Dolphins 2021 Week 4 Report Card

Breaking down how each position group performed during the 27-17 loss against the Indianapolis Colts at Hard Rock Stadium
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The Miami Dolphins suffered their third consecutive loss Sunday when they dropped a 27-17 decision against the Indianapolis Colts in a game that probably wasn't as close as the final score might suggest.

Here's the weekly breakdown on how each position group performed:

Quarterbacks

There unfortunately were too many similarities between Jacoby Brissett's performance in this game and his outing the previous week at Las Vegas. Specifically, there was a complete absence of chunk plays until the fourth quarter, and in this instance all of those plays came with the Dolphins down by 17 points (either 20-3 or 27-10). Brissett missed some open receivers downfield and had a bad fumble on the first play of the fourth quarter when he refused to just take a sack on a first-and-10. But, as was the case against Las Vegas, it wasn't all on him. Lastly, don't let his 107.5 passer rating in this game fool you. Grade: C-

Running backs

The Dolphins could have used some help from their running game in this one, but it just didn't happen. Malcolm Brown got his second consecutive start and led the team in rushing — but with only 23 yards on eight attempts. Myles Gaskin barely played and was a non-factor, and it was pretty much the same for Salvon Ahmed. The longest run by a running back was 6 yards and the longest reception was 8 yards. That's just not good enough. At least there didn't appear to be any blatant mishaps in blitz pick-up. Grade: D+

Wide receivers

Jaylen Waddle looked like he was headed for a big day when he caught three passes for 33 yards in the first quarter, but that was for it. He was targeted only once after that on a pass where Brissett badly missed the mark. And Waddle loses points for running out of bounds uncontested shy of the first-down marker after his first reception. DeVante Parker ended up posting decent enough numbers with four catches for 77 yards and a touchdown, but his first catch came on the final play of the third quarter. Parker also had two drops. Jakeem Grant played one snap on offense and lost 7 yards on a jet sweep, though that can't be blamed on him. Will Fuller was a non-factor before he left the game with a broken finger. Again, not good enough. Grade: D+

Tight ends

Mike Gesicki had the same kind of outing as Parker, except for the drops. He ended up with a team-high five catches but his first came on the next-to-last play of the third quarter, right before Parker had his first grab. Durham Smythe was the only other tight end to catch a pass and they were inconsequential receptions. Considering the Dolphins running game averaged 2.2 yards per attempt, nobody should get high blocking marks; on the contrary, replays showed Gesicki and Adam Shaheen both beaten by defenders who went on to make the tackle on separate running plays. Grade: C-

Offensive line

Yeah, it's still rough sledding for the offensive line. We've already mentioned the puny rushing average and the lack of even one run longer than 10 yards. Brissett was sacked three times and pressured on a few other occasions. Austin Jackson was flagged for illegal hands to the face in the first quarter, a penalty that negated a 28-yard completion to Fuller on the first drive of the game. New center Greg Mancz flew a shotgun snap over the head of Brissett, whose only play was to pick up the bouncing ball and chuck it out of bounds to avoid a big loss. Grade: D

Defensive line

The defense held Indy in check for most of the first half, and the defensive line played a big role in that. Christian Wilkins made himself a factor and John Jenkins also made some plays in the running game. Emmanuel Ogbah got his first full sack of the season when he ran right around former Dolphins tackle Julien Davenport in the first quarter. The second half wasn't quite as impressive, though. Zach Sieler was a non-factor for a rare game and he bit hard on an RPO fake to allow Carson Wentz to scramble for a first down when the Colts were backed deep in their territory. Adam Butler also was very quiet. Grade: C+

Linebackers

Andrew Van Ginkel (two tackles for loss) might have had his best outing of the season, and the same goes for rookie first-round pick Jaelan Phillips (three QB hits, half sack). The only blemish on Phillips' record for this game was a neutral zone infraction when he got too eager because we're not going to count the bogus facemask penalty he incurred on what should have been a key third-down stop when the score was 20-10. Jerome Baker was credited with a QB hit and a pass defensed, but he was overall fairly quiet and he was cleared out of the way by wide receiver Zach Pascal to create a huge hole on the left side of the offense on Jonathan Taylor's 38-yard run to start the second half. Elandon Roberts was active but he ran past Taylor on a run blitz when Taylor scored his 23-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Grade: C+

Secondary

The Colts didn't necessarily put up big numbers in the passing game, but they did come through with some key plays against the Dolphins secondary. The most glaring example was tight end Mo Alie-Cox outjumping safety Eric Rowe on his second touchdown after scoring another touchdown when Rowe was picked just inside the end zone. Xavien Howard didn't have a typical Howard game, giving up a couple of completions downfield, including a 41-yard gain by Pascal on a deep crosser. Nik Needham had a good game except for the third-down completion he gave up to tight end Jack Doyle on a play where he was flagged for DPI. Justin Coleman did have a nice tackle for loss on a jet sweep inside the Dolphins 5-yard line. But there simply weren't enough of those kind of plays on this day. Grade: C

Special teams

The game started off as well as could be on special teams when snapper Blake Ferguson recovered a muffed punt after the first series of the game, but it was mostly downhill from there with three major blunders by the Dolphins. The first, and most painful, was Brennan Scarlett's offside penalty on fourth-and-3 that gave the Colts a first down near midfield in a 3-0 game in the second quarter and changed the momentum of the game. The second was Jakeem Grant's muffed punt, which set up a Colts field goal in the third quarter. And the last was Jason Sanders' kickoff out of bounds after the Dolphins had cut their deficit to 20-10, which allowed Indy to start at the 40 a drive that would end with a game-clinching touchdown. The other bright spots for the Dolphins were a nifty 14-yard punt return by Grant, Sanders making his only field goal attempt and a great punting day by Michael Palardy, including one kicked downed at the 1-yard line. But the three bad mistakes overshadowed everything. Grade: D+