Dolphins Stock Market: Quarterly Earnings (Who’s Up/Down?)
Anyone tuning in to the week 4 matchup between the Dolphins and Seahawks might have felt déjà vu. When the Dolphins lose, they tend to lose in the same fashion each week. Yet again Miami had an opportunity to knockoff a good football team but let it slip away in the fourth quarter. Settling for field goals is a recipe for disaster and that is exactly what Miami did. The Dolphins have lost three games to teams with a combined record of 10-2. Furthermore, in those losses, Miami has lost by only a combined 21 points. The Dolphins are just not good enough to compete with the best teams in the league but they are also better than their record depicts. Miami has a chance to get hot with a favorable schedule approaching. Before week 14 arrives, the Dolphins play teams with a current combined record of 10-21-1. The week 8 matchup with the Rams is the only team as of now with a winning record. Miami will face teams that have been decimated with injuries to key players. Not only is this a big stretch of games for the team to get back on track, but it is also paramount that Ryan Fitzpatrick plays well. His time in Miami is dwindling and the team can insert rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa at any moment. Coach Flores was hesitant to name Fitzpatrick the starter for week 5, but then came back the following day to claim that Tua is “not ready yet.” Statements uttered to the media cannot be taken seriously and we all know the rookie’s moment is coming.
With each game comes the opportunity for players to perform admirably or poorly. Let’s take a look at whose stock is up and whose is down heading into week 5 against the 49ers.
DE – Emmanuel Ogbah
Ogbah has really started to blossom into the player the Dolphins envisioned when they signed him this offseason. Ogbah came over from the super bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs with hopes to see more playing time. Not only is he starting, but he is also the team’s best edge rusher. After not logging a sack in the season opener, Ogbah has contributed at least ½ a sack in each of the last three games. In the team’s latest outing, Ogbah got great pressure on Russell Wilson forcing him to throw an ill-advised pass that Xavien Howard ended up intercepting in the end zone. The Dolphins pass rush is in dire need of consistent play and Emmanuel Ogbah will be a big part of the team’s success.
DT – Zach Sieler
Sieler might not be a household name, but he should be. Sieler is the backup defensive tackle for the team and tends to make plays whenever his name is called. Sieler has 0.5 sacks on the season and 8 total tackles. In the past two weeks, he has logged 6 of those 8 tackles. To put that into perspective, Christian Wilkins has 4 tackles and Davon Godchaux has 5 tackles in those games. Not only is Sieler outplaying Miami’s starting DT’s, but he is also doing so on a limited snap count. On Sunday versus Seattle, Sieler was credited for 5 quarterback pressures on 21 pass rush reps. That is about a 25% win rate and overall solid disruption. Sieler deserves more playing time and if that means cutting into Wilkins’ and Godchaux’s snaps, then so be it.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) October 9, 2020
K – Jason Sanders
Jason Sanders was on my honorable mention last week, but he has given me no choice but to promote his stock. Sanders was outstanding in week 4, connecting on all five of his field-goal attempts. Miami’s kicker is now tied for first in the league with 100% made field goals and extra points. Sanders is currently 9-9 on field goals and 6-6 on extra points. Jason has quickly turned into one of the better and more reliable kickers in the entire NFL. He is 50-59 in his career and his only down year came in 2019 when he missed seven kicks. Sanders is also 70-72 on extra points. An eye-popping stat is that Jason has only missed one kick inside 40 yards in his career. He is 28-29 from 39 yards and in and 5-7 from 50+. Where Sanders seems to struggle is between 40-49 yards where he is 17-23 in his career. Coincidently, 5 of his 9 made field goals this season have come between 40-49 yards. Having a reliable kicker in the NFL is such an advantage and an underrated concept. Kickers seem to bounce around from team to team but the good one’s stick. Miami seems to have found their long-term answer in the kicking game.
QB – Tua Tagovailoa
Tua Tagovailoa’s stock is something to buy now! Investors would be foolish to not invest in Miami’s backup quarterback. His time in Miami is creeping upon us, and when he gets his opportunity, his stock will skyrocket. As we look around the league, we see Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert playing really well and that might force Miami’s hand. Although coach Brian Flores claims Tua, “is not ready,” he will be once Ryan Fitzpatrick has a few more poor outings. Tagovailoa, one of the most prolific and accomplished quarterbacks in college football history was drafted to solve Miami’s quarterback woes over the last two decades. That is a lot of pressure on a 22-year old kid, but if anyone is equipped to handle that pressure, it is Tua.
Honorable Mention: Eric Rowe, Shaq Lawson, Isaiah Ford, Ereck Flowers
CB – Xavien Howard
This is a tough call to make but Xavien is simply not the player we saw prior to last season. In 2019, Howard was riddled with injuries and seems to still be shaking off the rust. Since December 2017, Howard leads the NFL with 14 interceptions in that span. That stat is somewhat surprising considering the fact that he missed most of the 2019 season. Howard has 2 interceptions this season already but it is his coverage that puts him on this list. In week 4 against the Seahawks, Howard allowed 6 receptions on 7 targets for 133 yards. The only pass that was not completed in his zone was his interception. Howard also shadowed D.K. Metcalf on 89% of his routes and Metcalf had all 4 of his catches for 106 yards against Howard. Quarterbacks used to fear throwing in Howard’s direction, but now not so much. Xavien is the sixth highest-paid cornerback in the league and must get back to his pro bowl form. Pairing Howard with Byron Jones was supposed to be a matchup nightmare for opposing quarterbacks but both have not lived up to their expectations through four weeks.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) October 9, 2020
CB – Noah Igbinoghene
Talk about just throwing a rookie into the fire. The 2020 30thoverall draft pick has not had a great start to his career, to say the least. The team remains confident in Igbinoghene and so does he. The rookie was asked to shadow Stefon Diggs in week two which was not the brightest of ideas, and last week he was torched again. He allowed a huge reception at the end of the first half that resulted in Seattle going 75-yards in 21 seconds to score a touchdown. He also allowed David Moore to score a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. The good news? His play can only get better and the return of Byron Jones will help reduce some of Igbinoghene’s snaps.
QB – Ryan Fitzpatrick
Ryan Fitzpatrick has been closer to Fitztragic than Fitzmagic so far this season. The leader and locker room favorite is quickly losing his credibility. Fitzpatrick had to have known his leash was going to be short this season after the team drafted Tua Tagovailoa with the 5thpick. Fitzpatrick has confirmed the narrative that his quarterback play is much like a roller coaster. The Dolphins have played four games this season. In two of those four, Fitzpatrick has thrown four touchdowns and zero interceptions and in the other two, zero touchdowns and five interceptions. It is hard to say whether Tagovailoa would have converted at least one touchdown out of the five drives that ended in field goals, but I would like to think he would have. There is no rush to put Tagovailoa out onto the field and fans must realize that this is the only year two of the teams rebuild. Fitzpatrick has a favorable schedule going forward and we should see his play improve. To be fair, Ryan has faced the Patriots, Bills, and Seahawks in three of the first four games, and all of those teams are known for their well-coached defenses. However, if Fitzpatrick does not lead the Dolphins to victories in the next several weeks and continues his poor play, Miami might be forced to take the brand new Ferrari out of the garage.
Honorable Mention: Jakeem Grant, Jerome Baker, Chan Gailey (Offensive Coordinator)