Our hearts are so incredibly heavy as we mourn the loss of a dear friend, husband, father, visionary – any adjective to describe greatness as they fit Senior Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs Jason Jenkins to a T. I can't help but think the Dolphins performance in the 48-10 win over Philadelphia Saturday night as a reflection of him – polished and to the nines.
Each day in football is a progress checkpoint. Every meeting with Jason ended with two phrases – great work and keep it going. So that's what we'll do. We'll keep it going. Here are the three takeaways from Miami's preseason finale.
1. Tua and Tyreek
This town knows all about perfection. On the 50th anniversary of the undefeated team, the Dolphins head into the 2022 campaign riding a high after a great performance from two of the team's biggest stars.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa ended the night with a perfect 158.3 passer rating. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill ran two routes and caught two passes for 64 yards, a cool 32.0 yards per route run.
Starting their first game action as teammates the same way they began Wednesday's practice – with a successful deep ball – the nation finally caught a glimpse of what we've seen all month at Dolphins camp.
"I want to hear the crowd cheer," Quarterbacks Coach/Passing Game Coordinator Darrell Bevell said of the practice-opening deep shot, according to Tagovailoa at his Wednesday news conference.
The cheering never stopped, especially with QB1 at the controls. Tagovailoa threw with precision and timing. He showed the fleet-of-foot pocket mobility that draft analysts loved when he was coming out of Alabama. He hit chunk plays of 13, 15, 16, and 18 yards in addition to the 51-yard bomb. He directed two touchdowns drives and a field goal march to punctuate the preseason by scoring on four of his five drives.
"I was just happy for those two individuals because they've invested a lot," Head Coach Mike McDaniel said. "I was happy for the team and the organization really because they've invested a lot. They know — let's just say it was cool to see them not blink and do what they love doing. Really good players. I'm happy to call them my teammates."
2. Rowe the boat
Safety Eric Rowe's professional career took off with the Dolphins. A position change, lockdown tight end coverage and weekly improvement against the run, the veteran safety has piled up 243 tackles on 2,629 snaps played since his 2019 arrival. Early on in the process of shifting to safety, he discussed the difference in the run-game and taking on blocks.
Last night's game is a good indication of the work he did, which is not only improving that aspect of his game, but making it a strength. He made four total tackles including two as the force defender (player responsible for setting the edge). He didn't just corral the Eagles outside attempts; he stuck his shoulder on the belt of ball carriers and made the play himself.
Rowe's versatility and selfless mindset are a microcosm of this Miami defense – a group that held the Eagles to a 20 percent third-and-fourth-down conversion rate last night. A group that surrendered just 264 yards and 10 points while scoring six of their own on an Elijah Campbell interception returned for a touchdown.
Top to bottom, guys made plays. Just as the offense looked ready for Week 1, the defense looks to be picking up where it left off the last couple of seasons.
Take a look at the photos from Preseason Week 3 Dolphins vs. Eagles on August 27, 2022, presented by AmeriSave Mortgage.
3. In the air, on the ground, always in control
Comprehensive, three-phase wins are a rarity in the National Football League.. Nearly doubling up the Eagles in yardage (494-264), the Dolphins showed how dangerous this operation can be, especially when one key element is clicking.
"The running game is the foundation of everything we want to do on offense," left tackle Terron Armstead said last week.
The Dolphins didn't just roll up 203 yards on the ground, they used the play action game as a conduit to chew up chunks of yardage. Tagovailoa completed all six of his play-action passes for 121 yards and the touchdown toss. Skylar Thompson went 5-of-6 for 79 yards with both of his touchdowns working off play-action. The Miami quarterbacks posted a play-action passing line of 12-of-14 for 215 yards and three touchdowns (Bridgewater, 1-for-2 with 15 yards).
All of the backs got in on the action. Gerrid Doaks, ZaQuandre White, Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed and Raheem Mostert all averaged over 6.0 yards per rush; the latter three with runs of 10-plus yards. Sony Michel's opportunity for a high average is a bit skewed by his two goal line carries, but there isn't a single Dolphins fan out there upset with his ability to convert in short-yardage, particularly on his 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Complementary and comprehensive, a perfect ode to the organization's fight song.
For more analysis, takeaways and breakdowns, check out the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield, available on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.