Cliff Wagner (@HerePromotions):

Gives us your game day inactive list prediction.

Hey Cliff, here's my list of most likely candidates: Preston Williams because of his injury status; Austin Jackson because I have a hard time seeing him playing without practicing all week; Trill Williams; Elijah Campbell, Cethan Carter and/or Hunter Long.

From Cliffy Mac (@mclifford36):

Which Miami team unit are you most interested in watching? Which one is most concerning? Most interested in our D-Line vs their O Line.

Hey Cliffy, I agree with you that the most interesting to watch will be the D-line, but the most concerning clearly has to be the offensive line.

From Jake (@JakeMc945):

Do you think Jaylen Waddle is the Matchup that the Patriots Coaching Staff lost the most sleep game-planning for this week?

Hey Jake, I think that's a pretty good assessment there (though I'm not sure Bill Belichick loses sleep over matchups anymore). But because of all the ways the Dolphins could end up using Waddle, he definitely has to be the one who's most problematic for New England.

From Anthony Berardo:

As for the O, on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being absolutely confident, what is your confidence level that the O-line will give good, consistent play this year? And do you expect it to get better as the year goes on? Follow up to that question that I just thought of: Do you think effective use of the RPO can mask any of the O-line shortcomings?

Hey Anthony, my level of confidence in the O-line at this point is about a 5, but I absolutely believe it will get better as the season progresses. And I do think the RPO can help the O-line if it can create that one second of hesitation among opposing front seven players.

From mr. mojo risin’ (@dennisgriffin7):

I haven't been this pumped for Fins season, since when we lucked out getting Pennington years ago. Then again I was excited about Canes before Bama. Am I going to be drinking for joy tomorrow or drinking to ease the pain?

Hey Dennis, first off, I'm not sure why you were excited about the Canes before the Bama game — and, no, I'm not playing the results; I said on the Big O Show before the game I didn't think the Canes could hang with Bama based on talent. It's obviously not the same thing with Dolphins-Pats, though my prediction probably isn't what you want to see.