Go ahead, Miami Dolphins fans. Enjoy the moment that hasn't happened all that often of late. You are the professional football champions of the state of Florida for the 2022 season!
It does help that Miami gets that honor because neither the Fins nor the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play the Jacksonville Jaguars at all this year. Also, the Dolphins only won Saturday's preseason opener over the Bucs thanks to a missed field goal attempt from former FIU and Miami Hurricanes kicker Jose Borregales.
For the first time in three years, the Dolphins have started off the preseason with a victory in the debut of head coach Mike McDaniel. It was a game that essentially became meaningless on the surface when many starters for both teams - Tua Tagovailoa, Tyreek Hill, Christian Wilkins, Xavien Howard and some guy for the Bucs with the last name Brady - decided not to play.
It was a game that allowed for players like quarterback Skylar Thompson to run the offense the entire time, throwing for over over 200 yards and one touchdown. Running back Myles Gaskin averaged nearly seven yards a carry while wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. hauled in three catches for 55 yards. An interception by cornerback Elijah Campbell set up Thompson's only touchdown pass while linebacker Sam Eguaveon's fumble return accounted for the other touchdown.
So that's it, right? There was nothing you can say that would bring up any concern with what took place Saturday night in Tampa, right?
Well, not so much. For starters, the rushing game was abysmal as Miami ran for just 49 total yards on 14 carries all night - and Thompson was responsible for over half those yards. Even the casual football fan knows you can't have your quarterback rushing for half the yard total unless his name is Michael Vick.
Second of all, four of the Dolphins scoring drives ended with field goals - including two of over 50 yards by kicker Jason Sanders - to go along with a defensive score. Take away Eguaveon's touchdown and the Dolphins are starting the preseason with a loss for the second straight year.
Lastly, it can't be ignored that virtually none of the main starters for the Fins played just like many of the main starters for the Bucs didn't play - including that aforementioned quarterback who likely doesn't throw the interception that sets up Thompson's touchdown pass.
But, with all that being said, the Fins are 1-0 in the preseason and have "bragging" rights in the Sunshine State for the year. The 'TuAnon' army can brag for another week despite him not even playing in the game while Miami fans can actually act like this team is a Super Bowl contender - something that should go away by Week 5 of the regular season.
We will see how the team looks when things look more like the regular season as the Fins host the Las Vegas Raiders next Saturday. It could make the hopes of a positive season a reality - or open eyes to what problems this team still has to deal with.