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Dolphins 2021 Week 9 Report Card

Breaking down how each Miami Dolphins position group performed during the 17-9 victory against the Houston Texans at Hard Rock Stadium

The Miami Dolphins finally ended their losing streak when they defeated the Houston Texans, 17-9, at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.

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

Quarterbacks

Jacoby Brissett got the nod in place of Tua Tagovailoa and turned in a workmanlike, albeit unspectacular performance. Brissett was 26-of-43 for 244 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions and had a passer rating of 64.5. The two picks came when he forced a ball downfield under pressure, though Jaylen Waddle could have helped him out by coming back for the ball, and when he tried to hit Waddle underneath but threw a low ball in traffic that was batted up in the air. Brissett did have some good throws, including nice slants to Waddle and Kirk Merritt and a dart to Waddle down the sideline, plus a scramble for a first down. He also fumbled once when he was sacked from behind after holding the ball because he couldn't find anybody open. As has been the case all year, the QB didn't get great protection. Grade: C

Running backs

Nobody is going to judge the running backs by the final stats, although those don't paint a pretty picture. Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed combined for 40 on 24 carries, a putrid 1.7 average. Gaskin did have a 6-yard touchdown after taking a direct snap in shotgun formation and he did gain extra yards on a few plays with second effort. Gaskin also caught six passes but gainned only 23 yards on those. While the blocking up front again was sub-par, it's not like the running backs created a lot on their own. Grade: C-

Wide receivers

As he's done many times in his rookie season, Jaylen Waddle had a really nice outing with eight catches for 83 yards on 10 targets. Mack Hollins had three catches and scored the Dolphins' second touchdown, but he did drop a third-down pass at the first-down marker. Kirk Merritt also had a drop and failed to adjust to a deep pass by Brissett that was off the mark but ultimately not uncatchable. Merritt did have a 13-yard reception in the second half for his first career catch. Albert Wilson had an 11-yard reception but failed to make a very catchable reception on a pass thrown behind him in the third quarter. Grade: C+

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Tight ends

Mike Gesicki caught a modest four passes, but two of those were circus grabs where he snagged the ball by reaching out his right hand. One of them was a key 18-yard gain on second-and-22 on the drive that ended with Jason Sanders' field goal late in the first half. Durham Smythe had two catches, one for 21 yards to set up the Hollins touchdown and the other a 6-yard gain when he did a good job of concentrating after a pass was tipped at the line. Adam Shaheen had an 11-yard pick-up to convert a third down. The blocking for the run game from the tight ends was uneven, though we should mention that Gaskin went between clearing blocks by Shaheen and Smythe on his touchdown run. Grade: B+

Offensive line

Believe it or not, we hate pounding on the offensive line week in and week out, but it's just not getting much better. Brissett was sacked four times against the Texans and pressured on several other occasions. Rookie left tackle Liam Eichenberg, in particular, appeared to have a very difficult afternoon. There were no penalties up front, which was a positive, but the blocking simply wasn't good enough, both in the run game and in pass protection. Grade: D+

Defensive line

Emmanuel Ogbah continued his really strong season and was rewarded this time with 2.5, although one of them was a freebie as Tyrod Taylor tripped over the feet of teammate Rex Burkhead before Ogbah just touched him down. Christian Wilkins also had another good outing, and it was his initial pressure that led to Andrew Van Ginkel's sack. The most pleasant development, though, had to be the performance of Adam Butler, who had been very quiet so far in 2021 but came up with two passes deflected at the line of scrimmage. One of them came on the play that resulted in Justin Coleman's interception in the third quarter. Houston didn't do much damage with its running game and Taylor was under pressure all game, although the blitzing deserves a large part of the credit for the latter. Grade: A-

Linebackers

After sitting out the second Buffalo game with a knee injury, Jerome Baker was back and in full force. He tied with Elandon Roberts for the team lead in tackles with seven and came up with a great heads-up play on his second-quarter interception, first to re-establish himself in the field of play and then with his toe dance near the sideline. That interception, which led to a touchdown, was the biggest play of the game. Along with a half-sack, Phillips came up with another big play when he chased down David Johnson from behind and tripped him up to limit him to a 1-yard gain on a running play. Grade: B+

Secondary

The secondary had a really strong outing on two different fronts, first with its ability to blitz and put pressure on Taylor and second with the coverage in the back end. It was a big game for rookie safety Jevon Holland, who had his first career interception and forced a few Taylor incompletions with his pressure. Brandon Jones also was a big factor with his pressure, notably on the play that ended with Holland's pick. Coleman benefited from the tip on his interception, but he still had blanket coverage on Amendola on the play. Byron Jones gave up some completions in the first half, but came back with a strong second-half effort. There was a busted coverage in the second half when the secondary lost Amendola after he went in motion, but the Dolphins were bailed out by a bad overthrow by Taylor on what should have been a touchdown. And, last but not least, major kudos to safety Eric Rowe for stripping the ball away from tight end Jordan Akins and creating the turnover that essentially clinched the victory. Grade: A

Special teams

Holland would have had close to a perfect day for the Dolphins, except for his fumble at the end of one of his punt returns — the turnover set up a Houston field goal. Holland did have a nifty 15-yard punt return before that. Jason Sanders made his one field goal attempt, hitting from 42 yards out, and punter Michael Palardy had a solid outing with a 41.0 net average and three punts inside the 20. The Dolphins did not allow a long return, though they committed two penalties — by Elijah Campbell and Clayton Fejedelem — on one punt return. Grade: C+