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2015 Free Agency
Mike Wallace - Finally had that big game with a 50 yard catch and a 32 yard catch for a touchdown. The deep ball was back in Miami. The Dolphins had been reluctant to use it but finally did this game and it worked. It brings to question whether it was a wise decision to limit or eliminate the deep game from the playbook. I know Tannehill and Wallace have not had chemistry on deep balls, but the only way to get better at something is to keep trying to do it.
Jarvis Landry - The rook is for real and is still playing well late into the season. 8 catches for 99 yards despite getting a lot of attention from the Patriots.
Jason Trusnik and Kelvin Sheppard - Two back up linebackers who showed well against the Patriots. Trusnik had a big interception early and finished the game with 10 tackles. Sheppard, pulled off the scrap heap, also had 10 tackles and was stout against the run.
Joe Philbin - You have to believe his time in Miami is done after that 2nd half.
Dolphins Pass Rush - Time to send out an all points bulletin for the missing pass rush. Miami's pass rush, one of the fiercest early in the season, has completely disappeared late in the year. And it can't be because of fatigue because the Dolphins do a good job of rotating those guys.
Offensive Line - Pass protection left the building weeks ago, now the run blocking is as well. Clearly, injuries have taken a toll. This unit was a question mark to begin with at guard and with the loss of Albert the wheels have come off. Looks like the Dolphins will be looking at offensive linemen again this offseason.
Ryan Tannehill - Looked good on deep throws. In fact, he had 5 or 6 deep throws that were on the money. Some were dropped, like the Damian Williams wheel route that should have easily been caught for a touchdown. All in all, Tannehill completed 3 passes over 20 yards, but should have completed 5-7 passes over 20 yards if his receivers make the catch. On the flipside, there were a couple of interceptions that were passes forced into coverage. The first interception was a poorly thrown ball to Gibson that sailed on Tannehill. If he had led Gibson, it would have actually been a nice play. One contributing factor to that high throw was pressure. But the second interception was completely inexcusable. Tannehill forced a throw to a well covered Lamar Miller, Brandon Browner was able to get his hand in and tip the pass up and another Patriots defender was able to pick off the tipped pass. That ball should not have been forced. Also, on the 50 yard bomb, Tannehill was late on his throw to Wallace. I understand why it was underthrown as a safety was coming over the top, but Wallace had the corner beat early and that ball should have come out quicker. This looks like the only deep pass in which Tannehill hesitated and I guess seeing Wallace make the catch boosted his confidence and he was letting it rip (sometimes too wreckelessly) the rest of the game.
Another wasted season by the Dolphins. As the old saying goes, attitude reflects leadership. Philbin is an unemotional guy and his team seems to play the same way. And the result is uninspiring football when it matters most. Now all the Dolphins have to look forward to is the offseason and more turmoil in the coaching staff and perhaps the front office.
The 7-6 Miami Dolphins, coming off a bitterly disappointing 28-13 lost at home to Baltimore, travel to Foxoboro to take on the 10-3 New England Patriots, coming off a solid 23-14 win in San Diego. Miami is battling for it's playoff life, and a lost would pretty much eliminate Miami, and as it is with a win the Dolphins will still need a lot of help. While Miami struggles to just get in the playoffs, once again their division rival is not only leading the AFC East and will win the AFC East, but are once again fighting for the #1 overall seed and a Super Bowl berth
Let's take a look at the 2 teams to see how they matchup.
Miami comes into the game offensively averaging 333.6 in total offense, 217.7 yards per game via the pass, 115.9 yards a game in the run game, which ranks 12th in the NFL. They face a New England defense that is giving up 349.8 yards per game, 244.2 yards via the pass, 105.6 yards via the run game, which ranks 11th in the NFL. The Patriots are giving up 20.5 points per game, which ranks 9th in the NFL.
QB Ryan Tannehill is completing 66.7% of his passes for 3,044 yards, 21 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, and is the 2nd leading rusher with 295 yards. RB Lamar Miller is the team leading rusher with 162 carries for 782 yards, which comes to a 4.8 yard per carry average while scoring 6 touchdowns. Rookie WR Jarvis Landry is the leading receiver for the Dolphins with 63 catches for 573 yards and 5 touchdowns. Jamie Collins is New England leading tackler and Rob Ninkovich leads the Patriots with 7.0 sacks. Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan and Darrelle Revis all have 2 interceptions.
Miami won the 1st game of the season in Miami 30-20, as the Dolphins were able to gash the Patriots in the run game and dominated the 2nd half, outscoring the Patriots 20-0 in the 2nd half to wipe out a 20-10 Patriots 1st half lead. The OL that was part of that domination has been decimated by injuries, with OLT Bradon Albret out with a torn ACL. ORT Ju'Wuan James, a natural at ORT is now forced to play OLT and he has done a servicable job. The BIG issue is at ORT, where Dallas Thomas has struggled immensely. With that said, the Dolphins NEED to lean on Lamar Miller to get the run game going. OC Bill Lazor needs to get Lamar 20 plus carries and see what he can do against a team that still can be suspect against the run. Also, it has been bought up on numerous occasion about the Dolphins lack of going down the field deep. That has to change. You cannot allow cornerbacks like Darrelle Revis the chance to SIT on shorter routes because they know you are not looking to go deep. Max protect and challenge the Patriots down the field. You have to show that threat. The OL struggled mightly last week, so their play has to improve if the Dolphins are going to have any chance of having success offensively.
Defensively, the Dolphins come into the game giving up 326.8 yards per game, 203.2 yards per game in the pass game, which ranks 3rd, but 123.5 yards per game in the run game, which ranks 22nd. The Dolphins are giving up 20.0 points a game, which ranks 7th in the NFL. They face a potent New England offense that is generating 381.7 yards per game, which ranks 7th in the NFL. 272.6 yards comes via the pass game, which ranks 7th while generating 109.1 yards per game via the run game. The Patriots are scoring 30.8 points per game, which ranks 3rd.
LB Jelani Jenkins is the leading tackler for Miami, but he is doubtful for this game with a foot injury, and LB Koa Misi is doubtful as well. DE Cam Wake leads the Dolphins with 9.5 sacks and CB Brent Grimes is the leader in interceptions with 5. QB Tom Brady is completing 64.7% of his passes for 3,560 yards, 30 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. RB Shane Vereen leads a committee of running backs for the Patriots with 82 carries for 347 yards with 2 touchdowns. WR Julian Edleman is the leading receiver with 85 catches for 884 yards and 3 touchdowns. TE Rob Gronkowski is a MAJOR threat with 73 catches for 997 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The Dolphins come into this game having given up over 180 yards on the ground 3 straight games. New England will come out and POUND the run game this week, and complicating matters for Miami is they will not probably have leading tackler Jelani Jenkins or LB Koa Misi and have lost S Louis Delmas for the season with a torn ACL. Miami LB core is a weakness already, and taking these 2 out of the lineup HURTS. Miami will need to come up with a way to slow the run game down. If they can, I believe DE Cameron Wake and DE Vernon Olivier can cause havoc as they did in the 1st game. But it does boil down to the Dolphins being able to contain the run game. There is speculation that the Dolphins could use OLB/DE Dion Jordon on TE Rob Gronkowski. Jordan has the size and speed to run with Gronkowski, but the coverage skills are a major concern. DC Kevin Coyle has to be more aggressive in this game today. He cannot sit back and let the Patriots dictate to the defense. It not his MO though, so we will have to sit back and see how Coyle defensive game plan looks like.
Miami controlled their own fate going into the Baltimore game in Miami last week, just as they did last year coming down the home stretch. The Dolphins folded last year, and they are in trouble this year as well. Baltimore eventually took control of the game in the 2nd half and ended up physically dominating the Dolphins in the 2nd half. Can Miami turn that around in a game against the best team in the AFC, New England? There fading playoff hopes are on the line.
Let's Go Miami.