Grading the Miami Dolphins vs. the Cleveland Browns

 
 
Cornerback Buster Skrine (22) strips this pass from Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline in the first quarterat FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland on Sept. 8, 2013.
Cornerback Buster Skrine (22) strips this pass from Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline in the first quarterat FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland on Sept. 8, 2013.
Joe Rimkus Jr. / STAFF PHOTO
WEB VOTE What was the main reason the Dolphins' running game failed against the Browns?

asalguero@MiamiHerald.com

QUARTERBACK

Ryan Tannehill survived. That in itself was an accomplishment because he was sacked four times and hurried and hit more often than that. Tannehill showed he continues to have great chemistry with receiver Brian Hartline, and he was betrayed by a couple of drops by other players. But he has to find a way to get the Dolphins in the end zone more than just twice a game — about the same ratio last year — and he needs to actively search for deep-threat receiver Mike Wallace, if for no other reason than to keep the peace and stretch the defense. GRADE: C+

RUNNING BACKS

There was no daylight. Adrian Peterson couldn’t have run free with the amount of room the Miami running backs had to work with against Cleveland. Having said that, with the exception of one 4-yard run by Daniel Thomas in the second half, neither Thomas nor Lamar Miller seemed to make anyone miss nor did they break many tackles of their own. The result is that Thomas averaged 1.4 yard per run while Miller averaged 0.3 yards per run. That is not acceptable on any level. GRADE: D

RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS

Mike Wallace is upset because he caught only one pass and was targeted only five times all game. That is an issue. Brandon Gibson, Miami’s other new free agent receiver, had a better Dolphins debut with seven catches for 77 yards. Gibson was particularly good on third down. The best of the trio was Hartline, who is clearly Tannehill’s favorite receiver. He was targeted 15 times and was generally open most of the day. Hartline led the team with nine catches for 114 yards. The tight ends? Charles Clay had a nice 20-yard reception, but the trio of Clay, Dion Sims and Michael Egnew was mostly quiet. GRADE: B-

OFFENSIVE LINE

Where to begin? They were dominated. They rarely won one-on-one battles. They definitely lost the overall battle against Cleveland’s front. They didn’t pass block as a group. They didn’t run block well as a group. John Jerry, Tyson Clabo and Jonathan Martin each gave up a sack. The last time the Dolphins played, in the 2012 finale, the line got an F. No change. GRADE: F

DEFENSIVE LINE

It was interesting when Jared Odrick started ahead of Randy Starks, a move Starks does not like at all. The defensive lineman took his frustration out on the Browns by collecting 1.5 sacks. He also sent a message to the Dolphins by flipping a bird to the Miami bench after one sack. Dion Jordan was effective as an occasional pass rusher and even dropped into coverage once. Cameron Wake is one of the best players in the NFL and played like it. GRADE: A+

LINEBACKERS

Phillip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe found themselves atop the tackle chart for the Dolphins, as they are likely to do much of this season. They combined for a dozen tackles and had a pass defensed. Koa Misi had a hurry and also had five tackles. These guys are not the problem. GRADE: B+

SECONDARY

Nolan Carroll had a generally good day as a nickel corner and filled in well enough when starter Dimitri Patterson went out of the game with a groin injury. Patterson had his best day as a pro with two interceptions and Carroll had a pick of his own. The Browns smartly stayed away from Brent Grimes most of the day while Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons locked down the back end of the secondary. No, they weren’t challenged greatly but it was nonetheless a good showing. GRADE: A

SPECIAL TEAMS

Brandon Fields averaged 47.6 yards net and landed two punts inside the 20. Caleb Sturgis, who might be kicking a lot of field goals this year, connected on all three of his kicks, including long ones from 49 and 45 yards. Coverage was good although a 2.3 yard punt return average by Marcus Thigpen is bad. Of course, he would have scored a TD on a return were it not for a holding call. GRADE: C+

COACHING

The work is mostly done on defense because the unit looks great but there are major issues on offense. Why is Mike Wallace not being targeted in the first half of a game? Why so many runs between the tackles when the running game was stifled? How is this staff going to deal with unhappy players Randy Starks, Paul Soliai and Mike Wallace? GRADE: C-

OVERALL

A win is a win is a win. But it was ugly at times. GRADE: B

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