What’s the bigger story? Tua raising his game or the Dolphins raising their record to 5-3. It’s got to be Tua because of what it means in the big, and now so much rosier, picture. But don’t undervalue this 34-31 victory over Arizona and how the Dolphins pulled it off. This was impressive stuff on both fronts, a victory over a talented and ascending team on the road and a performance by Tua that years from now will deserve a spot on his wall of memories.
For Tua, it showed that last week against the Rams was simply a dip your toe in the water day. On Sunday, he dove in head-first. And what we saw was what all of us hoped we would see, a wonderfully talented quarterback taking this offense on his shoulders and leading in a manner that had to get you thinking: what could he possibly do next?
For the Dolphins it was their fourth straight win and once again the story lines were everywhere: a defense that scored yet another touchdown, a pass rusher in Emmanuel Ogbah who has reached elite status, a kicker in Jason Sanders who is on a ridiculously perfect roll and, of course, Tua leading the way.
How good is this Dolphins team? Playoff good. With Tua stepping up this way, the possibilities become so much more enticing.
Look at it this way. The two most important ingredients to winning long-term in this league are the coach and quarterback. Always has been. Always will be. The Dolphins are now top tier in both departments. Brian Flores has proven that over the past season and a half and Tua, well, what we saw Sunday against Arizona – the uncanny accuracy, the decision-making, the open field running – was so special you know it wasn’t some one-time tease.
Yep, with the coach and the quarterback now in place, with a defense that keeps making game-turning plays and with the powerful right leg of Sanders deciding close games, the midseason arrives with this team now a viable playoff contender.
Stay relatively healthy. Keep Tua upright. Build off these four straight victories. Keep getting across-the-board performances like we saw against the Cardinals. Do all of that and you can overcome some of the deficiencies this team has, most notably a running game that just isn’t much of a threat. We’ve seen one-year turnarounds before with this franchise. But this has a different feel to it, doesn’t it? With both lines now just about re-built, with the defense so much better than it was a year ago and with Tua now firmly entrenched as the starter, I can hardly remember the last time I felt so good about the long-term potential of this team.