The Miami Dolphins finally look as though they are turning the corner, after a rough start to the season. The team now sits 3-4, and with some very ‘winnable' games coming up, both at home and away. Time to check out which players' stocks are up, and down...
Ajayi has been playing so well the last few weeks, that I can't keep him out of my weekly write-up. On Sunday he became only the fourth player in NFL history to rush for more than 200 yards in two consecutive games, joining O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams. At the end of the day he ran the ball for 214 yards from 29 carries, with a touchdown, 10 broken tackles and an eye-popping 7.4 yards average per run. In fact, he made a ridiculous 4.4 yards on average after contact.
It's hard to believe Ajayi started the season as backup behind Arian Foster. Now he really is truly becoming one of the cornerstones of this offense.
Miami's defensive line finally started to show what they are paid to do. Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake and Mario Williams made 15 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 quarterback pressures and 8 hits. Moreover, they really contained Buffalo in the ground game to only 67 rushing yards, with 3 yards on average per run. This defensive front should really build on this momentum as the season progresses.
While Ajayi has been outstanding, he can't perform without some quality offensive line play. Gase even remarked after the game, "I trust those guys up front," showing he's finally comfortable with their play after a disastrous first couple of weeks. According to PFF, Laremy Tunsil graded out the highest among lineman, while right tackle Ja'Wuan James was the Dolphins best run-blocker. That last point is particularly significant. The offensive line allowed Ajayi to make explosive plays on the ground, which ultimately cost Buffalo the game.
I really can't knock anyone on the team after this important win. However, Ryan Tannehill over the last two games has become more of a game-manager than a game-winner. Of course, this is no bad thing. Having a great running game really opens things up for the quarterback. However, it feels like he is not asked to be the focal point of this offense. The team no longer heavily weighs down on his shoulders like it once did 1, 2...3 seasons ago. He threw only 23 passes and only 10 of them beyond 10 yards or more. The deep pass, which he ironically has much improved on, really didn't work as well for him in this game. There could be an argument the deep touchdown pass to Kenny Stills was under thrown. Still, Tannehill was effective at what he was asked to do. That's all that matters when Miami win.
Alex Parish is an Associate Editor at The Phinsider. Be sure to follow me on Twitter@AlexParish89.