The Miami Dolphins stumbled out of the gates on Sunday as they were beaten down by the Denver Broncos. The team looked out of sync all day, with no spark on either offense nor on defense. It was just a solid reminder that the Dolphins are not a dominating team yet.
Who saw their stock drop during this game? Who had an individual performance that cause a rise in their stock? We take a look at the stock ratings from Miami’s 20-13 loss to the Broncos.
Stock up: Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, cornerbacks - Howard pulled down his sixth interception of the year on Sunday, tying him for the league lead with New England’s J.C. Jackson. Quarterbacks continue to target receivers Howard is covering because Jones is on the other side blanketing his receiver. It is a dynamic pairing the Dolphins have in the secondary, and it is creating turnovers and forcing teams into bad situations.
Stock down: Offensive line - Miami’s offensive line has not been great this year, but they were at least better than last year and playing solid football. On Sunday, the Broncos tore all of that away. Simple four-man rushes were getting through and getting pressure on the quarterback. They could not pick up twists and stunts. There were no running lanes for most of the game, and there definitely was an issue in pass protection. The Dolphins have to figure out what went wrong and fix it quickly, because the Broncos just showed everyone how to dominate the line of scrimmage against Miami’s offense.
Stock up: Raekwon Davis, defensive tackle - Miami’s run defense was not good on Sunday (see below), but Davis was good. He is eating up the middle of the line of scrimmage, and he is forcing teams to run away from him right now. It took the rookie a few weeks to find his game in the NFL, but it appears he has found it and he is making the most of it. Pro Football Focus graded him as the highest run-defender for the week and named him their Rookie of the Week for the second-straight week. Davis clearly has his stock trending up.
Stock down: Run stopping - The line of scrimmage issues were not just on Miami’s offense. The defense could not gain traction either. While the lack of a pass rush could make the list, it was the inability to stop the run that really killed Miami. The Broncos were not running exotic schemes, it was simply a run to the left or the right, with an offensive lineman pulling to become the lead blocker. That lineman would clear the one Dolphins defender who was in position to make a play, and suddenly Melvin Gordon or Phillip Lindsay was free for a 20-yard gain. Kyle Van Noy, who was targeted on the runs to the right, seemed to be a step off due to the hip injury that slowed him all week in practice. Gordon finished the day with 15 carries for 84 yards, a 5.6 average, with two touchdowns. Lindsay added 82 yards on 16 carries, giving him a 5.1 average. The Dolphins struggled against the run early in the year, but seemed to have cleaned that up - but part of it may be the team has been playing with a lead for most of the last few games. If they are going to be gouged in the running game like that, teams are going to use their running backs more often, even if Miami has a lead.
Stock up: Andrew Van Ginkel, linebacker - The Dolphins could have a star blossoming in Van Ginkel. He is simply all over the field. He recorded two tackles against the Broncos, but he also made the play of the game for Miami, giving the team a shot to tie the game. Van Ginkel was called for a hold and an unnecessary roughness penalty on what looked like a sack of Drew Lock, giving the Broncos a 1st-and-Goal from the Miami nine-yard line. The next play saw Gordon burst through the line on his way to a game-sealing touchdown, only to have Van Ginkel punch the ball loose at the two-yard line, with Eric Rowe able to jump on the loose ball and give Miami a chance. Van Ginkel also just missed a punt block in the game. He is a force that is becoming someone to watch every single game.
Stock down: Tua Tagovailoa, quarterback - 11-for-20 for 83 yards with a touchdown, and sacked six times. Those were the stats from Sunday’s game for Miami’s rookie quarterback. It ultimately led to him being benched in the fourth quarter and Ryan Fitzpatrick assuming the helm, leading the team to a field goal and back down into the redzone with a chance to tie the game before an interception. Tagovailoa looked out of rhythm all game, and he admitted he held the ball way too long throughout the contest. It was just a bad game for Tagovailoa, and they happen, especially to a rookie. It is one game in what will be a long career for Miami, but it definitely did hit his stock a little.