Miami Dolphins: 10 observations from Week 9 win over Bears
8. Jason Sanders is a big problem
Jason Sanders had a career year in 2020, and the Dolphins rewarded him with a long-term contract and big dollars for a place kicker. He has been in a decline ever since, and we may now be at rock bottom.
Sanders is now 11 for 15 on the season after missing a 29-yard field goal at the end of the first half that would have extended Miami’s lead to 7. It was the shortest miss of his career, and it affected the coaches’ decision-making later in the game, as the team opted to go for it on 4th down late in the game instead of trying Sanders from 32-yards. The Dolphins turned the ball over on downs.
The offense may be able to score plenty of touchdowns, but they’ll have problems if they are unable to rely on their high-paid kicker.
9. X is still good, but not the same
Xavien Howard is still one of the most important pieces on the entire roster, but it is becoming apparent that he is no longer the dominant force that he once was.
Howard was beaten on multiple occasions by Bears receivers on Sunday, including by Darnell Mooney for a touchdown on a beautiful pass by Justin Fields. He still had a couple of nice plays in coverage throughout the game, but Howard is no longer able to be counted on like he once was. He had an interception in the 4th quarter, but it was called back due to a questionable holding call.
He is still easily the best cornerback that the Dolphins have, but the team will need him to up his production if they hope to keep their hopes alive on defense.
10. It is nice to see a clean pocket
There were a few occasions when Tagovailoa found himself scrambling for his life, which resulted in a couple of ugly throwaways that both could have been considered intentional grounding. But for the most part, the Dolphins’ offensive line did an excellent job of keeping the quarterback off of his backside, especially in the first quarter with some noticeably clean pockets.
It hasn’t been like in years past, but there have been continuity issues along the front line this season. It hasn’t affected the team much, in the passing game at least. Tagovailoa was ranked 33rd in most times sacked coming in to Sunday’s game, and the Bears were unable to take him down at all.