Grading the Miami Dolphins vs. the Indianapolis Colts

 

asalguero@MiamiHerald.com

Quarterback

A Ryan Tannehill outplayed Andrew Luck. He was chased throughout and was sacked five times, but he didn’t throw into double coverage, he didn’t force the football, he didn’t make the big mistake. Yes, he had a fumble on what looked like a pass attempt but that was a controversial call. Tannehill had a nice drive to end the half that resulted in a field goal, and that was a big shift in momentum for the Dolphins.

Running back

C+ Lamar Miller might have saved his job for the moment. He averaged 4.9 yards a carry and was one step from breaking a 70-yard run. No, he didn’t get that run, but this game was a revelation compared to the terrible day he had last week against Cleveland. Daniel Thomas also made better use of his limited daylight but still doesn’t seem to have any sort of burst through the line.

Receivers/Tight ends

A Mike Wallace showed some of the reasons the Dolphins paid him $60 million. He led the team in catches with nine and had 115 yards, but he got those without the signature deep bomb that blows the top off the defense. Instead he scored on a screen and benefited from the fact the Colts often doubled Brian Hartline. Hartline, by the way, still collected five catches mostly on sideline passes, but he also had a nice 24-yard catch up the seam. Charles Clay showed why the Dolphins have high hopes for him. He broke loose on a 67-yarder but his day also included four other catches that included him beating the defender, catching a pass in a tight window and breaking tackles

Offensive line

C- Tyson Clabo gave up two sacks, and that’s now two consecutive games in which he has given up sacks. As a unit, the offensive line was much better at providing some daylight for Miami’s running backs. The middle of the line was better than a week ago. The Dolphins nonetheless have some issues in picking up blitzes and stunts, and that’s not all on the offensive line.

Defensive line

C+ There wasn’t nearly the kind of pressure there was last week. That’s to be expected because Luck is bigger and stronger and more mobile than Brandon Weeden. There was one play in which Cameron Wake hit Luck flush, and the quarterback still escaped and scrambled for a first down. However, the pressure did increase as the game wore on. The Colts had more success running the ball (5.1 yards per rush) than the Dolphins can possibly be happy about.

Linebackers

B+ Phillip Wheeler made the game-clinching sack on a blitz. He had two tackles for loss among his 12 for the game. Dannell Ellerbe led the team with 14 tackles, but didn’t have a game-defining play. Koa Misi wasn’t as active with only three tackles, but his importance was clear when he left the game for a couple of plays and the Colts went after replacement Jason Trusnik by completing a long completion to a tight end. That play was eventually called back after a replay. Misi returned to the game immediately.

Secondary

B Nolan Carroll got the start and Jimmy Wilson played in the slot because starter and slot corner Dimitri Patterson, who was active, did not play. Both Carroll and Wilson gave up plays, but it wasn’t as bad as it might have been against a talented Colts receiving corps because, curiously, Luck went after Brent Grimes as much as the other two. And although Grimes gave up a long completion to T.Y. Hilton, he also collected an interception in the end zone and had a total of three passes defensed. Reshad Jones had a good day, chasing Luck as well as receivers. Chris Clemons saved a TD to an open tight end when he batted it down.

Special teams

B Caleb Sturgis connected on a 54-yard field goal before halftime, and that was a momentum-shifter for the Dolphins. Punter Brandon Fields was off a bit, and his 38.4 net average was testament to that. Marcus Thigpen averaged a whopping 36.5 yards per kick return, and that was big in giving the Dolphins good starting field position.

Coaching

A Well, the staff figured out that getting the ball to Wallace early and often is a good thing. They also showed great confidence in playing Carroll and Wilson. Their preparation and work with the players was rewarded. Fine job.

Overall

A Big win on the road against a quality opponent.

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