Miami Dolphins still have work to do in the trenches

Oct 22, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) is
Oct 22, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) is / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The current AFC East leaders had a tall task ahead of them on Sunday night in facing the reigning NFC champions, on the road no less. The Miami Dolphins have been the league’s most explosive team six weeks into the season. They boasted the NFL’s top-ranked offense, ground attack, and passing game.

The Eagles were no slouches themselves, second in the league in total yards per game as well as rushing yards per contest.

When the smoke cleared, Mike McDaniel’s team was limited to a season-low 17 points while the Miami offense managed only one touchdown. It would be easy to point to the officials in Sunday night’s 31-17 loss. The Dolphins finished with 10 accepted penalties and the Eagles zero. However, the real issue in the 14-point loss in this clash of first-place teams really came down to the men in the trenches.

In the first half, McDaniel’s club finished with an incredulous minus-seven yards on the ground on four attempts. Miami totaled 12 runs for 45 yards by evening’s end, nearly half of that on a 21-yard run by Raheem Mostert. Eagles’ edge rusher Haason Reddick seemed to make it a personal quest when it came to slowing down the speedy runner. Keep in mind that the club had averaged 181.8 yards per game rushing the first six weeks.

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw for 216 yards and one score but was sacked three times. Throw in wide receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. being tackled on a pass attempt in the second quarter and make it four sacks allowed., There was also a crucial interception early in the fourth quarter when the team was down by only seven points. All told the Dolphins finished with a season-low 244 yards of total offense.

The Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive front is one of the best and deepest in the league. The offensive line is also one of the premier units in the NFL. There’s a reason Nick Sirianni’s club was able to control the football for 36:43 and run 20 more offensive plays (68) than the Dolphins (48) despite the fact that Eagles’ quarterback Jalen Hurts turned over the ball twice.

Injuries along Miami’s offensive line haven’t helped. It’s no coincidence that the Dolphins have allowed just two sacks in their five wins while surrendering eight QB traps in the losses to the Bills (4) and Eagles (4). Better play from both lines is essential to this team’s improvement.