Welcome back, guys, to another installment of Stock Up Stock Down. In Week 4 of the 2020 NFL season, your Miami Dolphins hosted the Seattle Seahawks and came up short in the end with a score to 31-23. In a hard-fought loss to a heavily favored team, let us dive in and see what happened in Week 4.
A quarter of the season is over and Solomon Kindley has catapulted himself as the best pick of the past draft for us. Solomon has shown that his strengths in college (run blocking, double teaming, pulling) are strengths in the pros. Most importantly, his weaknesses (pass blocking and mobility) are areas he has attacked to get better with the results being apparent. Pro Football Focus graded Solomon as the highest-graded rookie OL in Week 4 of the whole league after allowing 0 pressures on 54 pass-blocking snaps while working through a foot injury he had before and during the game.
Devante Parker has completely shed the soft label he had early on in his career. Anyone who closely follows and watches tape on DVP sees that the explosion from last year is not there at present. He looks a step slower, which can be the difference between a completion and an interception. Making no excuses and with an obviously not 100% hamstring, Devante took advantage of a plus matchup like an elite WR does.
Early on, the effort was to get DVP going with 2 catches, but he had to make some plays off during the middle of the first quarter because of a new and separate ankle injury. Devante came back and went to work from the second quarter on. DVP all game got open on slants, posts, and dig routes to the tune of 10 catches on 12 targets netting 110 yards with a long of 21. In a season that shows more and more the lack of explosive threats in this offense, it is a relief to see how consistent Devante has become while fighting through an injury that early in his career would keep him out.
Giving only praise and not harping on the negative, let’s give some credit to Jason for converting on all 5 of his attempts, yes, 5 attempts (more on that later). He was Coach Flores’ security blanket all afternoon long and would have been the only player to score without the final drive and Fitzpatrick late 10-yard run.
Ogbah & Lawson
For the first time this season, this pair of free agents popped all afternoon and showed exactly the reasons we brought them in for. Shaq had only 2 tackles, but they were a TFL and a Sack to show his versatility in stopping the run and being strong enough to wrestle Russell Wilson down. Ogbah was more impactful with 5 total tackles. Of those 5, 1 was a sack, 2 were TFL, and additionally had 2 QB hits, which led to Russell early struggles in the game as he was forced to leave the pocket consistently where we were unable to slow down Russell’s scrambles with him throwing on the run at an elite level.
Texans 1st and 2nd Round Picks
The Laremy Tunsil Trade is looking more and more like we committed highway robbery for all of those picks. After a 0-4 start to the season, the Texans have announced that Coach/GM Bill O’Brien has been relieved of his duties effective immediately. With our own struggles plus the ones the Texans are continuing to add, we can be sitting with potentially 2 top 10 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s paramount that we add players at skill positions early and often to properly give Tua the weapons needed to thrive.
5 field goals, 1 touchdown, which came on the game’s final drive for the Dolphins. That is just unacceptable in any NFL game, let alone one where we are playing and trying to limit the leading MVP candidate for this year. 5 different times Flores decided to go for a field goal instead of going for it on 4th down. 5 different times.
They score ended up being 23-31, meaning 8 points short, which could have come in any of the 5 instances we thought best to go for field goals. Ultimately if we want to have a chance to compete and beat teams that very clearly overmatch us, we need to be out of the ordinary and be aggressive when the opportunities present themselves.
After last year where Ryan Fitzpatrick led us in rushing yards, and we decided to invest heavily in the OL and RBs, I could not fathom a single game where Fitz would lead us in rushing, and yet here we are again. As much as I love Myles Gaskins, it’s clear he is doing everything to the best of his ability, which still only leaves us with a 4.0 average rushing, longs of 15 yards rushing receiving, and finally 0 touchdowns.
How can Jordan Howard and Matt Breida be combined for only 36 carries when Myles has 48! Matt and Jordan are both proven backs who have shown they can perform at high levels in this league, and yet they have less than half the carries individually that Myles has? The coaching staff will have to take a hard look in the mirror because if Fitzpatrick cannot survive without a running game, I don’t want to even chance what Tua would look like with this rushing attack.
It’s becoming tougher and tougher to swallow the product being fed to us by Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick is an elite backup QB that can come in for a pinch and bring energy to a team but being relied on as a starter for 16 games is becoming more lunacy than unrealistic. Ultimately, this year’s goal is to get Tua comfortable enough that after the next draft where we add him some weapons, he can take the next step in his development, but without actually giving him playtime, how can he really get ready?
To clarify, I am not saying that Fitzpatrick was the problem in the loss versus the Seahawks because we severely lack talent at the skill positions. Outside of DVP and Gesicki, we don’t have anyone that consistently threatened defenses but having said that, Fitzpatrick is also not the solution. I wouldn’t want Tua to have to struggle with these skill position players, but there were plenty of times during the game where Fitz did not look past his first read, which from a veteran is unforgivable, but from a rookie would be understandable growing pains.
I really have had to start asking myself if maybe Jerome is hurt or something undisclosed behind the scenes is going on. After a monster first game where he totaled 16 tackles and played 95.3% of the snaps, Baker has totaled 16 tackles the next 3 games(!). And with each game, his snap percentage is going down. In week 2, he dropped to 93.4%, Week 3 to 89.4%, and finally, an alarming 69.8% of the snaps last week. As a player, we all thought would take the next step and be Coach Flores’s ultimate chess piece has really fallen flat this year and maybe in the doghouse similar to what Raekwon McMillan last year, and we see how that ended up.
Many questionable decisions could be dissected in-depth, but when do we start asking ourselves, is Coach Flores really a defensive genius? Every game at multiple instances, I ask myself, why is the defense struggling so much? Why can we not consistently rush the passer, stop the run, miss tackles, or just use or pieces more effectively? Noah Igbinoghene is going to be a great player one day, let’s hope, but why is he every game matched up against one on one and getting picked on all game? Why do we have such an inability to adjust to what the opponent is doing to us?
Every half time besides last week, it always feels like the other team comes out with a plan with what to attack in the second half while we are just continuing on doing what we did from the first half. Lastly, for Chan Gailey and the offensive side of the ball, we need more explosive plays, and Preston and Myles have shown to be unable to do either. We need to see more of Jakeem, more Lynn Bowden, more of Matt Breida and Jordan Howard. And can we gather up the courage one time to play like its 2020 and try and go for at least 1 of the 5-field goal attempts we just “couldn’t” pass up? Almost all analytics say to try and convert some of them, and that is what ultimately killed us more than anything.
Overall, this team desperately needs a jolt of energy and a coaching staff who can adjust. We can fix one of those issues by possibly seeing what Tua can do, but when can we hope for Flores and the rest of the staff to hold themselves as accountable as they hold players. Till next time, Fins Up!