Miami Dolphins Preseason Report Card: Week 5 vs. Saints

Courtesy of MiamiDolphins.com

It’s time for our last installment of “Miami Dolphins Preseason Report Card” before we can finally close the chapter on a exhibition season that felt like it would never end. The Dolphins’ starters didn’t play in Miami’s 24-21 win over New Orleans, so we only have the team’s backup units and special-teams play to evaluate.

BACKUP OFFENSE

It was a roller coaster night for quarterback Pat Devlin, who played all but one series, and the Dolphins’ second and third-team offense. Devlin threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns, but left yards and points on the field by missing wide open targets. And his two interceptions certainly put himself in jeopardy of becoming one of the 22 cuts Miami will make between now and 6pm on Saturday night.

But Devlin answered the call when the Dolphins needed a play, connecting with Marvin McNutt on a beautiful strike down the sideline for a 56-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter. McNutt possibly won himself a roster spot by producing 99 yards and that score. The fact that he was primarily operating out of the slot also helps his chances. The Dolphins will be looking for a second slot option for many of their four-receiver sets, and McNutt might be best suited for that role.

Two other pass catchers who helped their cause on Thursday night were Rishard Matthews, who impressed after the catch on his three grabs for 37 yards, and rookie tight end Dion Sims, who made a case for a starting role with four receptions for 36 yards and a touchdown.

The Dolphins’ passing game was inconsistent with Pat Devlin at the helm, but was certainly able to make some plays. Their rushing attack, however, was routinely stood up by the Saints’ front seven.

Mike Gillislee produced 47 yards, but on only 3.4 yards per carry. Jonas Gray, meanwhile, did little to warrant a roster spot on seven carries for a mere eight yards. Neither back had many holes to work with, though, as the second and third-team offensive lines continue to struggle.

Turnovers, squandered opportunities in the red zone and an anemic running game hurt the backup offense’s grade.

Grade: C
Preseason GPA: 1.68

BACKUP DEFENSE

The Dolphins’ second and third-string defense was gashed for 417 total yards by the Saints’ reserves. Backup cornerbacks R.J. Stanford and De’Andre Presley were picked on all night, and the front seven surrendered nearly 200 yards on the ground.

But four takeaways made the difference for the Dolphins, who edged the Saints despite being outgained by 128 yards. Three fumble recoveries and an outstanding, diving interception by Presley, to be exact.

Defensive tackle Vaughn Martin, who was arguably outplayed by his competitors during the first four exhibitions, made a strong case that he should be on the team with four tackles and half a sack. Defensive end Derrick Shelby likely locked up his spot with three tackles and the other half of Martin’s sack.

A couple more standouts were safety Kelcie McCray, who was flying to the football for much of the night, and linebacker Josh Kaddu, who recorded five tackles.

The Dolphins certainly have some difficult decisions to make on defense regarding who to keep and who to cut in the next 30 hours.

Grade: B-
Preseason GPA: 2.54

SPECIAL TEAMS

Rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis was a perfect three for three on field goals, punter Brandon Fields was his usual Pro-Bowl caliber self, kick returner Mike Gillislee and punt returner Chad Bumphis each had an impressive return, the coverage units were solid and there were no muffed punts or fumbles.

Overall, a nice bounce-back performance from Miami’s special teams units after the disaster that took place last Saturday night against the Buccaneers.

Grade: A-
Preseason GPA: 2.88


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