The Miami Dolphins are a quarter of the way through their 2019 season. They are also currently on their bye week, having a chance to rest and recover from the first four games before getting back on the field in Week 6 to host the Washington Redskins. It has been an ugly start for the Dolphins, who are 0-4 and have been outscored by 137 points so far this year. Things are not all bad in South Florida, however, as there are some players who are improving and positioning themselves for a strong run after the bye.
With the team off, this seemed like a great time to take a look at some of the players who are seeing their stock rise through the first quarter of the season, as well as some who are seeing it fall. We also have some players (or group of players) who are basically holding steady. Here is our Stock Watch for the first four games of the 2019 season:
Stock up: Josh Rosen, quarterback - Rosen is not lighting up the field or anything, but he has moved from backup to starter and he seems to be able to move the offense more effectively than Ryan Fitzpatrick did during the first two weeks. Rosen’s performance has some fans speculating that he could be the right answer as the team’s quarterback of the future, with Miami using their draft picks to build around him rather than selecting a quarterback next year, but that is probably premature at this point. If Rosen grows into the role over the final three quarters of the season, that could be possible, but for now, we just know that his stock is trending up.
Stock down: Kalen Ballage, running back - From starting running back to sitting on the sidelines as a the third-string running back gets three times the carries you received. From a platoon system where coaches are looking for which runner gets hot to not playing. That has been the meteoric fall of Ballage in the first quarter of the 2019 season. He was in position to take control of the running back position group, moving ahead of Kenyan Drake and ready to assume the mantle for this year and next. Drops and ineffectiveness have crushed Ballage this year, with 19 carries picking up just 29 yards, along with three receptions for another 29 yards. Ballage, if this continues, is in danger of completely disappearing from Miami’s offense.
Stock up: DeVante Parker, wide receiver - Quick, who is the leading receiver for the Miami Dolphins through four games? Well, technically, it is a tie between Parker and our next stock down, as both Parker and Preston Williams have 201 receiving yards and one touchdown. Parker has 10 receptions, giving him a 20.1 yards per catch average. He has been effective, he has made some big plays, and he has looked a little more like the wide receiver the Dolphins have long needed him to be. There are still 12 games, so regression and injury have to be avoided, but so far, Parker is having a good year.
Touchdown Rosen to Parker!— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) September 29, 2019
I hope we get to say that many many more times.
Stock down: Preston Williams, wide receiver - Why is an undrafted free agent who is the co-leader in receiving yards and touchdowns seeing his stock trend down? Drops. Plain and simple. Williams is having a problem, similar to Ballage, with drops. It is not just Ballage and Williams, with Jakeem Grant and Mike Gesicki also having drop problems, but with Williams, they seem to come at the most inopportune times, and, when the expectations have him becoming a “number one” receiver for the Dolphins, they cannot be happening like this.
Stock up: Raekwon McMillan, linebacker - Remember when some people wereready to call McMillan a bust after he had a less-than-expectations 2018 season? Can we agree that may have been a bit premature? The third-year linebacker missed his entire rookie season due to a torn ACL, and it took him a year to fully recover. Now, even as he has seen some of his playing time cut due to pulling him in passing situations for the extra defensive back, McMillan is the second-highest graded linebacker in the league according to PFF. Just watch him play, and you will see a player who understands his assignments, has the game slowing down for him, and is getting into the right position to make the stop more often than not. He is still not strong in coverage, but he was never supposed to be a coverage linebacker. McMillan has been impressive this season.
Stock down: Eric Rowe, cornerback - This might not be fair to Rowe, as I am not sure how high his stock really was. It is also not like the Dolphins have been getting great cornerback play elsewhere this year, so his could be a position group stock down versus one single player. However, Rowe gets the brunt of this because he has struggled, and he was supposed to be the player that locked down the starting position opposite Xavien Howard. Right now, the coaches have to either hope Cordrea Tankersley is able to return from injury and reestablish himself as a starter in the league, or they have to hope the scouts and front office can find the right player next year.
Stock up: Taco Charlton, defensive end - The Dolphins picked up a player upon whom the Dallas Cowboys were giving up, and they seem to have found a player they can develop into a solid option at defensive end. As a whole, the Miami pass rush has been nearly non-existent this season, but Charlton has at least shown up a few times. He has also been pretty good in setting the edge against the runs. He is not dominating or looking like he will be a Pro Bowl selection this season, but he is playing better than is expected from an in-season waiver-wire claim.
Stock down: Jomal Wiltz, cornerback - Wiltz has struggled, and it is enough to earn him a slot on this list even though with Rowe, it was mentioned that the Dolphins cornerbacks have all struggled. A perfect NFL passer rating is 158.3. Wiltz has allowed a 152.1, according to PFF, with 7-for-10 passing with him in coverage, giving up 153 yards with two touchdowns. Opposing quarterbacks are targeting Wiltz, and he is allowing too many plays to happen right now. The Dolphins have a desperate need for help at cornerback this year and next year.
Stock up: Davon Godchaux, defensive tackle - Asked to play nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme, Godchaux is finding his groove right now and is playing well. He is 23rd in the league among interior defensive linemen against the run, according to PFF, and he has been a force in the middle of the line of scrimmage. Defensive tackle is a position where it takes a lot to be noticed, so Godchaux’s name is not immediately recognizable, but he has been a really good player so far this season. “I think he’s probably been the most consistent of those guys,” defensive line coach Marion Hobby said of Godchaux this week. “He’s got a good leadership quality. He’s not a big talker, but I think guys got a lot of respect for him from what he does in practice and what he does in the game. We’ve been in some tough situations this year and you can still see that guy banging, still in there and still playing until the end. I’ve been very pleased with that.”
Stock down: Reshad Jones, safety - Jones issue is pretty straight forward: he is getting older. He is 31 now, in his tenth season. A two-time Pro Bowler, Jones has had a special career, but this year it does not seem to be as easy for him as it once was. Part of it may be injuries, with him missing two games already, but that too is an age issue. He has moments where he is elite, especially if he is free to run blitz, but he is not the Jones we are used to seeing. Maybe he will turn back the clock some if he is able to get fully healthy, but, for now, he is seeing his stock slip as the clock begins catching up to him.
Stock up: Matt Haack, punter - Haack’s stock may be rising simply because he is asked to punt oh so much this year. He has 20 kicks in four games, the seventh most as of Friday morning, and that includes punts from Seattle Seahawks kicker Michael Dickson last night in the Week 5 Thursday night game. Haack’s 47.1 yards per punt average is only 12th in the league right now, but his net average jumps him up to sixth on the season, with an average of 44.5 yards. He has six kicks inside the 20-yard line and eight fair catches thus far. He has changed field position for the Dolphins repeatedly this year.
Stock down: Jason Sanders, kicker - Maybe it is just a short slump, but Sanders has missed three field goal attempts wide right in the last two games. It looks like he is waiting for a draw from the ball that does not come, and his kick, rather than curing back inside the uprights, travels straight past on the right. He can fix it, and he has been a good kicker for Miami otherwise, but it is worrisome that he is in this slump right now.
Holding steady: Xavien Howard, cornerback - Howard had a miserable game against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3, but then was pretty good against the Los Angeles Chargers last week. Pretty good is not living up to expectations of a Pro Bowl, elite cornerback, but the Dolphins have not been helping him out this year with a pass rush or assistance in the secondary. It is close dropping Howard into a stock down category, but we will wait a little longer to make that choice.
Holding steady: Charles Harris, defensive end - Harris has been basically a non-factor in the defense this year, which is bad, but when it comes to Harris, that is about what was expected. He is struggling to find the pass rush that he showed in the preseason. Right now, Harris is holding steady because he is playing exactly like he has his first two seasons. It is disappointing, and hopefully he will breakout at some point, but for now, he is what we knew he was.
Holding steady: Offensive line - The Dolphins offensive line has been a work in progress for every one of the NFL’s 100 seasons, even with the Dolphins only playing 54 seasons thus far. This year, injuries and poor play have been issues, with multiple position moves and players rotating in and out of the group. It has been rough - but that was a known issue heading into the season. They have had times - especially in the first half of the last two games - when they have looked good, but overall, the offenisve line, like Harris, is what we knew it would be.