Monday, January 18, 2021

3 Up 3 Down Week 5: Is Jordan Howard done?

It’s time for 3 Up 3 Down Week 5 as we look back on arguably the Dolphins most complete game of the Brian Flores era. After a fast start, the Dolphins didn’t take their foot off the pedal until Jimmy Garoppolo was benched and the absolute rout was complete.

It’s a much harder than usual to pick a 3 up 3 down for week 5, as there were so many good performances and very few bad ones, but let’s dive into the best and worst of the Dolphins trip to San Francisco.

3 Up

3 Up 3 Down Man of the Day:
Preston Williams

After struggling to get himself established in the first four weeks, Preston Williams found himself well and truly involved early and often against the 49ers. On the Dolphins first play from scrimmage Ryan Fitzpatrick unloaded to Williams for 47 yards.

It was to spark a 4 catch, 106 yard, 1 touchdown performance from Preston Williams on just 5 targets as he gave the 49ers defence fits all day. His touchdown catch, a beautiful 32-yard play as he got behind the defence eased Dolphin nerves after San Francisco had pulled to within two scores midway through the third quarter.

With only 6 catches on 17 targets coming in, people were beginning to doubt whether Williams was a genuine threat at receiver after his rookie year was cut short by an ACL injury. Williams laid those fears to rest and put up some genuinely good numbers against the niners, albeit depleted, secondary.

3 up 3 down: Preston Williams returned to form in a big way, lighting up the 49ers secondary © Scott Strazzante / The Chronicle
3 up 3 down: Preston Williams returned to form in a big way, lighting up the 49ers secondary © Scott Strazzante / The Chronicle

Xavien Howard

Clearly hobbled by the knee injury he suffered in 2019 earlier in the season, Xavien Howard showed he was back in week 3 primetime against the Jaguars. He followed that up with an end zone robbery of DK Metcalf, and on Sunday he was as unplayable as you can get.

Allowing no catches on his 4 targets X added an interception and a pass breakup to his afternoon. He is now tied for the league lead with 3 interceptions and ranks 17th for pass breakups with 4. Given that start to the season he had it’s mighty impressive from the Dolphins premier defender.

He didn’t have things all his own way in that game against Seattle, giving up 122 yards, but on this Sunday he completed his second shutout in three games.

Sunday he matched up all day with Deebo Samuel, Howard performed a total shutdown on the 49ers primary receiving threat, excluding George Kittle, and forced first Jimmy Garoppolo and then CJ Beatherd to take longer in the pocket and make more reads.

3 Up 3 Down: Not on my side...Xavien Howard shut down Deebo Samuel all day © Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group
3 Up 3 Down: Not on my side…Xavien Howard shut down Deebo Samuel all day © Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group

Andrew Van Ginkel

The third 3 up 3 down up player of the week was a really tough one to pin down. Jerome Baker, Andrew Van Ginkel, Emmanuel Ogbah, and Mike Gesicki were all heavily in the mix. But at the end of the day I’ve gone for Andrew Van Ginkel because the kid absolutely balled out on the extra snaps he received from the missing Shaq Lawson.

In 2019 AVG played just 197 defensive snaps. On Sunday alone he had 46 making 6 tackles, 4 solo, 1 sack, and 1.5 TFL. It was a breakout performance from the 2nd year Wisconsin Badger. He didn’t appear until week 12 of last season, but has now registered good snaps in every game since.

3 up 3 down: Andrew Van Ginkel very very up © Scott Strazzante / The Chronicle
3 up 3 down: Andrew Van Ginkel very very up © Scott Strazzante / The Chronicle

Now sitting second on the team with 2.5 sacks, Van Ginkel demands some quality playing time, even when Shaq Lawson is back. When you consider that Pro Football Focus rate Van Ginkel as the Dolphins best defender through five weeks, it’s time to see what this kid can do when you take the brakes off.

There are bound to be some ups and downs as he finds his feet in the NFL, but this week against the 49ers he proved that his upside is more than worth those teething pains.

Click on through to the next page for the three downs of the week.

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