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Game time!  Your Miami Dolphins travel to Los Angeles to battle the Chargers.  It is a 4 PM game with the Chargers currently favored by 4.  The over/under is 44.5 so the oddsmakers are not expecting a shootout.

 

The Chargers lost a tough one last night against the Denver Broncos.  They now have a short week to prepare and only Dolphins' preseason film to study.  The two things we should be most concerned with are Philip Rivers and pass rushing duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.  They are the guys who can easily exploit Miami's weaknesses = the offensive line and the defensive coverage breakdowns.  I'm less concerned about the latter as hopefully the communication issues improve, but we cannot deny it looked ugly when Carson Wentz carved them up in the preseason.

 

Adam Gase coaches his team to be tough and gets them to overachieve.  I think he'll have them ready.  As I posted in the forum, this team needs to be aggressive on both sides of the ball.  No taking it easy or picking away with a run heavy game.  The Chargers defense has improved and was relatively stout versus the run last year.  They ranked 10th in yards allowed, but 30th in rushing TDs allowed.  That bodes very well for Jay Ajayi if Miami can drive into the Red Zone early and often.  Last night Trevor Siemian had a pretty good performance slinging it against the Charger defense.  While he had the benefit of a lead and his backs carrying the ball 30 times, you can't ignore his success of moving the ball.  This is where Jay Cutler needs to shine, much like he did against the Eagles in the preseason.  I think Gase is going to let Cutler be aggressive early and hope to build off of that momentum.  Devante Parker and Kenny Stills can get open deep, and I'm willing to bet Cutler targets them to stretch the field.  The concern of course is can the offensive line buy him time?  We've already seen that Cutler can evade the rush with better than adequate pocket presence, and he is accurate on the run.  Where he can get into trouble is if Defensive Coordinator Guy Bradley baits him into throwing to double and triple coverage.  If Cutler can drive the ball down field early it will make life easier for Ajayi.  The Chargers' rushing defense gave up 120 yards on 30 carries to Denver's running backs last night.  While Ajayi may not have to lead the way I still think he gets 20 touches.

 

Let's discuss the offensive line.  I'm not sure anyone can say they have confidence in them at the moment, but it is also not time to panic.  Laremy Tunsil's preseason play left a lot to be desired.  The pass rush is going to come fast and furious from Bosa and Ingram (each had 1.5 sacks against Denver).  Oh, and the other sack came from our old friend Chris McCain!  Tunsil and Ja'wuan James will need to be sharp because Cutler has an injury history and a little bit of fumble-itis.  Miami cannot afford to have him getting beaten up early, nor turning over the ball.  There is already enough uncertainty about Cutler having multiple interception games.  Mike Pouncey always makes a difference and it is awesome he is raring to go for this game.  He makes the running game that much better for Ajayi.  But we all will be holding our collective breaths on every snap because his hip problems just don't seem to go away.  If he goes down and forces Anthony Steen over to center and Jesse Davis to left guard, well, just hope it doesn't come to that.  The rest of the NFL showcased awful o-line play this week but Miami still needs to prove they can be adequate.

 

Miami's defense has had Philip Rivers' number.  They are 3-1 versus him since 2013, forcing 10 interceptions and some fumbles in those games.  But last night Rivers showed once again why you don't sleep on the perrenial Pro Bowler.  He brought his team back from what should have been an easy Denver win only to have a blocked field goal seal the game.  With the coverage lapses we witnessed in the preseason I'm slightly concerned that he can use the middle of the field to carve up Miami.  Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry (who surprisingly didn't have a target last night) will be challenging to cover.  Ndomakong Suh will have to collapse the pocket and hopefully the Cameron Wake/Andre Branch/Charles Harris trio can get after him.  Rivers lacks mobility and looks like he's running in moon boots, so there should be sacks.  On the ground Melvin Gordon seems to be streaky.  This is good because we have no idea what to expect from Miami's rushing defense.  William Hayes and Lawrence Timmons are big upgrades in stopping the run, but the second defensive tackle spot and the other linebackers are liabilities.  Its a darn shame Raekwon McMillan is hurt.  Gordon is the type of back who can explode for a 20 yard run and then have his next 5 carries go for a total of 1 yard.  Last night he carried tha ball 18 times for 54 yards, but did have a receiving TD (another thing that scares me).

 

I've seen a few reporters write that the Chargers feel they got a moral victory last night with their comeback against Denver's elite defense.  Supposedly that will drive them to better things against Miami next week.  Fine and dandy, but I'm not buying it.  They lost and are on a short week.  Miami has been practicing on the west coast since the weekend and will not have a time zone change just a day or two prior to the game.  You can sense from Gase's pressers that the team is angry about losing their bye week, but they aren't using it as an excuse.  I love his comment, "...we'll make our own bye week."  This team will be ready!

 

I believe this game is going to be more of a shootout than Vegas is predicting.  I'm betting on Cutler having a monster game and the defense forcing Rivers into bad throws by the 4th quarter.  First play on offense will be a deep shot to Parker!  Go Fins!!!

 

Miami 34

 

Los Angeles 30

It is easy to second-guess the Dolphins for not having him get the surgery. Hindsight is 20-20 they say. Let's keep in mind that the Dolphins consulted the experts on this one, and everyone thought that surgery was not required. If he had surgery, then he would not have been ready to start this season. Instead, they opted to use stem cells to quicken the healing process.

And please ... no Kaeper-nut. While I have plenty of confidence in Matt Moore, I'd still try to get Cutler to back him up. He did very well in his year under Gase. Besides, South Florida would be in an uproar to have someone on the team who defended Castro. Think about it.

 

Adam Schefter, Ryan Tannehill

 

Go Fins!

Big Dave

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