Matt Ryan is sitting at 12th in PFF grades (82.1) with a 69.1% completion percentage (0.6% above expectation) while gaining 6.5 yards per attempt. ESPN's total QBR and Football Outsider's DYAR both put him at 18th best in the league. He got off to a dreadful start, with poor performances in his first 3 games before playing at an elite level against the Football Team and Jets. The slow start could be attributed to losing his good ole' friendly Julio in the offseason while also getting used to Kyle Pitts, the rookie tight end out of Florida who was taken 4th overall in the draft. Pitts' utilization was less than ideal given his draft capital until the Falcons finally unleashed him in London week 5 (Atlanta was on a bye last week), where Pitts snagged 9 balls for 119 yards and a touchdown. It was an interesting time for Pitts to break out since it coincided with Calvin Ridley's absence, who missed the game due to personal reasons. Ridley is the undisputed best receiver on the team, but the Falcons need to continue relying on their freak of nature tight end if they like scoring points (hint: scoring points is helpful when trying to win football games). Meanwhile, the offensive line has been one of the worst in football. The Falcons took Jalen Mayfield in the 3rd round -- a Michigan product who exclusively played tackle in college -- and immediately started him at left guard. The results have been dreadful -- Mayfied has a 39.6 PFF grade, has given up 20 pressures (3rd most among guards), 4 sacks (most in the league), and has committed 5 penalties (4th most). RT Kaleb McGary is going to miss due to COVID-19, leading some to wonder if the Falcons will move Mayfield back to tackle. Falcons head coach Art Smith says Mayfield is staying at guard, instead bringing in Jason Spriggs to play tackle for McGary. LT Jake Matthews is also having one of his worst seasons in his 8 year career, leaving RG Chris Lindstrom as the lone bright spot. The backfield is a 2 headed committee, with Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson splitting carries and getting similar looks in the passing game. The Falcons offense is 22nd in EPA/play and 29th in DVOA. The defense, as is tradition for Atlanta, has been picked on extensively, ranking 30th in DVOA and 26th in EPA/play. DT Grady Jarrett will be the one competent pass rusher along the line, since Dante Fowler will miss after injuring his knee in London. The Falcons with Fowler are 26th in PFF's pass rush win rate. LB Deion Jones, typically a speedy freak who excels in coverage, is having easily his worst season in his 6 year NFL career. QBs have a 144.7 rating when targeting Jones, and his PFF coverage grade sits at a poor 53.3. In the defensive backfield, second year corner AJ Terrell has been the lone bright spot -- posting a 45.8 QB rating when targeted. It's bad everywhere else. The defense stinks. They blow.
Tua Tagovailoa's season is just 3 games old, but he's sitting at 22nd in PFF grades (73.3), completing 64.1% of his passes (-3.1% below expectation) and gaining 7.0 yards per attempt. It's been a less than stellar season, leading toThe rumors that the Dolphins may be trading for Deshaun Watson, which HC Brian Flores dismissed. Tua missed weeks 3-5 with fractured ribs, but had his best game of the season in his first game back last week, gaining a 83.9 PFF grade against the Jaguars. The top receivers by projected targets: DeVante Parker, rookie Jaylen Waddle, TE Mike Desicki, and RB Myles Gaskin. Waddle has had an up and down rookie season, although he certainly appears to function much better with Tua under center, catching 10 balls on 13 targets for 70 yards and 2 touchdowns last week. DeVante Parker missed his last two games with a shoulder/hamstring injury -- he practiced all week as limited and is questionable, but is projected to return. Mike Gesicki is a tight end by name, but functions more as a receiver, and as a Dolphins bettor I wish Miami saw him in the same way -- he's been a dreadful pass blocker, but has arguably been Miami's most consistent receiver. The offensive line is, in my not so humble opinion, the worst in the league. It's horrible everywhere. The running game is a mix of Gaskin, Malcolm Brown, and Salvon Ahmed. The offense is 30th in DVOA and 29th in EPA/play. The strength of the defense is the line, featuring Emmanuel Ogbah, who has racked up 21 pressures this season. The Dolphins have 6 different players in the front 7 with double digit pressures, creating confusion from where the pressure is going to come from. Christian Wilkins has also been a monster against the run, ranking 6th in the NFL among all tackles in ESPN's run stop win rate metric. The secondary has struggled, partially due to both starting corners (Xavien Howard and Byron Jones) dealing with injuries. Both missed last week and practiced all week (as limited) and are officially questionable. Practicing all week and questionable usually means they're playing -- with Jones in particular since this is his second week in a row practicing. Howard could miss, but I'm leaning toward him suiting up. In total, Miami's defense is 26th in DVOA and 27th in EPA/play -- they could clearly use the help.
The Dolphins are 26th in the power rankings while the Falcons are 28th. 2.5 points for the Dolphins at home just seems wrong, and the model agrees. Take the fins.