This week it’s Tua vs. Justin (Herbert).
Last week it was Tua vs Kyler (Murray).
The week before it was Tua’s First Start.
Every week there is a Tua angle and, really, did you expect anything else considering the resume he showed up with and the franchise-turning hopes he has ignited.
We knew coming in that this season would be so much be about him. What we didn’t realize was that the team itself would share top billing. The Dolphins enter Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers on a four-game winning streak and one the league’s real surprise teams. The defense is far better than anyone had expected, the special teams have been downright special, and the emergence of Tua has helped overcome a shortage of quality running backs.
Look at the Dolphins schedule. Check out the records of their next three opponents, the Broncos, Jets and Bengals. If the Dolphins beat the Chargers, this roll could continue a while and while Tua has certainly been a part of this streak, it’s every corner of this team that has stepped up.
See, with such a limited canvas to call upon, the biggest difference in these two rookie quarterbacks are the teams they play for: Herbert, the sixth overall pick last spring, is 1-6 as a starter. Tua, the fifth overall pick, is 2-0.
What does all of this mean? It means that Tua vs. Herbert is a nice storyline, and we’ll follow it closely, but the major storyline, thanks to what we’ve seen over the past month, is a Dolphins’ team looking every bit a playoff contender.
The Chargers won’t be an easy out. They’ve played teams close. They’ve lost the last two games in the final seconds. Herbert has played well. But something’s missing with this Chargers’ team, something the Dolphins apparently have.
I’ll be the first to tell you I’m surprised at what I’ve seen over the first eight games. I figured there would be improvement, but I also assumed it would come over the second half of the season. These four victories in a row mean the Dolphins are ahead of schedule and much of that success falls upon a defense that is sure looking like some of those New England defenses of a few years ago. No one or two stars that tower over everyone else. Just a lot of very good players who understand their roles.
Sure, there are some major concerns heading into the second half of the season, two most glaring: the receiver spot is woefully thin and the running game has been un-productive. I can tell you there isn’t an easy fix for either problem, which means the defense and of, course Tua, is going to have to carry this team through the second half the season.
It begins on Sunday. Not as much Tua vs. Herbert anymore as it is the Dolphins seeing how far they can take this nice little run they’re on.
I say it continues: Dolphins 28, Chargers 20