The Miami Dolphins had a golden opportunity to continue the chase against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East and hold on to the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoff seeding, but the Miami team that played on Sunday against the Denver Broncos looked like the 2019 team that struggled to put up points.
You could almost certainly say this was a trap game for the Dolphins because the Broncos were not going to go away that easy. Sitting at 3-6, Denver had nothing to lose. It could try anything in the book to take advantage of a rookie quarterback who has had his ups and downs so far in just a handful of starts and see if it could swing some momentum of its own to its side.
The Broncos were the team that made the adjustments, and now, the Dolphins, whose offense was nowhere to be found, and whose defense, despite recording a turnover in 17 straight games, fell flat 20-13 in Sunday’s defeat.
No Sacks, Rushing Yards Sky-Rocket: What Happened to Miami’s Defense?
The defense that had been carrying Miami to victories during their five-game winning streak certainly failed to show up for a majority of Sunday’s game. Yes, the Dolphins did record another takeaway when cornerback Xavien Howard intercepted Denver QB Drew Lock for Miami’s 17th straight game with a takeaway. Before and after however, the defense looked like fizzed-out soda. The safeties, linebackers and defensive ends as an entire secondary looked sheepish and seemingly always seemed to be a step behind Denver’s playmakers.
Nobody was able to record a sack on Lock and they could not stop the Denver run game. Miami gave the Broncos rushing offense 33 carries for 187 rushing yards and two rushing TDs, both to RB Melvin Gordon. Gordon finished as the leading rusher with 84 yards, but also did his damage with RB Phillip Lindsay.
Miami surrendered an abominable 5.7 yards per rush in Sunday’s loss, which is worse than what it has given up on average of 4.84 yards.
“Defensively we didn’t do a good enough job stopping the run, obviously. It is something that we talk about often. We’ll give credit to Denver, they had a really good game plan,” CB Byron Jones said. “But honestly, a lot of that is really on us, just finishing tackles and understanding how they are going to attack us in certain defenses. Yeah, the points were minimal but in a game like that where both defenses are doing good, you would like to be a defense that stops the run. That is something we’re going to try to improve this week.”
Miami Still Showed Positives at RB Position Despite Carousel at Position this Season
Despite the woes on defense and overall poor showing on offense, the Dolphins did have another above-average showing from one position.
Even though Miami is still struggling to find an answer at the running back position in 2020, with a lot of it due to circulating injuries to multiple backs. The Dolphins waived underwhelming back Jordan Howard after 28 carriers for 33 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. RB Matt Breida has been positioned as a backup most of the season and in his return Sunday from injury Breida had just two carries for four rushing yards.
The man who was starting, RB Myles Gaskin, was placed on the injury reserve list on Nov. 5 with a knee injury and has missed the last three games. Up to that point however, Gaskin had earned that starting nod. He carried the ball 100 times for 387 rushing yards and two rushing TDs, mainly due to Howard getting the goal-line work.
Is Undrafted RB Salvon Ahmed the Answer to Many Prayers?
In his absence, Miami turned to undrafted University of Washington RB Salvon Ahmed. The Dolphins brought him in in the offseason to see what he can do.
Ahmed originally signed with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent on May 1st, 2020 but was waived on August 25th. A day later Miami picked up the youngster. He was waived during the final roster cuts on September 5th but two days later signed to be on the practice squad.
In week nine he made his debut against the Arizona Cardinals and finished with seven carries for 38 rushing yards, and despite not getting the start, finished as the team’s leading rusher. Then, he was given a chance to start in week 10. Ahmed ran on 21 carries for a career-high 85 rushing yards and scored his very first NFL rushing TD. Another opportunity arose on Sunday and Ahmed finished with 12 carries for 43 rushing yards and caught five passes for 31 receiving yards.
As of Tuesday, No Update on Myles Gaskin; Jets in Flight Path
He has now been the team’s leading rusher for three straight weeks, giving the Dolphins a decision to make as Gaskin is eligible to return from IR. Something Miami might want to consider before handing all the reigns directly back over to Gaskin however, is the fact that in just his short amount of playing time, Ahmed is giving the Dolphins 4.2 yards per carry, something that’s beating Mami’s season average of 3.6.
However, as of Tuesday, Miami has not given an update on Gaskin’s status for week 12 and if it will designate him for return this week.
The good news is, even if Gaskin cannot go, Miami faces the winless New York Jets on Sunday who give up more than 100 yards per game on the ground and are in the bottom third of the league in nearly every statistical category.