The NFL’s best quarterback in games played through Sunday evening? Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
That’s not me saying that, although I did tell you Tannehill delivered some heroics in the Dolphins 31-24 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Nope, this latest plaudit comes from the folks at ProFootballFocus.com, who in their weekly metrics update, have determined Tannehill was nails (analytics term) in the game.
Tannehill had his best game of the season and it marked the second time this season he was the top overall quarterback for the week. Tannehill, with an overall PFF grade of 91.0 against the 49ers, put up 174 yards and two touchdowns on throws targeted 10 yards or more down the field. It might have been better ...
Tannehill missed on two more big plays to DeVante Parker. For the season, Tannehill now ranks 10th amongst all quarterbacks in overall grade.
And here come have a football axiom: If the QB is good, his pass catchers are too and likely vice versa.
Tight end Dion Sims had arguably the best game of his career in the passing game, catching all four passes thrown his way for 53 yards and a big touchdown, while also forcing two missed tackles -- most for any TE this week. However, he had his worst game of the season in run blocking, ranking 51 out of 54 players at his position in Week 12.
Wide receiver Jarvis Landry led the team in targets with seven, following what seems to be a trend toward making him the focal point of the passing game, but not the only cog in that attack. You’ll recall Landry was among the league leaders in targets and catches early in the season. He had four consecutive games of double-figure targets to start the season.
And the Dolphins were 1-3 in those games. No bueno.
But the offense went away from Landry there for a minute and now it has seemingly found a sweet spot with Landry averaging six targets and 4.5 catches in the last four games.
The Dolphins are 4-0 in those games. Bueno!
Landry caught four passes for 47 yards against San Francisco but had two drops as well.
The revelation was Parker, who started frustratingly slow this season but is now on pace for a 60-catch season. In the past three weeks, Parker has turned in two games in which he’s averaged over 20 yards per catch. And his arc is pointing in the right direction as he averaged 11.8 yards per catch in October and is at 14.1 yards in November.
And, I know, you’re worried about Parker’s health because we’re always worried about Parker’s health. Although he left the game Sunday with a back issue, I’m told the Dolphins are optimistic Parker will be available for Sunday’s game at Baltimore.
Running back Jay Ajayi struggled to find any running room behind an offensive line that was down three starters. He had 45 yards on 18 carries (2.5 avg.) but 38 of those yards came after contact. He also forced four missed tackles. For the season, Ajayi ranks fifth of all running backs in yards after contact with 553 and is third in forced missed tackles with 36.
Miami's patchwork offensive line actually held up quite well, particularly in the passing game. Tannehill was pressured on just eight of his 34 drop backs and they allowed only one of San Francisco’s two sacks.
On defense ...
Defensive end Cameron Wake was a monster once again, racking up five QB hurries and another sack. Wake now has 8.5 sacks this season and has gotten to the quarterback in six straight games -- all Miami wins. Wake’s five QB hurries were tied with the Saints' Cameron Jordan for the most of any 4-3 DE in Week 12.
For the season, Wake ranks as the third-best pass rushing 4-3 DE in the NFL, per PFF.
Defensive end Andre Branch had an effective game rushing the passer, recording three hurries and a sack, but struggled in the run defense aspect of the game. Branch ranked last (51 of 51 players) of all 4-3 defensive ends in run defense for Week 12. It was his first game with a negative run defense grade since Week Two at New England.
Cornerback Byron Maxwell continues to play at an extremely high level. In Week 12 against the 49ers, Maxwell was targeted just five times, allowing two catches for 19 yards (one touchdown) while defending two passes. One of those two passes defensed was one-on-one against Torry Smith, who ran an in-cut into the end zone and was open for a second before Maxwell tipped the pass away.
That pass could have been the tying touchdown with five seconds to play.
Maxwell was the No. 2 overall cornerback for Week 12 and the best in terms of pass coverage grade as he continues to quietly have a great second-half of the season after a rocky start.
LB Jelani Jenkins, fighting to get healthy, continued his struggles. He was targeted seven times in the passing game, allowing fives catches for 52 yards, as he was picked on all afternoon. Among 4-3 outside linebackers, he ranked 24th out of 25 in overall grade and was last in pass coverage grade.
ProFootballFocus calls Jenkins the worst 4-3 OLB in the league this season.
(Harsh, considering he’s not healthy).
Middle linebacker Kiko Alonso had another solid game against the 49ers, recording 12 tackles (3 stops), an interception and a fumble recovery. His three missed tackles hurt his overall grade, but Alonso has been a huge piece to a defense that has stepped up over the last six weeks.
A stat of note: Alonso played every snap on Sunday. He has played every defensive snap in every game this season except the Buffalo game. He has played 774 of Miami’s 775 defensive snaps.