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Wednesday Dolphins Mailbag: Defending the Bills, More Tua Topics, Draft Pick Update

Tackling various issues on the minds of Miami Dolphins fans after the big win at Baltimore and heading into the showdown against the Buffalo Bills

Part 2 of the supersized post-Week 2 victory SI Fan Nation All Dolphins mailbag:

From The Naked Isiah (@jefflintz):

Liam Eichenberg is still inconsistent ( good block on Waddle's first TD, though). Are the Dolphins going to ride it out, try Jackson there when he returns, find another solution, or do you think he radically improves? Because right now, he appears to be by far the weakest link.

Hey Jeff, I can’t argue with your assessment at this point, but what they do clearly will depend on what happens in upcoming weeks. If the line as a whole has more games like it did at Baltimore, I have a hard time seeing the coaches making a chance (you know, why mess with a good thing?).

From Kevin (@Kevin42819304):

When do you think we'll see Tindall?

Hey Kevin, I hope you’re not a huge fan of his and chomping at the bit to see him in action because I’ll stand by what I wrote and said before the season started that most of his action as a rookie will come on special teams. Now, he didn’t play at all against Baltimore, but that was because he ended up getting ill after the team arrived in that city.

From Eric (@kindsir15):

Hey Alain, hard not to get overhyped about this win. Bring us back to reality, what are some issues/things to improve on from this game?

Hey Eric, well, coming off that game, the issues were pretty obvious and they were on defense, though the short-yardage run defense was outstanding. The pass defense problems, though, better get fixed in a hurry with Josh Allen, Stefan Diggs and company coming to town.

From mikethewreck (@mgcroteau):

Should the Ravens have gone for it instead of kicking their FG and giving the ball back to Tua with 2 minutes left? Seeing that happen I felt it was game over, we were gonna win (which felt weird). Did the defense's inability to really stop the Baltimore offense with a big mobile QB, fast wide receivers, and an outstanding TE portent continued difficulty with Buffalo that has the exact same combination?

Hey Mike, I love being aggressive as much as the next guy (if not more), but when the Ravens kicked the go-ahead field goal, it was fourth-and-9 and I don’t think it would have made a lot of sense to go for the first down, understanding that their defense was having major problems with the Dolphins offense to that point in the fourth quarter. Yeah, I would agree the defense’s performance didn’t inspire a lot of confidence heading into the game against the Bills.

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From im that drunk uncle. (@billyb1261):

If they didn't before, the locker room has to believe in Tua and McDaniel, right? And why did the team play sluggish and uninterested for 3 quarters?

I’ll start with the second question first and say I’m not buying the notion the Dolphins were sluggish and uninterested. They were just getting beat. It happens. The other team gets paid too. I don’t think there’s anything question that every Dolphins player believes in Mike McDaniel and that’s probably been the case since the offseason. As for Tua, I’m not certain the confidence in him was as universal before the Baltimore game, but it’s probably close to unanimous, if not completely unanimous, by now.

From Gilbert Martinez (@Gilbert00669204):

Hey Alain, I think Tua is very good under pressure; would you agree?

Hey Gilbert, it depends whether you’re talking about pressure regarding a game situation or pressure from the pass rush? On the first part, he certainly was really cool the entire fourth quarter when the Dolphins had no margin for error, so big props to him there. As for pressure from the pass rush, it’s still an area where he has to convince his skeptics because he generally has not been good under pressure from the pass rush and the game at Baltimore didn’t solve anything there because his protection was borderline perfect except for one series in the second quarter.

From Lance Ettinger (@lanceeofthelane):

Concerns about the linebackers. Don’t appear to have any impact? Once defensive front breached, attacker into secondary. Would welcome your thoughts.

Hey Lance, when it comes to the linebackers, I’ll stop you right now because Elandon Roberts was terrific in run defense against Baltimore. I will be honest and say that Jerome Baker and Jaelan Phillips have not been terribly impactful so far this season, but it’s still early as they say.

From Jack Dixon (@jccdixon33):

0 sacks by the line; 1 on the TE. When was the last time a Miami QB had the time Tua did? Applebaum is an unsung hero!!

Hey Jack, no argument with anything you said. The pass protection was outstanding. But this is a collective effort between Matt Applebaum, Lem Jean-Pierre, Frank Smith all the way up to Mike McDaniel.

From Jay Sandford (@jbs_76):

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What's up with the lack of pass rush? Phillips? Ogbah? If we can't pressure with 4, what's the plan to beat the Bills elite pass game? They handle blitz well!

Hey Jay, yes, that is a major concern heading into this game because, you’re right, the pass rush without the Cover 0 blitz has not been very good. As for a plan to deal with the Buffalo passing game, well, if Gabe Davis sits out again, I’d start by assigning X to cover Stefon Diggs one-on-one all over the field and go from there.

From Taylor Simpson (@TaylorS34728333):

Is Kader a potential starter against the Bills? If the Bills game is close, will it because of the offense or defense?

Hey Taylor, as much potential as Kader Kohou has shown so far, I think I’d be surprised to see him in the starting lineup against Buffalo because of his lack of experience. As for the other question, I can’t even guess because I can make an argument for both sides keeping the Dolphins close.

From Stephen (@Stephen47064971):

Why is Van Ginkel not playing more?

From Reza Hariri (@Therealrezpect1):

I thought Boyer did a nice adjustment on our cover 0 package in 2nd half as Ravens were ready for us. I think D is better with Needham at nickel and Darth Kader as boundary. Why is AVG not getting reps, good pass rusher and overall good player?

Hey there, since you guys both are asking about Van Ginkel, I figured I’d combine the questions and my answer is that I simply don’t know. I don’t get it. I’m a big fan of Van Ginkel and absolutely think he should be getting snaps on defense in every game, which didn’t happen against Baltimore. I’m sure it was matchup-related and maybe a case of the Dolphins wanting more bulk with Ingram to deal with their physical offensive line.

From Dug-E-Fresssh (@fluflu3):

I noticed that our Passing D is allowing one of the highest completion percentages in the NFL. I know it's only been 2 games but would you say this is more about injuries, Iggy not developing, our D still finding itself, the combo platter, OR a side order of something else?

Hey there, nicely phrased as always, and I’ll go with the combo platter, though it’s a matter more than anything of the pass rush just not getting to the quarterback or hurrying enough throws.

From vsnyper (@vans12njinca):

A bargain for a 7th. Do you think A.J. loses his job with how Little is playing?

Hey there, if Little continues to play the way he played against Baltimore, I can’t imagine the Dolphins wanting to mess with anything there.

From Richard Yeselson (@yeselson):

Alain, what’s your analysis of Tua, as of now? It does seem as if he is exploiting his best asset—his accuracy—and that Hill and Waddle can get pretty much anything he throws up in their area, even if he under throws some long ones.

Hey Richard, my analysis of Tua actually hasn’t changed very much. I still see him as an accurate short- to intermediate-range passer who will make most of the throws that are there but can’t create off schedule as well as some of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s ideal right now for a Dolphins offense where the receivers are getting wide open and where a multitude of players are creating a lot of yards after the catch because of their speed and some great play designs and play calls.

From John Fiorino (@jtwin17):

How did you feel about The Dolphins time management at the end of that game? I was concerned that they were taking too much time once they got down to the 7-yard line, but it worked out leaving little time for the Ravens to counter.

Hey John, I thought it was pretty much perfect. Remember, they scored the touchdown on second-and-goal from the 7 with 12 seconds left. They played the clock to be in a position to score with very little time left, whether they were getting a touchdown or a game-tying field goal.

From Flipper13 (@Flipper13):

Any word on what’s going on with Erik Ezukanma?

Hey there, Mike McDaniel suggested after the opener that he was inactive for that game based on versatility and maybe full understanding on everything on offense. I would suggest it was the same reason River Cracraft again was in uniform against Baltimore instead of EE. Remember that I had Cracraft making the 53-man roster in my final roster projection, though there never was any chance they’d waive Ezukanma as a rookie fourth-round pick. Cracraft only has one elevation left in the regular season, which means the Dolphins will have to sign him to the 53-man roster if they want to keep using him regularly.

From Miami Dolphins Québec (@Dolphins_Quebec):

Hi Alain! The fan base is hyped, but do you think (like me) that next Monday will be a tough one after playing the Bills?

Bonjour, it’s too early for my final prediction because that comes out Saturday. What I would tell you right now is that Buffalo looks very scary right now, but don’t forget the Bills have some injury issues and they’ll be playing on the road on a short week. So … who knows?