Did you miss me? You may not have even noticed I was gone. Work suddenly ramped up to crazy levels over the past week or so, and, everything I planned to do suddenly could not get done. The staff here at The Phinsider is amazing, and they did not miss a beat. Every time I ask them to cover something or they see a breaking story and do not think I can get to it, they step up. So, thank you to all of them for helping out when I suddenly have to disappear from the site for a few days.
We may already be on to Wednesday, but I never had a chance to review the Week 14 game for the Miami Dolphins against the Kansas City Chiefs. To make up for that, here is our stock watch for this past weekend:
Stock up: Xavien Howard, cornerback - Another game, another interception. It really is that simple when it comes to Howard, who now has a two-interception lead on the rest of the league and looks poised to reach double digits, a mark last reached in the NFL in 2007. There has only been one time in Dolphins history a player reached the 10 interceptions mark, with Dick Westmoreland reaching that milestone in 1967.
Stock down: Injuries - The Dolphins got smacked in the teeth with the injury bug during this game. Read below for one of the hardest hit pieces of the Dolphins, but they need to figure out what happened leading up to and during this game and, hopefully, find a way to shake the injury bug.
Stock up: Pass catching depth - The Dolphins need to upgrade their offensive weapons next year, with wide receiver high up on that list. DeVante Parker is a very good receiver, but he needs someone to compliment him - or become the number one with Parker as the number two option. Preston Williams could be that compliment, but he missed half of last season on injured reserve, and is there again this year. During this game, Parker, Jakeem Grant, and tight end Mike Gesicki all exited with injuries. Add in the unavailability of running backs Myles Gaskin, Matt Breida, and Salvon Ahmed against the Chiefs, and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa finished his first career 300-yard passing performance with players accounting for 196 of the team’s 288 receptions this year not on the field. That left Lynn Bowden, Jr., to catch a team-high eight passes, with Mack Hollins adding five, Adam Shaheen with two, Durham Smythe with two, DeAndre Washington with two, Malcolm Perry with one, and Patrick Laird with one (Gesicki caught five and Grant three before they left). The depth at pass catchers on Sunday was tested, and they showed they at least can step up when needed. It was not the ideal group on the field at the end of the game, but they were playing well enough for the Dolphins to claw back into the contest.
Stock down: Running game - Miami has some solid depth running backs on the roster, but they do not have the number one running back yet. Even if Gaskin, Breida, and Salvon were available, that statement would be the same. Sunday, Washington carried the ball 13 times for 35 yards, with a long of nine yards, giving him a 2.7 yards per carry average. Laird added four carries for 19 yards and Bowden had one run for two yards. Taking out Tagovailoa’s six runs for 24 yards, Miami’s running game averaged 3.1 yards on 18 carries. The Dolphins need to find a “feature” back next offseason.
Stock up: Jerome Baker, linebacker - The Dolphins returned to blitzing Baker more, and the linebacker made it pay off. Baker recorded eight tackles in the game, with 2.5 sacks. After a few weeks of disappearing in the defense and fans beginning to wonder what was happening with him, Baker burst back into the limelight and looks like the Dolphins have an aggressive linebacker that can impact plays anywhere on the field again.
Stock down: Jakeem Grant, wide receiver - Grant’s speed is ridiculous and he can be an absolutely weapon whenever he has the ball in his hands. The problem is, he does not catch the ball cleanly. Punt returns or receptions, the ball seems to bounce off Grant’s hands or chest way too often. It lead to an interception on Sunday, and it adds a second of response time for defenses or coverage teams whenever he is reacting to the bounce instead of already accelerating.
Stock up: Byron Jones, cornerback - The discussion of how Jones has not had an interceptions since the John Quincy Adams administration ended on Sunday. As part of Miami’s three-interception day, Jones came away with a pick. Miami’s cornerback tandem is the strength of the defense, and with both of the starter cornerbacks recording a pick on Sunday, they proved it.