Narrow loss earns Dolphins respect. And Dungy’s advice to McDaniel; Holland’s Tua message

David Santiago/

Though the Dolphins lost in Buffalo, their competitive effort in a 32-29 defeat seemingly has earned them more respect among national pundits.

Several suggested they take the Dolphins more seriously now. A sample of reaction:

▪ CBS’ Phil Simms: “I think the Miami Dolphins answered some questions and everyone will think of them a little bit differently.”

▪ NBC’s Tony Dungy: “Three losses, but three tough places to play. Their offense got going against Buffalo, so I’m encouraged. Now those are games you have to win if you want to be a playoff team, but I was encouraged.

“I would have one suggestion for Coach Mike McDaniel. Run the ball in the red zone. When you’re averaging eight yards a carry, please keep running it.”

The Dolphins didn’t convert any of the third and shorts when they tried to pass against Buffalo. They converted the only one when they tried to run.

▪ NBC’s Jason Garrett: “I still like Miami. I liked what they did against Buffalo. They ran the ball. There was more balance in their offense. Buffalo is a tough team to beat up there when the snow starts falling against that quarterback. I still like Miami.”

▪ NBC’s Chris Simms: “They’re still a young football team that’s learning how to win these types of games. I’m positive about them. I know I wouldn’t want to see them coming into town with all those weapons on offense. That aggressive defense. They’ve got playmakers everywhere.”

▪ CBS’ Boomer Esiason: “I thought they played really well.”


Dolphins safety Jevon Holland had a message for Dolphins fans about Tua Tagovailoa during a recent Instagram live session.

Holland summarized his thoughts with reporters this week:

“Tua has been balling all year. We’re in the NFL, which everyone is getting paid for a reason because everybody is an elite competitor. So there are going to be games where sometimes the other guy getting paid on the other side of the ball is going to have an advantage and gets the best of an individual. So when Tua is out there balling and doing his thing, he’s getting all the love but he has one [poor] game and now he’s the worst quarterback in the league.

“That’s just something that irritated me. You’ve got to have faith in somebody. You’ve got to believe in somebody. Because like we have throughout his whole time here, we’ve believed in him. We know what he can do and you guys see what he can do, because he is a hell of a player. He leads us on the field and off the field. Somebody asked me if I was going to cry or something. I was not going to cry. I was just laying down because I was laying down and laying on the floor, kind of side chilling.”

▪ We discussed 10 reasons for the Dolphins’ defensive regression in a Monday piece.

Here’s something that reflects the average linebacker play: The Dolphins don’t have a fumble recovery or interception from any inside linebacker this season. Jerome Baker has one forced fumble.

And according to Pro Football Focus, the Dolphins’ inside linebackers and third cornerback (Keion Crossen) were the players most victimized in the passing game against Buffalo.

Per PFF, Jerome Baker permitted four of five targets to be caught for 64 yards and a touchdown (a perfect 158.3 passer rating in his coverage area).

Elandon Roberts allowed all three targets against him to be caught for 45 yards (118.8 passer rating).

The only completion allowed by inside linebacker Duke Riley was a 10-yard TD.

And No. 3 cornerback Crossen allowed all four targets to be caught for 56 yards. Noah Igbinoghene, who shared those third corner snaps with Crossen, permitted one completion in three targets for 15 yards.

Xavien Howard had a good night against a very good offense, allowing three catches in five targets but for just 26 yards.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, aware of the Dolphins’ on-going three-game losing streak, said: “Maybe we’re catching them at a good time.” He’s 2-1 all time against Miami, with six TDs, one interception and a 98.2 passer rating.

▪ Here’s where Pro Football Focus ranks some of the highest-rated Dolphins at their positions, based on 2022 performance:

PFF rates Tyreek Hill first and Jaylen Waddle 12th among receivers, Tagovailoa seventh among quarterbacks, Christian Wilkins seventh among interior defenders; Jaelan Phillips seventh among edge defenders, Connor Williams fifth among centers, Rob Hunt 10th among guards, Terron Armstead 12th among tackles and Alec Ingold third among fullbacks.

▪ PFF gave Armstead, Brandon Shell, Williams and Hunt excellent run blocking grades against Buffalo, as Miami gained 188 yards on 7.5 per carry.

“We kind of found the groove, the rhythm, the standard that we are kind of looking for in that run game,” Armstead said. “It won’t always be as explosive as it was Saturday night, but the consistency to make Mike want to keep calling them, and then Mike keep calling them after we have a negative run or a short gain.”

Armstead said his injuries sometimes force him to change technique: “I got some experience finding different ways to win and using different techniques, being real good with my eyes and stuff pre-snap.”

▪ Even with a three-game losing streak, can Wilkins at least feel good about the Dolphins having significantly closed the gap with Buffalo this season?

“There’s no moral victories or anything like that,” he said. “We did beat that team before, and to your point, we were close to doing it again up at their place. We know we’re a good team. We approach things the right way around here, but there are no moral victories. It’s not like – at least to me, I don’t look at it as like, ‘Oh, we were so close guys.’”