Armando Salguero

PFF grades: Suh, Taylor, Allen, James good; Tunsil, Cutler, Thomas, CBs bad

Miami Dolphins right tackle Ja'Wuan James (70) has been the team’s best offensive lineman through two games this season.
Miami Dolphins right tackle Ja'Wuan James (70) has been the team’s best offensive lineman through two games this season.

What? You thought just because the Dolphins played poorly on Sunday against the New York Jets there would be no corresponding ugly grades from this week?


The game was bad. The grades are rough.

And here they are:


There is a price to pay when a quarterback completes 26 of 44 passes with most of those coming in garbage time when his team is completely out of the game. And so Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler finishing as the 22nd-ranked quarterback with a grade of 66.3.

In 31 drop-backs under no pressure, Cutler was 22-of-31 for 194 yards and one interception for an NFL QB Rating of 73.9. In 17 drop-backs under pressure, he was 4-of-13 for 26 yards and 1 touchdown for an NFL QB Rating of 65.9.

When Cutler threw the ball in 2.5 seconds or less, he completed 19-of-25 passes and had a rating of 87.4. But when he threw the ball in 2.6 seconds or more, he completed 7-of-19 passes and had a rating of 47.7.

So what does this all mean?

Well, it’s obvious Cutler doesn’t love being pressured and when he is, he becomes a much less effective quarterback. But here’s the thing, the only way to assure the quarterback will not be under pressure is to get rid of the football quickly. The Dolphins did that in Week 2 against Los Angeles. Against the Jets, fighting to make big plays to get back in the game, the team needed to run deeper patterns.

And that meant Cutler had to hold on to the football.

And that meant Cutler got hit more often. And that led to some poor play.

“He took a couple of vicious shots early,” coach Adam Gase said Monday. “When you’re 34, it’s a little different than when you’re 25.”

I believe the coach meant a player begins to not love getting hit as much and adjusts his game accordingly -- not always to his team’s benefit.

After playing 64 of 68 snaps in Week 2 against the Chargers, running back Jay Ajayi was on the field for just 33 of 63 plays against the Jets in Week 3. The 33 snaps was Ajayi’s fewest for any game since Week 5 of the 2016 season.

He recorded just 16 yards on 11 carries but had 22 yards after contact, as he was hit behind the line of scrimmage all afternoon against the Jets defensive front. Despite playing just two games so far, Ajayi ranks tied for fifth among all running backs with 10 forced missed tackles on the season. Most of those other running backs have played three games.

For the second straight week, right tackle Ja'Wuan James was the highest-graded player on the offense with a grade of 80.6. He has allowed just one QB hurry in 85 pass-blocking snaps on the season and his overall grade of 84.7 ranks 6th for all tackles in the league. James’s 86.5 pass-blocking grade ranks 4th for all tackles.

The transition back to his natural left tackle position has been a rough one so far for Laremy Tunsil, as he had another tough afternoon. Tunsil allowed four QB hurries and his overall grade of 49.5 ranked 47th of all tackles for Week 3.

For the season, Tunsil's overall grade is 45.6. He has struggled in both pass-blocking (43.7) and run-blocking (50.1).

In the season-opener against the Chargers, TE Julius Thomas played 65-of-68 snaps while Anthony Fasano played just 16 snaps. In Week 3, Thomas played 37-of-63 snaps while Fasano was on the field for 29.

Obviously on run downs, the Dolphins want Fasano in the game if they only have one tight end in the game. That’s because Thomas ranks 65th out of 68 qualifying tight ends with a 37.4 run-blocking grade. He hasn’t been much better on passing downs, catching six passes on seven targets for 42 yards.

Fasano, meanwhile, was the highest run-blocking TE in 2016 and may see more snaps moving forward.


For the second straight week, DT Ndamukong Suh was the highest-graded player on the team with an overall grade of 87.8, which ranked third of all interior defensive linemen in the league. He was particularly dominant in the run game with a grade of 89.3 and for the season his overall grade of 91.3 and run-defense grade of 92.2 each rank second for all defensive linemen.

DE Cameron Wake bounced back from a poor season opener to earn a grade of 86.4, which was the third-highest grade for all edge defenders in Week 3. He recorded a QB sack, hit, two hurries and 4 stops as he made an impact both rushing the passer and defending the run.

CB Byron Maxwell was targeted five times in coverage and allowed four receptions for 64 yards with the number of times he was targeted and the number of receptions he allowed both team highs.

After being targeted a league-high 13 times in Week 2, Xavien Howard was targeted just 4 times, allowing 2 receptions for 14 yards and recording a pass defensed but also committing a penalty in the game. For the season, Howard's overall grade of 40.9 ranks 91st out of 108 qualifying cornerbacks, while Maxwell's 38.8 ranks 97th.

Look, Howard is not getting benched. And, apparently, neither is Maxwell because the Dolophins don’t have any alternatives at the moment. Rookie Cordrea Tankersley has been inactive the first two games and backup Alterraun Verner didn’t cause coaches to increase their confidence in him.

After playing only on special teams against the Chargers, Verner played just nine snaps on defense against the Jets. Unfortunately for the Dolphins he was targeted once and that resulted in a 69-yard touchdown for Jets' WR Robby Anderson.

The Dolphins have had cornerback issues the first two week of the season. No worries, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees isn’t much of a threat.

After playing just 13 snaps in the season opener against the Chargers, LB Chase Allen was on the field for 28 snaps and his 7 tackles and 4 stops each tied for the team lead.

Sixth-round draft pick DT Vincent Taylor played just three snaps in the opener but with Jordan Phillips out with an ankle injury against New York, Taylor was on the field for 29 snaps against the Jets and earned an 80.2 overall grade, good the 19th-best among interior defensive linemen for Week 3.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero