Before the Dolphins faced the Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium in Week 3 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' 31-28 overtime loss.
1. The Dolphins QB situation
BEFORE THE GAME: Quarterback Jacoby Brissett will make his first start for the Dolphins after Tua Tagovailoa was knocked out of the Buffalo game with a rib injury. What the Dolphins offense will look like with Brissett is one of the great mysteries heading into this game.
IN THE GAME: Well, the offense kinda looked like it did with Tua in the game, which is to say there were an awful lot of short passes. The offense was uninspiring for most of the game but absolutely deserves kudos for producing a game-tying touchdown drive at the end of the regulation and a game-tying field goal drive in overtime.
2. Can the offensive line rebound?
BEFORE THE GAME: The offensive line was left looking for answers after the debacle against Buffalo and things won't be much easier against a Raiders team featuring two outstanding pass-rushing defensive ends, Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue. The Dolphins offense needs the O-line to step up to have a chance to score points.
IN THE GAME: Not that it was a very high bar, but the offensive line clearly played much better than it did against Buffalo. After allowing six sacks in Week 2, the Dolphins only gave up two against the Raiders and the running game averaged 4.9 a pop (yes, there were some Brissett scrambles in there). Now, this was far from a perfect effort, but it was a good bounce-back game.
3. Where's Waller?
IN THE GAME: The biggest challenge defensively for the Dolphins will be trying to contain quarterback Derek Carr, who's off to a fabulous start, and the best way to accomplish that would be by taking away his favorite target, tight end Darren Waller. That's obviously easier said than done, particularly when considering that Waller had five catches for 112 yards in the Dolphins-Raiders game last year despite generally very good one-on-one coverage by safety Eric Rowe.
BEFORE THE GAME: Derek Carr passed for almost 400 yards, but it wasn't Waller who did the major damage. The Dolphins threw various looks at him, including putting cornerback Byron Jones on him, and were able to limit him to 54 yards on five receptions. So mission accomplished there.
4. Fuller Time
BEFORE THE GAME: After a couple of delays, wide receiver Will Fuller V is set to make his Dolphins debut against the Raiders. Fuller is back after finishing out serving his NFL suspension in Week 1 and then dealing with a personal issue in Week 2. Fuller has the skill set to become a big factor on offense, though it might take some time for him to get back to full speed after the delays and having limited practice time in training camp because of injury. At the very least, it'll be nice to see him in uniform Sunday.
IN THE GAME: Fuller put up modest numbers (three catches, 20 yards) but did make his presence with the game-tying two-point conversion at the end of regulation and he almost had a huge play in overtime when he was on the receiving end of what easily could have been called as pass interference in the zone. Perhaps more importantly in the big picture, Fuller played more than 50 snaps as the clear third wide receiver for the Dolphins.
5. The Alabama Speedsters
BEFORE THE GAME: The Dolphins-Raiders matchup will feature two of the four star wide receivers at the University of Alabama who became first-round picks in the last two NFL drafts, Miami's Jaylen Waddle and Las Vegas' Henry Ruggs III. With their speed, both players have the ability to come up with a game-changing play at any time.
IN THE GAME: The former college teammates absolutely were major factors in the game, though neither produced a big play. That was especially true in the case of Waddle, who had a game-high 12 receptions — but good for only 58 yards with a long of 9 yards. Ruggs, meanwhile, had four catches for 78 yards with a long of 23 yards.