MIAMI GARDENS — I’ve seen enough to make the call.
The Dolphins have the right hespand cospanch. And they have the right quspanrterbspanck.
And nothing, and I mean, nothing, is more important than having the right head coach and the right quarterback in today’s NFL.
It’s why the Dolphins have hope that they can contend for an AFC championship and, this is no longer crazy to say, that they should contend for a in the next few seasons.
General manager Chris Grier and owner Stephen Ross and CEO Tom Garfinkel have hit on Mike McDaniel and Tua Tagovailoa.
It does not matter if the Dolphins were interested in other coaches and if they were interested in other quarterbacks. Look, we all know they were.
In McDaniel and Tagovailoa, Miami has a very, very bright future.
Seven wins and three losses. That’s the record Miami will take into a bye week following span 39-17 victory at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.
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The Dolphins have won because Tagovailoa has undoubtedly been transformed into one of the very best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Tua is a legitimate MVP candidate. Who knows how far he can lead this team?
“Tua is really seeing the field well,” McDaniel said. “He’s going through his progressions at lightning speed. He’s manipulating defenders. It’s outstanding ball placement. And he’s really come into his own skin in regard to being a leader.”
Credit McDaniel for scheme and positive mindset. Credit Tyreek Hill and Terron Armstead for their incredible talent and veteran approach.
Credit Grier for making the most of most of Miami’s arsenal of draft picks.
It’s fun. The Dolphins are one of the most fun teams in the NFL to watch. But it’s time to change the way we think about Miami.
Put Dolphins in class of NFL championship contenders
The Dolphins are a legitimate contender because of how well they’ve played not only over the last 20 games but also the last 40.
That is no small sample size. Yes, the Dolphins were playing well at the end of the Brian Flores era. They are playing even more outstanding football in the McDaniel era.
It was a gutsy call to move on from Flores. But it was the right call.
There is no way Tagovailoa would be playing at this elite level without McDaniel. There is no way Miami’s offense would be one of the most effective in the NFL without McDaniel.
“He’s a man of the people,” Tagovailoa said of McDaniel. “It’s no ego. He tells us it’s our team. Him being himself helps us be able to be ourselves.”
McDaniel said that comments like that mean everything to him.
“You can do a ton of really cool things if you somehow get an entire building and entire roster to move in one direction,” McDaniel said.
On Sunday, Josh Boyer’s defense stood tall. Miami mostly contained top running back Nick Chubb. And they limited receiver Amari Cooper.
If the Dolphins’ defense can continue to improve over the second half of this season, they can compete with absolutely any team in the AFC, including vaunted Buffalo and Kansas City.
Tagovailoa has never been better. He is playing with so much poise. So much confidence. He’s so accurate. He’s playing with such anticipation.
And now Dolphins fans have so much to anticipate, too.
On the first eight Miami offensive drives on Sunday, the Dolphins posted five touchdowns and two field goals, stopped only one time on fourth down.
In three straight games, Tua has put up 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions and a passer rating of 135.0 or higher. A stunning stretch.
Suddenly Miami’s offense is Lakers Showtime and vintage Loyola Marymount University rolled into one.
It’s a thrill-a-minute.
And on this Sunday, there would be no let-down. It was so easy to feel there would be a let-down before a bye. But Miami has held off the not-so-compelling Browns, Bears and Lions after a three-game slide.
And McDaniel did not flinch after Miami slid from 3-0 to 3-3. He was the same guy.
In much the same way, Tua is the same guy, regardless of what’s going right or wrong. And so much is going right.
They are the perfect combination. They complement each other. They support each other. They believe in each other.
Magic Mike. And Salty Tua.
Many doubted if Tua could play at this level based on what they saw him do in his first two seasons. But it has been confirmed that a healthy, more confident, better supported Tua can, in fact, do it all.
When Tua unleashed a perfectly-placed fade pass to Trent Sherfield for a 17-7 lead near the end of the first half, it was no surprise. We’ve seen that throw time and time again since Tua’s third offseason began.
Tua puts it where only his teammates can catch it.
And, yes, Tua’s arm is stronger, now. Did you see the rope on an out route to Jaylen Waddle just before the touchdown pass to Sherfield?
“MVP! MVP!” the crowd at Hard Rock Stadium chanted.
“No doubt I heard it,” Tua confirmed. “It’s flattering. But what we came to do and came to accomplish is not accomplished yet.”
Tua is living up to everything those fans dreamed he could be.
Miami offensive game plan challenging for any defense
On this day, McDaniel set a tone by establishing that he would run power football with Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson. And, thus, it was a balanced attack.
This week, Dolphins offensive coordinator Frank Smith shared how he and McDaniel begin each week brainstorming abstract thoughts. This offense is operating at an elite level and it’s in large part due to elite, next-level planning.
On this day, Tua and McDaniel spread the ball around. It wasn’t just about Waddle and Hill. And that Miami was able to perform so well without those guys topping 100 or 150 yards was actually a positive.
Yes, the Dolphins have one of the very best offenses in the NFL in 2022.
What if I had told you that at this time last year?
Football is fun again in South Florida. The players and staff don’t walk around on egg shells. Everyone is encouraged to be themselves.
And, as it turns out, for players like Tua, being themselves is in fact good enough.
When Hill scored a touchdown from Tua for a 30-10 lead near the end of the third quarter, he collapsed to the ground.
Guard Robert Hunt and receiver Cedrick Wilson then pretended to give him CPR chest compressions. Hill then sprung up to celebrate some more.
Just a few years ago, this Dolphins franchise was lifeless. And Sundays felt hopeless.
Everything has changed. This is a different Tua. And the head coach, McDaniel, he’s different, too.
It’s working. And it feels right.