Spoiled Celebration: Grades from the Dolphins’ 31-24 Loss to the Giants

This game was symbolic. It was a culmination of everything that has gone wrong for the Miami Dolphins, all set behind what could have been a magnificent celebration of the team’s 50th anniversary.

There were mindless penalties. There were poor personnel decisions made on offense. There was a general lack of game planning for the opposition’s top talent. Tonight showed you everything that is wrong with the Miami Dolphins.

The team has fallen to 5-8, and is now mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. As per usual, there were flashes of brilliance followed by moments of unparalleled ineptitude. So, how do the individual performances measure up from the team’s now spoiled party? 

Hint: not very well.

Ryan Tannehill: C+ 

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Charles Trainor/Miami Herald

This was the prototypical Ryan Tannehill game. He was battered from the first play until the last, forced to work behind a porous offensive line. Then, the offense abandoned the running game. Tannehill was forced to throw too often, which exposed his shortcomings.

He misfired on a key third down play late in the game that would have extended the Dolphins’ drive and pushed them deep into Giants territory. He could have potentially run for the first down, but instead attempted a throw with a high degree of difficulty that he subsequently missed.

Tannehill’s lows were, as always, followed by some soaring highs. Early in the game, the team was able to sustain drives, and in the third quarter, he was able to throw a beautiful pass to Kenny Stills deep down the left side of the field (on a play that he audibled to).

However, Tannehill still faltered late in the game. No, the situation is not optimal. No, it is not a judgment of his overall ability as a passer. He simply faltered, faced with circumstances under which almost no quarterback could succeed.

Running Backs: B+

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Al Diaz/Miami Herald

Maybe if the Dolphins fire somebody every week they will remember to run the ball. Maybe they should set a reminder on their iPhone. Could Siri help?

The Dolphins seem to find themselves unable to generate consistent push in the ground game, and cannot gain rhythm due to the lack of carries they give runners like Lamar Miller and Jay Ajayi.

Miller was hot early, yet ended the game with just twelve carries. Ajayi was only handed the ball five times.

Miller was the team’s best offensive weapon tonight, and made exceptional plays to keep the Dolphins in the game early. However, when the going got tough, the team once again abandoned the run, which shifted the offense away from its most talented player.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: D

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Charles Trainor/Miami Herald

Kenny Stills saves this unit from a failing grade. He hauled in an outstanding touchdown from Ryan Tannehill in the third quarter, and managed to play some defense as well as prevent an interception that Dominique Rodgers Cromartie surely would have ended up with for the Giants.

Jarvis Landry continues to let his emotions boil over, which costs the Dolphins. He had a ridiculous personal conduct penalty for unnecessary roughness when he tossed down a Giants’ defensive back in the fourth quarter. He also needs to work on his drops; once again finding himself unable to real in passes in key situations.

With Landry, we see moments of extreme dominance, but the lows are unwatchable.

Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims both played their ways into the ire of Dolphins fans tonight. Sims showed why he is primarily a blocker by dropping a key pass early, and fumbling on the team’s first drive. Jordan Cameron appears to be a poor fit for the offense, and continues to clumsily make appearances, just to disappear back into the fold.

The sporadic play from the pass catchers tonight made it very difficult for the offense to establish rhythm, as Landry faced many issues, DeVante Parker was invisible, and the tight ends struggled to raise their level of play.

Offensive Line: F-

What more has to be said?

Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner are struggling mightily, both picking up holding calls that frequently stall drives. They are also responsible for the pressure that is thrown in to Ryan Tannehill’s face on almost every play.

Jason Fox is also partially responsible, as he really has showed us all how a once quality backup can decline so quickly, becoming very difficult to watch.

They killed drives with penalties, they failed to buy time for Tannehill, and once again the offensive line has displayed why Miami will need to rebuild the entire unit ahead of 2016.

Defensive Line: B-

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Al Diaz/Miami Herald

This unit’s only sin in this game was getting tired.

They held New York under 100 yards rushing, and were able to generate pressure consistently. The problem is that the Giants were able to sustain long drives through poor pass defense.

The defensive line got tired and was unable to carry the unit in the fourth quarter. It is unfair to blame them, as they did their jobs to the best of their ability considering the abysmal pass defense played by Miami.

Ndamukong Suh made plays, and was once again a bright light for the Dolphins’ defense. If only the back end could provide some help for the players up front.

Linebackers: B- 

This unit played strong, reactive football tonight.

Kelvin Sheppard was able to avoid mistakes, which is a victory for him. Jelani Jenkins and Koa Misi were able to help stop the run, both making plays en route to a strong performance early for the front seven.

This group suffered the same fate as the defensive line. Too much time on the field late. Unfortunately, the best (or I really should say the least awful) performance from the linebackers this season was undermined by the secondary’s complete mockery of a pass defense.

Defensive Backs: F- 

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Jim Rassol/Sun Sentinel

Reshad Jones should be the only starter returning in this group next season.

And even he had a bad night.

The Dolphins’ defense has no answers for Odell Beckham, as he made it look easy in Sun Life Stadium. He tore up the secondary en route to 7 catches for 166 yards and 2 TDs.

Brent Grimes is showing his age more and more each week. Jamar Taylor is showing us that he is another huge Dolphins draft bust. Brice McCain is showing that he is another free agency failure.

This group was unable to stop the Giants on the perimeter, as they constantly went back to the same plays for conversions on third down in the second half. It was far too easy for New York to call outside plays and comebacks for Odell Beckham.

The Dolphins will need to entirely reconstruct this group, and they will enter the offseason with cornerback as possibly the top need on this football team.

Special Teams: B+

Kick coverage was good. Except for one play that should have been pinned deep in Giants territory but ended up being a touchback, the punt team played well.

Matt Darr also has showed us that he is as deserving of a Pro Bowl bid as any player on the team. He should be the runner up behind Reshad Jones for 2015 team MVP.

Coaching: D

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Jim Rassol/Sun Sentinel

Same problems, different week.

The Dolphins were unable to stop even the predictable offense of the Giants, which led to long sustained drives that wore down the defense.

The offense was unable to establish rhythm, possibly because they show a general aversion to giving their best player the ball in key situations.

Penalties also plagued the team both on offense and defense. They were unable to stop the opposition or sustain drives of their own.

The inexperience of Dan Campbell will end up doing him in here, as his team is eliminated from playoff contention after a very promising start.

Overall: D 

There were some positives from Monday night’s game, but once again we are learning that moderate positives mean nothing when your team’s mistakes are as brutal as one could imagine.

The unnecessary roughness call against Jarvis Landry. The blown coverage on the OBJ touchdown. The Dion Sims fumble on the first drive.

These plays will form our lasting memory of the game against the Giants.

The Dolphins were once again done in by the same errors, including penalties, poor game planning, and a lack of cohesion on offense. This team must be rebuilt from a personnel and coaching standpoint.

The 2015 season started out promising, but has seen the team eliminated from playoff contention just as the final stretch begins.

We have watched the Dolphins implode through self-inflicted wounds, and continue to make the same mistakes on a consistent basis.

That is not how you change a franchise’s culture. That is how you perpetuate mediocrity, which the Miami Dolphins continued to do on Monday Night Football against the New York Giants.

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