While Tua Tagovailoa is opening eyes around the league, he was simultaneously closing out an era as well. During Miami’s 70-20 drubbing of the Denver Broncos Tua Tagovailoa ended any hopes of a Russell Wilson Renaissance. It might be time to mummify Wilson. There are still 15 weeks remaining, but he is a dead man walking. It’s not all his fault. The offensive line is doing him no favors, and he’s not a difference maker anymore.
Moreover, Sean Payton looks more like an antediluvian coach from a bygone era than an offensive genius returning for another reclamation job. Denver didn’t just get boat raced, it looked like we witnessed a changing of the guard. Watching Tagovailoa is like watching a young Drew Brees. Mike McDaniels took a quarterback with an impressive collegiate resume, nearly discarded because of underwhelming play, injuries, questionable arm strength and oversaw his metamorphosis into an MVP candidate.
McDaniels is the offensive architect of the present, and at 40, of the future. I haven’t seen two all-time greats of Wilson and Payton’s caliber get their souls snatched that violently since Jimmy Johnson and Dan Marino were being shellacked by Mark Brunell’s Jacksonville Jaguars during the 2000 playoffs. That afternoon, the Jaguars smoked Miami 62-7. That massacre was so traumatic the Dolphins allowed Marino to find greener grass elsewhere at the age of 38. Wilson is headed towards an even more ignominious ending. Denver’s Super Bowl contention aspirations are six feet under alongside Wilson’s athletic prime and Payton’s pride.
The pre-snap motion in McDaniels’ God-level offense twisted the Broncos defense into pretzels. That pre-snap deception has enabled Andy Reid and Kyle Shanahan’s offenses to run amok. It’s no coincidence that those offenses are some of the league’s most electric.
Defenses are already so flummoxed tracking Jaylen Waddle, who missed Week 3, and Tyreek Hill’s movements, who can blame them for losing track of Devone Achane and Raheem Mostert. Sure, Hill registered 157 yards and a touchdown on nine receptions, but Denver bore witness to the lethality of Miami’s backfield duo. have a formidable of their own. On the goal line, McDaniels used that hyperfocus on Hill against Denver early in the second quarter by faking a reverse to Hill, only for Tagovailoa to fling a one-handed shovel pass to Achane, who navigated his way into the endzone.
The Dolphins were in the mix for Jonathan Taylor on the eve of the regular season, but a deal with the Colts fell through. They;re not regretting that decision today. In total, Achane gobbled up 203 yards on 18 carries Sunday. Mostert gained 142 yards from scrimmage and scored four touchdowns. McDaniels also fulfilled his preseason promise to Mostert’ to rely more on the ground game to take some of the onus off of Tagovailoa.
“One thing that he [McDaniels] was very apologetic about was the fact that we didn’t run enough and that he was going to do his best to change that for the upcoming year. When he talks like that it just gets me fired up even more.” Mostert explained in May.
Denver had no answers on either side of the football. A loss like this should have them both hallucinating heaven’s gates. Wilson lived a good life as a starting quarterback. He got eyeballs on NC State, burnished his credentials as an NFL prospect after a year at Wisconsin and then snatched Matt Flynn’s starting job from right underneath him.
A dozen years later, Wilson is a Hall of Famer, but that creative improvisation ability doesn’t work as well. But don’t feel sadness for Wilson. He’s got a comfortable home life with Ciara and their three kids. Miami is a perfect place to get forced into retirement. He and Ciara aren’t the NFL “it couple” anymore if Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift aren’t trolling us. Time comes for us all eventually.
I’m not really sure how Wilson recovers from this weekend. Miami’s personnel was better. Their execution was sharper. The only saving grace is that Miami declined to kick a field goal in the waning seconds that would have set a new NFL-record for points scored. The 0-3 Broncos have lost in every way possible. They’ve sundowned in the second half and lost close games against lightweights,but against an actual contender they got stuffed into a casket.
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