How Dolphins top offensive weapons do without Tua. And McDaniel addresses Hamlin with team

David Santiago/

Among the challenges the Dolphins will face Sunday against the visiting Jets when they open a game without Tua Tagovailoa for the fourth time this season: how to maximize the team’s best offensive weapons.

Wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle and running back Raheem Mostert have all produced lesser numbers in the three full games with Tagovailoa out of the lineup. That also likely has at least something to do with the simultaneous absence of Terron Armstead, who played only eight combined snaps in those three games.

Tagovailoa is expected to miss Sunday’s game; he hasn’t moved to the advanced stages of concussion protocol. Teddy Bridgewater remains unable to throw because of a dislocated pinkie on his throwing hand but hasn’t been ruled out for Sunday. Skylar Thompson would start if Bridgewater’s injury doesn’t improve significantly. Armstead’s status for Sunday is undetermined.

The good news is that Mosert has averaged a solid 4.5 yards on rushing attempts during the times when Tagovailoa was sidelined; this includes his carries during the Jets, Vikings and the Patriots game last week, as well as the second half of the Bengals game after Tagovailoa was carted off in the second quarter with a concussion.

And in looking ahead to Sunday’s game (1 p.m., Fox), it’s encouraging that Mostert ran for 113 yards on 18 carries (a 6.3 average) in the Dolphins’ October loss to the Jets.

But Mostert has been better with Tagovailoa at quarterback (and Armstead at left tackle), averaging 5.1 yards on those runs.

As for Hill and Waddle, they had two quiet games (by their standards) and one good performance in the games that Tagovailoa missed.

Hill is averaging 108 receiving yards per game when Tagovailoa starts, and 93 when he doesn’t.

Waddle is averaging 85 receiving yards per game when Tagovailoa starts, and 68 when he doesn’t.

With Thompson and Bridgewater splitting time, Hill (12 for 177) and Waddle (6 for 129) were very good against the Vikings, though Waddle’s fourth-quarter fumble torpedoed a potential go-ahead drive.

But they were quiet without Tagovailoa against the Patriots, with Waddle catching three passes for 52 yards and Hill catching four passes for 55 yards (with one Thompson pass bouncing off Hill’s hands and resulting in an interception).

In a 40-17 loss to the Jets on Oct. 9, a game in which Thompson played 66 of 67 snaps (after Bridgewater was injured on the first play) and Armstead played only eight, Waddle managed only three catches for 23 yards and Hill seven for 47.

Hill actually caught every ball thrown to him in that game, but none broke for big plays; his long was 13.

Impressive Jets rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner was in coverage on none of Hill’s targets and only one of Waddle’s targets (an 11-yard completion). Gardner leads all NFL corners in passer rating against at 49.3.

Hill’s seven targets in that game were defended by Michael Carter, Jordan Whitehead, D.J. Reed and C.J. Mosely, according to Pro Football Focus.


Coach Mike McDaniel spoke to his players about the tragedy involving Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who is in critical condition after experiencing cardiac arrest during Monday’s game in Cincinnati.

McDaniel told his players: “There’s no way you should feel. How you feel is how you feel. Be there to support each other. You try to just listen.” The Dolphins have counselors available to speak to players if needed.

McDaniel said of Hamlin: “It’s hard for me to see all that hurt. I don’t pretend to know exactly what it feels like because I wasn’t there. My heart just breaks for everyone involved, aches for the whole Bills organization, specifically Damar’s family and himself and everyone who chooses to play football and those things those emotions could elicit.

“I wish I could do something about it. Unfortunately I can’t. The slight comfort I do find is there seems to be a pervasive theme when tragedy occurs. You end up seeing... the best faces of humanity.”


McDaniel said the status of Armstead (four injuries), cornerback Xavien Howard (knee) and outside linebacker Bradley Chubb (ankle/hand) remains in question for Sunday’s Jets game at Hard Rock Stadium (1 p.m., Fox).

None practiced Wednesday, though McDaniel said they probably would not have practiced even if healthy. The Dolphins will monitor how each progresses this week.

Mike White will start at quarterback against the Dolphins, the Jets announced. White has three touchdowns, four interceptions and a 75.7 passer rating in four starts; the Jets are 1-3 in those games. New York has been eliminated from playoff contention.

If Bills-Patriots remains a 1 p.m. Sunday game, McDaniel said he does not want to know the score of that game while the Dolphins are playing. The Dolphins need to beat the Jets, and the Bills need to beat New England for Miami to make the playoffs.