MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Credit Mike McDaniel for this: He kept his sense of humor even after Friday night’s Miami Dolphins offensive stinkfest in the team’s preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons.
“Did you guys enjoy that clinic?” McDaniel asked with sarcasm to open his postgame news conference.
Miami Dolphins Backup QB Situation a Primary Concern
McDaniel might have been using humor to mask irritation, but there wasn’t and shouldn’t have been any panic even after his offense turned the ball over four times and scored just three points in a two-score loss.
Tua Tagovailoa didn’t play. Neither did Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Raheem Mostert, or Jeff Wilson.
The players who will be counted upon to score points for the Dolphins when the games count watched in gym shorts on this sweltering summer evening.
At least, that’s the big-picture view.
But it would be naive to think that there wasn’t at least one big warning sign to emerge from this game of reserves: The Dolphins will probably be in big, big trouble if Tagovailoa misses significant time this fall due to injury.
Every team not named the San Francisco 49ers would be toast if their QB1 goes down for the year.
But even if Tagovailoa misses just a handful of games — which has happened every year he’s been in the league — there’s reason to wonder if his backups can keep them in the hunt until Tua returns.
Mike White, who got the start, was 9 of 14 for 85 yards and threw an interception in the end zone. The Dolphins reached the red zone three times when White was under center in the first half Friday and came away with zero points.
Mike White on the offense’s first half performance pic.twitter.com/8JbGM30xe0
— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) August 12, 2023
“The preseason stuff is hard because you’re not scheming up a red zone, know what I mean?” White explained after the game. “You don’t have a red-zone package, whereas, in a season, you do. Now, that’s not an excuse by any means, you’ve still got to be able to execute the plays.
“There’s stuff that we’ve got to do better. There’s things that we could have executed better. A couple unfortunate bounces and turning the ball over down there is never going to equate to a win.”
Even with that uneven performance, White still put distance between himself and Skylar Thompson in the race for QB2.
That’s how bad Thompson was.
He turned the ball over on three of his five possessions, losing a fumble and throwing two interceptions, including one the Falcons returned for a touchdown.
Thompson’s internal clock has never been lightning-quick, but it seemed slower than normal Friday. He took sacks he shouldn’t have and threw passes later than he should have.
Skylar Thompson discusses his night pic.twitter.com/KZC2aCpzWA
— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) August 12, 2023
“Definitely, they got me with a couple looks tonight with pressures and just — that’s just what I felt on the field,” Thompson said. “Just understanding the situation and getting the ball out. To answer your question, I do feel like there were times where, ‘OK, I feel pressure. Where is my outlet?’
“Throw and get to it quicker and getting us out of negative yardage situations to where we’re not in second-and-long. Getting way behind the sticks is not the type of mission that we want to run on offense here, and that starts with me leading it and taking charge. I take all the ownership for every single thing. I’ll shoulder it and learn and get better from it.”
He needs to do so quickly. McDaniel has suggested that next week will be Thompson’s week to get the bulk of reps in practice, and he seems to be on track to get work with the second team in the Dolphins-Texans preseason game next Saturday.
But the fact remains that neither quarterback has been consistently good in practice. Thompson was better in OTAs and early in training camp, while White has come on lately.
And yet, it’s hard to imagine either of these QBs being able to carry the Dolphins long-term if needed.
Which is why it’s fair to wonder if Tua’s eventual backup is not currently on the roster. Cuts and trades are coming soon, and there will be quarterbacks available that might help the team.
Plus, the Dolphins might have to decide at some point if they’re better with Thompson and/or White than they would be with, say, Carson Wentz, who still has not signed with a team.
As of now, it’s a prospect their head coach is unwilling to entertain, at least not publicly.
“I think the competition has been awesome in camp,” McDaniel said. “It’s been back and forth, you know, very happy with the room overall, and I think a lot of people would be cutting out the league if you overreacted to one game situation.
“Again, I’ll find out watching the tape tomorrow how much other players knew what they were doing when Skylar was in, when Mike was in. That takes a toll as well as a quarterback when you’re trying to do your job and have to tell other people what to do.
“So, I’ve been very happy with the group overall. They’ve done some productive things at the NFL level on numerous occasions. So, Preseason 1 is not gonna get me to overreact to anything, having this group.”
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