Dolphins vs. Colts: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Miami
This win came as a more purely impressive performance than the win against the Cleveland Browns one week ago and is sure to cause analysts to adjust their expectations for the team.
The following are the full position grades for the Dolphins from the game.
Ryan Tannehill took every snap at quarterback during the game and therefore his individual player grade dominates the position grade.
Ryan Tannehill: B+
Tannehill threw for 319 total yards in the game and achieved a 107.4 passer rating, which bested the more heralded Andrew Luck’s rating during the game. Tannehill has now completed 47 of 72 passes for 591 yards with two touchdowns and one interception on the season. He has a 94.2 passer rating through two games.
There were subtleties in Tannehill’s game that improved from a week ago. Once or twice, you could see Tannehill stepping up into the pocket to avoid Robert Mathis’ attempt to swipe the football out of his hands as he beat left tackle Jonathan Martin around the edge. He also threw more accurately when attempting to hit Mike Wallace on a deep route. A week ago, I felt Tannehill was unsafe with his throws three or four times. The Indianapolis defenders did not have as many chances to get their hands on the football in this game.
Running Backs: B
The overall ground game got the job done this week, as the tailbacks gained 99 yards on 22 carries for a 4.5 yards-per-carry average. The tailbacks also ran for a touchdown.
Lamar Miller: B+
Miller ran 14 times for 69 yards, including a touchdown run. While many people would like to say that Miller looked more decisive than he did against the Browns a week ago, the truth is he had a lot more room to run, which allowed him to show off skills that he did not have the opportunity to show against the Browns.
On a 1st-and-goal play from the Colts’ 10-yard line, Colts corner Vontae Davis was drawn slightly to the inside, as he had man-coverage responsibility on the wide receiver to the left side of the offensive formation. Davis was only a heartbeat late in recognizing the run play, but that was enough because of Miller’s deadly speed as he bounced the ball to the outside.
Daniel Thomas: C-
Daniel Thomas gained less than four yards per carry (eight runs for 30 yards) for the 19th time in his 27-game career. Despite the lackluster statistics, Thomas’ ball-carrying was actually the highlight of his overall performance.
That’s because Thomas missed a block on Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman which produced a sack on quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Thomas did convert on a third-down short-yardage situation. However, the Dolphins showed a lack of faith in him on the goal line when they had Charles Clay carry the football for the first time since he was with Tulsa in 2010.
Wide Receivers: B+
This week’s total wide receiver production was similar to the receiver production from one week ago, with the major difference being a rotation of the production from Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson to Mike Wallace and Hartline.
Mike Wallace: A-
Wallace was targeted 11 times during the game, catching nine of those attempts for 115 yards with a touchdown. The most impressive aspect of the performance was how complete it was. He caught balls underneath the coverage and capitalized on that success by burning the defense with a double move against Colts corner Greg Toler. He ran well with the football in his hands on a wide receiver screen, producing a touchdown.
Brian Hartline: B+
Brian Hartline finished the game with five catches for 68 yards on eight total targets. He showed the same impressive skill set that helped him achieve a more impressive result against the Browns a week ago. He made a highly impressive catch along the sidelines where he just barely managed to tap his toes to the ground before going out of bounds. He also made a very nice over-the-shoulder catch with the defender in tow.
Brandon Gibson: C-
After an impressive performance one week ago, Gibson put up only a one-catch, 11-yard performance against the Colts. Tannehill targeted him only twice, as he was not often open. Gibson played reduced snaps versus a week ago, but he still had plenty of opportunity to do damage. He just did not find a way to produce, as he took a backseat to his superior teammates Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline.
Tight Ends: B+
Tight end participation this week was dominated by Charles Clay. No other tight end was thrown the football, though rookie tight end Dion Sims got on the field on plenty of snaps. The overall position grade is dominated by the grade given to Clay during the game.
Charles Clay: A-
One week ago, I gave Clay a “D” for his overall performance in the game against the Browns, as it felt below average given his costly penalties and blown blocks.
This week, Clay played a much cleaner football game. He was not called for any costly penalties, nor did I catch any blown blocks. He caught the football five times for 109 yards on seven overall targets, including a drop. He made a 67-yard play on a ball thrown into heavy traffic down the field, staying on his feet for some good yardage after the catch.
Clay also added an interesting wrinkle when he carried the ball for a touchdown on a fullback dive on a 1st-and-Goal from the 1-yard line.
Dion Sims: C
Sims was used mostly as a run-blocker during the game and had a very mediocre day in that role. He was not thrown the football a single time.
Offensive Line: C
The offensive line as a whole paved the way for a 4.5 yards-per-carry average by the tailbacks unit. However, the pass protection—particularly in the second half, when quarterback Ryan Tannehill took four sacks—left a lot to be desired. Three out of the five linemen played well enough during the game, but the other two played so poorly that it dragged down the unit grade significantly.
Jonathan Martin: B-
Martin was not the primary problem in pass protection this week, as he did not allow any of the five sacks taken by quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
On the strip-sack by linebacker Jerrell Freeman, Martin had been challenged by Robert Mathis on a speed rush to where Mathis also had a shot at swiping the football out of Tannehill’s hands. On another speed rush by Mathis against Martin, Tannehill felt the pressure and stepped up into the pocket before Mathis could attempt so swipe the football out of his hands.
There was at least one more play where Mathis beat Martin to the inside with an impressive spin move. However, Tannehill got rid of the ball with screen-like timing which did not allow Mathis to collect the sack.
All in all, Martin’s grade is mostly brought down by his run blocking during the game as opposed to his pass protection. He was unable to sustain a lot of his run blocks. However, in pass protection, he only allowed two pressures on quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Richie Incognito: B+
Incognito had a very good day overall. He was one of the primary reasons the Dolphins were able to run the ball so well. He pulled effectively on run plays and also sealed well. He had very few lapses in pass protection the whole game, none of which resulted in actual pressure on Ryan Tannehill.
Mike Pouncey: A+
Mike Pouncey had one of the best games I have seen from a center in quite a while. He made an absolutely extraordinary block about 15 yards in front of the line of scrimmage on Mike Wallace’s 18-yard touchdown off the wide receiver screen. On several other plays, he kicked way out to the outside on pulls, even after having snapped the football to the quarterback. He is most likely the best center in the NFL and one of the more unique centers that I have seen play the game.
John Jerry: D+
Jerry had another challenging day at the office. I noted him several times allowing a defensive lineman to cross to the inside of him and flash in front of Ryan Tannehill, creating pressure. On one play, he allowed Colts defensive lineman Fili Moala to nail Tannehill in the backfield. Jerry was not one of the reasons the Dolphins ran well during the game, as his blocking for the run was subpar.
Tyson Clabo: D-
Clabo had a very poor outing against the Colts. He gave up strip-sacks to linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Robert Mathis. He also was beaten on a pass rush by rookie Bjoern Werner, who collected half a sack, as linebacker Pat Angerer also got to the quarterback on the play.
The only thing separating Clabo from an “F” grade was his blocking for the ground game, which was decent. In the past, he has been a better pass-protector than run-blocker. Today was the opposite. On the 18-yard touchdown off the wide receiver screen to Mike Wallace in the first quarter, Clabo kicked out front of Wallace and made an effective block on the perimeter, which was a key block for the touchdown.
Defensive Line: B-
Surprisingly, the defensive line did not hold up very well against the Indianapolis Colts’ ground game, which averaged 4.3 yards per carry between tailbacks Ahmad Bradshaw and Donald Brown. Bradshaw also scored a touchdown.
It did, however, get pressure on Andrew Luck. All too often that pressure failed to result in a sack, as Luck was able to escape. However, the pressure itself was important. What was interesting to me about the unit’s performance was that it was not led by its star player, Cameron Wake.
Olivier Vernon: D
Vernon had a very rough day at the office. He was credited for a half-sack on a play that was really just a zero-yard gain by Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Otherwise, Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo had Vernon’s number in pass protection all day long. The result was alarming because, upon close inspection, Vernon actually had a good day, particularly with his speed-to-power move against Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, who is one of the very best in the NFL.
One can accept Vernon’s struggles rushing the passer because he is out there mainly for his ability to defend against the run. That said, he had a poor day defending the run. On a critical third-down play near the goal line, Vernon lost the edge badly, allowing Colts tailback Ahmad Bradshaw to get the first down all the way to the 1-yard line.
Jared Odrick: B-
Odrick had a solid overall day. He got a hit on Andrew Luck and also had at least one more pressure during the game. He was also decent in run defense.
Randy Starks: A
Though Starks took a lot of headlines a week ago, overall I felt Jared Odrick outperformed him against the Cleveland Browns, particularly in pass rush. This week, you could not say the same. Starks, in his role as a sub-player, clearly outperformed Odrick, the starter. Starks was consistently the guy who flashed in Andrew Luck’s face the most, forcing him to scramble.
He played mostly in pass-rush situations, so his run defense did not figure heavily into the grade. Starks may protest his role as a sub-player, but it is clear that keeping him on a pitch count over the last two games has resulted in a more impactful player than a year ago.
Paul Soliai: B+
Though the Colts' ground game did passably well overall, defensive tackle Paul Soliai was rarely to blame. He made plays when the ball came to his gap. He pushed around offensive linemen and caused several loss-of-yards plays. He also hit quarterback Andrew Luck at least once and played better than usual in pass rush.
Cameron Wake: D
His name alone makes the grade seem unjustified. However, to give him higher than a “D” would be inflating his grade based solely on reputation. The fact of the matter is that Wake had a tough day at the office trying to generate a pass rush by getting around Colts right tackle Gosder Cherilus. He most likely had the most pass-rush snaps of any player on the defense, yet he only flashed at Andrew Luck as a threat one or two times. His run defense was not anything to write home about, as Miami’s edges proved soft during the game.
Derrick Shelby: B
Once again, Shelby flashed from his role as a reserve defensive end, clearly outperforming starting right defensive end Olivier Vernon. For the second straight week, Shelby was able to produce a strip-sack. He also showed up strong on at least one run play and pressured Andrew Luck at least once more in addition to the strip-sack. That is a lot of good work considering how few times he saw the field.
Dion Jordan: C
By rights, his grade should be higher based purely on efficiency. He was only on the field for four or five pass-rush snaps, yet he produced two hits on quarterback Andrew Luck. One was a very solid hit which resulted in an errant throw. However, on the second pressure of Luck, he merely shoved Luck in the backfield instead of wrapping him up. This allowed Luck to escape and produce a first down. The mistake was so egregious at such an important point of the game that it wipes out his otherwise good work.
The Dolphins used him much as I had suggested in a previous piece during the week, stunting inside and keeping tabs on Andrew Luck in the pocket. His first priority was to keep Luck bottled up, and if he saw the opportunity, to attack and get after him in the pocket. That is what made the missed tackle on Luck such a bad mistake. Jordan's top priority was to make sure Luck did not scramble for first downs, yet on that play he allowed the Colts quarterback to do exactly that.
Heading into the week, I wrote in my game-planning piece that the Dolphins would be better off backing off the blitz against Andrew Luck, except in certain situations. Specifically, the Dolphins needed to back off their tendency to blitz their linebackers up the A-gaps at the snap of the football and focus on smartly disguising their blitzes.
The Dolphins ended up blitzing Andrew Luck just as much as they did Brandon Weeden, but they often paid the price for it. Luck did not have an overall efficient day at the office, but his most efficient passing clearly came against Miami’s blitz packages.
Backup linebacker Jason Trusnik was only in the game for a brief two-snap stretch. Though he did poorly on those two snaps, it is not enough to figure into the grading.
Dannell Ellerbe: C
Ellerbe did not have a strong day. On his blitzes, he looked small and did not get to quarterback Andrew Luck. He allowed too much running after the catch to backs out of the backfield and was one of the reasons the Colts ran the football passably well on the day. He missed at least one tackle. He had a lot of tackles during the game, but that does not necessarily mean he had a strong day.
Philip Wheeler: B
Wheeler did some bad in the game, particularly in pass coverage. He got sucked toward the middle of the field on a play-action pass, which allowed a big gain to Coby Fleener on the back side. However, he did more good than bad during the game overall. His pass rush was actually quite successful at times and produced a key sack.
Koa Misi: B-
Misi’s pass rush during the game was decent, but not as effective as Philip Wheeler’s. His run defense was average during the game. He was not particularly victimized in coverage, though he did let up slightly too many yards after the catch to Colts fullback Stanley Havili on a pass out of the backfield.
The corners unit missed starter Dimitri Patterson, who sat out the game nursing a groin injury. However, Nolan Carroll stepped in his shoes as a starter and played well, while fellow starter Brent Grimes stepped up his game beautifully. The play of Grimes and Carroll would have dictated a higher grade but for the poor play of slot corner Jimmy Wilson, who was a liability.
Brent Grimes: A
Despite allowing a deep 47-yard catch to Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton in the second quarter, Grimes was generally brilliant during the day. He had a very strong pass breakup as he trailed Darius Heyward-Bey over the middle on a drag route. He broke up two other pass plays intended for Hilton, and he intercepted a pass in the end zone during one of the most important moments of the game.
Even the play on which Hilton caught the 47-yard pass featured excellent coverage by Grimes. Sometimes, you just have to tip your cap to the receiver for making a heck of a play on the football in the air. The play only barely detracted from what was otherwise an excellent day.
Nolan Carroll: B
Nolan Carroll was not victimized in coverage nearly as much as many fans had feared when they heard he would start in place of an injured Patterson. He played a little too far off third-string tight end Dominique Jones, which allowed Jones a 13-yard catch. But otherwise, Carroll was one of the key reasons Colts receiver Reggie Wayne had a relatively quiet day.
Carroll broke up a pass intended for Wayne and had Wayne blanketed for the most part when the two faced one another. If he had added an interception to his performance, he would have garnered an “A” grade.
Jimmy Wilson: D
Wilson was the biggest liability in the Dolphins secondary for most of the day. He allowed big plays to both T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne. When Wayne was able to get going again after a long stretch of the game without a catch, it was because he worked against Jimmy Wilson’s direct coverage.
Miami’s safeties were generally more a liability than an asset during the day, as they were one of the primary reasons the Colts tight ends were able to produce.
Reshad Jones: C
Jones lost Coby Fleener in direct coverage on Fleener’s touchdown catch. The play mirrored a play one week ago in which Jones also lost Cleveland tight end Gary Barnidge in the end zone on a touchdown which was called back by an unrelated holding penalty. Jones saved his grade by playing well against the run, making several very hard hits and tackles against Ahmad Bradshaw and Donald Brown.
Chris Clemons: C-
Chris Clemons allowed a touchdown catch of his own to tight end Coby Fleener, though it was called back on a very ticky-tack penalty for an illegal shift. Clemons was gifted an interception by Andrew Luck on a play where he threw behind his receiver significantly, but Clemons could not hold onto the football. He did help support the run with his speed, which saved his grade a little bit.
Special Teams: B
Overall, the special teams unit played fairly well. Rookie place kicker Caleb Sturgis nailed an impressive 54-yard field goal twice, as the first kick was nullified by a timeout. He generally booted the football out the back of the Colts’ end zone on kickoffs, allowing only one return by kick returner Kerwynn Williams.
Brandon Fields suffered an uncharacteristic partial block which came off looking like a shanked punt.