The Miami Dolphins are a very good team this year. They reside in a very competitive division in the AFC East which before this weekend’s games all four clubs had winning records. No other division in the NFL this year can boast that fact.
At 6-3-0 and just a half-game out of first place, the Dolphins needed to beat the Browns while the Browns (3-5-0) needed every single game as a victory to even think about the playoffs.
In the end, Miami won every aspect of the game as they thumped Cleveland 39-17. In the history of the league, only two teams have ever made the playoffs with three wins after nine games so Cleveland’s chances going forward appear bleak.
So who played well for the Browns? Who didn’t?
DB Denzel Ward - A welcome sight for this Browns’ defense was their Pro Bowl corner. He was very active covering Dolphins ace receiver Jaylen Waddle who only had 66-yards and did not score a touchdown. Ward saved a touchdown midway into the fourth quarter with an ankle tackle on RB Jeff Wilson who had broken free of the defensive line and only had green in front of him. Ward was very active in the run stoppage game as Miami consistently broke into the secondary. Finished with eight tackles.
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones - If the offense did anything today, it was gained by DPJ. The game’s first play was the 38-yard bomb which ended at Miami’s 15-yard line. This set up the game’s first touchdown. On the ensuing drive, DPJ converted a third-and-13 by snagging a pass for 22-yards inside Dolphins’ territory. With five minutes before the half, he did drop the fourth-and-three pass that hit him in the hands. On the Nick Chubb touchdown, it was DPJ who blocked out rookie Verone McKinley; then when Chubb bounced off the tackle DPJ then engaged the only man who still had a shot at the tackle. Led all receivers with 99-yards.
S Grant Delpit - Over the bye week, somebody showed Delpit how to tackle because he was a beast today. Not one single “jump on a player and ride him” happened all game. With less than two minutes until the half, Miami went for it on a fourth-and-one at Cleveland’s 13, but LB Jordan Kunaszyk filled the gap and hit Wilson behind the line. But it was Delpit who grabbed Wilson and pulled him back for a three-yard loss. He later nailed Wilson in the third quarter as the only man left up the middle. Delpit did allow TE Mike Gesicki to catch the 16-yarder to the 30 which eventually set up a touchdown. Overall a great game and had 10 total tackles with one tackle for loss.
Continuation of the Bengals game - The opening drive was just like going into the fifth quarter of the Cincinnati game where the Browns exercised correct decisions and made plays. After KR Jerome Ford put them in business at the 47, Brissett hit DPJ for 38-yards. Then with a third-and-four, the shifty QB made Miami jump for a free first down to set up a first and goal at the four. Two plays later, TE Harrison Bryant began on the rightside and then ran a drag route which placed him all alone for the catch. Four plays, 53-yards, and a sense that the Bengals win was the beginning of something great.
LB Sione Takitaki - Had some good plays and was very good in coverage. Led all defenders with 10 total tackles.
The answer drive - Immediately after Cleveland marched down the field and took a 7-0 lead, Miami put together their own drive that gave a glimpse of what this game would ultimately become. Starting at their own 16, the Dolphins dinked with short runs and passes but were stopped on a third-and-three. On fourth down, they converted from their own 36-yard line. Then a deep left pass to WR Trent Sherfield who was covered by linebacker Sione Takitaki gained 18. Wilson two straight runs gained 18 followed by an 11-yard gain. Then QB Tua Tagovailoa hit his fullback Alec Ingold for the score. 10 plays, 84 yards, 6:00 of clock, and no problem taking it down the field.
Defensive tackles - Did anybody up the middle ever make a stop? In reviewing some plays, every single DT for the Browns was manhandled and moved out of harm’s way. Seriously. A great example was with 4:39 left in the second quarter. Off the snap, Tommy Toigai was engaged and moved aside by LG Robert Hunt. Jordan Elliott had no answer for being pushed by RG Robert Jones. The center Connor Williams took out MLB Deion Jones and suddenly this alleyway formed reminisce of the Israelites fleeing the Pharaoh. Wilson popped off a 13-yard run before the secondary had to make yet another tackle. Taven Bryan and Roderick Perry must have graduated from the same “let’s be blocked out of the way” camp because holes were created up the gut all day.
Run defense - Miami came into the game ranked 29th in the league in rushing and had just three games with over 100-yards gained. Yet they took Cleveland to the woodshed and gained 195-yards. With the defensive tackles taking the day off, it was not an easy day for the Browns.
DC Joe Woods - The secondary played well today and made the bulk of the tackles. The run defense was nowhere to be found as Miami gained the most team rushing yardage this year. You would think that this was pretty obvious in the first half, yet the second-half adjustments were invisible. Why wasn’t a linebacker set in the middle of the defense instead of allowing the linebackers to begin in gaps over the guards and tackles? Why stay in the 4-2-5 when you are getting gashed in the middle? To allow teams to run up the middle on a consistent basis is embarrassing for any team. This year, opposing clubs with horrible running attacks have had banner games against this defense. How is this for the Dolphins’ offensive possessions today: TD, FG, downs (inside the Red Zone), TD, TD, TD, FG, TD, victory formation.
Rushing attack - Miami has a good run-stoppage defense. Cleveland is one of the best teams to run the ball. Until today. Nick Chubb’s 16-yards rushing in the first half is laughable. Why not some short swing passes to Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the flats? Maybe more screens? Thankfully this changed somewhat in the second half.
Offensive line - Was this yellow flag day? Because all of us have yellow shirts and could have come dressed for the party. Yes, you Jack Conklin. RG Wyatt Teller going down in the first stanza did not help. His replacement Hjalte Frodholdt was out-manned by DT Raekwon Davis quite a bit. Froholdt was surprised on a stunt with 7:11 left in the game. He took his man Jaelen Phillips to the right, but Conklin’s man Melvin Ingram looped. Both Froholdt and Conklin each had Phillips as Ingram ran into a wide-ass open spot vacated by Froholdt. The end result was the Dolphins’ third sack. Jedrick Wills had no answer for DE Bradley Chubb who had a visitor’s pass into the backfield. Miami’s three sacks do not tell this story of constant jailbreak on passing downs and not being able to move defenders off the line on running plays.
Milk Bones – when your brain says crunches but your stomach auto-corrects to cupcakes
LB Jordan Kunaszyk - Although not the starter, Kune made several good plays. As the second quarter was winding down on fourth down, Kunaszyk read the play then hit the gap and was the first to engage Wilson before help arrived. With 42 ticks left in the third, the pass to TE Gesicki in the back corner of the end zone was perfectly thrown and out-of-reach of Kunaszyk who had coverage. As the tight end corralled the ball with both hands, Kune grabbed his right arm and pulled which dislodged the ball. Finished with five tackles.
Special teams - On the Browns’ first kickoff after going up 7-0, D’Anthony Bell nailed KR Raheem Mostert at the 16. Later, Bell brought down PR Cedrick Wilson at the 47 after John Johnson missed the tackle and was hurt on the play. K Cade York made his only field goal attempt and was perfect on PATs. York had one kickoff land at the eight-yard line which Miami then got a good return. KR Jerome Ford dazzled with an impressive 47-yard return to begin the game, but did little with the other two he returned. P Corey Bojoquez had one punt for 41-yards which will hurt his average. You may have wondered who that #40 was that planted Mossert at the 24-yard line. That is LB Jermaine Carter who was brought up from the practice squad since Takitaki was taken off special teams and is now a starter.
QB Jacoby Brissett - Had a good game despite being hassled for most of the game. Had several scrambles for gains and even two first downs. Is a master at the QB sneak. Passed 35 times with 22 completions for 212 yards and a score. Had zero turnovers which is a huge plus. Had at least three passes dropped on key third down plays.
What happened between being great against a very good Cincinnati team and the next game being horrible against a very good Miami team?
This poll is closed
No running game
Not much production from receivers
Could not stop the run....again
Lack of pass rush