Following each Miami Dolphins game this year, we take a look at the players who helped themselves and the players who hurt themselves in our weekly stock watch. Today, we take a look at the Dolphins' performance in their 27-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons yesterday.
As you'll see, I broke the rules this week. I typically try to give three stock up and three stock down ratings. Today, it's four and two, with five honorable mentions. But, hey, they're my ratings, so I guess I can bend the rules every now and then, right?
Stock up: Miami Dolphins. Yes, I am giving the entire Dolphins organization a stock up rating this week. That was not a pretty game. Everyone made mistakes, injuries took their toll, and the team did not seem energized, especially in the first half. But, they kept clawing their way back to the Falcons, and eventually it all came together on the game winning drive. At the end of the day, how you get the W means nothing, so long as you get the W. The Dolphins did that despite being outgained 377 yards to 285, giving up 24 first downs while only getting 16, and losing the time of possession battle by nearly 15 minutes. The Dolphins are learning how to win, and Sunday was a huge lesson - for both the team and the fans.
Stock down: Cameron Wake, Dannell Ellerbe, Koa Misi, Philip Wheeler, Dimitri Patterson, Paul Soliai injuries. Over half the defensive starters either missed the entire game, or a portion of it. The Dolphins were nicked up coming into the game, but it was nothing bad. The injury bug has definitely reared its head now. Hopefully these guys are able to get healthy during this long week, because no team could handle the long term loss of that many starters.
Stock up: Paul Soliai. Yes, a player who was not active during the game saw his stock rise. Soliai is the run defense for the Dolphins. He alone is the plug up the middle of Dolphins defense, forcing running backs to bounce outside and into the linebackers. With Soliai out, the Falcons ran for 146 yards, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. That's not the run defense the Dolphins are supposed to have this season, and the loss of Soliai is a big reason why. Scheduled to be a free agent after this year, the importance of Soliai to this defense was clear on Sunday.
Stock down: Pass protection. Ryan Tannehill was sacked five times Sunday, taking the team to 14 allowed sacks, one behind the NFL leader Jacksonville Jaguars. The immediate blame is put on the offensive line, and they are definitely deserving of some of it, but Tannehill deserves some, and so do the running backs. Carles Clay and Daniel Thomas both had horrible attempted blocks yesterday, leading to Tannehill getting hit hard. The second year quarterback still is holding the ball too long at times, waiting for a player to get open, rather than either running or throwing the ball away. The offensive line, running backs, tight ends, and Tannehill have to get this figured out quickly before Tannehill joins that list of injured players.
Stock up: Ryan Tannehill. Despite the protection issues, Tannehill took the team on his shoulders and won the game. The Dolphins ran the ball 15 times on Sunday, with two of those Tannehill scrambles. Meanwhile, the right arm of Miami's quarterback threw the ball 35 times. The Dolphins did not lead in the game except for the last 38 seconds. Trailing 13-10 at the start of the second half, Tannehill saw the Falcons turn his fumble into a touchdown, and a 20-10 lead, just 2:20 into the half. Rather than fold, Tannehill directed three second half drives leading to a 50-yard field goal, an 18-yard touchdown pass to Brian Hartline, and a 1-yard touchdown pass to Dion Sims. Tannehill grew up, just like the rest of the team, in that second half.
Stock up: Discipline. This should be a stock down slot, but I don't feel like adding another stock down, and this is definitely worth noting. A week after have no penalties, the Dolphins only committed two infractions this week. One was Nolan Carroll's pass interference in the end zone which prevented the touchdown (on that play) - and I'm still not sure that should have been pass interference. You are allowed to touch the receiver, you just can't turn them. I'll re-watch it eventually to see if maybe Carroll was holding Roddy White's arm down, as the commentators said, but if that didn't happen, I don't think it should have been called. The other was a holding call on John Jerry, which brought back a Daniel Thomas 11-yard run. This team is not making stupid mistakes and they are playing a very clean game right now.
- Sun Life Stadium crowd - That is the loudest I have heard Sun Life Stadium in a very, very long time. And, I was watching on TV. That place must have been crazy. Well done , Dolphins fans. Well done!
- John Denney - Is there any doubt that the Dolphins have the best long snapper in the league? I know, it's such a small role that not many people even think about it, but, Denney is a different type of player. What long snapper seems to always been in on the tackle during punt coverage? And, is there another who would have been there to recover the fumble forced by Don Jones? And, congratulations to Denney for breaking Jason Taylor's team record of 130 straight games played.
- Caleb Sturgis - Six for six on the season, another multi-field goal game, and clearly kicks that could go another 10 yards every time he attempts a kick, the Dolphins' rookie is off to a great start.
- Dannell Ellerbe - The Dolphins' starting middle linebacker was clearly in pain. He was taken to get x-rays immediately after the game, and has been dealing with a pectoral/ribs injury already this season. Yet, there he was, out there playing snap after snap, recording a game high 10 tackles.
- Dion Sims/Michael Egnew - They may not have lit the world on fire, but the two tight ends each caught their first career pass in the Dolphins' game winning drive. Egnew caught an eight yard pass to move Miami into Atlanta territory, while Sims, of course, caught the game winning touchdown. Worthy of note for both of them.
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