A sensational start from Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Miami Dolphins led the way on Thursday night. Scoring touchdowns on each of their first three drives, the Dolphins raced out to a lead and stifled Gardner Minshew and the Jacksonville Jaguars throughout, en route to a 31-13 win -- Miami's first of the season.
1) If for just one half, the Miami Dolphins found their offensive stride and it carried them to their first victory of 2020. There was indeed FitzMagic at hand, as Ryan Fitzpatrick showed off wizardry in a brilliant beard and impressive arm to lead the Fins to a 31-13 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Following a 15-yard toss to Mike Gesicki for a 21-7 lead, Fitzpatrick's line to open Thursday sat at a perfect 11-for-11 for 123 yards, two touchdowns and a 152.8 rating. Gesicki's scoring grab concluded a stellar opening to the evening for Miami, which scored touchdowns on its first three drives. Fitzpatrick has emerged as one of the league's most lovable characters, a shaggy gunslinger who's never going to let his team go down easy. Like spare change or perhaps a lost bird, it shouldn't get lost in the beard, though, that Fitzpatrick is still performing at a high level. It was showcased Thursday against the Jaguars (1-2). He was ridiculously accurate, going 18-for-20 for 160 yards, two touchdowns and a 133.3 rating, and also had seven carries for 38 yards and a rushing score. Everyone knows eventually it will be Tua time. For now, though, Thursday served as further reason to appreciate how well Fitzpatrick continues to play and just how much fun it is to watch the one-man roller coaster throw, run and lead the Dolphins (1-2).
2) Gardner Minshew certainly wasn't the only reason for the Jaguars' offensive tribulations in the loss. Alas, there was but one game on Thursday night and it was a perfect opportunity for the second-season signal-caller to shine on center stage. He brought in a hot hand (three touchdowns in each of his previous two games) and was facing a winless Dolphins squad. Instead, Minshew looked uncomfortable, missed throws he usually makes and looked out of sorts with any ball-catcher that wasn't James Robinson. On a forgettable evening he had two turnovers, threw for 275 yards on 42 attempts, captained an awful three-of-10 showing on third down and was without a touchdown. Minshew showed over the first two games of the year why he should be the Jags' franchise quarterback going forward. Against the Fins, he showed why there's still some doubt.
3) For all the struggles exhibited by the Jaguars offense, some credit must go to the Dolphins defense in aiding Jacksonville's tough night. Jacksonville was averaging 28 points over its first two outings and the Dolphins never let them find a groove, eliminating anybody not named James Robinson from the offensive equation. The Dolphins tallied four sacks, two takeaways and held Jacksonville to 318 total yards. Cliched as it sounds, it was a team effort, too. There were really no individual standouts, just a standout performance.
4) There was one highlight for the Jaguars' offense on Thursday and it was UDFA running back James Robinson. Robinson's already drawn acclaim and impressed further by flexing an all-round game in which he ran through tacklers and proved to be a great option catching the ball out of the backfield. Also of note, this was a game that dragged in the Florida humidity. The Jaguars felt out of the running for a win long before zeroes hit the clock. But Robinson (129 total yards, two rushing touchdowns) kept chugging along, going full speed when the rest of the offense was stuck in park. In three NFL games, Robinson has quickly become a reason to watch the Jags and a player to root for.
5) For all the deserved praise heaped upon Fitzpatrick, in many instances throughout Thursday he seemed like a one-man band (he even caught a pass). A win is a win, but the Miami running game continues to struggle (138 yards on 36 carries). Granted, the Jaguars rushing defense is formidable, but Jordan Howard and Matt Breida's additions have fallen flat. Myles Gaskin has shown some promise here and there, but his numbers (66 yards on 22 carries) were hardly inspiring. The Dolphins can't simply be Fitzpatrick throwing and Fitzpatrick scrambling as the only means to offensive success. So far, that's how the offense has churned.
6) D.J. Chark was inactive Thursday with back/chest injuries. Perhaps it indicated just how important the burgeoning wideout is to the Jaguars. There were bursts here and there from the Minshew-led crew, but Jacksonville looked out of rhythm, in large part accentuated by inconsistent wideout play, most notably from Chris Conley. Chark obviously didn't post any stats on Thursday, but he certainly showed his value.
7) The 2019 Dolphins lingered to a 0-7 start. While beginning the season 0-2 is hardly reason for celebration, sitting at 1-2 is already a far sight better than last year's travails. Two Floridian franchises got together on Thursday and both are in rebuilding modes. Ahead of the outing, the Jaguars were being lauded for being ahead of schedule after a season-opening upset of the Colts and a close loss to the Titans. However, their third game might well have erased those good tidings, while the Dolphins all of a sudden have life and some promise. Truth is, these are still two rebuilding clubs and the bumps in the road will be more prevalent than any smooth rides to celebration. At least for this week, the Dolphins are headed in the right direction and the Jaguars took a step back. That could all change as quickly as Week 4.