A six-pack of Miami Dolphins notes on a Tuesday:
▪ Frank Gore, already the NFL’s fourth all-time leading rusher, is on the cusp of making more history:
His 4.54 yards per carry average this year is the most in NFL history by any player age 35 or over (minimum 100 attempts). Nobody 33 or older has ever posted a mark that high with at least 100 carries in a season, according to the Dolphins.
The oldest back to ever average that many yards per carry were Herschel Walker, who averaged 4.67 yards per carry in 1994 at age 32, and Ricky Williams, who averaged 4.65 yards per carry in 2009 at age 32.
The closest anyone has come to Gore’s average at 35 or older is Marcus Allen, who averaged 4.30 yards per carry at age 35 in 1995.
“You take pride in the the per carry and trying to do whatever it takes to be successful,” he said Monday.
And consider this, from Pro Football Focus: 62 of Gore’s 67 total yards against the Colts on Sunday came after contact and he has racked up 177 yards after contact and 13 forced missed tackles over the last three games. For the season, Gore ranks fifth among all running backs in overall grade at 85.0.
▪ Not only are Xavien Howard’s nine interceptions over the past 16 games the most in the NFL in the time span, but he’s the first player with interceptions on back-to-back plays since Broncos safety Darian Stewart did it in Week 10 of 2016.
And if his last 16 games were its own season, his nine interceptions would be the most by an NFL player since Chicago’s Tim Jennings had 9 in 2012. It would be tied for the eighth most in an NFL season since 2000.
For Sunday’s game at Indianapolis, PFF said Howard earned an elite 93.4 overall grade, his highest for any game this season. He was targeted four times, allowing two receptions for 15 yards while intercepting two passes and breaking up another.
The passer rating when targeting Howard was 19.8, the second-best mark among all corners for the week. Howard was particularly effective in coverage against Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who was targeted twice with Howard in coverage; one was intercepted, the other broken up.
▪ Jerome Baker continues to be one source of encouragement in a disappointing Dolphins defense.
Per PFF, Baker “earned the second-highest grade on the defense for the week at 83.0 overall. Baker was strong in coverage, allowing just 21 yards in 26 pass-coverage snaps. Baker has consistently shown to be Miami’s most reliable linebacker this season, as he has now graded out at 72.9 or better in each of the last four games and his 76.0 overall grade for the season now ranks 12th among all linebackers in the league through 12 weeks.”
▪ Why haven’t the Dolphins placed Jakeem Grant on injured reserve even if he’s out for the season? If they had placed Grant on IR and signed a player off their practice squad last week, he wouldn’t have been among 46 active Sunday. And if Miami needed to cut that player signed, he would have needed to be put through waivers this week — something Miami wanted to avoid. That’s why Miami went with 52 players.
But the Dolphins will place him on IR when they feel they need to sign a player who might be active Sunday.
▪ The Dolphins believed Durham Smythe, known as a blocking tight end in college, was an underrated receiver, and they finally saw game evidence of that, with two catches for 27 yards, the first receptions of his NFL career.
Smythe caught only 28 passes for 381 yards at Notre Dame and doesn’t want to be considered simply a blocking tight end.
After his first NFL catch (an 11-yarder on Miami’s first offensive play), tight ends coach Shane Day told him it reminded him of catches he made a Notre Dame, “were 60 percent were seam routes.”
Some former Notre Dame teammates came to the game after the Fighting Irish beat Southern California the night before. He has studied another former Notre Dame tight end, Anthony Fasano, to pick up blocking tips and they saw each other recently.
“He’s living in Fort Lauderdale, working with his foundation,” Smythe said.
Smythe and fellow rookie tight Mike Gesicki roomed together during the offseason but now have their own apartments. “It’s lucky for both of us we have another guy to bounce things off of, to vent with,” Smythe said.
Gesicki has played 296 snaps and Smythe 74.
If Smythe had enough snaps to qualify, his Pro Football Focus grade would be 28th. among tight ends. Gesicki is 63rd of 69 qualifiers.
▪ Quick stuff: The Arizona Cardinals poached defensive end Cameron Malvaeux from the Dolphins’ practice squad and placed him on their 53-man roster… CBS is sending Dolphins-Bills to a small regional audience (eight percent of country), with No. 5 team Andrew Catalon and James Lofton. Check my Twitter account (@flasportsbuzz) for a regionalization map when it is released on Wednesday.