The Dolphins won amid chaos Sunday and the grades from this week's ProFootballFocus.com and Salguero tape and insight post reflect the good outing.
Here they are:
Tight end Charles Clay (+4.2) and Daniel Thomas (+3.3) had their best grades of the season to pickup a struggling offense. Clay’s rampaging TD catch came with Manti Te’o in coverage. Of Clay's 90 receiving yards, 77 came after the catch.
Lamar Miller still out-snapped Thomas 40-26, despite being out-touched 11 to 6.
Salguero: Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman continues to say he considers both Miller and Thomas as co-starters: "Pretty much. When I’ve been asked that question, that’s what I’ve said all along. I look at both of those guys as starters, and you kind of just go with the hot hand. I thought during the course of the game I thought they both ran well. Lamar (Miller) had some runs taken away from him because of penalties, some were ours and some were there’s. I thought Daniel (Thomas) ran very physical. He didn’t practice much last week. He missed some time, but he came out ready to go. When he was in there, he took full advantage of his opportunities. Sometimes it’s just a matter of opportunities when you are in there. It just happened to come up where he had some very well-blocked plays, but he certainly had some great after contact runs which I thought since I’ve been here the best we’ve been on runs after contact whether it be a pass, a catch or a run."
Rishard Matthews played 57 of 66 snaps after his breakout game last week.
Left guard Danny Watkins played 5 snaps at left guard in his debut as a Dolphin.
Tight ends Michael Egnew (18 snaps) and Dion Sims (8 snaps) saw time almost exclusively as run blockers.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill struggled to connect with his receivers downfield again. He was just 4 for 11 for 66 yards and a pick on passing attempts of 10+ yards. Tannehill made it a point to attack Derek Cox in coverage, targeting him 4 more times than any other defender. But, he connected just 4 of 9 times against him.
Salguero: Let's face it, when we're talking about downfield issues, what we really mean is Tannehill cannot seem to get the ball to Mike Wallace in stride. The ball is seemingly often underthrown or thrown late or thrown out of bounds. The irony here? Wallace is slowed by hamstring issues. So he's being underthrown despite not running as well as usual.
Check it out from Sherman: “They’ve done that and part of it, Mike’s still feeling, still resting and working with his leg issue. I thought Mike had a tremendous ballgame. He ran hard, and he ran his routes very disciplined. He was open on a number of occasion and sometimes it was protection issues and we didn’t get him the ball, other times we just didn’t get him the ball, but I thought Mike (Wallace) had a tremendous impact in that ball game, because he changed how they played us and allowed us an opportunity to control the game with some runs and what not. He started the game with a catch and a first down where he broke some tackles. It kind of set a tempo for us, I thought, in that ball game. (Brian) Hartline had one, obviously the running backs have theirs, (Charles) Clay had his for the touchdown, I thought the first one was Mike’s (Wallace) and I thought that kind of set the tempo for the game. I think there’s familiarity that the two of them just have to an understanding with how that’s going to work. We certainly underthrew him on a touchdown pass that we can’t do. If they had scored at the end that could have been the ball game, we needed those points, we didn’t get them so that’s something that’s been a point of emphasis and it will continue to be. We have to get them on the same page. They are two willing participants and they want it to work, I think it’s just a matter of two guys getting used to each other. It just takes a little bit of time."
The Dolphins had their most success running the ball behind the right side of their line, picking up 48 yards on eight rushes. However, they still produced 56 yards on their other 11 carries
Daniel Thomas picked up 32 of his 57 rushing yards after contact.
Brian Hartline had two uncharacteristic drops against Johnny Patrick.
Salguero: Not mentioned by PFF, but major props to Nate Garner. He spent the entire week working at left guard and then moved to center on Sunday. And he had only one line call mistake.
Sherman: “Nate really had only one mistake in communication. Mike Pouncey has been a stalwart in there. For him to go in there and do what he had to do, just phenomenal. I thought he did an excellent job. Along the same lines, I have to take my hat off to (Ryan) Tannehill as well. I don’t think there’s many quarterbacks in this league that, when they wake up on Sunday morning and the guy they’ve been taking snaps with since they’ve played in this league all of a sudden isn’t playing, he doesn’t bat an eyelash (he says) ‘Ok let’s go, no big deal.’ I think that’s a credit to him and that’s kind of the way he looks at things, he doesn’t sweat things very much. It’s a credit to him and there’s things that he has to work on and get better at but one thing about him, he doesn’t get flustered or concerned about things like that. (He says) ‘Ok, who’s up lets go.’ I do think Nate (Garner) did a fine job stepping in, in the absence of a very good player. Those are big shoes to fill when you’re filling Mike Pouncey’s shoes.”
Dion Jordan settled back into his 20 snap role with 22 plays. In addition to two hurries rushing the quarterback, he helped out in the run game with a defensive stop on 7 plays.
Salguero: Last week defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle talked about Jordan being a part-time player the entire rest of the season. He told us to get used to it. This week, the tune has changed a bit.
Consider from Coyle: "Dion is like a power forward in basketball. He’s a very smooth athlete. He’s got great length, and he can run like a deer. You put those qualities together, he’s not intimated, he’s actually bigger and taller than most of these guys or at least as tall as s some of these tight ends. They’re used to smaller guys covering them and that’s a big advantage, the body positioning and boxing out and playing basketball which a lot of them do. (Antonio) Gates is a perfect example, he’s a guy that can just muscle up on people like he’s waiting to get the ball in the low post and just catch a little hook route. Dion covered him a few times yesterday and did a very good job, he’s very natural at those kinds of things. The more we can get him involved in those type of things as well as he had some good rushes in the game yesterday too. We have to expand his role and keep him working because he can contribute and he is one of those guys that has the capability of making big plays for us."
Jimmy Wilson is the nickel cornerback no matter what. When Dmitri Patterson aggravated his injury, Wilson stayed at nickel corner, while Nolan Carroll took over the #2 spot. Wilson had 52 snaps to Carroll’s 47.
With Will Davis inactive and Jamar Taylor not playing any defensive snaps, the two rookies have combined to play just 45 defensive snaps on the season.
Philip Wheeler had his best grade in pass coverage all season (+1.5). Against Antonio Gates, he didn’t allow a catch on two targets, including a pass defensed. He allowed just two catches overall.