Tua Tagovailoa led Miami to a fifth-consecutive victory in his third start versus Los Angeles last week. He’s thrown for 505 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions through 77 passes in his young NFL career.
Heading into Denver on Sunday, a win for Tagovailoa’s Dolphins would make him the first quarterback to be victorious in each of their first four starts since Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger, who set the record in 2004, won 13 consecutive games to kick off his career.
Aside from the future Hall Of Famer, no other rookie quarterback has won in their first four starts since Dieter Brock’s seven in 1985. And considering Miami’s next three games — Broncos, Jets and Bengals — Tua could engrave his name as second on the list behind Brock with seven straight W’s.
On the other hand, quarterback Drew Lock is expected to make his seventh start of the season against the Dolphins. The second-year quarterback has collected a 2-5 record this season and his 10 interceptions are tied for the third-most in the NFL. He comes off the worst outing in his 12 career starts, as he completed 48.9 percent of his passes and threw four INT’s versus the Raiders last week.
Lock will be tasked with defeating a Dolphins defense that has forced a turnover in each of the last 15 games dating back to last season and ranks fifth in points allowed per game (20.2). He missed practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday and Friday with a bruised rib. Lock’s average of 214 passing yards per game is less than the 243.8 average that Miami is giving up this season.
Dolphins safety Bobby McCain said he’s been studying film on Lock, as well as backup quarterbacks Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel. Rypien, who split the reps this week, has completed 67.5 percent of his throws for 295 yards and four interceptions. Altogether, Denver’s quarterbacks have thrown a league-worst 16 interceptions this season.
“They have different physical assets and some are better throwers, some are better on the move,” McCain said. “But you have to look at the coordinator as well and what’re his tendencies and what he likes to do and what he likes to do with all three quarterbacks in the game. “
All eyes on Salvon Ahmed.
After Ahmed took seven carries for 38 yards in his NFL debut, he received the starting nod versus the Chargers. The undrafted rookie rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, which led to Miami releasing Jordan Howard on the day after.
Matt Breida is eligible to return from the IR on Sunday, but there’s no reason to believe that Ahmed wouldn’t receive the majority of the reps. The University of Washington alum is living the underdog story, having been claimed off waivers and sent to the practice squad by the Dolphins after being let go by the 49ers.
“I think the first thing that stands out to me is that when he comes in the room, he’s ready to go,” running backs coach Eric Studesville said. “He’s highly motivated, he’s asking questions, he wants to be good, he wants to work, he wants to learn and he does that. When he gets on the field, he can run.”
“He’s got speed, he’s got quickness. I think he has good eyes. I think he’s got good feet … he’s continuing to work on those areas and strengthening the things that he’s good at and just trying to maximize those things when we put him in there.”
Miami’s running game will have the opportunity to continue progressing, as Denver is allowing 122.8 rushing yards per game, which ranks 23rd in the NFL.
Jerry Jeudy thriving as a rookie.
Despite Denver’s quarterback struggles, Jeudy has the second-most receptions (34) for a team-high 552 yards and a touchdown. He’s tied for the most 15+ yard catches among rookie wide receivers with 19.
The No. 15 overall pick was one of Tagovailoa’s favorite targets at Alabama, and the two will have their first NFL reunion on Sunday.
Dolphins’ AFC East odds improving .
Now just a half-game behind the Bills for first place in the AFC East, a win for the Dolphins this week would even up the division. Following Week 10, which included Buffalo’s loss in miracle fashion to Arizona, their odds to win the division dropped to -396, while Miami’s increased from +459 to +313.
The biggest test for Miami will come in Week 14, as they take on the Kansas City Chiefs in the same stadium they won the Super Bowl in last season. The Dolphins could be riding on an eight-game winning streak heading into the matchup.
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy and offensive guard Solomon Kindley were limited practice participants this week and are questionable to play on Sunday.
As for the Broncos, three players are questionable for Sunday: cornerback Bryce Callahan (illness), offensive guard Graham Glasgow (calf) and defensive lineman DeShawn Williams (ankle).