What are the Miami Dolphins' players and coaches talking about ahead of Sunday's Week 8 matchup against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field? Let's find out:
1. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa returned to the lineup last week in a 16-10 win over Pittsburgh after missing the previous two-plus games with a concussion. Tagovailoa was 21-of-35 passing for 261 yards with a touchdown and no picks. Miami is a different offense with Tagovailoa under center. His 105.9 passer rating on the season is the fourth best in the NFL.
But after 13 first quarter points, Miami scored just three more the rest of the game. Tagovailoa said after the game there was a lot of meat left on the bone in the victory. Improving the timing between quarterback and receivers is going to be a major point of emphasis this week leading up to Sunday's game in Detroit.
"Not being able to play two games does have an effect on my performance in a way that I haven't seen full-speed reps in practice, where guys are coming to hit me, tackle me," Tagovailoa said. "There are some things that you do kind of have to just see when you play the game. You don't get some of the looks in practice."
2. The Dolphins have to be looking at Sunday's game as an opportunity to get back on track offensively against the Lions' worst-ranked defense in points and yards allowed per game. ESPN.com also pointed to the Lions' 29th ranked red zone percentage and 31st third-down defense as areas that Miami could exploit. The Lions' defense has played much better the last two weeks against New England and Dallas, however.
3. The Dolphins have struggled all season to generate turnovers, but are coming off a win against Pittsburgh last week where they picked off Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett three times.
"Man, I was just able to get the interception, that's all I've been working on," Miami cornerback Noah Igbinoghene told miamidolphins.com. "That's all the coaches have been preaching is just 'get the ball, Noah, get the ball.'" It was a point of emphasis leading into the Steelers game and will be again this week preparing for the Lions.
The Dolphins were minus-five in turnover differential going into last week. They are currently minus-two. The Lions have the third worst turnover differential in the NFL at minus-6 and their 11 turnovers are the sixth most in the league.
4. There were a couple instances in last week's game where Tagovailoa took off running and lowered his shoulder into a Steelers defender instead of sliding. McDaniel said Tagovailoa came to him after the first one and told his head coach he needed that, which McDaniel understood.
As for the other one: "I'm never going to totally encourage that at all," McDaniel said. "I'm probably going to advise him to slide every time, but when push comes to shove and a guy has the ball in his hands, it's going to be tough to get him to completely turn it down, although I will try."
5. The Lions' defense has a huge test this week against wide receiver Tyreek Hill and the explosive Dolphins passing game. Hill's 773 receiving yards on the season lead the NFL and are the most in Dolphins history through seven weeks. Teammate Jaylen Waddle's 621 receiving yards on the season are the fourth most in the NFL.
Hill was mic'd Up last week vs. the Steelers: "Let's be special," he said before the Dolphins' first offensive series. "Let's be fast. I'm the baddest in the business dawg for a reason."
Hill, Waddle and the rest of the Dolphins receiver room have definitely been special all season long. Sunday will be the toughest test to date for Detroit's cornerbacks and secondary.
6. Dolphins safety Brandon Jones was placed on injured reserve because of a knee injury that he suffered in the third quarter of Sunday's game against the Steelers, McDaniel told ESPN Monday.
"I'm not too excited about it," McDaniel said about another setback for the Dolphins' secondary.
Miami's defense is already missing cornerback Nik Needham, who tore an Achilles tendon a week earlier against Minnesota and will miss the rest of the season. Cornerback Xavien Howard has been nursing groin injuries, and cornerback Byron Jones is still on the physically unable to perform list after having surgery on his lower left leg in March.
7. McDaniel on the Lions' offense: "When I look at the Detroit Lions tape, all I see is a team that makes a lot of plays on offense, that fortunately for their opponents have made mistakes along the way. But they are one game away from being as good offensive production-wise as anybody in the league."