The Miami Dolphins were blown out by the Cleveland Browns in the first half of Sunday’s Week 12 contest, then tried to claw their way back during the third quarter. Cleveland finished off Miami late in the game, coming out of the weekend with a 41-24 victory in a game where former Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry put up a gaudy 148 yards on 10 receptions with two touchdowns against his former club.
As always, there were some good performances for Miami, despite the ugly nature of the game. Here are our top risers and fallers in our weekly “stock watch.”
Stock up: Mike Gesicki, tight end - It was not a perfect day for Gesicki, who caught three passes on seven targets, gaining 28 yards, but Gesicki gets our top stick up today because he caught his first career touchdown pass. It has been a long time coming for the second-year player, and you could see it in the celebration after the score, where Gesicki just looked relieved to finally get a score. Hopefully, now that he has broken through, he will be able to start finding the endzone regularly.
Stock down: Offensive line - At this point, the stock for the Dolphins offensive line is probably trading as a penny stock and it does not look like it will gain value this year. Miami moved to lineup number eight this week, and it was not pretty. Even without Myles Garret, former Dolphins player Olivier Vernon, and Larry Ogunjobi, the Browns were able to record four sacks and seven quarterback hits. Miami was unable to slow anyone coming across the line of scrimmage, and it felt like the entire unit was playing in the backfield the entire game. Quarterback may be the sexy target this offseason for Miami, but as a unit, the offensive line has to be the top project in the Dolphins’ 2020 rebuild.
Stock up: DeVante Parker, wide receiver - Short of maybe being selected by the Dolphins, Parker’s stock rating has likely never been higher. After a seven-reception, 135 yard, two touchdown performance last week, he backed it up with a six reception, 91-yard day on Sunday. All six receptions resulted in first downs for the Dolphins, and the fifth-year wide receiver looks like the top choice in Miami’s passing game - a position he could be cementing for himself in 2020 as well. He needs to average 61 yards a game over the next five contests to reach 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.
Stock down: Kalen Ballage, running back - With a 1.9 yards per carry average after last week, saying Ballage has been struggling would be an understatement. He was given the ball seven times this week and he averaged... exactly 1.9 yards per carry. I know some of it is on the offensive line, but Kenyan Drake was averaging 3.7 yards per carry with Miami and Mark Walton was averaging 3.8. If you take out Ballage’s 13 yards on seven carries, Miami averaged 6.1 yards per rush attempt. Take out Ryan Fitzpatrick’s five carries for 45 yards, and the trio of Patrick Laird, Myles Gaskin, and (wide receiver) Albert Wilson averaged 4.3 yards per carry. There is some running space out there, but Ballage is struggling to find it.
Stock up: Ryan Fitzpatrick, quarterback - It was not a great day for Fitzpatrick - who turned 37 on Sunday - but the guy just refuses to quit and fights for every yard, every down, every score. He was 21-for-39 for 215 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, plus had 45 yards on five carries with a touchdown. Fitzpatrick became just the 44th player in the 100 seasons of the NFL to throw 200 touchdowns. The Dolphins having a bad year was expected, but Fitzpatrick - and in no small part head coach Brian Flores - at least keeps the Dolphins fighting and clawing their way through games in which they should have been completely blown out.
Stock down: Injuries - Seriously, when will the Dolphins shake this injury bug that seems to have been firmly entrenched in Miami for the past several seasons. This week, we saw wide receiver Jakeem Grant carted off the field, wide receiver Albert Wilson sustained a rib injury - though he is expected to be available next Sunday unless it gets worse this week - and cornerback Ken Crawley leave with an injury. The Dolphins are up to ten on injured reserve - having already removed two from the list - plus have one on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list and two on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list. The IR includes three receivers (Preston Williams, Ricardo Louis, and Gary Jennings) as well as four defensive backs (Xavien Howard, Reshad Jones, Bobby McCain, and Aqib Talib), areas where Miami has gotten incredibly thin lately.
Stock down: Defensive line - I cannot call out the offensive line for playing in the backfield and ignore that the defensive line has no push. It feels like they are constantly being shoved into the second level, and there is no pass rush of which to speak.
Stock down: Referees - None of the result from Sunday was about the referees, but they cannot seem to get out of their own way, especially when it comes to pass interference. After a half-season of seeing red flag after red flag turn into nothing when coaches challenged a pass interference call/non-call, the refs in this game suddenly decided that a non-call for incidental contact needed to be challenged and overturned. It felt odd, and even Dean Blandino, the former head of NFL officiating, commented that it seemed like “a change” in how pass interference was being called and reviewed - something that should not happen in Week 12 of a season.