MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Twenty months ago, the Miami Dolphins picked Brian Flores to lead a daunting rebuild. Fast forward to Sunday's 24-0 victory over the New York Jets, and it's becoming clear that the Dolphins made the right decision.
Miami's turnaround is flourishing while Adam Gase, the coach the Dolphins fired and the Jets immediately hired, is watching his team crumble and his job security loosen more every week.
The Dolphins (3-3) won back-to-back games by double digits for the first time since 2015, and even without playing their best football they beat down their wounded division rival. That's what good teams do, and for the first time in the Flores era, it's time to start asking: Are the Dolphins ... good?
Ryan Fitzpatrick started off hot, throwing three first-half touchdowns, and was slightly subdued by two interceptions to follow, but the most impressive part of the Dolphins' performance was a dominant defense that shut out the anemic Jets. And Tua Tagovailoa got his first NFL action in garbage time, a great prize for Dolphins fans eagerly waiting to see their future franchise quarterback get some playing time.
It was the Dolphins' first shutout since Nov. 2, 2014, over the San Diego Chargers. It's even sweeter that it comes against the rival Jets and Gase.
The Dolphins head into their bye week on a high. They are playing strong complementary football and right in the thick of the AFC East race tied with New England Patriots for second place. And with a Buffalo Bills loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday, they would be one game out of first place. Those are words that would have seemed silly to write at any time during the 2019 Dolphins season. The progress is clear, and the best seems yet to come.
Promising trend: The Dolphins' defense has come alive over the past two weeks, and Sunday was its best performance of the season as the unit achieved an elusive shutout. Cornerback Xavien Howard nabbed an interception for the fourth consecutive game, making him the first Dolphins player to do so since Terrell Buckley in 1995-96. Emmanuel Ogbah had two sacks, raising his season total to five, an indication that he has been a good free-agent signing. The Dolphins' pass defense is allowing an average of 138.5 passing yards over the past two games (both blowout victories). It's a promising trend indeed.
Buy/sell on a breakout performance: I'm buying Myles Gaskin's best performance as a Dolphin, totaling a season-high 91 rushing yards on a 5.1-yards-per-carry average combined with 35 receiving yards. Gaskin became the first Dolphins running back with over 100 scrimmage yards since Kalen Ballage in December 2018. After a week when the Dolphins aggressively tried and failed to sign Le'Veon Bell, Gaskin's performance is his way of telling the team that he's the right man for the job.
Quarterback breakdown: Fitzpatrick's strong play early helped the Dolphins jump out to a 21-0 first-half lead, and he's still playing some very good ball, but the second half left much to be desired. The Dolphins totaled 44 passing yards in taking their foot off the pedal a bit. But it was another strong day overall for Fitzpatrick.
The most exciting moments of the game came with two minutes left when Tagovailoa got his first NFL action. His first play was a handoff to Matt Breida and then he delivered two consecutive completions to running back Patrick Laird (for 2 yards) and wide receiver Jakeem Grant (for 7 yards) that had the crowd electric. A small taste of Tua, and he got a passing grade for sure.