The Miami Dolphins entered their Week 3 matchup with the so-far surprising Jacksonville Jaguars as a three-point underdog on Thursday Night Football. After allowing 217 yards on the ground in Week 1 and 411 yards through the air in Week 2, the team was getting gashed all over, and it was clear their defense needed to step up. The unit played much better on Thursday, as they kept quarterback Gardner Minshew in check on their way to a 31-13 victory.
Let’s breakdown some of the key takeaways from Miami’s first win of the season in a thrilling victory against the Jaguars. The Dolphins were firing on all cylinders in Duval County, playing much better on offense while holding the Jaguars to only 13 points on Thursday night.
The team will look to take some of these vital points from the Jacksonville game and apply them to their upcoming Week 4 battle with the Seattle Seahawks. The Dolphins are a young team on the rise, and the win against the Jaguars was just another step in the right direction for this squad.
The run defense struggled early but played better in the second half
Robinson was a player I mentioned in my Week 2 takeaways heading into the Week 3 showdown with the Jaguars. He is Jacksonville’s undrafted rookie sensation at the running back position and one of the surprising young stars to begin the 2020-2021 NFL season. Robinson came into Week 3 as the eighth-leading rusher in the league with 164 yards and a touchdown through the first two weeks.
The rookie rusher out of Illinois State entered the half with a touchdown on seven carries for 36 yards on the ground. He tested the Dolphins with positive yards in the first half and added a long catch of 24 yards. Miami played much better in the second half, forcing Jacksonville into a one-dimensional passing attack to close out the game. As a team, the Dolphins held Jacksonville to 72 total rushing yards.
The passing game comes alive with Parker and Fitzpatrick
Parker was a highlight this week as a top-24 fantasy wide receiver for the Dolphins against the Jacksonville secondary in Week 3. He was a steady contributor once again, as he led Miami with five catches for 69 yards. He routinely beat rookie cornerback C.J. Henderson for first downs and big chunks through the air.
Fellow receiver Preston Williams opened the scoring in the first quarter with a nice four-yard grab in the back of the endzone. If the Dolphins’ top two receivers continue to play this well, this passing game will be tough to step.
Another player that stepped up in the passing game was tight end Mike Gesicki. The former Penn State superstar enjoyed a monster game against Buffalo in Week 2 and followed that up with a first-half touchdown versus the Jaguars. However, Fitzpatrick was the story of the game, as he navigated this offense on continuous scoring drives all game long. The veteran quarterback started 12-for-12 in the passing game and finished with three total touchdowns. Fitzpatrick will look to keep the good times rolling against Seattle at home in Week 4.
The pass rush shows up big, forces four sacks and interception against Minshew
After forcing three total sacks in the first two games, the Dolphins defense rebounded in a big way with four sacks against the Jaguars and Gardner Minshew in Week 3. The pass rush constantly harassed Minshew into rushed throws and long yardage situations all night. The Jacksonville starter rushed for a few first downs in the first half but otherwise looked extremely uncomfortable in this game. On Jacksonville’s final offensive play, Minshew threw an ill-advised pass down the sideline that was intercepted by cornerback Xavien Howard.
The interception was Howard’s first of the season and only the third takeaway for the Dolphins. Miami will face a massive test against another mobile quarterback in Russell Wilson next Sunday. An early-season MVP candidate, Wilson has compiled over 600 passing yards and nine touchdowns in 2020 and will look to continue his potential MVP run going into Hard Rock Stadium. Seattle recently defeated the New England Patriots in a last-second thriller in Week 2.