Amazing considering I handle the schedule, but something about Tim Tebow making his first start of the year compelled me to break this game down and see if the inevitable credit and criticism was valid. More than that I was excited to see how two of my rookie of the year candidates could live up to the praise I have lavished upon them so far. One would flourish, and the other would flounder, but we’ll get to that.
Ultimately though, while individual performances may stick out, what this game was about as much as anything are the failings of an organization. That organization is of course the Miami Dolphins, who managed to blow a 15 point lead when it seemed harder to lose than win. Indeed the series of plays that saw them muff an onside kick, before eventually forgetting Tebow is built like a full back on a 2 point play will get those conspiracy theorists working overtime. That’s how bad they were and how bad they’ve become. This is amazing considering this is a team that is talented. Let’s look at some of that talent who had some good, and not so good days.
Denver Broncos: Three Performances of Note
I hate to do what all the cool kids are doing, but a dissection of Tim Tebow’s (-0.3) performance is somewhat necessary. Firstly let’s break down that rating, with the polarizing QB earning a -3.0 for his throwing, and a +2.0 for his running. That should give you an idea of just how poor his throwing was. There are plenty of examples of how bad he was, but the best was probably his first throw of the game at 12:11 in the first. Facing pressure and panicking he threw an out that was nearly picked off and if it had been, would have been returned for six. That was a bad decision, but his bigger problem was constantly overthrowing receivers, as he did on five separate occasions. It wasn’t just missing wide open receivers (such as missing Eric Decker deep down field on a would be touchdown), but he even managed to overthrow his receiver on a screen pass (2:41 in the second). There were some nice moments (his completion to Daniel Fells with 56 seconds left in regulation) and he did pick up the all important win, using his legs effectively more often than not. But don’t be fooled by this win being all about Tebow. He played his part, but only because the Dolphins set up him to do so.
A Mixed Right Side of the Line
It was never going to be easy for Orlando Franklin (-5.3) going up against Cameron Wake and so it proved. He wasn’t quite given the beating that Kamerion Wimbley handed him on the opening game of the season, but it was pretty close. The rookie RT gave up a couple of sacks, two more hits and three pressures. Some of those hits and pressures were attributed to Tebow holding onto the ball longer than you’d see most QBs do, but doesn’t excuse plays such as with 54 seconds gone in the 2nd half, as Wake flew past him before eventually sacking Tebow. He’ll need to get better, the same of which can’t be said about Chris Kuper (+3.6) who had his best game of the season. He gave up a couple of pressures, but was excellent in the run game where he had success against Tony McDaniels, while also doing a good job getting to the second level. Two performances on opposite ends of the spectrum from the right side of the Broncos line.
It was another day where Von Miller (+4.9) got to show just how good a player he has already become. On his 35 pass rushes he returned a sack, two QB hits and four more hurries as he gave the right side of the Miami line a real tough day. His most memorable play for me wasn’t his sack or any of the quarterback hits, but rather what he was able to do with 13:42 to go in the third. Despite being double teamed by Vernon Carey and Mike Pouncey, he managed to push both men back before getting in the face of Matt Moore. Not eye catching but an example of his dominance. Miller wasn’t the only rookie to make an impression for the Broncos in this one, as undrafted free agent Chris Harris Jr. (+1.8) came up big in overtime, almost intercepting one ball, and deflecting away another one. Only on the field for seven snaps, he stood up to being challenged.
Miami Dolphins: Three Performances of Note
A Tale of Two Linebackers
While Karlos Dansby (+4.5) and Kevin Burnett (-3.2) were separated by just one tackle on the stat sheet, that’s about the only similarity in their performance. Lost in all the struggles of Miami is just how much of a downgrade Burnett has been from Channing Crowder, with the guy who was meant to eliminate the Dolphins problems coping with TEs is not only doing nothing of the sort, but being somewhat lightweight in the run game. Ignoring his horrible attempt to tackle Tebow in the fourth, Burnett didn’t miss any other tackles, but he was easily taken out of the game whenever a Denver lineman got their hands. The same can’t be said of Dansby, with the Dolphins star ILB far more active around the line of scrimmage, picking up six defensive stops compared to the two of Burnett. I’ve written about Burnett a few times now and he just doesn’t seem to have hit it off in Miami after a strong year in San Diego.
So it is written, so it shall be. After weeks of waxing lyrical about the performances of Mike Pouncey (-3.9) he comes off the Dolphins bye week with two poor performances. This one was by far his worst, as he just couldn’t cope with the strength and power of Broderick Bunkley (+3.7). The Broncos DT was only on the field for 22 snaps (16 running plays), but was a handful in those, picking up four defensive stops with three of them coming against Pouncey. It wasn’t even just the tackles he picked up after beating Pouncey, but the way he continually stood him up and drove him back from the line of scrimmage. After looking overpowered against the Jets and looking good against explosive tackles like Antonio Garay, a trend is beginning to develop. He’ll need to rectify this soon or garner a reputation as a center who can’t handle the bigger guys on the line.
Amidst all the struggles of the Dolphins this year, at least Cameron Wake (+3.7) has been relatively consistent. Thanks to Tebow holding onto the ball, he added to the pressure he has been getting all year, with two sacks, as well as two more hits. Wake tortured Orlando Franklin, drawing a penalty, as well as two sacks, two hits and another pressure in the kind of performance we’ve become accustomed to seeing from the former CFL star. He narrowly edged out the impressive Paul Soliai (+2.5) for this paragraph, with his extra 35 snaps swinging things in his favor.
– The Tebow stat line when under pressure? 21 drop backs, six sacks and just three completions on 11 balls. One of those was a touchdown mind you.
– The Dolphins missed eight tackles. Three of those were by normally sure handed tackler Yeremiah Bell.
– Von Miller dropped into coverage on just three of 38 passing plays he was on the field for (including penalties).
PFF Game Ball
Brodrick Bunkley, Defensive Tackle, Denver Broncos
Do I really have to give it to someone? I’m going with Brodrick Bunkley, because to make the kind of impact he did, while spending so little time on the field is remarkable. A big reason why the Dolphins couldn’t run consistently, and opted to use so many three receiver sets.