Will it be Ram or Dolphin on the menu?
First thing: Ingredients.
Who’s done the best shopping to prep their meal? While Miami has steadily been adding fresh meat to their roster, the Los Angeles Rams have lost over a dozen starters since their Super Bowl loss in 2019. The Rams have key veteran players like Aaron Donald – second in sacks with 7.5 – and Jared Goff, who can be as hot and cold as any potato in the league still on the roster.
Between season two and three of Goff’s career, he has averaged 30 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions. In Goff’s Super Bowl year he threw for 22 scores and was picked off 16 times. Goff and the Rams still made the Super Bowl in 2019, carried by their defense, managing to score just 3 points versus the New England Patriots.
Second Bye week mission, Preparation.
With the Rams sitting at 5-2, third in a stacked NFC West division, their record can be a little deceiving. L.A. beat the Chicago Bears 24-10 Monday night, and with that, it was the Rams’ first win against a team with a winning record. L.A. had dropped both games to plus .500 clubs, which were the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers.
One can argue Miami has only beaten one team with a winning record – 49ers – but the Dolphins aren’t the ones two years removed from a Super Bowl either. Plus, coach Brian Flores’ team rescheduled its Week 11 for last week, giving them extra time to prepare for the Rams.
Third on the meal prep list- secret ingredient: ‘Tua Time.’
A switch at quarterback mid-season can be difficult, something Miami Dolphins defensive end Shaq Lawson is familiar with from his time with Buffalo. Josh Allen took over for the Bills in Week 2 of the 2018 season when then starter Nathan Peterman lost to the Baltimore Ravens 47-3 in their season-opener.
“I’ve seen a lot of him in practice, how athletic he is, how incredible of a player he is,” Lawson said on the former Alabama star. “You get to see it Sunday this week. It’s going to be incredible. He’s going to lead his team in the right way.”
With Tua Tagovailoa making his first start as a Miami Dolphin, familiarity is crucial. Several of Tua’s teammates have been impressed with what they’ve seen in practice.
“Y’all have seen his tape; it speaks for itself,” wide receiver Preston Williams said.
Even Lawson again, who praised the young signal-callers experience, stating: “You wouldn’t think he’s a rookie if you watch him in practice. He looks like he’s been around a long time.”
Getting in work with the starting offense is important, but the key is, with the week to prepare, Tua gets extra work. Being left handed changes the dynamic of the offensive line. Since Tagovailoa signed his rookie contract – right handed I might add – with the Dolphins, 116 quarterbacks have thrown a pass in the NFL. Every one was right handed.
Oddly enough, Tua golfs, eats and writes right handed. From a change in blind side to a reverse spin on the ball, there is more to this change than just a player and a jersey. Tua is a rarity in today’s right handed NFL and that can take some getting used to.
“I don’t know how the game plan is or is not going to change,” tight end Mike Gesicki said. “What I will say is that Tua, I think he’s got every throw in the book and I think he’s got the intelligence to make all the reads and he’s got the legs to be able to escape pressure and he’ll make some plays with his feet.”
Fourth and final Bye week prep- Dinner is served:
Do you prefer your Ram chilled or Toasted?
Miami actually does have a shot against the Rams at home. I can see them dominating this game similar to the San Francisco game. The key is Tua and the offensive line. Both are capable of not giving Dolphin fans a heart attack every time there’s a defender within three feet of the quarterback. The young Tagovailoa, who is seventh in the SEC all-time with 87 touchdown passes – all six of the signal-callers ahead of him played four collegiate seasons to Tua’s three – and also leads the SEC all time in passing efficiency rating with 199.4. There’s no question that the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft can boost a stale at times Dolphins’ offense.
Bottom line, Miami can’t really be worse as Tua statistically is truly a big upgrade at the most important position on the field. I look for his presence to elevate all the chefs slicing and dicing for the Dolphins. When all the 1’s align and No. 1, on 11/1 at 1 p.m. turns Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium field into his own personal Hibachi Grill. I’ve never had it, but I hear Ram tastes like chicken!
(Fun Side note: with all the 1’s aligning… Tua’s planned start date was after the originally scheduled bye-week… Week 11).