It’s pretty easy to see why Jones is the very first player in my Stock Up section for the 2018 season. He was all over the field against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. He finished the game with 7 total tackles, 1.5 TFL (tackles for a loss), 2 deflections and 2 interceptions. He was not perfect, as he did miss an open field tackle on Dion Lewis allowing him to gain an extra 10-15 yards, but he was still the standout on a good day for the Dolphins defense. Jones entered the season as the face of the secondary, and arguable the entire defense. If he keeps this up, he will be heading towards another Pro Bowl, possibly even All-Pro, season.
Kenny Stills –
This one shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone either. Even if our “Number 1” guy, Devante Parker, played this game, I still expected Stills to come out as our top receiver. I actually predicted him to lead the team in receiving yards this season. Stills finished the day with 4 catches on 5 targets for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also had a key block on Miami’s longest rush of the game, a 21-yard run by Frank Gore. Like Jones, he wasn’t perfect. He did have a drop on a crossing route in the fourth quarter. Yes, it was raining, but it was still a catchable ball. However, he made up for it by catching a 75-yard touchdown pass just two plays later. Not only did Stills beat Pro Bowler Malcom Butler on the play, but the pass was an absolute dime from Ryan Tannehill. Which leads me to my final spot.
Offensive Line –
No, it is not Ryan Tannehill, but Miami’s offensive line as unit that makes the list. That pocket was perfect on aforementioned touchdown pass. And honestly, Minkah Fitzpatrick was almost in this spot instead. They make it over him primarily due to expectations. They were good, but not great, against the Titans on Sunday. Considering how poorly they have been for the better part of the last decade, it was nice to see the team field a unit that was not a liability in the run or pass game. They kept Tannehill’s jersey clean for the most part, with the only sack of the game coming with about 5 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. On the play, the Titans simply blitzed more players, six, than the Dolphins had blocking, five. Miami also averaged 4.1 yards per carry on the ground. Again, not exactly numbers that are going to blow you away, but it’s nice to be able to not be so worried about the offensive line. Also, if you take away Tannehill’s 4 rushes for 4 yards, they wouldv’e averaged just north of 4.6 yards per carry. With more time together, the unit should get better as the season goes on.
This was something we all really wanted to see improve this year. The Dolphins offensive unit, who was the most penalized unit in the league last year, picked up right where they left off. They had 4 offensive penalties on Sunday. The only thing that held back the offensive line from having a much better day, was the fact that all 4 penalties came from that unit. Laremy Tunsil was flagged for holding and a false start penalty, while Ja’wuan James contributed two holding penalties of his own, one which negated a first down scramble by Tannehill. Robert Quinn and Davon Godcheaux both were hit with neutral zone infractions. Bobby McCain and Jordan Phillips were both flagged for taunting when a fight broke out resulting from a crackback block that Andre Branch delivered to Taylor Lewan, ultimately knocking him out of the game. For the Dolphins to make the playoffs this year, it is imperative that these get cleaned up.
Raekwon McMillan –
Yes, it hurts to put him here, but he did not have a good game against the Titans on Sunday. I was not as high on McMillan as a lot of people were coming into the season, mostly because I feel he received a lot of hype between last year and this year from us hopeful fans. I think that he can be a solid starter in this league, but I never saw him as being a savior of the defense by any stretch. He is still a liability in coverage, which is apparently a requirement if you want to make the team as a linebacker, and he is still going through growing pains following his “redshirt” year last year. Yes, he may know the playbook much better after being able to digest it all of last season, but nothing replaces in game experience. PFF graded him out at a 53.3 against the Titans, ranked as the 56th linebacker this week. The Dolphins running game looked a better than expected against the run, but not great. Fortunately, a 62-yard touchdown run by Derrick Henry was called back for a holding.
Dolphins Pass Rush –
This one is surprising, our pass rush looked flat our dominant in the preseason. This was the exact situation that we wanted to be in to unleash our plethora defense ends on the opposing quarterback. Not only were we in the lead virtually the entire game, but they were missing their starting right tackle to start the game and ended the game without their starting left tackle and their starting quarterback. Everything seemed to be in our favor, aside from the production. Miami’s defense generated zero sacks, yes ZERO sacks. If you would’ve told me the circumstances that we would’ve had prior to the game starting, I would’ve guessed 4, maybe 5 sacks from this unit. I’m not sure what is going on there, and fortunately we still came out with the win. For as much equity as we have in our defensive ends, we need to see more production from them over the course of the season.
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