The Dolphins recorded their fifth consecutive victory when they led from start to finish before defeating the Los Angeles Chargers 29-21 at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.
So the weekly grades again are overwhelmingly positive.
The Dolphins were in control pretty much the whole way after the punt block gave them a quick 7-0 lead, and that diminished the need to really take a lot of chances on offense. As a result, Tua Tagovailoa ended up with pedestrian passing stats of 15 completions in 25 attempts for 169 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. That last stat was the key in this type of game, though it's only fair to point out that Tua caught a break when linebacker Kenneth Murray let a ball slip right through his hands — for a completion no less. As he's shown the ability, Tua made some pretty throws on the move, the 23-yard strike to tight end Mike Gesicki clearly the highlight. Tua also gets points for doing a good job of avoiding Jerry Tillery on what should have been a sack. Tua maybe wasn't as flashy as he was against Arizona, but he still was highly efficient. Grade: B+
Salvon Ahmed made his first NFL start and the proceeded to show how he earned that start in the first place. This was a really strong effort by him as he continued to show his strong burst on his way to gaining 85 yards on 21 carries. Patrick Laird had a nifty 17-yard run in the fourth quarter and DeAndre Washington also saw his first action in a Dolphins uinform. The backs weren't really factors in the passing game. Grade: B+
Jakeem Grant stepped up in a big way in the absence of Preston Williams, leading the team with four receptions with one touchdown. DeVante Parker had only two catches on seven targets but he didn't have any drops. In fact, none of the receivers had a clear drop. Malcolm Perry had some nice moves in the open field, both after catching a pass and after taking a snap as the Wildcat quarterback. As was the case with the entire offense, the numbers weren't great but the performance was solid. Grade: B+
Durham Smythe had the second touchdown catch for the Dolphins, an easy score off a great play design by offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. Gesicki had the catch for 23 yards, which tied for longest play by the offense, and Shaheen was on the receiving end of the pass that should have been intercepted. Smythe also deserved some credit for some good blocking in the run game. Grade: A-
The Dolphins went back to the opening-day starting offensive line with Austin Jackson at left tackle, Solomon Kindley at right guard and Jesse Davis at right tackle, and the results were pretty good. In addition to helping Ahmed average 4 yards per carry, the Dolphins held the Chargers without a sack — the first time since October 2018 the Dolphins didn't allow a sack. Best of all, the offensive line made Melvin Ingram a complete non-factor. He played 49 defensive snaps for the Chargers and didn't so much as register an assist on tackle. There were gaping holes in the running game on a few runs, including Ahmed's first-quarter 1-yard touchdown. This was a strong effort. Grade: A-
There were time when it sure appeared the Chargers were having their way in the running game, but the fact remains that former Dolphins running back Kalen Ballage averaged less than 4 yards per carry and the Chargers as a team were at a 3.4 clip. Rookie Raekwon Davis had a big game, tying for the team lead in tackles with seven. Zach Sieler again made his presence felt, one day before he signed a contract extension with the Dolphins. And, of course, Emmanuel Ogbah again was a factor with a sack and a tip at the line of scrimmage that forced an incompletion on a fourth-and-short midway through the fourth quarter. Grade: A-
The linebackers did not have any splash plays in this one after Andrew Van Ginkel and Shaq Lawson took turns returning fumbles for touchdowns the previous two weeks, but they turned in a solid effort nonetheless. The linebackers again were instrumental in applying pressure and making yet another quarterback uncomfortable in the pocket. Lawson, Van Ginkel and Kyle Van Noy all had quarterback hits, and Elandon Roberts tied for the team lead with his seven tackles. Grade: B+
The Dolphins' vaunted secondary bounced back from a rough outing against Arizona with a stellar performance against a really good group of Chargers receivers. Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Hunter Henry combined for only nine catches for 107 yards, and a good part of the credit goes to the coverage downfield. Xavien Howard had the big play with his game-turning fourth-quarter interception when he basically ran the route for Williams and beat him to the spot where Herbert was throwing. Slot corner Nik Needham has perhaps his best game of the season with his opening-series sack and a nice pass breakup. Byron Jones, Eric Rowe and Bobby McCain all played well. Grade: A
The special teams might have been where this game was decided, though it was more about Chargers mistakes than Dolphins big plays. Van Ginkel deserves a lot of kudos for his all-out effort on a punt block because it was his hustle that allowed him to get the block after punter Ty Long bobbled the snap. Punter Matt Haack had a fabulous 52-yard net average on his two punts, though he got the benefit of a Chargers mistake of letting the ball bounce and roll toward his end zone instead of catching it. Beyond that, though, Jakeem Grant had another great day returning punts by averaging 19 yards on three tries. Jason Sanders finally saw his field goal streak end, but he still was 3-for-4 with kicks of 50 and 49 yards sandwiched around the 47-yard miss. That was the only blemish on special teams, though. Grade: B+