Following a Week 1 victory vs the New England Patriots we revisit our ‘3 Up 3 Down’ segment. This can be anything Dolphins related, from players to position groups, or coaches to the media. Though we managed to escape with a narrow victory, not everything went well in Week 1. Here we take a look at who or what is trending up and down for the Dolphins.
3 UP 3 DOWN: THE UPS
1. Xavien Howard
I was tempted to put our entire Red Zone Defense in here as it optimized the ‘Bend don’t break’ style we’ve become accustomed to over this past few seasons and really restricted the Patriots when they got in this area of the field. Xavien Howard, however, showed why he is simply the best player on the Miami Dolphins roster.
Patriots rookie QB Mac Jones did not target Howard often and when he did he didn’t get much success. Per PFF Howard allowed just 2 receptions for 11 yards and formed a partnership with fellow starting CB Byron Jones that the Patriots found little success against.
When needed ‘X’ stepped up and won the game for his team. Whilst known for his ball-hawking ability and interceptions, this time he both forced and recovered a fumble on the Patriots final drive of the game to show once more why he is the conversation for the top CB in the league.
2. DeVante Parker
Simply put, when the team needed Parker to step up, he did. Whilst the fan base isn’t always unanimous on him, he showed once again the traits to be the teams top receiver. With Will Fuller suspended for the Week 1 game, Parker and rookie Jaylen Waddle played the majority of the receiving snaps and both proved to be a thorn in the Patriots side.
Parker led the team in receiving yards, with 81 on 4 receptions but what was more impressive was his ability to win multiple ways. Parker hauled in a deep shot down the field and caught a crucial slant on the final drive of the game from deep within the Dolphins own half to help lead his team to victory.
3. Jaylen Waddle
If the pressure was on the Rookie 1st Round draft pick out of Alabama, it didn’t show. With fans excited to see Waddle reunite with former college teammate Tua Tagovailoa, he didn’t disappoint.
Waddle gained 61 yards on 4 receptions and whilst he did have one costly drop he made up for it by scoring a TD from 4 yards out. Waddle’s stat line was the best ever by a Dolphins WR on debut. Fans must surely be excited to see what the future holds the speedster.
3 UP 3 DOWN: THE DOWNS
1. Mike Gesicki
Following a 700 Yard, 6 touchdown 2020 campaign, many fans may have been excited to see what Gesicki had in store in the season opener. However, Gesicki was out-snapped by Durham Smythe by 38 snaps to 21 on offense and failed to register a reception in the game.
Whilst the game plan may have required some extra blocking and this would explain Smythe getting more snaps, with Will Fuller set to return as competition for more receptions it will be interesting to see how Gesicki performs in the next few weeks. For me, it’s not a huge reason for concern given the play making ability we have seen from Gesicki before, but certainly one to keep an eye on.
2. Raekwon Davis
A player on an upward trajectory after a promising rookie campaign, disaster struck after just 5 snaps as a knee injury ended Davis’s involvement in the game. The NT/DT was seen on the sideline with his knee strapped and running some sprints but did not return to the game. John Jenkins saw a huge increase in snaps as a result.
It has since emerged that Davis has been placed on IR. This means he will miss a minimum of 3 weeks. Whilst obviously hugely disappointing for the young player, it also weakens the Dolphins at the position. The previously mentioned Jenkins is the other big bodied guy who will see the biggest uptick in snaps but look for Wilkins, Butler and Sieler all to possibly see a bigger share on the interior of the Defensive Line. Hopefully Davis can make it back on the field as soon as possible.
3. Justin Coleman
Listed as a starter on the depth chart, Coleman saw only 2 defensive snaps in Week 1 and on one of those snaps an error from Coleman in coverage led to a Patriots conversion on 3rd and 6. Coleman saw 5 snaps on Special Teams.
Nik Needham saw the majority of snaps from the slot (35 in total) and has surely secured the starting role ahead of Coleman. The Free Agent acquisition has gone from a start on the depth chart from possibly teetering towards the roster bubble. Other flexible DB’s such as Jason McCourty, rookie Jevon Holland and 2nd Year man Brandon Jones all saw significantly more defensive snaps, so Coleman’s involvement is one to monitor going forward.