After a dramatic and emotional return to New England last week, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Jacoby Brissett-led Miami Dolphins 45-17. The defending Super Bowl champions move up to 4-1, while the Tua Tagovailoa-less Dolphins fall to 1-4.
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Tom Brady is known as the G.O.A.T. for a reason. That was made obvious today when he surgically dismantled Miami’s defense. Brady picked apart the secondary on the way to a 75.7 PFF passing grade upon the first review. He went 30-for-42 for 411 yards and five touchdowns.
After head coach Bruce Arians called the dogs off and ended Brady’s day early, Blaine Gabbert was called in for clean-up duty. Gabbert ended the game with 41 yards on four completed passes.
Former LSU Tiger Leonard Fournette provided a valuable two-pronged attack today, as he rushed 12 times for 67 yards and a touchdown. He also caught four of his five targets for 43 yards — 33 of which came after the catch.
Not to be outdone, Giovani Bernard looked like a solid target for Tom Brady. Bernard caught both of his targets for 14 yards and a first-half touchdown. On the ground, Bernard gained 21 yards.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Believe it or not, today was a record-setting day for both Brady and Antonio Brown. A second-quarter 62-yard touchdown connection was the longest completion for the quarterback and the longest reception for the receiver since 2018.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) October 10, 2021
Tampa Bay’s Best Performing Receivers vs. Dolphins
Often overlooked in box scores, Tampa’s offensive line did what they had to do — keep Brady from getting banged up.
While he was sacked twice, four of the starting line graded at 69.0 or higher on first review. Ali Marpet didn’t allow a single pressure on 62 pass-blocking snaps, which netted him a pass-blocking grade of 88.2 on first review.
Shaquil Barrett had a monster day. He graded 90.2 and helped strip the ball from Brissett in the first half. Ndamukong Suh recovered the ball, but the Bucs’ offense failed to turn it into any points after missing a field goal as time expired. In addition to the forced fumble, Barrett sacked Brissett twice and generated three hurries.
Vita Vea also wanted in on the action and recorded a third sack for the defense.
Of the three linebackers who saw action today for the Bucs, Devin White was far and away the best performer. White recorded five tackles on 54 snaps.
As for the rest of the crew, Lavonte David and Kevin Minter both looked lackluster, and both graded below 38.0. David left in the first half with an ankle injury. Minter, who replaced David, missed three tackles.
Jamel Dean, who earned a coverage grade of 70.2 on PFF’s first review, managed to pick off Brissett in the fourth quarter — the quarterback's first interception since Week 2 and the only interception of the whole game. While the pass itself was fine, Dean got lucky when rookie Jaylen Waddle failed to catch the pass and it fell into Dean’s hands.
Ross Cockrell was the only other member of the secondary who made a noticeable difference. On four targets, Cockrell only allowed 13 yards, which earned him a coverage grade of 70.3, on PFF’s first review.
Miami fans everywhere shuddered in fear when quarterback Jacoby Brissett went into the locker room in the first half, but he resurfaced the very next drive and finished the day with an excellent performance. Upon the first review, he earned a grade of 73.2.
Brissett went 27-for-42 for 275 yards and two touchdowns. As previously mentioned, his only pick today wasn’t deemed his fault, and he left the field without recording a turnover-worthy play.
Brissett was effective, to say the least. He averaged 6.5 yards per attempt and had an average depth of target of 7.3. Still, it's obvious that Miami’s pass-catchers did most of the work, since 58.9% of his receiving yards came after the catch.
The Brissett-Myles Gaskin connection was on fire today. While Gaskin had an average day on the ground with 25 yards, his receiving performance was even more impressive. The running back caught all 10 of his targeted passes for 74 yards and two touchdowns. In fact, Gaskin was the team’s leading pass-catcher and received a receiving grade of 88.6.
TD @mylesGAS ⛽️????
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) October 10, 2021
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Besides Gaskin, Miami’s receiver room looked rough.
Directly behind the running back on the box score, receiver Preston Williams snagged three receptions for 60 yards.
First-round pick Jaylen Waddle had a day he might want to forget. The Alabama product only caught two of his eight targets, leading to a receiving grade of 53.4.
All in all, the Dolphins’ receiving corps, excluding Gaskin, caught 15 balls for 183 yards and no touchdowns.
While Brissett had an above-average outing, he really wasn’t helped out much by a poor performance from the Miami offensive line. Out of 47 pass-protection snaps, the starting five allowed 14 pressures.
Still, the best performing lineman was Robert Hunt, who graded at 64.4 overall upon first review. The guard graded negatively on only two pass-blocking snaps all game.
Christian Wilkins was the star of an otherwise average day for the Miami defensive line. He recorded two tackles and generated a single pressure.
Jaelan Phillips was underwhelming, but he still managed to sack Brady once.
Miami’s defensive line today was straight-up bad, which is evident in the mere six pressures that were generated.
Baker got the second of the two sacks by the Miami defense and generated seven total pressures. Still, the linebacker got cooked when he had to cover receivers. On five passes targeted to him, Baker allowed 49 yards, resulting in a coverage grade of 48.5. Roberts was a little better, only allowing 15 yards on two targets.
This is where things got extra hairy for the Miami defense. Not a single member of the secondary graded above a 64.0, and the starters allowed a total of 300 yards and four touchdowns.
Corner Nik Needham was the highest-graded of the bunch, which isn’t saying much when you realize he graded at a 59.5 for coverage on PFF’s first review. Needham was responsible for 50 yards on the seven targets he encountered.
The worst of the bunch was by far Byron Jones. The UConn product gave up 120 yards on 10 targets — an average of 12 yards every time Brady decided to pick on him.