In recent years, a Thursday Night Football matchup between the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars might be considered one of the worst primetime games of the year. But that was far from the case this week with two of the league's most entertaining quarterbacks facing off in 37-year-old veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and 2019 sixth-rounder Gardner Minshew.
It was the elder who prevailed, leading the Dolphins to a convincing 31-13 victory over the Minshew-led Jaguars.
Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.
Story of the Game
This is Ryan Fitzpatrick’s world and we're just all living in it. He didn’t have any big-time throws on the night, but he did lead Miami to one of their most efficient passing attacks in a single game over the past decade. The Dolphins passing offense produced positive expected points added on 68% of their pass plays against Jacksonville, which was the second-highest rate in a single game since 2010. The only game they produced a higher rate came in 2011 (Week 9 at Kansas City Chiefs).
There were some passes from Fitzpatrick that weren’t perfectly placed, but they were still catchable, which is most important. He had just one throw all night that was completely uncatchable. It wasn’t one of those “Fitzmagic” nights we saw in his days with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018, but we have very few bones to pick with what he did for the Dolphins in Jacksonville.
As for second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew, it was a rough night. He and the Jaguars struggled to move the ball downfield, generating -0.24 EPA per pass play and completing just three of 10 passes that were thrown 10 or more yards downfield. Minshew has overcome his physical tools and made noise in the NFL with his accuracy and touch downfield, but that was nowhere to be seen tonight. At least not until garbage time when he made a beautiful big-time throw to Chris Conley late in the fourth down 18 with a couple minutes to play.
Jacksonville’s ninth overall pick, C.J. Henderson, has been one of the few standout rookies through two weeks of action in 2020. He had an 80.3 PFF grade in the first two games — tied for the third-best in the NFL. That strong play came to a screeching halt against Miami. Henderson came into the game with four pass breakups and an interception but failed to make a play on the ball Thursday night, allowing all four targets to be caught — three for first downs. On top of that, Henderson also had a missed tackle and pass interference penalty. Just a bad outing. On the bright side, he has showcased high-end play already, which isn’t something most rookie corners do.
D.J. Chark was a late scratch due to injury, which fired up the the Laviska Shenault fan club — perhaps a little too much. It’s not like he didn’t have any of those eye-popping moments we saw routinely when he was at Colorado, but we didn’t see anything more than one or two plays. He had a couple contested catches and forced a missed tackle on one of his five catches, but generating just 1.06 yards per route run isn’t anything great.
James Robinson may have had a couple touchdowns on the ground, but the real story is what he did on the receiving end. In today’s NFL, it’s essential for a running back to be a somewhat impactful receiver, and the once-UDFA showed that you don’t have to be an early-round pick to do that at the position. He caught six passes for 83 yards on the night and tacked on four broken tackles along the way.
While neither of the two rookies’ run-blocking was all that great, Miami offensive linemen Austin Jackson and Solomon Kindley both were good — but not great — in pass protection. Jackson, the starting left tackle, combined to lose three reps on 25 pass-block snaps (two of which stemmed from blitzes), while Kindley, the starting right guard, lost just two reps. Things could have been better, but surely could have been a heck of a lot worse.
Miami was missing its best player on the defensive side of the ball, and perhaps on their entire team, in cornerback Byron Jones. To replace him, they looked to rookie Noah Igbinoghene, who filled in once Jones went down in Week 2. Igbinoghene was picked apart by Buffalo in that game (29.3 coverage grade; allowed seven catches for 145 yards and two scores) but rebounded in this one. He allowed just one catch on three targets for two yards when lined up at outside corner and also had a nice passing stop and forced incompletion in the red zone. It was interesting that he played far less press-man in Week 3 compared to Week 2. Brian Flores had the rookie in press on 33% of his coverage snaps this week, as opposed to 60% in Week 2.
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