The Dolphins saw their winning streak stopped at five games when they dropped a 20-13 decision against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High on Sunday.
So, as one would expect, the weekly grades took a dip this time.
It was a poor offensive effort by the Dolphins from pretty much every area, and that clearly included Tua Tagovailoa. We don’t need to explain that getting benched brings about a bad grade. Tua’s numbers actually were better than his performance. As for Ryan Fitzpatrick, he absolutely provided a spark for the offense, but it’s tough to get around the game-clinching interception. Of course, it came on third-and-8 and there’s no guarantee the Dolphins would have scored a touchdown to complete what would have been a dazzling 99-yard drive, but it still was a tough way for the comeback attempt to end. Grade: D
Salvon Ahmed made his second consecutive start, but didn’t have quite as much success as he did against the Chargers. Ahmed did have the longest play on offense while Tua was at quarterback with a 14-yard run in the first half. Ahmed contribued in the passing game with five receptions, though he did have a drop. Matt Breidan was a non-factor in his return to action. Grade: C
DeVante Parker led the way in the Dolphins passing game, as it should be, with six catches for 61 yards. His 3-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter was a thing of beauty, as he caught a back-shoulder throw and did a great toe tap to get both feet in bounds. Unfortunately, he was the only wide receiver who made much of an impact. Jakeem Grant got his most snaps of the season and was targeted six times, but he had only two catches for 12 yards. Worse, he failed to create separation on two of the three long routes he ran when targeted. Malcolm Perry got his most action of the season and had three catches for 23 yards. There were no clear drops from the wide receivers, but not enough separation overall. Grade: C+
The Dolphins averaged 3.3 yards per rushing attempt, so nobody involved in the run blocking stood out. In the passing game, the only tight end to catch a pass was Mike Gesicki, who had four receptions, including a 25-yard hook-up with Fitzpatrick that sparked a field goal drive. Outside of that, though, not much doing. Gesicki also was flagged for a false start. Grade: C-
Yeah, this was not a strong outing by this group. To be fair, three of the six sacks Denver got against Tagovailoa were the result of a combination of coverage, hesitation by Tua or Tua leaving the pocket prematurely. Still, there’s no denying there was too much pressure allowed on the quarterback. The run blocking wasn’t good enough, as evidenced by the 3.3 average. Rookies Austin Jackson and Robert Hunt each was flagged for holding. Grade: D-
With Denver averaging 5.7 yards per rushing attempt and Drew Lock not sacked once, it’s going to be difficult to be generous with grades for the front seven. Most of the players made a play here or there, including Raekwon Davis, Zach Sieler and rookie Jason Strowbridge, but the overall performance wasn’t near good enough. Strowbridge was flagged for roughing the passer, though that looked like a really weak call upon review. Grade: D+
Same story as the defensive line, though Elandon Robers earned bonus points for leading the charge on a second fourth-down stop in two weeks and Andrew Van Ginkel for forcing Melvin Gordon’s goal-line fumble that kept the Dolphins’ hopes alive. Van Ginkel had a rare double-whammy play in the fourth quarter when he was flagged for defensive holding and unnecessary roughness on the same play. Jerome Baker had a nice third-down tackle in the first half. Grade: C-
This was easily the best unit on defense. Lock ended up with 270 passing yards, but his total was 209 before the last play when he basically chucked it downfield to kill the clock and it resulted in a meaningless 61-yard gain. Xavien Howard set up the Dolphins’ only touchdown with yet another interception, where he made a nice catch by reaching to the side and over his head. Nik Needham also had a solid day in coverage. Eric Rowe wasn’t his usual sticky self with his coverage on the tight end, though he did have the late fumble recovery. No Denver receiver would have reached 60 yards if not for that last “pass” to Patrick. Of course, the run support from the secondary could have been better, as evidenced by Denver’s 189 rushing yards. Grade: B
There really weren’t any big plays on special teams from either side in this game, though Jason Sanders was back to his usual self by nailing field goals of 41 and 53 yards, the second bringing the Dolphins to within one score in the fourth quarter. Matt Haack had a very good 45.7 net average. Neither team had a long return. Van Ginkel came close to blocking a punt for a second consecutive week. Grade: B+