ReFo: MIA @ IND, Week 2
The Dolphins came out on top in Indianapolis in a matchup that went down to the wire. Red zone efficiency was the key difference as Miami came away with a touchdown on all three of their trips into that area. In contrast, the Colts would probably like another shot at it after scoring twice in four attempts.
The Dolphins are now 2-0, but face somewhat of a gauntlet in the next three weeks as they have to play Atlanta, New Orleans, and Baltimore in consecutive weeks – a span during which we’ll surely find out how good they really are. On the other hand the Colts came away on the losing end this week in their second straight close home battle. It might be a challenge to stay at .500, though, as they too have a daunting three week stretch coming up with games against Seattle and San Francisco. Before we get to all that though, let’s take a look at some notable performances in this game.
Miami – Three Performances of Note
Where was Wake?
This game was a bit of a letdown for Cameron Wake, who couldn’t manage to match even half of his 10 QB disruption total from Week 1. All but one of his snaps came from the defensive left side which meant he was mainly going up against Gosder Cherilus. Cherilus more than held his own although the Colts occasionally sent some chips and double team help his way. Wake looked like he might have been on track early after successfully bull rushing Cherilus in the first quarter. However, by the end of the game and after 43 rushing attempts, he hadn’t managed to do much more than that, though some of his grade is from failing to take advantage the few times he did get there. One such time came at 3:57 of the fourth quarter when Andrew Luck stepped up in the pocket, presenting Wake with an easy cleanup sack attempt. However, he found out the hard way that Luck is not quite as easy to bring down as Brandon Weeden, as the QB shrugged off Wake’s tackle attempt and scrambled for a first down. Sack attempts don’t often come much easier than that and for someone not having the best game, he needed to take advantage of it.
While his teammate wasn’t able to make much of an impact, Randy Starks (+4.5) did more than enough to pick up the slack on the interior. The mammoth tackle terrorized the middle all game, finishing with six hurries and a sack that, with help from Phillip Wheeler, killed the Colt’s final drive. Right guard Mike McGlynn had trouble handling the bull rush (see 2Q 5:04 and 4Q 3:57), while Starks also took advantage of Hugh Thornton on the left side once Donald Thomas went out.
Something to consider is that Starks started the 2012 season in a similar fashion with a +9.1 grade through the first two games. He was never able to consistently put it together the rest of the way struggling in particular on run defense. We’ll be watching to see whether Starks can keep up his level of play (+6.5 through two games) going forward.
Plenty of Pass Defense
Staying with the defense, one of Miami’s offseason acquisitions clocked in with a performance reminiscent of his days in Atlanta. Few defensive backs are better at finding and getting a hand on the ball than a healthy Brent Grimes (+4.9), and he showed that against the Colts. Of the ten passes thrown in his coverage, he defensed three, though one of those unluckily ended up in the hands of another receiver. He also pulled down an interception which was particularly crucial as it came in the fourth with Indianapolis in good field position.
Of course despite Grimes’ knack for playing the ball, he’s not always in position to do so, as evidenced by TY Hilton’s four catches for 84 yards against him, with breaking routes causing certain trouble in that matchup. Nevertheless, with opposing quarterbacks possessing a 53.6 passer rating when throwing his way, Grimes is already proving to be a valuable pickup and is a big reason the Dolphins are sitting at 2-0.
Indianapolis – Three Performances of Note
If there was one shocking result of this game, it’s how well right tackle Gosder Cherilus held up against Cameron Wake and his array of pass rush moves. Granted, Cherilus is by no means a slouch. He did finish 2012 as our 5th-rated tackle in pass blocking and was first in that category among right tackles. Still, containing arguably the NFL’s best pass rusher coming off of a +8.4 Week 1 display the way that he did is extremely impressive.
It’s also worth noting the performance of Indy’s other tackle, Anthony Castonzo, who finished with a grade of +4.6 on the back of a clean sheet in pass protection. Primarily blocking against Olivier Vernon, Castonzo wasn’t going against quite the level of competition that Cherilus had to face in Wake. For someone who surrendered seven QB disruptions a week ago, though, the Colts will take what they can get, even if the former first rounder hasn’t really shown that he can replicate it against tougher opponents. Unfortunately for Colts fans, the interior line didn’t deliver the same level of play.
Not so Lucky
Andrew Luck came up just short in his attempt to add another fourth quarter comeback to his resume. He did make some impressive throws in this game, but as his sub-60% completion rate suggests, he was often scattershot and forced a number of throws, especially under pressure. Miami didn’t get to him an extraordinary amount either; pressure on 36% of drop backs was middle of the pack this week compared to the rest of the league. On those 18 snaps, though, Luck was awful, completing just three passes to grade at -3.3. The Dolphins did a great job taking away the deep and intermediate throws, as Luck completed just seven of his 19 attempts more than 10 yards downfield, going three of eight in the intermediate middle.
Middle of the Defense
We saw the good and the bad from linebacker Jerrell Freeman in this game. On one hand he took advantage of the Miami backs Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas in pass protection, beating each for a sack of Ryan Tannehill – with a forced fumble on one of them. Outside of that, there wasn’t much positive, though he was involved in a lot of plays. In run defense, he struggled to shed blocks at times, as his lone positive play in that area came on an unblocked tackle in the backfield. The passing game didn’t see him do much better, whether he was matching up with Charles Clay in single coverage or picking up Mike Wallace on a short crossing route. Add to that a missed tackle and overall not a great day from Freeman or the rest of an underwhelming interior linebacker group.
– Mike Wallace’s Average Depth of Target was just 7.6 yards downfield.
– Ahmad Bradshaw averaged 5.7 yards per carry to the right of center versus 3.1 yards per carry to the left.
– Miami’s Caleb Sturgis is our highest-graded kicker in for field goals and extra points at +3.1.
PFF Game Ball
Randy Starks gets this one for his +5.0 mark rushing the passer.
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