What a difference a week makes. Last week journalists up and down the country were lamenting Miami's demise. Much was made in the newspaper columns how Miami would look to replace Ryan Tannehill with a new quarterback in the 2017 draft.
Stop the clock.
Miami swept past the Pittsburgh Steelers and, suddenly, the future looks a lot brighter for Adam Gase, Ryan Tannehill and even Mike Tannenbaum as they head for the game in week 7 against Buffalo on a high.
It's now 2-4 for the Dolphins; let's make it 3-4 next week. Time to check out which players' stocks are up, and down...
It's my third consecutive article where Jay Ajayi has featured in my ‘Stock Up' column. While in previous weeks Ajayi has been the subject of promise as the Dolphins were outplayed by their opponents, this week he delivered, and big. Ajayi had a breakout game on Sunday, running for 204 yards and 2 scores on 25 carries. Arguably the best play of the game was a 62-yard touchdown by Ajayi, which helped the Dolphins record their second win of the season.
For the first time this season, Miami had all 5 of their best offensive lineman on the field at the same time. Only a week earlier, Ryan Tannehill was taken down 6 times against a paltry Tennessee team. That changed this week, enabling Tannehill to thrive and Jay Ajayi to hit the front pages of the newspapers for all the right reasons.
Dolphins fans up and down the country were calling for Adam Gase, no demanding Adam Gase, to install second string quarterback Matt Moore as Miami's starting quarterback only 1 week ago. How one week changes, well, EVERYTHING. A wise man once remarked that if you're offensive line performs, then the quarterback is put in the best possible position to succeed. Tannehill went 24 for 32 for 252 yards, including a long of 53 yards. It was on this play that Tannehill escaped pressure to avoid the sack, something he has failed to do all season long, to fire the football down the field, connecting with Marquies Gray at Pittsburgh's 1-yard line. True, Tannehill didn't throw a touchdown (he was a little unlucky that Parker dropped a pass in the first quarter, as the ball swirled right through his hands), but importantly he did not commit a turnover. Suddenly Adam Gase's decision not to bench Tannehill for Moore looks vindicated.
Miami Dolphins Defense
Before this game, Miami's defense ranked 27th in the league. They were about to play the Steelers, led by a quarterback with a 106.6 rating and 15 touchdowns in only 5 games played. At the end of the game, Roethlisberger completed only 19 of 34 passing attempts for 189 yards. Moreover, the Dolphins increased Cameron Wake and Andre Branch's snaps, and decreased snaps for Mario Williams and Jason Jones (the former only had 13 snaps on Sunday), which may have also played a part in Miami's resurgence on defense. Wake recorded half a sack while Branch had 1.5 sacks, but could have been 2.5 sacks if it weren't for a penalty committed by Jason Jones. Even Byron Maxwell, often maligned for the previous 5 weeks before this game, had 4 passes defended and was tied for the team best of 5 tackles. At the end of the day, Miami's defense recorded 2 interceptions, 2 sacks, 6 passes defended and 6 quarterback hits.
It's difficult to find players with stocks that are down after such a good win against a really good team. However, DeVante Parker did drop a 26-yard pass that seemed destined for a touchdown, and only caught 5 passes for 28 yards. Kenny Stills caught 2 of 3 passes that were targeted towards him for 12 yards. The wide receivers were supposed to shine this season, but it seems only Jarvis Landry is producing.
Mario Williams, Jason Jones
Before the game against the Steelers, Mario Williams agreed that he's got "to play faster and player harder...it starts with me." So far this season he's had only 1 sack and 7 tackles to his name. This is not what Miami expected from him when he signed a lucrative 2 year deal with Miami in the offseason, and it seems the coaches agree, as he only played 13 snaps, with Jason Jones also seeing his involvement decreasing, too.
Alex Parish is an Associate Editor at The Phinsider. Be sure to follow me on Twitter@AlexParish89.