Armando Salguero

Kenny Stills has outstanding game for Miami Dolphins. How it could have been better

Miami Dolphins Kenny Stills stiff arms Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ryan Smith in the second quarter on Sunday.
Miami Dolphins Kenny Stills stiff arms Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ryan Smith in the second quarter on Sunday. ctrainor@miaiherald.com

Wide receiver Kenny Stills has said several times during his time with the Miami Dolphins that he doesn’t love attention. He likes to fly (he’s very fast) under the radar.

Sorry, Kenny.

Not today.

And not Sunday.

Stills, questionable for Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay because of a back issue, was limited in practice and actually missed a day while he was trying to get better. And better he apparently got because Stills on Sunday had an outstanding game according to the statistics and the ProFootballFocus.com metrics.

Stills was targeted eight times and grabbed seven receptions for a career-high 180 yards and a touchdown. Miami quarterbacks enjoyed an NFL rating of 158.3 when targeting Stills, helping him earn the second-highest grade among all wide receivers for the week, according to PFF.

And what if I told you it could have been better?

Yes, it could have. The one pass Stills did not catch came off the arm of Matt Moore in the second half. On the play, Stills ran a double move out and up against former Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes. Grimes, who often bites on double moves, took the bait.

And Stills was open behind the defense down the right sideline. The pass would have gone for a 30-yard completion if it had been thrown on time. And it might have been a 68-yard touchdown if the pass had led Stills down the field.

Instead the pass hung in the air and gave Grimes enough time to make up the two yards he lost on the double move. Incomplete.

Stills almost had an eight receptions for 200-plus-yard day and two touchdowns on Sunday.

His seven receptions for 180 yards with one touchdown was nonetheless among the Dolphins highlights on an otherwise disappointing day.

The rest of the PFF grades this week...

Miami Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry talk about their loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs.

Offense

Quarterback Jay Cutler had a poor first half before being replaced by Moore in the second half because of his concussion. When not blitzed, Cutler completed 5 of 9 passes for 81 yards and three interceptions for a quarterback rating of 46.3.

Two of those interceptions had a lot to do with DeVante Parker, by the way, but that’s for another post.

Moore was effective leading the team in the second half, particularly when facing no pressure, as he completed 12 of 20 passes for 225 yards and one touchdown for a QB rating of 115.6. His overall grade for the game was 77.1, which was ranked 15th among all quarterbacks for Week 11.

Moore’s grade would no doubt have been higher had he completed that long pass to Stills.

Kenyan Drake was the standout in the running-back-by-committee approach the previous two weeks following the Jay Ajayi trade, but Damien Williams was the more productive player against Tampa Bay. Williams carried the ball 10 times for 78 yards, with 68 of them after contact. He also forced two missed tackles.

Drake had just seven carries for four yards (12 after contact). He also forced one missed tackle.

Neither running back was a factor in the passing game, as they combined for just three targets, two receptions and 34 yards.

The Dolphins offensive line had its worst game of the season against Tampa Bay.

The ProFootballFocus grades for the starters: Laremy Tunsil (54.1), Ted Larsen (33.9), Mike Pouncey (56.2), Jermon Bushrod (38.5) and Jesse Davis (49.7). After Bushrod went down with a foot injury, Sam Young took over at right tackle and Davis moved to right guard. Young played well in his 32 snaps, earning a grade of 74.9.

Defense

Safety T.J. McDonald was the highest-graded player on the Dolphins in Week 11, earning an overall grade of 88.6, which ranked him third among all NFL safeties.

It appeared as though McDonald was rusty in his first game of action against Carolina — as he missed five tackles in that game. But he had no missed tackles against Tampa Bay and recorded four stops. McDonald was solid in coverage as well, as he was targeted just two times, allowing one catch for six yards.

Defensive tackle Davon Godchaux continued his impressive rookie season, earning an overall grade of 82.2 for the week, which ranks him 11th for the week among all interior defensive linemen.

All five of Godchaux’s tackles went for stops and he has now recorded 11 stops the last three weeks — the most for any interior linemen during that time.

Linebacker Kiko Alonso has been attacked in coverage by opposing offenses all year long and Week 11 was no different, according to PFF. He was targeted 11 times and allowed 10 receptions for 138 yards, as seven different Tampa Bay receivers had a catch against Alonso in coverage.

For the season, Alonso has been targeted 59 times (second-most for 4-3 OLBs), allowing 48 receptions (second-most), 523 yards (most), and three touchdowns (tied second-most). His coverage grade of 35.2 ranks 76th out of 79 qualifying linebackers in 2017.

Defensive end Cameron Wake has now gone four weeks without recording a quarterback sack, something that had not happened since since Weeks 1-4 of the 2015 season.

Against Tampa Bay, Wake recorded just one QB pressure for the third time in the last four weeks. Wake still ranks 14th among all edge defenders with a pass rush grade of 85.6 for the season, but he is trending in the wrong direction.

Rookie Cordrea Tankersley (81.8 overall grade and 13th ranked among cornerbacks) and Lawrence Timmons (80.3 overall grade and ranked 11th among all linebacker for the week) were two more bright spots on the Dolphins defense in Week 11.

It must be noted the Dolphins took Timmons off the field much of the day on passing downs and that had been his weakness throughout the season. Timmons has been good against the run most of the season and that was almost exclusively his role on Sunday.

Defensive tackle Jordan Philips had his most productive game of the season, earning a grade of 78.4.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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