MIA-LA grades: Rams QB Jared Goff earns below-average grade in NFL debut
Miami Dolphins 14, Los Angeles Rams 10
Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from Miami’s 14-10 win over the Rams in Los Angeles.
Quarterback grade: Ryan Tannehill, 46.4
Tannehill redeems himself with a pair of late drives
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was on his way to a much lower grade before leading two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter. Tannehill badly overthrew WR DeVante Parker in the third quarter, leading to an interception for Rams safety Maurice Alexander that looked more like a kick return than a coverage play. Tannehill was also fortunate to have two other passes dropped by Los Angeles defenders. Miami was missing three starting offensive linemen by the end of the game, and compensated by having Tannehill get rid of the ball more quickly than usual (average time to throw of 2.42 seconds vs. his 2.67 season average). Tannehill struggled under pressure, finishing just three-for-seven for 16 yards—and four sacks—with the heat on.
Top offensive grades:
WR DeVante Parker, 82.7
WR Jarvis Landry, 74.9
RB Jay Ajayi, 60.5
QB Ryan Tannehill, 46.4
WR Kenny Stills, 46.1
Miami’s offensive line loses another starter
Already missing LT Branden Albert and C Mike Pouncey, the Dolphins seemed destined to be overmatched in a road game against a dominant Rams’ defensive line. Things only got worse after LG Laremy Tunsil left the game with a shoulder injury. Miami gave their line some help in pass protection with a game plan built around a quick passing attack, but the Dolphins’ running game was almost non-existent outside of a 36-yard run from RB Jay Ajayi. Miami consistently found themselves in third-and-long situations as a result, and punted on 10 of their 13 drives in the game. All five starters on the offensive line earned below-average run-blocking grades, with RT Ju’Waun James (38.5) and C Anthony Steen (40.8) the worst of the bunch. On a positive note, WR DeVante Parker earned an above-average grade for the second week in a row, catching eight of 10 targets for 79 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
Top defensive grades:
CB Byron Maxwell, 88.0
S Isa Abdul-Quddus, 84.9
LB Spencer Paysinger, 83.7
CB Tony Lippett, 82.2
ED Andre Branch, 80.0
Secondary stands out in Dolphins’ win
The Dolphins’ defense did a great job getting pressure on rookie Jared Goff, and played just as well on the back end in coverage. Defensive ends Andre Branch and Cameron Wake caused problems for both L.A. offensive tackles throughout the game, as they combined to record nine of the team’s 15 QB pressures; that brings Wake’s total to 30 on the year, which is among the best in the NFL. The Dolphins were stout on the interior of the defensive line, as well, with Ndamukong Suh leading the way with an 81.5 run-defense grade; that in turn freed up linebackers Neville Hewitt and Spencer Paysinger to make stops against the run. The secondary didn’t allow Rams receivers to separate most of the game, as cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Tony Lippett were targeted a combined 14 times, allowing eight catches for a total of 85 yards, with the longest being a 21-yard catch-and-run by Tavon Austin. The Dolphins’ secondary as a unit did a spectacular job limiting Goff’s options, as they held him to 4.7 yards per attempt.
Quarterback grade: Jared Goff, 50.2
Wet conditions hamper Goff in QB’s debut
A combination of the conditions and conservative play-calling contributed to a mediocre debut for first-overall pick Jared Goff. Goff only attempted four passes of 20 yards or more downfield, and was zero-for-four on those attempts. The offensive line struggled to hold up in pass protection, which led to designed quick throws, as 24 of his 31 attempts traveled less than 10 yards. Under rainy conditions, Goff did a nice job of not turning the ball over, although there were a few occasions where he forced some throws into close coverage. In the coming weeks, one would like to see the Rams push the ball downfield more in the passing game, as Goff finished with just 4.4 yards per attempt.
Top offensive grades:
G Roger Saffold, 82.2
T Rob Havenstein, 71.7
G Cody Wichmann, 70.7
WR Tavon Austin, 69.7
HB Todd Gurley, 58.9
Offensive line struggles in pass protection
The offensive line had a tough day against the Dolphins’ front, surrendering 12 quarterback hurries and two sacks. LT Greg Robinson was accountable for five of those hurries, on his way to a 47.3 pass-protection grade; Robinson has now allowed 21 QB hurries on the year, which ties his total from a season ago. The Rams did make a concerted effort to get the ground game going, and early on, it looked as though it might, as Todd Gurley burst through for a 24-yard touchdown in the first quarter. The production dropped off steeply from there, though, as Gurley had only 51 yards on 19 carries apart from the touchdown run. Running lanes closed up quickly on him, as G Roger Saffold and C Tim Barnes were the only linemen to earn above a 67.0 run-blocking grade. WR Kenny Britt was Goff’s favorite target on the day, as he threw his way seven times, none of which resulted in explosive plays, as Britt averaged 8.6 yards per reception.
Top defensive grades:
DT Aaron Donald, 85.2
LB Mark Barron, 84.9
DT Michael Brockers, 82.8
S T.J. McDonald, 81.7
S Maurice Alexander, 79.6
Rams’ defense falters down the stretch
Los Angeles’ defense completely smothered Miami’s offense for about three and a half quarters in the game, forcing 10 punts and an interception on the Dolphins’ first 11 drives. DT Aaron Donald and DT Michael Brockers completely took away the inside zone runs that Miami favors, earning 85.4 and 84.2 run-defense grades, respectively. LB Mark Barron was also a force in the run game, finishing with 11 tackles, five run stops, and a team-best 86.8 run-defense grade. Things fell apart for the Rams on the final drive however, and discipline continues to be a major issue for the team. DE Robert Quinn was flagged for three offsides penalties, and Donald gave the Dolphins 15 free yards with a roughing the passer penalty on the game-winning drive. The pass-rush also disappeared at the worst possible time, as Tannehill was pressured just once on the final two drives.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Andre Branch, DE, Dolphins
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