Here’s the latest installment of our Miami Dolphins Q&A, where South Florida Sun Sentinel writers David Furones and Chris Perkins answer questions from readers.
Q (1a): Does Teddy have the job locked regardless of his level of play — @RayF1nkle on Twitter
A: Probably not. Backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is the starter now, with Tua Tagovailoa (concussion protocol) sidelined. But we don’t yet know how coach Mike McDaniel operates in that regard. In general, I’d say very few backups have the job locked up regardless of their level of play. And that’s probably true for the majority of starters, too.
Bridgewater is a good backup because he’s got starting experience and he’s a veteran. I expect he’ll do well enough to keep the job until Tagovailoa returns.
Q (1b): Under what circumstances can we see Skylar Thompson?
A: If Bridgewater doesn’t effectively or consistently get the ball to wide receivers Tyreek Hill or Jaylen Waddle, or if Bridgewater doesn’t give the team a chance to win. The former is self explanatory. You want to get the ball in the hands of your best players. The latter mostly means too many interceptions/turnovers or, perhaps taking too many sacks when he should be getting rid of the ball, things along those lines. Bridgewater is a good leader and seems to have the confidence of his teammates. If Bridgewater loses his hold on the job it’s more likely to be something tangible (interceptions, etc) rather than intangible (loses faith of coaches or teammates, etc).
Q: Should we be worried about the Jets? — @1972wasgreat on Twitter
A: Yes. But let’s not get crazy here. As a fan, you’re not as concerned as you were with New England, Baltimore, Buffalo or Cincinnati. But you definitely give the Jets (2-2) respect. And you worry about the game’s outcome because the Jets are a .500 team as well as an AFC East opponent, meaning they know your personnel very well. Plus, going on the road and starting your backup quarterback isn’t usually a recipe for success.
On top of that, the Jets, who got quarterback Zach Wilson back from a knee injury in their last game, have a decent receiving crew among Garrett Wilson (20 receptions, 255 yards, two touchdowns), Corey Davis (15 receptions, 261 yards, two touchdowns) and Elijiah Moore (15 receptions, 192 yards). Combine that with Miami’s injury concerns in the secondary and there are reasons to keep an eye on things.
If the Dolphins (3-1) play the way they played in the first four games they should be OK. But if they struggle to run the ball, and the defense gives up big pass plays such as it did at Cincinnati, things could get dicey.
Q: Can we see the offense incorporate the run game more while Tua is out? And if so can that lead to the run game being used more when Tua does come back? — @Davis_T94 on Twitter
A: Those are good questions. The Dolphins, who are 30th in rushing at 69.3 yards per game, are trying to get the running game going. Coach McDaniel had San Francisco’s run game No. 7 in the league last year (127.4 yards per game) when he was the 49ers offensive coordinator. And when the Dolphins acquired running backs Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds, and added center Connor Williams and left tackle Terron Armstead, you figured there would be a commitment to the run game. That’s still true, but the production hasn’t reflected that commitment.
One thing to remember, and a point I frequently make, is there’s a lot of “new” in the offense and the running game among the new coach, new offense, new offensive coordinator, two new running backs, and two new offensive linemen.
Having said all of that, yes, the Dolphins would love to get the running game going because that would mean they could force defenses to drop a safety in the box to stop the run, which would open up more deep opportunities for Hill and Waddle. Also, with a good running game the quarterback, whether it’s Bridgewater or Tagovailoa, could throw off play-action, which helps their production.
There are numerous benefits to getting the running game going, and the Dolphins would love to reap those benefits regardless of who is playing quarterback.
Q: With Cedrick Willson banged up, when are we gonna see Easy E? — @Dolphinsnation2 on Twitter
A: From listening to wide receivers coach Wes Welker two weeks ago, it appears Erik Ezukanma (Easy E), the rookie fourth-round pick from Texas Tech, isn’t yet ready. They like Ezukanma, but it seems he needs to be more detail-oriented.
Here’s what Welker said:
“I just can’t, I and our whole staff can’t, have that knot in your stomach when he’s out there and say, ‘Is he going to do the right thing? Is he lined up in the right spot? Do we need to call a timeout?’ ” Welker said on Sept. 22.
“All those things are so critical that he is starting to understand it’s not just being more talented. Everybody’s talented. But it’s all about the details and being on point with every single play that you’re out there because one MA (missed assignment) or anything out there can be the difference between winning and losing, and right now that’s just not something that we’re willing to do right now. He’ll get there.”
Q: Do you think target shares remain consistent at WR position with QB change? — @OverEsq on Twitter
A: I think Hill and Waddle continue getting the majority of the targets because they’re your best offensive players. As for who gets more each week, in general it’ll likely be Hill but it also depends on matchups. If they think they have a huge edge for the next two weeks with Waddle and his defender, they’ll go with Waddle. It appears McDaniel is very matchup-oriented in his game plans, perhaps more than any of the previous four Dolphins coaches (Brian Flores, Adam Gase, Joe Philbin, Tony Sparano). We still have a lot to learn about McDaniel, but he seems to be the type who goes with the matchup instead of automatically forcing the ball to a specific player (although you want the ball in Hill’s hands as often as possible).
The more interesting area to watch for targets is the No. 3 offensive option. You’ll never stop feeding the ball to Hill because he’s always a matchup advantage, and Waddle is your clear No. 2. But that third option among players such as Mostert, Edmonds and tight end Mike Gesicki could vary greatly.
Have a question?
Where has Miami’s pass rush gone? Can Greg Little take over as full-time RT?
Should we be sold on this O-line; what’s up with Mike Gesicki?
Is Mike McDaniel ready for the moment?
Which rookie could make biggest impact?
What should be expected of DC Josh Boyer?
Where will Dolphins add another veteran free agent?
Is Christian Wilkins next for multi-year extension?
Can Tua still be a top-10 quarterback?