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Dolphins Week 8 Rookie Report Card: Few bright spots in rough loss

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins had five selections in the first three rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft, meaning the team has several rookies who are in line to be key contributors this season. Each week of the 2021 season, I’m reporting on the progression of said first-year players and their impact on the team. Let’s take a look at how the young bucks fared in their Week 8 contest against the Buffalo Bills.

Jaylen Waddle, WR (Round 1, 6th overall): C-

Waddle was unimpressive this week. He corralled just four receptions for 29 yards on 12 targets. There’s still a major problem with his usage in this offense, as the coaching staff seems determined to utilize him like a glorified Tavon Austin and hope that he’ll make the entire defense miss once he gets the ball within four yards of the line of scrimmage. Then again, Miami’s offensive line was massively outmatched against Buffalo and gave very little time for plays to develop downfield.

Waddle was also part of two major miscommunications in which the offense failed to line up properly. Tight end Mike Gesicki attempted to correct the issues which lead to a penalty and a fumbled snap (which hit Gesicki) on two first-half plays. It’s unclear who exactly was at fault in each occurrence, but the CBS broadcast team mentioned Waddle as a possible culprit.

Jaelan Phillips, LB (1st round, 18th overall): C

Phillips played on 84% of Miami’s defensive snaps, a massive leap from Week 7 (24%). The jump is likely a testament to his progress in recovering from an ankle injury. Unfortunately, the increase in playing time didn’t lead to much in the way of production. Phillips managed four combined tackles and pressured Josh Allen on a key third down in the first half, but was otherwise quiet for most of the contest (aside from a face mask penalty in which his hand got caught up in Allen’s helmet).

Jevon Holland, S (2nd round, 35th overall): C+

Holland was again one of Miami’s most active players. He was on the field for 100% of the team’s defensive snaps and took up punt return duties on special teams. He’s a sure downhill tackler and accumulated five combined tackles (four solo) against the Bills, but his impact on Halloween compared to other recent contests was limited. He produced just 12 yards on three punt returns and didn’t have much presence defending the pass. To Holland’s credit, Allen, one of the league’s most dangerous deep ball throwers, didn’t have much success throwing over the top of Miami’s secondary.

Liam Eichenberg, OT (2nd round, 42nd overall): D

Another rough outing for Eichenberg. He was flagged for his second false start in as many games, let up a big sack to Mario Addison, and allowed six quarterback pressures. The second-round pick simply looked outmatched against Buffalo’s stout defensive front. He and the rest of Miami’s offensive line also failed to open lanes for Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed in the running game. Miami’s two top backs averaged a paltry 3.05 yards per carry against the Bills.

Hunter Long, TE (3rd round, 81st overall): N/A

Long was inactive in Week 8.

Larnel Coleman, OT (7th round, 231st overall): N/A

Coleman is currently on Miami’s injured reserve list.

Gerrid Doaks, RB (7th round, 244th overall): N/A

Doaks is currently on Miami’s practice squad.

Trill Williams, DB (Undrafted Free Agent): N/A

Williams was inactive in Week 8.

Robert Jones, OL (Undrafted Free Agent): N/A

Jones did not record an offensive snap in Week 8.

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