Needham played his best game of the season in week 10 against the Chargers. Nik started 11 games as a rookie last season and his 2020 season started off rocky. In his biggest test, he stepped up in a big way for Miami. Needham was asked to shadow one of the best slot receivers, Keenan Allen. Not only did Needham record his first sack of the season, but he also held Allen to 3 catches for 39 yards. The one touchdown Allen caught was against Xavien Howard. This Dolphins defense can become even scarier if Needham continues to play the way he did in week 10.
Raekwon Davis had the best game of his young NFL career last Sunday. In week 10, Davis had a 90.8 run defense grade according to Pro Football Focus, which ranked 1stamong all interior defensive linemen. His 89.6 overall grade ranked #1 among all defensive linemen in week 10 as well. With the loss of Davon Godchaux, Davis has been asked to take on a bigger role in the defense and he has stepped up thus far. Davis was a player that coach Brian Flores seemed ecstatic to select in April’s draft. The hope is that the game is slowing down for Davis and he is able to start dominating like he did at Alabama.
Andrew Van Ginkel
Van Ginkel’s stock has been up for a few weeks now. After returning a fumble for a touchdown in week 8, Van Ginkel started week 10 in a similar fashion. On the game’s opening drive, Van Ginkel blocked the Chargers punt giving the offense the ball at the 1-yard line. Not only is Andrew a valuable defensive player for Miami, but he also contributes on special teams as well. It seems as though the former fifth-round pick has a knack for making big plays.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) November 20, 2020
Grant is the spark plug Miami needs. This Dolphins team is a group that feasts on momentum plays. Interceptions, fumbles, sacks, and kick returns are what drives Miami to wins. Jakeem Grant has the capability to change a game in a flash. We saw Grant return a punt in Week 8 against the Rams for a touchdown, but he has constantly put Miami’s offense in great situations with his other returns. Grant currently ranks #1 in the NFL in punt return yards with 294, the next closest has 210. He averages around 15 yards per return and is one of only two players to have a punt return touchdown in the NFL this season. Grant giving Miami’s offense great field position is a big part of why the Dolphins are averaging 28 points per game.
Jordan Howard? Gone. Matt Breida? Hurt and non-existent. Myles Gaskin? On IR. Salvon Ahmed, the Dolphins’ fourth (or fifth if you count Patrick Laird) running back on the Dolphins depth chart has impressed in limited opportunities. Ahmed was used sporadically in week 9, but it was week 10 where the undrafted rookie shined the brightest. Ahmed had 85 rush yards on 21 attempts against the Chargers. Salvon tallied 91 yards on the ground at one point before some late-game possessions reduced his yardage but the RB was nine yards away from becoming the first Dolphin to rush for 100 yards in a single game in the past 26 contests. Ahmed has shown good vision, speed, and ball security. The Dolphins have been searching for a player to help the running game all season and Ahmed was a pleasant surprise last week. Matt Breida will return to the Dolphins lineup in week 11 and will be lobbying for the carries but I suspect they split the workload. Myles Gaskin is also set to return to action in the coming weeks so we will see if Ahmed sticks or not. Gaskin and Ahmed were teammates at the University of Washington and might have good chemistry together.
Karras, the center for Miami, had a dismal week 10. He had two ill-advised snaps, one resulting in seven points for the Chargers. The Dolphins had a 14-0 lead and were driving to put the game out of reach. Karras snapped the ball to Tua Tagovailoa at his shins ending the drive and killing all the momentum Miami had. It was not until Xavien Howard intercepted Justin Herbert in the fourth quarter when the Dolphins recaptured the momentum and wound up winning their fifth straight game. Karras has to be more efficient and not have simple plays cost the team field position.
Mike Gesicki had an impressive 2019 season and start to the 2020 season, but in the past few weeks, he has been a non-factor. Gesicki had great success with Ryan Fitzpatrick and his gunslinger mentality. Fitzpatrick would often throw the ball up for grabs and Gesicki would come down with some leaping catches. With Tua at the helm, Gesicki has not utilized the correct way. It is not Tua’s fault or Gesicki’s fault but he has been misused by the coaching staff. Gesicki should be feasting in the red zone and on smaller linebackers. The big tight end has the speed and jumping ability to make acrobatic catches and a game-changer every week. This Sunday in Denver could be a big game for Mike and I expect him to be incorporated much more in the offense.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) November 20, 2020
Breida was presented with a big opportunity the past two weeks with the injury to Myles Gaskin. Unfortunately for Breida, he was sidelined with a hamstring injury and was not able to capitalize on his chance to start. Dolphins fans have been waiting for Breida to “breakout” but that might not ever happen. Breida will be suited up this Sunday in Denver but will probably start the game backing up Salvon Ahmed who has earned the starting role. Breida must show he has the ability to play a complete game. Sunday will be a make or break game for Breida before Myles Gaskin returns from IR.
Lynn Bowden Jr.
The Dolphins traded a fourth-round pick for the rookie from Kentucky back in early September, but Bowden has yet to make an impact on the team. The versatile WR/RB has only been used in a handful of plays for Miami this season. Bowden battled COVID-19 but was eligible to play in week 10 versus the Chargers. With Preston Williams out with an ankle injury, the wide receiver was a position the Dolphins were thin at. With that being said, Bowden was inactive in week 10 and the team elected to go with Antonio Callaway instead. Although Callaway did not get any offensive snaps, the team obviously does not view Bowden as a player that can help at the moment. Earlier this week the Dolphins elevated Callaway from the practice squad again which might put Bowden’s playing status in doubt. If Bowden is a healthy scratch again in week 11, it is time to wonder if he will be apart of the team’s plans going forward.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) November 19, 2020
The Miami Dolphins are riding a 5-game winning streak and are red hot. They face a Denver Broncos team that is 3-6 and could be missing their starting quarterback on Sunday. Since week 5 the Dolphins’ defense has been elite. They are allowing 16.3 points per game, which ranks #1 in the league. They have forced 8 fumbles, which ranks tied for second, and 5 interceptions, which ranks tied for fifth. They also have a 28.6% third-down percentage and 8 scrimmage TD’s which both rank 4thin the league during that span. Miami has forced a turnover in 16 straight games, which is the longest active streak in the NFL. Miami also seems to prey on teams without a scrambling quarterback. The team’s three losses this season have come against Cam Newton (Patriots), Josh Allen (Bills), and Russell Wilson (Seahawks). The six wins were against Gardner Minshew (Jaguars), Jimmy Grappolo (49ers), Joe Flacco (Jets), Jared Goff (Rams), Justin Herbert (Chargers), and the lone exception, Kyler Murray (Cardinals). Straight drop back passers have completed 122 of 214 passes for 1,174 yards with four touchdowns and a whopping seven interceptions against Miami’s defense. Scrambling QB’s have racked up 1,213 passing yards, 205 rushing yards, 9 touchdown passes, 3 rushing touchdowns, and only one interception against Miami’s defense. Luckily for the Dolphins, their next three opponents come against teams without a mobile quarterback. The Dolphins’ offense is averaging 27.9 points per game and has scored at least 21 points in 8 straight games, which is the team’s longest streak since 2001. Week 10 was only the second time in franchise history that the team scored 21+ points in the first half of four straight games and the first time since 1977. The offense has been granted a great starting field position thanks to defensive turnovers and Jakeem Grant punt returns. According to the Dolphins, there had not been a Dolphins 1-yard touchdown drive before Tua Tagovailoa’s first NFL start in 20+ seasons. In Tua’s first two home starts, he has had two! This team is clicking on all cylinders and this Sunday will not be any different. Denver is averaging an abysmal 17.8 points per game at home this season while allowing 29.3 points to their opponents. Coincidentally, Miami is averaging 29.7 points per game on the road and an outstanding 36.0 per game since their opening day loss in New England. The Broncos are -12 in the turnover margin, meaning they turn the ball over a lot and do not take the ball away often. This will be Tua’s “coldest” game in the NFL when he takes the field Sunday in Denver with temperatures in the mid-40’s. The Dolphins defense will not have trouble keeping Drew Lock or any other Denver quarterback in check and it will be a long day for the home team. Keenan Allen of the Chargers went on record this week to say that the Chargers offense had no idea what to do against the Dolphins defense and how confused they were. Lock, coming off a 4-interception week 10 will have to take care of the ball if the Broncos want to earn their fourth victory of the season. Tua Tagovailoa has a chance to make history with a win on Sunday. Tua will join Ben Roethlisberger as the only rookie QB in the last 40 years to win their first four starts. The team is also seeking their twelfth 6-game winning streak in franchise history. In only two of those twelve seasons, the team missed out on the playoffs.