The Miami Dolphins lost to the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday, dropping the South Florida team to 0-3 on the preseason and still looking to answer several questions before the start of the regular season. The Dolphins have to solve some roster position battles and find a better rhythm on both offense and defense before the regular season arrives in 13 days.
Who is hurting themselves? Who is helping themselves? This morning, we look back at who is seeing their stock rise and who is seeing it fall after the Ravens game.
- Jordan Phillips, defensive tackle - The Dolphins saw inspired play from Phillips, who was on the field for 22 snaps and recorded two tackles, a sack, a tackle for a loss, and a quarterback hit. After missing practice and playing time due to a shoulder injury, Phillips looked disruptive in the middle of the defensive line.
- Kenyan Drake, running back - Miami’s starting runner looked like an every-down back who is ready for the regular season. He picked up 32 yards on four carries, including a 30-yard gain on one play. He also showed up in the passing game, catching a 36-yard pass after lining up as a wide receiver.
- Vincent Taylor, defensive tackle - Phillips was not the only defensive tackle to show up on Saturday. Taylor recorded two tackles, a half-sack, a pass defensed, and a blocked field goal. On a defensive line looking to replace Ndamukong Suh’s production through rotating defensive tackles, Taylor seems to be showing he is ready for some of those snaps.
- Mike Gesicki, tight end - It was only one catch on two targets, but the Dolphins did show some of their plans for the rookie during the game. Gesicki, who has spent much of training camp and the preseason being asked to develop his blocking ability, lined up out wide and caught a 10-yard pass from Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins will be looking for that combination to become a major factor this year, and it was nice to see it show up for the first time on Saturday.
- T.J. McDonald, safety - A lot of the safety focus for Miami will go to Pro Bowl strong safety Reshad Jones and first-round draft-pick free safety (and nickel cornerback) Minkah Fitzpatrick, but that does not mean McDonald should be a forgotten man. On Saturday, he showed why, playing all over the field. He tied for the game high in tackles with seven, had a tackle for a loss, and recorded a pass defensed. Pro Football Focus listed McDoonald as their safety for the NFL Team of the Week.
- Brock Osweiler, quarterback - In the fight for the second-string quarterback position, Osweiler never looked like he was comfortable on Saturday. He three seven passes, completing five, for 23 yards with an interception and was sacked three times. He finished the game with a 35.7 passer rating, positioning himself to lose quarterback battle...
- David Fales, quarterback - Except Fales did not do anything to earn the position either. On ten pass attempts, Fales completed five for 63 yards with an interception. He finished the game with a 30.4 passer rating and, despite this being the third chance for either player to earn the second-string spot, it does not look like either Fales nor Osweiler wants the job. At this point, Miami is either looking to tank the season if Tannehill gets hurt (which probably would happen anyway) or they are betting on a quality veteran quarterback becoming available in roster cuts.
- Third down - Stop me if you have heard this before, but the Dolphins are struggling to convert third downs. They were 2-for-12 on conversions in this game, giving them a ridiculous 17 percent conversion rate. After being dead last in the league in 2017 with a 31.7 percent conversion rate, Miami is currently back in last place with a 17 percent conversion rate this summer (6 for 36). Meanwhile, on defense, the Dolphins allowed the Ravens to convert six third downs out of 14 tries, a 43 percent conversion rate. Of course, that is actually better than Miami’s currently 29th ranked defensive conversion ranking, allowing a first down on 18 of 39 third downs faced, or a 46 percent conversion rate. That is not going to cut it on either side of the ball - even if you take into consideration the team holding back plays.
- Rush defense - Read that third down section again, and then just assume the same is going to be said about the rush defense. The Dolphins allowed 223 rushing yards on Saturday at a 5.3 yards per attempt rate. They are currently last in the NFL with 174 rushing yards allowed. Wait, that’s 174 yards per game allowed. Yeah, that is what Miami is giving up on average per game. The 31st ranked team, the Philadelphia Eagles, are allowed 124 yards per game. Miami is giving up 50 more yards on the ground per game than anyone else in the league. Sure, this is the preseason and some of those yards are coming without the starters in the game, but 50 yards per game more than anyone else in the league? The New York Giants are first in the league with 61 yards per game allowed on the ground, which is just over one-third of what Miami is allowing. This also will not cut it in the regular season.