The Miami Dolphins lost to the Buffalo Bills this past Sunday in a game in which the Dolphins were repeatedly punched in the mouth and never had an answer. It really was a confusing game, with some awesome moments where it seemed like the Dolphins were waking up and clawing their way back into the contest. And it had some, “What the hell just happened?” moments (I’m still trying to figure out how Allen Hurns fumbled that ball).
Live look at the Bills and the Dolphins right now. pic.twitter.com/8c0SS3qkHl— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) November 17, 2019
The Dolphins were simply outclassed by a team that looks like it is headed to the post-season, while Miami is looking toward 2020. Miami has work to do to get back to competing, especially in games with playoff contenders.
Who saw their stock rise and who saw it fall?
Stock up: DeVante Parker, wide receiver - Seven receptions for 135 yards - and it should have been more and with a touchdown if Mike Gesicki had completed one block on what ended as a 50-yard completion. Parker has been healthy all year, and he is playing like the prospect Miami selected in the first round in 2015. His career high in receptions was in 2017 with 57 and his career high in yards was in 2016 with 744. He currently has 40 receptions for 604 yards, putting him on pace to reach 64 receptions and 966 yards - and his pace should be accelerating now with Preston Williams on injured reserve. He has already tied his career high of four touchdown receptions. Parker is having a career year and has essentially locked himself into the 2020 season in Miami. Not bad for a player who last offseason was an assumed cut and draft bust.
Stock down: Offensive line - I was going to make this singularly pointed at Julién Davenport, but that does not do justice to how miserable the Miami offensive line was this week. Ryan Fitzpatrick was sacked seven times with 14 quarterback hits. He was constantly under pressure, and the Bills simply did whatever they wanted to Miami’s pass protection. Maybe it would have been okay if Miami could have run the ball, but Kalen Ballage was never able to get anything going, in part at least because the offensive line could not pass block. An offensive line that is not opening lanes for a running back but it opening rush lanes toward their quarterback is not exactly an effective offensive line.
Stock up: Jakeem Grant, wide receiver/returner - Grant caught three passes for 32 yards on Sunday. He also had one rush for seven yards and a touchdown. And then he had a ridiculous return game. Grant returned five kicks for a 39.6 average, including a 101-yard touchdown and a 50-yard return. He was dangerous with the ball in his hands and he looked the fastest he has all year. It was good to see Grant, who is presumed to be in the team’s plans for 2020, having a great game.
Stock down: Tackling - As in, the Dolphins forgot how to do it. So very many missed tackles. Either guys were taking bad angles, or they were trying to make the big hit and not wrapping up, or they were arm tackling and letting the Bills player straight through. The coaches talked bout it after the game and early this week. The Dolphins did not tackle and have to get back to the fundamentals of defense to ensure that is not a continuous issue.
Stock up: Raekwon McMillan, linebacker - Injured and inactive, McMillan’s role and impact on the Dolphins’ defense was crystal clear all game. While Jerome Baker wears the headset, McMillan has been instrumental in placing players in the right spot and adjusting the defense as needed. He has been a beast against the run this year, and the Dolphins, without him, were gauged on the ground. Miami needs McMillan on the field, and this week, without him, that should have been clear to everyone watching.
Stock down: Kalen Ballage, running back - The Dolphins traded running back Kenyan Drake, looking to use Mark Walton and Ballage as their primary rushers the rest of the year. The Dolphins released Walton on Tuesday after a domestic violence arrest during his four-game suspension for arrests during the offseason. Ballage carried the ball nine times on Sunday, for nine yards. He did score a touchdown, but other than that, Ballage was a non-factor in the game, a story line that appears to be continuing on a week-to-week basis. Miami needs to move on from Ballage at this point, but the trade of Drake and waiving of Walton might make Ballage the primary runner the rest of the season.
Stock up: Ryan Fitzpatrick, quarterback - For as much pressure as he was under all game, Fitzpatrick played surprisingly well. His final stats had him 32-for-45 for 323 yards and a 91.3 passer rating. That is a good solid day from a quarterback with five guys in front of him who actually block and a running game that picks up yards. Fitzpatrick had neither of those, but still kept trying to mount a come back for Miami. He is not perfect - at times he skips or shorts passes he should make, likely due to the shoulder injury he has been playing through - but his stock continues to rise this week.
Stock down: Miami pass rush - As in, where is it? Taco Charlton was inactive for the game, but there was no other pass rush anywhere to be found on Miami’s sideline on Sunday. The team cannot rely on just one player, so someone needs to establish themselves as a threat to opposing quarterback.