The Miami Dolphins defense has been outstanding this week with multiple interceptions on different days. But those interceptions in practice don’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.
Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Miami Dolphins second-year Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa throwing three interceptions in practice on one day and two on the next. For the three-interception day, Tagovailoa threw one to Brandon Jones, one to Nik Needham, and one to Jevon Holland. Three interceptions are enough to lose a game, but this is practice. If it was a practice in late November, I’d say the Dolphin fan base has a problem on their hands.
That isn’t the case by any means. The Dolphins are still learning Mike McDaniel’s flashy offense. They have a top ten caliber defense with arguably one of the best secondaries in the entire league. I believe Dolphins fans saw what happens when players like Xavien Howard, Nik Needham, and Jevon Holland aren’t on the field when the second team made Kyle Trask look like the second coming of Tom Brady last Saturday night. The Dolphins top tier defenders are going to make top tier plays. It’s bound to happen.
If The Offense Is On Fire, Is The Defense Bad?
I was a little worried with how good Tagovailoa has looked throughout camp. I know having Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill is enough to keep the defense on their heels and it’s always different scrimmaging your own team versus playing live snaps in game. All through training camp, my main thought was whether Josh Boyer is more or less involved in defensive planning than Brian Flores.
I would assume because the defensive coordinator the last two seasons and our defense being our strongest point during those seasons, that at least some credit was due to Boyer. After seeing practice videos of Tagovailoa throwing dimes, Waddle and Hill blowing the tops off the secondary, and how well the zone scheme was going, I began to worry our defense was going to regress. Then, I heard Tagovailoa throw three interceptions, and there was only one word in my mind, balance.
Having an offense that puts up 45 points per game is something Dolphins fans have dreamed about for two and a half decades. Having a strong defense is what many will say will win you championships. Having one without the other will have the Miami Dolphins drafting around the sixteenth spot in the draft again and being one game short of the playoffs. If having a top tier offense and a liability of a defense was good enough in today’s NFL world, the Kansas City Chiefs would be on a dynasty roll that would continue for years to come.
Elite Defense Makes Elite Offense, Iron Sharpens Iron
It’s not good enough though. And that’s why Tagovailoa throwing multiple interceptions is nothing to worry about. The Dolphins defense would be a huge question mark leading up to Week One against the Patriots, because I don’t think they’re going to see a lot of meaningful preseason work the next two weeks. Is Howard still going to be the top ranked man coverage cornerback in the league? Jevon Holland was a pro bowl snub his rookie year. What is his progress like going into his second year?
One thing a lot of people are leaving out of this tale of turnovers is that they were running a situational drill. Forty seconds to drive the ball sixty yards, which means you’re really stretching the field, and the defense knows that. They’re immediately dropping into coverage, neglecting run responsibilities, and playing jump ball.
Three interceptions are not ideal, but some situations carry more merit than others. This one does not carry any. If Tagovailoa checked it down all practice, you hear the beat talk about how he’s not stretching the field enough. Also, Jaylen Waddle was sidelined with an undisclosed injury, though Coach McDaniel stated it was preventative and not serious.
It’s a no-win situation for the Dolphins signal caller. It sounds like the defense had their strong week this week, and unfortunately, that means a down week for Tua Tagovailoa. He’s never going to be perfect, no quarterback ever has or ever will be. But for him, Tagovailoa will have to show it on the field during the regular season to change the media narrative.