ReFo: Dolphins @ Jaguars, Week 8
The final score doesn’t do justice to how evenly matched these teams were right down to the final whistle. The sole difference: mistakes. The 14-point margin in the game can be attributed to two bad decisions from Blake Bortles that resulted in two Miami touchdowns. Jacksonville outgained Miami 377 to 326, but the game was decided well before the Dolphins finally knelt down to end it.
These are the kinds of games that need to be won if you expect to make the playoffs. Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins offense certainly didn’t have their ‘A’ game Sunday, but the defense and special teams still got the job done. The win moves the Dolphins to 4-3 and keeps pace with the Patriots in the division. The loss drops the Jaguars to 1-7 and any hope of the playoffs was gone long ago.
Miami Dolphins – Performances of Note
Mike Pouncey, RG: +1.6
Breakdown: Pouncey broke through for his first positively-graded game as a right guard. Some quality play from the Dolphins’ right guard position would do wonders for their rushing attack and it certainly didn’t hurt on Sunday. The former pro bowl center used those skills with his best work coming when he got up to the second level.
Signature Stat: The Dolphins ran for 62 yards on 10 carries on runs to the right of center.
Olivier Vernon, DE: +2.4
Breakdown: Just another solid performance from the third-year defensive end who is quietly becoming one of the more underrated defensive ends in the league. Only one hit and one pressure on the day, but he consistently collapsed the edge and had multiple good rushes that didn’t go down as pressures.
Signature Play: His biggest play of the day wasn’t on defense, rather it came on special teams. On the Jaguars’ first field goal attempt of the game, Vernon swam over the top of Austin Pasztor and got his left hand on the ball for the block.
Daryn Colledge, LG: -4.2
Breakdown: Football culture promotes playing through pain, but more often than not this is what it looks like when guys try to play hurt. Colledge whiffed twice, allowing a couple sacks in 10 snaps, before coming out of the game with migraines. Nate Garner (-0.2) and Dallas Thomas (-0.5) were welcome replacements for the final 51 snaps
Signature Play: With 4:46 left in the first quarter, Colledge put up little fight on a hesitation move from Sen’Derrick Marks and allowed a sack just 2.3 seconds after the snap.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Performances of Note
Brandon Linder, RG: +4.8
Breakdown: The prevailing thought on most highly drafted linemen is that they are ready to play from day one even though we’ve seen time and again that’s not the case. Fortunately for the Jaguars, third round pick Brandon Linder hasn’t been just ready to play, he’s been their best lineman. Sunday was his second straight game without allowing a pressure, but his best work came against the run. There he wasn’t downgraded once and repeatedly got the angle on Jared Odrick when the Jaguars ran outside zone runs.
Signature Stat: His +8.5 overall grade for the season is sixth-best among all guards.
Blake Bortles, QB: -6.3
Breakdown: If you saw any portion of this game or highlights, this one won’t come as much of a surprise. There weren’t many redeeming qualities from Bortles’ lowest-graded outing to date. He completed five of 14 passes 10+ yards downfield and threw two more pick-sixes. There were more than a couple passes that weren’t even spirals. Maybe the most troubling, though, were his stats under pressure. On 15 drop-backs he went 1-of-9 passing for 10 yards with two interceptions and four sacks.
Signature Play: On the first play of the second quarter with Jaguars in scoring range Bortles rolled to his left and stared down Nic Jacobs on a crossing route. As soon as he cocked to throw Louis Delmas came off his man in the flat and intercepted the ball, taking it back to the house.
John Cyprien, S: -2.7
Breakdown: Even with much improvement from year one to year, there is still one big question mark looming over Cyrpien, his lack of speed. That paucity was on display again on Sunday. He’s improved his angles of attack tremendously from early in his rookie season, but there are still plays, like the Tannehill run after the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter, where Cyprien just doesn’t have the recovery speed to attack a ball carrier on the edge. Even before Tannehill beat him up the sideline to seal out the game, Cyrprien had already missed three tackles on the day.
Signature Stat: Cyprien’s 5.4 Tackling Efficiency (tackles per miss) against the pass is 51st out of 63 qualifying safeties.
PFF Game Ball
For neutralizing the Dolphins’ adept interior for most of the game, Brandon Linder gets this game’s game ball.
Follow Mike on Twitter: @PFF_MikeRenner