Dolphins’ Studs and Duds: Week 4

Sep 25, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase looks on during the second half against Cleveland Browns at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase looks on during the second half against Cleveland Browns at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Dolphins followed an ugly win against the Cleveland Browns in week 3 with an even uglier loss against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night.


1. Kenny Stills – Given the circumstances, Stills’ 74-yard TD reception on the offense’s second play of the game doesn’t make up for his week 1 drop against the Seahawks, but it helps………a little.

Why it Matters: Stills’ consistent ability to get open deep proves that the Dolphins possess a very dangerous trio of receivers. If Gase and Tannehill can ever employ them to their full potential, they may prove to be Miami’s last shot at turning this season around.

2. Reshad Jones – Jones was all over the field once again, leading the Dolphins in tackles and providing a perfect example of the kind of intensity this team desperately needs across the board.

Why it Matters: Jones leads by example. One can only hope the rest of the roster is taking notes. The front office surely is, and as a result, there should be a big payday coming his way at season’s end.


1.Ryan Tannehill – Tannehill’s issues with pocket awareness reared their ugly head once again as the QB fumbled on a hit by Carlos Dunlap at Miami’s 27 yard line, leading to the Bengals 3rd first half field goal. He followed that up on the next drive with a dangerous throwaway into the Bengal’s secondary, as well as a tipped pass, both of which could have been picked off. Then, with the Dolphins driving late in the game, Tannehill threw a terrible pass straight into the arms of Cincinnati’s Chris Lewis-Harris, essentially ending any hope of a comeback.

Why it Matters: This team will only go as far as Tannehill can take them, and based on what we have seen thus far this season, that doesn’t appear to be very far. Sure, he’s had his moments, but not a single one of them has been a game changer.

2. Terrence Fede – Fede’s roughing the kicker penalty didn’t just wipe out a shot at good field position for the Dolphins’ offense. It led to a fifth Mike Nugent field goal, giving the Bengals the 22-7 win.

Why it Matters: This isn’t complicated. Stupid mistakes at crucial moments are the perfect recipe for disaster, and let’s be honest. On this night, the results were disastrous.

3. Tonny Lippett – The young corner was schooled by A.J. Green as he gave up a TD via a missed tackle, as well as a 43-yard catch to the Bengals’ superstar on Cincinnati’s first drive of the second half.

Why it Matters: Lippett replaced Byron Maxwell, and he wasn’t much of an improvement. Still, Gase is clearly giving him the opportunity to gain much needed experience, and that doesn’t bode well for the former Seahawk’s chances of being with the team in 2017.

Final Grades

Quarterback: F Aside from the long TD pass to Stills, Tannehill appeared lackluster and his decision making was poor.

Running Backs: B Jay Ajayi continues to pick up momentum by finally showing the kind of decisiveness and power the Dolphins’ coaching staff had hoped to see from him during the preseason. Over the last 3 games he has amassed 24 touches for 119 yards. Still, the Dolphins’ running game didn’t end with him. As a whole, Miami averaged 4.8 yards per carry against Cincinnati.

Receivers and Tight Ends: C- This unit had difficulty getting separation, and aside from a couple of big plays, were a non-factor.

Offensive Line: D  Run blocking is steadily improving, but pass blocking collapsed at decisive moments of the game, leading to five sacks.

Defensive Line: C- The line played well against the run, but the pass rush was nonexistent, giving Andy Dalton and A.J. Green all the time they needed to pick apart the Dolphins’ secondary.

Linebackers: C  Like the rest of the defense, this unit did a decent job against the run, but remained porous against the pass.

Defensive Backs: D- A.J. Green abused the Miami secondary for 123 first-half yards on 8 receptions, including a short touchdown catch on the previously mentioned missed tackle by Tony Lippett. Only Reshad Jones’ strong performance keeps this from being an F.

Special Teams: D  Matt Darr continued to shine with booming punts that pinned the Bengals inside their own 20 on three occasions, but Terrence Fede’s inexcusable roughing the kicker penalty was this unit’s signature play of the game.

Coaching: C-  Gase came into this contest with a solid game plan, but made a crucial mistake by not taking advantage of Miami’s surprisingly strong running attack. His decision to keep Kenyan Drake out of the offense until the 2nd half also has to be questioned, consider the rookie has proven himself a consistent performer with 17 touches for 81 yards.


This situation doesn’t require over-analysis. The defense kept the game within reach, but Tannehill and company couldn’t hold up their end. To fully appreciate just how poorly the offense performed, consider that the Dolphins ran 26 fewer plays than the Bengals, were outdistanced by an embarrassing 16:04 in time of possession, and managed to convert just 2 of 10 third down opportunities. Considering Gase has insisted he will bench players that don’t perform, one has to wonder how many more chances Tannehill will be given to turn things around before we see Matt Moore trot onto the field. After all, if the Dolphins fall to 1-4 against the Tennessee Titans in week 5, nothing short of Divine intervention will save this season.