The Dolphins' grades coming out of Thursday night's loss to the Bengals', courtesy my friends at ProFootballFocus.com, have come in about where you'd expect. The defense, which held Cincinnati to one touchdown, was mostly good although there is room for improvement. The offense, which had one first quarter touchdown and nothing else, was not good.
The Dolphins' defense was once again led by safety Reshad Jones, who posted the best grade on the unit with a 84.5. He graded out well in run defense once again, posting six tackles and three stops on the night. For the season, Jones leads his respective position in both tackles on running plays (17) and stops (10).
By the way...stops are what PFF judges to be tackles that prevent an offensive success, defined as gaining 40 percent of required yardage on first down, 60 percent on second down, and the entire required yardage on third or fourth downs.
Jones, by the way, turned in the highest grade of any Dolphins player for this game. He is also rated the No. 5 safety in the NFL by PFF according to their grades.
DT Nkdamukong Suh and DE Mario Williams shut down the left side of the line on run plays, as their six combined tackles were all run stops. Andre Branch joined the stop party as well, posting three of his own on runs to the right side of the defensive line.
Suh had an inconsistent game, grading out well in run defense and adding three more tackles and stops giving him a total of 17 tackles and 14 stops in run defense for the year. That is tops for all nose tackles and defensive tackles in the league. However, he had three penalties on the night and recorded just one QB hurry on 31 pass rushing snaps.
CBs Tony Lippett and Xavien Howard were targeted a total of eight times when covering Bengals WR A.J. Green, and it went about as you'd expect. That is to say, poorly. Against the two young players, Green posted seven catches for 142 yards and the lone TD of the night for the Bengals off a missed tackle by Lippett.
Howard, a rookie second round pick, was picked on for most of the first half, allowing four catches on five targets for 78 yards, highlighted by a 51 yard catch by AJ Green. He has now recorded 22 tackles in pass coverage which is the most in the league and has just two in run defense.
What do those numbers suggest? Teams are coming after Howard and forcing him to make plays or, as in this game, to not make plays.
The Bengals, by the way, seemed to chase Howard as if it was in their game plan to go after him moreso than veteran Byron Maxwell. When the Dolphins surprised everyone by benching Maxwell, the Bengals didn't change the plans and still looked to throw to their right more than to their left where not-ready-for-primetime Tony Lippett was playing cornerback.
Dolphins LB Spencer Paysinger's coverage numbers don't look awful on paper, as he gave up two catches on three targets for 22 yards. However, he missed tackles on both receptions he allowed, and missed a third on a run. All three missed tackles resulted in key first downs for the Bengals.
One week after being the most productive 4-3 defensive end rushing the passer, Cameron Wake saw little action against the Bengals, playing only 15 total snaps. He recorded one QB hurry which gives him 12 for the season, most at his position. His pass rushing productivity (a formula used to measure QB sacks/hits/hurries relative to pass rushing snaps) of 16.0 is the best for 4-3 defensive ends as well.
These numbers suggest, no, not suggest ... These number scream that Wake is still productive but the Dolphins are not getting enough productivity from him because he's not playing enough on a consistent basis.
LB Kiko Alonso continued his solid season with the Dolphins, recording six more tackles including four stops and one QB hurry on the night. He was Miami's second highest rated player with a grade of 84.3, and has yet to record a missed tackle in 134 run defense snaps on the season. His biggest weakness so far has been his pass coverage, where he allowed six receptions on six targets for 42 yards against the Bengals.
One nitpick on run defense for Alonso: He's not a downhill player. He's excellent chasing sideline to sideline but he needs to improve slightly in filling holes in the middle of the defense as they happen at the line of scrimmage. Of course, that would turn him into perhaps the best MLB the Dolphins have had since Zach Thomas. He's not there yet, but good so far.
Offensively ... yikes.
After starting the season strong and ranking among the Top 10 quarterbacks, Ryan Tannehill struggled Thursday against the Bengals, posting a grade of 45.0. Although he was effective facing no pressure (12-of-15 for 160 yards and one touchdown), under pressure was a different story.
Tannehill was 3-of-10 for 29 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and five sacks taken under pressure.
First round rookie Laremy Tunsil made his first career start at LT against the Bengals filling in for an injured Branden Albert. It was an uneven debut at the position. In 45 total snaps (31 passing), Tunsil allowed one sack, one hit on Tannehill and one hurry. The sack was significant because Tunsil had allowed none in three games while playing at left guard.
Through four games, Tunsil has allowed the one sack and seven QB hurries in his 230 snaps. He has also graded out better run blocking than pass blocking thus far which is strange because coaches said he'd better as a pass blocker early on. Tunsil figures to be the LT of the future in Miami and he showed potential in his first career game there. Indeed, so far, Laremy Tunsil has played very well considering he's a rookie and is likely going to get even better.
C Kraig Urbik stepped in and made the start at center with all of the injuries along the Miami offensive line. He was the only player to post a strong grade (79.3) and did not allow a single QB hurry/hit/sack on the night. The rest of the offensive line combined to allow five sacks, two QB hits and seven hurries.
I have no idea how Urbik did communicating the protections, if he did that at all. But for a third-string center, this was a pretty good outing all things considered.
WR Jarvis Landry was targeted 10 of the 21 total attempts a Miami wide out was targeted against the Bengals, while Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker were each targeted only three times. Landry was able to turn his 10 targets into 7 catches and 61 yards and added to his league leading yards after catch (YAC) with 24 more. He did have one drop, per PFF.
For the season, Landry now ranks 5th for WR in yards per route run at 2.58.
TE Dion Sims made the start for the injured Jordan Cameron and had a rough night against the Bengals. He was targeted twice and turned in one catch for nine yards while struggling in the blocking game, something he has done a great job of his time in Miami, particularly last week against the Browns. Sims was one of five Dolphins to allow a sack on the night and he wasn't able to help Miami sustain any consistent success on the ground.