Miami Dolphins football is back. Miami will take the field on the road against the Chicago Bears on Saturday to kick off Week 1 of the 2021 NFL preseason. Here’s what to watch for.
Tua’s first NFL preseason game
It’s easy to forget that this will be Tua Tagovailoa’s first preseason game in his NFL career. Preseason games were one of the things that went by the wayside in 2020. Given that, Tua, entering as a rookie, had to wait until the closing moments of a mid-October game to see his first action.
The value of preseason games has been highly debated over the years. Some look to 2020 as proof that teams do not need them to get prepared to play quality football. Regardless of your position on this debate, you have to admit that rookies, players in new systems, and new coaches benefit the most from the preseason.
While Tua is no longer a rookie, this will be the first year with him starting the season on the top of the depth chart. He also has a new offense, as well as new teammates in key roles. This preseason couldn’t be more important to Tua’s development. Here’s what Tua needs to accomplish to have a successful outing.
1. Establish himself as the undisputed leader on offense
Gone are the days of Fitzmagic. This is Tua’s team now, and he needs to act as such. There has been a lot of positive feedback about the second-year quarterback’s confidence coming into this year. Tua will need to show command for the offense. He will need to be decisive and also get the team in and out of the huddle efficiently.
2. Have a good first series
The spotlight is on Tua. For as many supporters he has, he also has as many doubters. While most of that noise is from outside of the Dolphins organization, it’s still a distraction. If Tua has a good first series, this will not only lower the volume of the ‘doubters,’ but will boost his confidence and the team’s confidence. String a couple of good series’ together and that momentum will carry to the real games.
3. Stay healthy
To be fair, this is not entirely in his hands. Anyone can suffer an injury in professional football by no fault of their own. It’s just the nature of the sport. However, Tua must not try to do too much and put himself at risk in this preseason game. Part of his leadership will be to recognize when a play breaks down and get out of it. The Dolphins would be able to use this feedback to make adjustments for when the games count.
Offensive line play
Miami invested heavily in their offensive line this offseason. The Dolphins have used multiple early-round draft picks over the past few years to solidify this line. It started with the selection of Michael Dieter in the third round in 2019. Since then, they also added Liam Eichenberg, Solomon Kindley, and Robert Hunt all via early-round picks.
Has Miami found the right combination? The answer to this question must be a resounding yes! After all, it’s a fact that your quarterback play could be the best — à la Patrick Mahomes — but it won’t matter if you can’t protect them.
Wide receiver battle
The Dolphins have stacked the deck at wide receiver. Unfortunately, all of these guys can’t make the final roster. Assuming DeVante Parker, Will Fuller, Jaylen Waddle, and Albert Wilson are locks to make the team; the battle for the remaining spots will be hot.
Rookies climbing the depth chart
Eichenberg was the only rookie listed on the top of the first released depth chart. However, he was sidelined at practice resulting in his playtime for the first game being in question. Nonetheless, rookie safety Jevon Holland has been a standout during training camp. If Holland continues that success in preseason, he could find himself on top of the depth chart once the season starts.
Dolphins football is back, and as you can see there will be plenty to watch for.