Rock Bottom: Grades and Analysis from the Dolphins’ 30-17 Loss to the Titans
Disgusting is the word that comes to mind as I reflect upon Sunday’s “performance” against the lowly Tennessee Titans. I’m not sure if it’s because the Titans have been one of the worst teams in the NFL over the last two years or if it’s because I try to leave room for positivity, but I foolishly believed that the Dolphins actually had a shot at winning this game. Unfortunately, I was sorely mistaken. The Miami Dolphins have the looks of an absolute train wreck and, as you all surely know by this point, are likely the 2nd worst team in the NFL. So, without further ado, and because I don’t want to relive Sunday afternoon’s nightmare at Hard Rock Stadium, here are our grades for the Miami Dolphins’ meltdown against the Tennessee [expletive removed] Titans.
Ryan Tannehill: F
This was undoubtedly the least inspired performance I have seen out of Ryan Tannehill in recent memory. He held on to the ball, made poor decisions and gave his haters enough fuel to power downtown Miami for a year. Did the offensive line protect Tannehill? Absolutely not. Was the running game effective in taking the weight off Tannehill’s shoulders? I know better than to expect otherwise. Did the receiver corps pull their weight? Nope. But at the end of the day, modern NFL offenses live and die by their quarterbacks, and today that death came in embarrassing fashion.
Ryan Tannehill simply could not get into a rhythm; even when the offensive line performed it’s job, he held on to the ball, made poor decisions and was very inaccurate with his throws. His first interception of the day was very indicative of his poor accuracy.
On maybe the one play he doesn’t have a swarm of Titans’ defenders in his face, Ryan Tannehill commits a horrible underthrow on a simple 3-yard drag route to DeVante Parker. Short throws like this one are supposed to be used to gain confidence, make third down more manageable and put the ball in the hands of your best playmakers in the hope that they can do something extra with the football after the catch. Instead of anything positive like that, Tannehill puts Parker off balance, allowing Jason McCourty to make a play on the ball.
There were more terrible sequences like this one, but rather than give myself a migraine I’ll post Ryan Tannehill’s 12/18, 191 yard, 0 TD to 2 INT and 62.3 passer rating stat line instead. His weekly beautiful deep throw to DeVante Parker saves him from an F-.
Running Backs: C
For the 5th time this year, it was difficult to grade the running backs due to the fact that they really didn’t receive many opportunities. Jay Ajayi received the lion’s share of the backfield’s 17 total carries with his 13 totes. He did little with that opportunity, only gaining 42 yards at a mediocre 3.2 yards a carry, though he did manage to run one in for a touchdown. The other four rushing attempts only gained 9 yards.
Outside of the pedestrian numbers on the ground, the Dolphins’ running backs were very effective through the air. In fact, 1/3 of Tannehill’s completions and nearly half of his yardage total came out of the backfield. Rookie Kenyan Drake had two catches for 19 yards while veteran Damien Williams created 67 yards off of two receptions, including this beautiful 58-yard play:
Outside of that one chunk play however, the Dolphins’ running backs were unremarkable.
Wide Receivers: D-
Not even the strongest unit on the Miami Dolphins could escape the general putridity of Sunday’s team failtacular. Outside of DeVante Parker, the team’s top options were invisible. Kenny Stills and Jordan Cameron did not record a single reception. Even Jarvis Landry was kept in check with just 3 catches for a measly 28 yards. There just isn’t very much to say outside of their lack of involvement. Ryan Tannehill only threw the ball 18 times, so there weren’t very many opportunities for the young receiver corps to do damage to Tennessee’s rather pedestrian secondary. DeVante Parker’s 70 yards on two deep balls were the only two impressive plays by the wide receiver corps, including this 50 yard reception:
Offensive Line: F-
The offensive line continues to be the Achilles heel of this offense. In addition to being mauled in the trenches, they allowed 6(!) sacks on Ryan Tannehill and a QB hit that led directly to Tannehill’s second interception. Though the Dolphins’ offensive line rarely has stretches of play that are considered foreign adjectives such as “above average” or “adequate,” it was easy to see how much the unit missed Branden Albert and, much more significantly, Laremy Tunsil. Whether Tunsil is in at left guard or left tackle, he is the bona fide best offensive lineman on the team when Mike Pouncey is injured. Rather than beat this notion like a dead horse, I’ll just display some of the horrid protection that the team put out on Sunday:
Regardless of how terrible Tannehill played and whether you like him or not, you can’t honestly say that he was given equal opportunity to succeed.
Defensive Line: F
The Miami Dolphins’ expensive defensive line did not hold up its end of the bargain against Marcus Mariota and his onslaught of running backs. Between Mariota, Henry, and Murray’s 41(!!!) carries, they dominated Miami’s defense for 235 rushing yards for an utterly ridiculous 5.73 yards per carry. In addition to allowing the Titans to control the clock with an embarrassing number of rushing attempts, the defensive line let Mariota’s jersey remain clean the entire day. Cam Wake and Mario Williams were ghosts on the edge and Ndamukong Suh managed just one tackle in the backfield. Even though there were 61 plays I could have chosen to represent this dumbfounding failure, I chose a 22-yard gain by Derrick Henry where the defensive line doesn’t even touch him:
On a day where the offense failed, the defense certainly could not afford such a lackluster effort from its strongest position group.
Kiko Alonso led the team with 12 tackles, which I suppose is almost decent considering the Titans’ 41 rushing attempts. Overall, the linebackers were no worse than they are usually, which is admittedly quite bad. They were, as per usual, lost in coverage and missing tackles. But, they were hardly the worst offenders in a terrible defensive outing by the Dolphins.
Defensive Backs: D-
Tony Lippett and Byron Maxwell mostly held their own against Rishard Matthews and Andre Johnson until they got backed up into their own end zone. However, at this point, we’ve come to accept mediocrity from Miami’s cornerbacks. Neither corner was able to help out very much against the Titans’ unstoppable running game, but it was the Miami Dolphins’ safeties that truly disappointed. Even the mighty Reshad Jones was humbled today against the run and was often exploited in coverage. Michael Thomas and Isa Abdul-Quddus were similarly embarrassed by Titans’ tight end Delanie Walker, who took his lunch money whenever his services were called upon:
Overall, it was just another disappointing effort out of Miami’s defensive backfield, whose mediocrity has spread to the team’s brightest defensive beacon in Reshad Jones.
Special Teams: A
Andrew Franks completed two extra points and his one field goal attempt while Matt Darr had a very good just sub-50 yard punting average on his 6 punts. Long Snapper John Denney extended his consecutive games played streak to 181, now most in Miami Dolphins team history. And of course, the play of the day (and maybe the season) was at the hands of electric punt returner Jakeem Grant:
Jakeem Grant willed the team back into the game on that magnificent display of athleticism, only to watch the team squander his score shortly thereafter. After his incredible performance, I don’t think it’s a crazy idea to get him more involved on offense.
I still think that Adam Gase can be a successful NFL head coach, even though he hasn’t showed much of that ability yet. However, he and his staff did a very poor job on Sunday. Every unit played very poorly. He allowed the Titans to control the time of possession at 36 minutes to 24 minutes. He allowed the Titans’ fairly one-dimensional offense 235 yards on the ground. And, his team committed 8 penalties for 83 yards and a few first downs. I hope that Adam Gase turns this sinking ship in the right direction, because I would hate to see yet another failed coaching staff in South Beach before the stench of the old one has gone away.
This game was brutal to watch, no doubt. To quote the legendary coach Jim Mora Sr. “We couldn’t do diddly poo offensively. We couldn’t make a first down. We couldn’t run the ball, we didn’t try to run the ball. We couldn’t complete a pass. We sucked. The 2nd half, we sucked. We couldn’t stop the run. Every time they got the ball, they went down and got points. We got our ass totally kicked in the 2nd half, that’s what it boiled down to…I’m totally embarrassed and totally ashamed.”