NFL: Dolphins bring win-now feeling into matchup vs. Bears
Separate trade deadline deals for linebacker Bradley Chubb of Denver and running back Jeff Wilson Jr. of San Francisco have sent the Miami Dolphins’ outlook skyrocketing.
“The window is now for this team,” wide receiver Tyreek Hill said.
Added quarterback Tua Tagovailoa: “We’re not afraid to talk about Super Bowls here.”
Miami will aim to keep the good vibes intact Sunday as the Dolphins officially pass the midway point of the season with a visit to the Chicago Bears, who sold various valuable pieces at the deadline amid a new regime and rebuild.
The Dolphins (5-3) are trying to match the three-game winning streak they used to start the season before a three-game slide seemingly brought expectations back to Earth.
Miami is coming off a 31-27, come-from-behind road victory against Chicago’s NFC North counterpart, the Detroit Lions. After trailing 27-17 at halftime, Miami pulled ahead with two touchdowns in the third quarter.
Tagovailoa capped the rally with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Mike Gesicki. Jaylen Waddle snagged a pair of touchdown passes as part of an eight-catch, 106-yard day, while Hill had 12 receptions for 188 yards.
Chicago, naturally, is bracing itself. The Bears (3-5) allowed 442 total yards during Sunday’s 49-29 loss at Dallas, including 242 through the air.
Now the team braces for a jelling Miami attack without linebacker Roquan Smith, shopped this week to Baltimore. Smith leads the NFL with 83 tackles. In what Chicago hopes isn’t a harbinger to its matchup with the Dolphins, however, defensive backs Eddie Jackson (11) and Jaquan Brisker (nine) were the team’s top tacklers against Dallas. Jackson (hip) was limited in practice to begin the week.
As for the loss of Smith?
“You have a Pro Bowl player that was leading the NFL in tackles. I’m not sure that you do, really, replicate that,” Bears coach Matt Eberflus said. “So what you shift guys around, move guys around and put guys in place and next-man-up, he plays, and it’s gonna be good for that linebacker room, getting experience and getting some playing time.”
The Bears also added wide receiver Chase Claypool in a trade with Pittsburgh as they hope to add a big-play threat for quarterback Justin Fields.
Chicago leads the NFL with 1,507 rushing yards and is tied for second with 5.3 yards per carry after running 43 times for 240 yards against Dallas.
Still, the franchise wants to diversify its attack beyond the ground game, whose top threats are running backs Khalil Herbert and David Montgomery, as well as Fields.
Claypool called himself “a dynamic playmaker” when describing what the Bears were getting.
“I’m a playmaker and I’m excited to make plays. I feel like I didn’t have the full opportunity to show what I can do this year, but I think I’ve been able to show that in the past,” Claypool said. “I’m excited to be able to gain that trust with Justin, too, where he knows if he needs a play he can come to me and, frankly, any receiver out there.”
Miami leads the all-time series 9-4, including a 27-14 victory in the teams’ most recent meeting in Chicago, on Oct. 19, 2014.
–Field Level Media