MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — It’s time to stop comparing this Miami Dolphins team to the franchise’s previous 57 iterations and to start comparing them to the best offenses in NFL history — period.
After dropping 70 — a number still too ridiculous to comprehend — on the Denver Broncos Sunday, the Dolphins rank first league-wide in:
- Points (43.3 per game)
- Total Offense (550.3)
- Rushing (188.3)
- Passing (362.0)
- Yards Per Play (8.4)
- Yards Per Carry (6.1)
- Yards Per Pass (10.5)
- EPA Per Play (.39)
- Success Rate (55.6%)
- Dropback EPA (.67)
- Dropback Success Rate (62.4%)
They’re also second in rush EPA (.06), sacks per pass attempt (1%), first downs per game (27.3), and red-zone efficiency (78.6%).
Putting Miami Dolphins’ Start Into Historical Context
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 25, 2023
Miami is on pace to not just eclipse the NFL‘s single-season scoring record (606, by the Broncos in a 16-game season in 2013) but obliterate it.
With 130 points in their first three games, the Dolphins would need to average 34.1 points over their final 14 games to break the record.
Peyton Manning and that 2013 Broncos team set a standard that we thought would never be matched. But Tua Tagovailoa and the 2023 Dolphins sure look up to the challenge.
But a more realistic comparison is a side-by-side of the 2023 Dolphins with Tua Tagovailoa and the 2018 Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes, who broke multiple franchise records en route to his first MVP award and Super Bowl appearance.
|Quarterback||Comp. %||Total Yards||Avg Yards/Game||TDs||INTs||Yards/Attempt||Passer Rating||EPA/Play||CPOE|
|Patrick Mahomes (Through W3)||66.7||896||298.7||13||0||9.6||137.4||0.59||7.8|
|Tua Tagovailoa (Through W3)||71.3||1,024||341.3||8||2||10.1||121.9||0.52||7|
|Patrick Mahomes (Season)||66||5097||318.6||50||12||8.8||113.8||0.36||4.5|
Tua and the Dolphins compare quite favorably with that juggernaut, which averaged 35.3 points per game and scored 30+ 12 times (Miami already has twice).
After three Dolphins games in 2023 vs. the Chiefs’ first three games in 2018, Miami has a higher scoring average, average more first downs per game, more yards per game, more yards per play, and have a higher EPA per play, a higher dropback EPA, and a higher rush EPA.
|Team||Total Points||Avg Points/Game||First Downs||Avg First Downs/Game||Total Yards||Avg Yards/Game||Avg Yards/Play||EPA/Play||Dropback EPA/Play||Rush EPA/Play|
|2018 Chiefs (Through W3)||118||39.3||74||25||1,195||398.3||6.8||0.34||0.57||-0.02|
|2023 Dolphins (Through W3)||130||43.3||82||27||1,651||550.3||8.4||0.39||0.67||0.06|
|2018 Chiefs (Season)||565||35.3||384||24||6810||425.6||6.8||0.24||0.35||0.02|
And the gap in stats grows as you widen the sample size for Kansas City. Their 2018 year-end stats in a number of major categories were lower than they were after three games.
That makes sense, as teams were able to catch up (at least a little). And certainly, it’s hard to envision the Dolphins maintaining what they’ve put on the field through 12 quarters.
This is poetry in motion 🤩
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 24, 2023
The record-breaking output against the Broncos certainly skew the numbers, but it’s important to remember that the Dolphins haven’t scored fewer than 24 points or gained fewer than 389 yards in any game this season.
“To put 70 points on somebody is — I mean, I’ve been a part of games where I was unfortunately getting scored on a lot, but to be able to do that, it just speaks volumes especially for our offense,” Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert said after his four-touchdown day Sunday.
Tua vs. Mahomes
What’s most encouraging about all of this? Tagovailoa has led the way. He’s now the favorite to win the MVP (+300) — edging out Mahomes for second.
Mahomes had an incredible 2018 season (not to mention 2022, when he won another MVP trophy). But what Tagaovailoa is doing now might be even more impressive. Certainly, Mahomes has the edge in touchdown passes, but that’s because the Dolphins score so often on the ground.
MORE: 2023 NFL Standings
The Dolphins have averaged 2.7 rushing touchdowns per game in 2023 — more than twice what the 2018 Chiefs averaged. And it should be said, Tagovailoa has thrown a couple of picks.
However, Miami’s fourth-year quarterback has been far more explosive and has a far higher EPA than Mahomes did in 2018 — both after three games and at year’s end.
And he’s unlocked the very best of Tyreek Hill — who is the only Dolphins player who was also on that 2018 squad. Hill leads the AFC in receiving yards (412), receiving touchdowns (4), and catches of 20 or more yards (2).
“He’s learning every week, man,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said of Tagovailoa. “I’ve said it before on record; he’s like the most coachable, best learner that I’ve ever been around.
“It’s hard to get better continually because it’s exhausting, and you just want to feel like, man, ‘I’ve arrived.’ That’s not him. That’s why we’ll continue to see a better version of him as he progresses.”
That’s got to be a terrifying thought for the 14 teams still on Miami’s schedule.
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