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2015 Free Agency
Ryan Tannehill - Completed 72% of his passes, threw three touchdowns and posted a QB rating of 104.9. He also ran for a touchdown. The lone blemish on his statline was a throw that hit Jarvis Landry in the hands but bounced up and was picked up by T.J. Ward. Tannehill played more than well enough to win despite facing strong pressure early in the game. Tannehill continues being an arrow up player, now having completed 66% of his passes this season and throwing 20 TDs to 8 INTs with a 93.4 QB rating.
Offensive Line - Despite already being thin, this unit then lost Juwuan James and more shifting around had to take place as Jason Fox came in and saw action at left tackle. The offensive line held up in pass protection for the most part and did a good job of opening run lanes for Lamar Miller.
Defense - They had their worst game of the season as a unit. According to PFF, the only player with a positive grade was Phillip Wheeler. Let that sink in... Phillip Wheeler. As a unit, the defense received a -37.6 overall grade, a -15.7 in run defense, a -8.2 in pass rush and a -11.5 in pass coverage. So to summarize, we couldn't stop the run, we couldn't rush the QB and we couldn't cover. That's a recipe for giving up 39 points. The three worst graded defenders were Randy Starks (which makes sense given how easily the Broncos were getting push and running up the middle), Jelani Jenkins (though for some strange reason he wound up covering Demaryius Thomas A LOT) and Cameron Wake (who got double and triple teamed a lot). Aside from all the yardage and points allowed, the defense missed 14 tackles. That tells the story more than anything else.
You expect Peyton Manning to get his, but when the Broncos are able to go two tight ends and run it right into your strength, that's a problem. Now, given how many players who normally show up every Sunday had a bad game, I have to wonder how much of a role the conditions played. The air is thinner in Denver, so it is harder to catch your breath. How early did the Dolphins fly out to get acclimated to the conditions? That's an interesting question to ask.
Kevin Coyle - Only this guy continues calling off-zone coverage against Peyton Manning. I've been complaining all year about this coverage and how easily good QBs exploit it. Manning ate the secondary apart because his receivers weren't being bumped at the line and were not being re-routed at all. And Coyle's scheme is a huge part of the reason. The defense we ran with under two minutes to go in the 1st half was deplorable. The one time Joe Philbin should call a time out to get his defense organized, he doesn't! It is clear the Dolphins are a better defense when the corners play at the line. It is clear that QBs pick them apart when they go to these soft zones and 3 man rushes. Coyle... time to stop running that crap!
Wide receivers - They did catch 26 passes for 228 yards and 3 TDs, but they fumbled A LOT and Jarvis Landry missed a catch that led to an INT. It was an up and down game for this unit as they made a lot of plays but made a lot of mistakes.
Another tough loss for the Dolphins. They are 0-3 in close games. Good teams win those games. Mediocre teams lose them. They would have been in the driver's seat for a playoff berth, now they either have to win out or get lucky. And winning out with Baltimore and New England remaining on the schedule seems tough.
The 6-4 Miami Dolphins, coming off a Thursday Night 22-9 win over the Buffalo Bills travel to Denver to take on the 7-3 Broncos, coming off a 22-7 pounding at St. Louis. This is a 4.25 kickoff and the feature game today on CBS, and it is a very big game for the Dolphins and the Broncos, as both teams are fighting for playoff position. Miami is still fighting to get in while the Broncos are in a battle with the Cheifs for the AFC West and the Patriots for the overall #1 seed in the AFC.
Let's take a look at the teams and see how they matchup.
Offensively, the Dolphins come into the game averaging 348.4 yards per game. They are generating 221.1 yards per game in the passing game, 127.3 yards in the running game, which ranks 6th in the NFL. The Dolphins are scoring 24.9 points per game, which ranks 11th in the NFL. They face a Denver defense that comes in giving up 316.4 yards a game. They are giving up 243.0 yards in the passing game, 73.4 yards in the running game, which ranks 2nd in the NFL. The Broncos are giving up 22.4 points per game, which is 16th in the NFL.
QB Ryan Tannehill comes into the game completing 65.4% of his passes for 2,354 yards and 17 touchdowns, while throwing 7 interceptions. He has also rushed for 261 yards, and his legs will be important today, not only running the ball, but getting away from pressure. RB Lamar Miller is the leading rusher with 614 yards and a 4.9 yards per carry average and 5 touchdowns. WR Mike Wallace is the leading WR with 44 catches for 557 yards and 6 touchdowns. Right behind Wallace is rookie WR Jarvis "Juice" Landry, with 42 catches for 400 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Dolphins have done a great job of spreading the ball around, and have 4 WR with 25 or more catches. They face a Denver defense that features DE's Von Miller and DeMarus Ware, and both are having very good year for the Broncos, as Miller has 10 sacks and Ware has 9. ILB Brandon Marshall is the leading tackler and CB Aquib Talib leads the secondary.
If there was ever a game the Dolphins need to FORCE the run game, it is this one. Miami cannot come out pass happy against the edge rusher that the Broncos feature. And while the Broncos rank 2nd in the NFL against the run, you have to be persistent in the run game. The revamped OL will have a stiff test today against the Broncos defensive front, and they must play well. Last in this assessment, when Ryan has a chance to connect with Mike Wallace for a big play, he MUST make that play. The Dolphins have to score touchdowns agains the Broncos, not field goals.
Defensively, the Dolphins come into the game giving up 302.5 yards per game, which ranks 2nd in the NFL. They are giving up 208.0 yards in the pass game, which ranks 2nd in the NFL while giving up 94.5 yards in the run game, which ranks 8th. The Dolphins are giving up 18.0 points per game, which ranks 4th. They face a very potent Denver offense that is averaging 412.9 yards per game, which ranks 3rd in the NFL. They are generating 323.0 yards in the pass game, which ranks 2nd in the NFL while generating only 89.9 yards per game in the running game, which ranks 27th. The Broncos are scoring 29.3 yards per game, which ranks 5th.
The Broncos feature one Peyton Manning, the league MVP in 2013, and Peyton is having another big year completing 67.1% of his passes for 3,301 yards and 30 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Denver has potent weapons in the pass game, lead by WR Demaryius Thomas, who has 72 catches for 1,105 yards and 6 touchdowns. WR Emmanual Sanders has 67 catches for 954 yards and 7 touchdowns and TE Julius Thomas has 40 catches for 426 yards and 12 touchdowns. At this moment, Thomas is listed as questionable for the game and is a game time decision. And let's not forget Wes Welker as well. The one thing that you can see is this Denver offense is one dimensional, as their run game ranks 27th in the NFL. Today, and as usual when you are talking about a potent offense that is one dimensional, the Dolphins MUST make sure they remain one dimensional. Don't let the Broncos get their run game going, as I certainly believe they will try to get it going today. The Broncos OL has struggled and the DL for the Dolphins will have to get pressure on Peyton, as his lack of mobility hurts him. The linebackers will have their hands full with the tight ends and the secondary will have to be sharp as they face a bevy of talented receivers. The Broncos play much better in Denver, so Miami will have to play probably their best game today against the Broncos.
Big test for the Dolphins and a game they do really need, as they are fighting for a playoff spot. Denver is feeling a sense of urgency as well, although the Raiders beating the Cheifs on Thursday Night helped the Broncos. Miami can make a statement with a win in Denver today. Can they? We will see.
Let's Go Miami.