Another Dolphins grand plan has fallen apart before the calendar even turns to November. And as usual this season, bad luck and questionable decisions can be blamed.
The Dolphins envisioned being able to adequately replace Ndamukong Suh with a rotation of what they thought were four quality NFL players: Akeem Spence, Davon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor and Jordan Phillips.
Now, with Phillips released after throwing a tantrum, and news that Taylor is out for the season and placed injured reserve after a foot injury against Houston, the Dolphins are left with just Spence, who ranks in the bottom quarter of all tackles this season according to Pro Football Focus; Godchaux; and veteran Ziggy Hood, who was unemployed before Miami signed him on Tuesday.
Hood has been a serviceable player over a 10-year career, but this should very much alarm the Dolphins:
Last season, Pro Football Focus gave him the second-lowest grade of any NFL player who wasn’t an offensive lineman. The only one lower: quarterback DeShone Kizer.
Hood, released by the Redskins on Oct. 16, has 225 tackles in 133 games, with 14 sacks.
With the Dolphins 29th against the run and 30th in sacks, a few things have become obvious:
1) 1) Taylor should have played a lot more. He graded out by far the best of Miami’s three defensive tackles – ranking 17th overall among all NFL defensive tackles – and yet he played the least, just 204 snaps compared with 357 for Godchaux and 318 for Spence.
Before his injury, Taylor told me that “a case could be made” that he should have played more this season but he decided not to make an issue of it.
2) The Dolphins likely overestimated Spence because of defensive line coach Kris Kocurek’s affection for him and familiarity with him after coaching him in Detroit last year. PFF rates him 82nd among 108 qualifying defensive tackles. Godchaux is 35th.
Spence is even worse in “run stop percentage” – 90th overall. PFF describes that as “the percentage of stops per snap played only in run defense.”
3) Kocurek’s comfort with Spence led to less playing time for Phillips, which led to his complaints about playing time, which led to his release. For all of his inconsistencies, the Dolphins certainly could use him now. Phillips is now with Buffalo.
Suh, incidentally, is rated 14th among all defensive tackles by PFF and is a key piece of the 8-0 Rams.
▪ Left guard Ted Larsen, who left Thursday’s game with an injury, “allowed five total quarterback pressures (three hurries and two hits) and was not effective in the run game either,” per PFF.
For the season, Larsen ranks 69th out of 73 qualifying guards with a 47.6 overall grade.
Yes, the Dolphins miss Josh Sitton.
▪ Per PFF, Minkah Fitzpatrick “played well again in Week 8, earning an overall grade of 79.8 for the game. Fitzpatrick was targeted just two times in coverage, allowing one reception for six yards and he recorded two defensive stops as well. For the season, Fitzpatrick has been targeted 29 times, allowing 16 receptions for 119 yards, 0 touchdowns and 1 interception for a passer rating of just 50.8.”