Not a lot of good can be said about what happened in Tampa Bay yesterday. The final score, 45-17, is deceptively bad. Right up until mid-way through the third quarter, believe it or not, the Miami Dolphins were hanging in this game. It wasn’t until the defense seemingly completely gave up that the game got out of hand. More on that later. Despite the abysmal performance and the 1-4 record, this game did have some positive performances and some things seem to be trending in a good direction for Miami. Here are the winners and losers of week five.
Loser: Xavien Howard. We’ll start with the big one. X had what was probably one of the worst games of his career yesterday. He was following Antonio Brown for most of the game with disastrous results. Brown flew by him twice for two touchdowns, one of which went for 62 yards. On a day where the entire (expensive) secondary played horribly, Howard stood out in a negative sense. One almost has to hope that the injury he dealt with all week in practice was worse than the team let on and he was playing through it, otherwise there isn’t much of an explanation for why he played so poorly.
Winner: Myles Gaskin. The team finally committed to getting the ball in Gaskin’s hands, and he delivered. Gaskin had 10 receptions for 74 yards and two touchdowns. He was pretty much the only truly bright spot on a very dark day for this Dolphins team. Stats aside, Gaskin passes the eye test. He is quick and shifty and has the special ability to make something out of nothing. If the Dolphins are going to attempt to turn this extremely embarrassing season into only a moderately embarrassing season, they need to keep feeding Gaskin the rock and continue to get him involved in the passing game.
Loser – Jaylen Waddle. I’ve tried to defend Waddle through the first few weeks of this season. It’s getting harder and harder. With Will Fuller and DeVante Parker out this week, Waddle was given a prime opportunity to step up and show exactly why he was chosen sixth overall in the draft. He did not deliver. Waddle only caught two passes for 31 yards. He also let a very catchable pass slip right through his fingers and all but handed it to Tampa Bay’s Jamal Dean in the fourth quarter. Waddle needs to do more to get open and make more plays when the ball is thrown his way if he’s going to live up to where he was drafted.
Winner- Jacoby Brissett. Brissett wasn’t the reason the Dolphins lost this game. He showed great decision-making ability and he was getting the ball out quickly and decisively. He was doing all of that despite suffering what looked to be a very painful hamstring injury. Side note: has anyone ever seen a player get carted back onto the field after being carted off? That was a first for me. Either way, Brissett showed a lot of toughness and I guarantee he earned a lot of respect in the Dolphins’ locker room yesterday.
Loser – The entire Miami defense in the second half. The final score doesn’t show it, but up until midway through the third quarter, the Dolphins were playing good football on all sides of the ball. The offensive line was holding up, they were moving the ball downfield, and the defense was doing an adequate job of keeping the high-flying Bucs offense from running away with the game. That is until midway through the third quarter when the defensive seemed to completely give up. I’m not sure what happened to them mentally or if they were just gassed, but suddenly the score went from 24-17 to 45-17 in what felt like just a few minutes. Tom Brady ended with one of the best stat lines of his entire illustrious career and the Bucs simply decimated the Miami defense. They ended with 558 total yards and six touchdowns. Embarrasing.