For weeks I have been advocating the use of Jason Fox at right tackle over Dallas Thomas. But as I do not get a vote when Miami Dolphins coaches sit down to author their game plans and lineups, Fox sat on the bench until last Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
Thomas was injured so coaches had no real option other than Fox.
And Fox got through the game quite well. According to ProFootballFocus.com numbers, Fox allowed three hurries of quarterback Ryan Tannehill but finished with a plus-grade overall and a good pass blocking grade.
Granted, Fox wasn't facing Mario Williams or DeMarcus Ware. But he was still solid.
Interestingly, Joe Philbin didn't seem too enthusiastic about Fox's work.
“He did okay, he did alright," Philbin said when asked his thoughts on Fox. "I thought he played hard and contributed nicely to the win.”
It will be interesting to see who starts against the New York Jets in the finale. Either way, it seems obvious Fox, signed to a one-year deal to be a backup swing tackle, isn't likely to get a return gig with the Dolphins next year based on how coaches used him (or rather, didn't use him) this year.
Meanwhile, PFF turned in their grades and review for the week. Here they are:
Lamar Miller owned RB snaps with 61 of 86, but Damien Williams played well as a passing down back, playing 20 snaps, 16 of them coming on pass plays, and most of those in the fourth quarter.
Wide receiver snaps were dominated as usual by Mike Wallace (78), with Brian Hartline (60), Jarvis Landry (49), and Brandon Gibson (39) mostly rotating with Rishard Matthews a healthy scratch.
The Dolphins schemed a two-tight end attack against the Vikings. That meant Charles Clay got 70 percent of the offensive snaps and Dion Sims got 57 percent. But if somebody plays, somebody must sit and this game it was Landry, who played his lowest snap percentage since Week 8 at Jacksonville.
Ryan Tannehill connected on both his 20-plus-yard throws of the day (one wide open to Clay, the other in tight coverage to Clay), but also was efficient in the 10-19-yard range, going 8-of-12 for 153 yards and two scores.
The Vikings did have some success when blitzing, forcing Tannehill into a line of 10-of-17 for 60 yards with the pick thrown into the blitzer's arms.
There was certainly a concerted effort to get Lamar Miller going behind the right side of the offensive line. When he ran to the right, he picked up 61 yards on 13 carries.
Cough ... Jason Fox ... cough.
Minnesota cornerbacks Captain Munnerlyn and Xavier Rhodes were both attacked with great success on Sunday. Munnerlyn allowed 8 catches on 10 targets for 117 yards to five different Dolphins, while Xavier Rhodes, who shadowed Wallace part of the game, allowed all six targets to be completed against him for 58 yards and a score.
Charles Clay looks the healthiest he has all season, beating DBs and LBs en route to his best day of the season. Maybe part of this had something to do also with terrible coverage by the Vikings. There were plays a defender was not within five yards of Clay.
They didn’t play in the base defense too much, but Philip Wheeler saw nine snaps as the third LB in the base, before Jason Trusnik finished the game as the third LB in the base, playing 11 snaps.
Jamar Taylor played 38 snaps as the nickel corner, manning the slot while Cortland Finnegan stayed outside. Often times this season, those roles have been swapped. Taylor did not impress and after two seasons, neither Taylor nor fellow 2013 draft pick Will Davis have been able to gain the coaching staff's confidence.
“I still would like to see more out of both of them," defensive coordinato Kevin Coyle said Monday. "I wish by this point we’d have a better feel. They both have exhibited NFL traits at times, but there is a consistency that hasn’t been up to our standards and they need to improve here in the offseason and get ready to go out and compete at an extremely high level.”
Dion Jordan played 19 snaps, spending time at linebacker, defensive end, and even defensive tackle as Coyle looks for ways to use him creatively. (Hello, he's a strongside linebacker in the 4-3). He'd also be a great 3-4 OLB. But whatever, I'm talking to wall.
Or ... maybe not.
"We’re going to evaluate everything here as we go into the offseason," Coyle said, obviously suggesting he's going to be part of the coaching staff that will be doing the evaluation. This is all something coach Joe Philbin declined to say Monday, by the way.
But I digress.
"That’s certainly going to be one of the main topics," Coyle said of Jordan. "We have got to find ways to utilize him more. There were some extenuating circumstances both last year, him coming in having a shoulder issue, and then again this year with the suspension and so forth. We have got to get him in the right spot and we’re going to evaluate that real closely and we’ll see what we determine to be the best fit for him."
Cough ... strongside linebacker ... cough.
"He has the athleticism to do a lot of things," Coyle continued. "I think you saw that yesterday when he dropped in coverage and made a nice open field tackle. He rushed the passer yesterday, impacted some things. I think we certainly need to get him on the field more."
Anyway, it was a dominant day for Cameron Wake rushing the passer (+5.4 grade), as he toyed with RT Mike Harris.
Brent Grimes had one of his worst days in coverage in a long time. He was responsible for six completions on seven targets for 88 yards a pair of scores.
Miami native Teddy Bridgewater didn’t have much time to look downfield, but bought time and was accurate when he did look that way. He had just one attempt at a pass of 20-plus yards, but he completed it, and was 7-of-8 for 138 yards on throws of 10-plus yards.
The Miami defense either made Bridgewater look like the next Joe Montana or the kid is truly going to be special. Or maybe it was a combination of the two.
Bridgewater did take two sacks when blitzed, but was decisive and accurate when the Dolphins brought heat, going 7-of-8 for 123 yards. The Dolphins, meanwhile, have to figure out how to tune up their blitzes so that they get there more often. Two sacks on the blitz is a good start.