The Tape Don't Lie: Miami Dolphins beat Carolina Panthers, a Review

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  • Carolina Panthers
    Carolina Panthers
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Miami Dolphins
    Miami Dolphins
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  • Tua Tagovailoa
    Tua Tagovailoa
    American football quarterback
  • Jaylen Waddle
    Jaylen Waddle
    American football wide receiver
  • Xavien Howard
    Xavien Howard
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  • Jaelan Phillips
    Jaelan Phillips
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The Dolphins won for the fourth consecutive time on Sunday, humiliating Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, 33-10.

Among the standouts were Tua Tagovailoa, Jaylen Waddle, Jaelan Phillips, Christian Wilkins, Jevon Holland and Xavien Howard.

Miami is 5-7, with the Giants and Jets up next. It's entirely possible Miami and NFL Playoffs are the talk of the town at Christmas Dinner, prior to a Monday Night Football game at New Orleans.

Ask any coach and he's likely to agree, "The Tape Don't Lie."

Here are some things we noticed

• Waddle, Waddle. Sunday marked 400 days since Waddle fractured his ankle in an Alabama game against Tennessee. In the same way Tua Tagovailoa seemed healthier after passing the one year mark after a serious hip injury, Waddle seems healthier, and faster now. In fact, Waddle was recording running 21.8 miles per hour on his 57-yard reception, according to NFL's Next Gen Stats.

That's tied for the fifth-fastest recorded speed in the NFL this season. He just seems more dangerous. He just seems more electric. We saw it as early as the first quarter on Sunday. It's wonderful news for Miami, which drafted Waddle with the sixth overall pick primarily because of pure speed.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) celebrates a touchdown in the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Nov. 28, 2021.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) celebrates a touchdown in the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Nov. 28, 2021.

The burst is back.

And can we talk for a moment about Waddle's "Waddle Waddle" celebration, in which he mimics a penguin? This is fun. Football should be fun. It makes me happy.

Schad: Tua, Waddle and Miami Dolphins operated exactly as designed

Miami Dolphins Snap Conclusions: After defeat of Carolina Panthers

Photos: Miami Dolphins beat Carolina Panthers

• Tua on the move. It's a lot easier to justify a designed Tagovailoa roll-out when a broken rib and a broken finger are mostly or fully healed. So much of what Tua did in 2020 under Chan Gailey was moving the pocket and it was nice to see some of those plays return on Sunday.

As a lefty, Tua is naturally comfortable rolling out to his left. And he throws quite accurately while on the move. The Dolphins and Tua have really worked on improving his pocket-passing awareness and skills.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) in action agains the Carolina Panthers during NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium Sunday in Miami Gardens.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) in action agains the Carolina Panthers during NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium Sunday in Miami Gardens.

But there is no shame in some designed and some improvisational escapes from the pocket. Think Russell Wilson. And remember that Wilson's level of play is the level that Tagovailoa is striving to get to.

• Miami's rookie class. It's been shockingly good, hasn't it? Another interception for Jevon Holland. Another three sacks for Jaelan Phillips. The rookie pass rusher from Miami is a unique breed of power and speed. He has the potential to disrupt any game moving forward.

Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Jaelan Phillips (15) sacks Carolina Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker (6) during the fourth quarter of an NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Nov. 28, 2021.
Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Jaelan Phillips (15) sacks Carolina Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker (6) during the fourth quarter of an NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Nov. 28, 2021.

The aforementioned Waddle appearing poised to make a significant impact as he gains more comfort with his assignments and NFL defenses.

This is the kind of draft class that could buy general manager Chris Grier some time. No, Austin Jackson and Liam Eichenberg have not yet lived up to their potential (Eichenberg is just getting started). And Noah Igbinoghene and Hunter Long have not yet been forced into action (or succeeded in action).

But if Tagovailoa continues to ascend and Holland, Phillips and Waddle shine, this dramatically impacts our perception of Grier's recent drafts.

• Xavien is back to form. Xavien Howard has conceded there were a few games earlier this season where his performance was not up to par. Howard seems healthy and well-conditioned and is dominating again in recent weeks.

It is too easy not to appreciate how special Howard is.

Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25), returns an interception deep into Dolphins territory against the Carolina Panthers during NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium Sunday in Miami Gardens.
Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25), returns an interception deep into Dolphins territory against the Carolina Panthers during NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium Sunday in Miami Gardens.

What if we told you that no player in NFL history has recorded 25 career interceptions faster? Howard has done it in 67 games. Again — that's no player in NFL history.

He is, simply put, one of the best players in Dolphins history. He runs his opponents' routes better than they do. He is the ultimate shadow. And ultimate ball-snatcher.

• Phillip Lindsay's first impression. Lindsay carried 12 times only a few days after arriving in South Florida. But the best impression Lindsay may have made was when he picked up a blitzer in the second quarter, allowing Tagovailoa time to hit Waddle on the crosser that resulted in a 57-yard gain. After the game Lindsay spoke about the importance of protecting the quarterback.

Nov 28, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Phillip Lindsay (31) runs with the football against the Carolina Panthers during the fourth quarter at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 28, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Phillip Lindsay (31) runs with the football against the Carolina Panthers during the fourth quarter at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

"Dog mentality," Lindsay said. "I’m not going to let my quarterback get hit."

Miami hopes it can catch a little lightning in the bottle with Lindsay, who seems pretty quick but perhaps more importantly, doggedly determined.

• Offensive line observations. Liam Eichenberg is improving at left tackle. Robert Hunt is very, very solid at right tackle. Hunt is Miami's best offensive lineman.

The combination of Eichenberg and left guard Austin Jackson is worth continuing to develop. In an ideal situation, right tackle Jesse Davis is available to the club as a swing option at right tackle, right guard and left guard.

Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg (74) walks on the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg (74) walks on the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The Dolphins have used high draft choices on Eichenberg, Jackson and Hunt and it's quite possible they'll need to use yet another for another tackle. Or they'll have to explore the trade and free agent markets. A stabilizing veteran might be nice.

If Tua is Miami's starter at the beginning of the 2022 season, right tackle is especially important. Miami must learn if Eichenberg is best suited for left or right tackle, and they really must add an above league average tackle.

• Durham Sneak. The Dolphins don't love giving Tua the quarterback sneak on 4th-and-1 and have been criticized when going in shotgun in that situation, so Miami coaches came up with a creative solution on Sunday. A direct snap to tight end Durham Smythe, who converted in the fourth quarter. Nice work.

• On to the Giants. Daniel Jones isn't very good. The Giants have already fired their offensive coordinator. Miami is favored for a reason. It's another must-win, of course. Dolphins fans, don't see your tickets to Tri-State natives. Your team needs you.

See y'all soon.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: The Tape Don't Lie Film Review Joe Schad's study Miami vs. Carolina