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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
No room for complacency, let's get down to business. Miami stays on the west coast this week for another road game, this time against the Los Angeles Rams. There is currently an even mix of pick 'em, Miami -1 and Los Angeles -1 so we'll just call this one even for now. The O/U is 41 and its a 4 PM game.
You want to talk about wild cards? This seems to be full of them. Let's start with Miami and the health of the team. Brandon Albert has a dislocated wrist, Mario Williams is questionable, Mike Poucey injured his hip again, and I'm sure several other names will pop up on the report. Ryan Tannehill took some serious hits so I have a slight concern about his condition (he'll play, but will he be at full strength?). Couple that stuff with the fact that these guys are living on the road for the entire week which isn't normal for their routines.
Los Angeles announced that star DE Robert Quinn checked into the hospital for a non football related injury. He's been battling a shoulder problem this year and his numbers show it. He hasn't been the sack monster from years past. The Rams will give first overall pick Jared Goff his first start at QB. Critics have been screaming for this move for weeks. That always brings a giant level of uncertainty because he could be a dud or might have a great game because the opponents don't have a read on him yet.
Los Angeles started hot, going 3-1 and beating the likes of Seattle, Arizona and Tampa Bay. They then lost 4 in a row and just eeked by the Bryce Petty led Jets yesterday. The declining play of QB Case Keenum has a lot to do with this fall from grace. Defenses are able to key on big name RB Todd Gurley and the numbers show it - he's averaging 3 YPC, hasn't scored a TD in over a month (3 all season) and has yet to post a 100 yard game. Los Angeles is dead last in the NFL averaging 15.4 points per game.
On the defensive side of the ball they have been pretty good. They are only allowing 19 points per game which is 10th best in the NFL. While the defense is containing opponent yardage I was a little surprised at how few sacks and turnovers they have generated to this point. They have 16 sacks in 9 games, with Aaron Donald accounting for 5 of them. They only have 5 interceptions and have forced 8 fumbles. Opponents are averaging nearly 4 YPC and 103 YPG on the ground while throwing 13 TD passes and 223 YPG. Its a bit of a tale of two teams - in 4 games they've allowed 28+ points and the other 5 games have been 17 or less. As far as Goff, its not that I would be nervous but you just never know what a high end rookie QB can pull off against a team that hasn't game planned for him.
Outside of health, my concerns for the Dolphins are penalties and yardage surrendered. Despite who the Rams start the latter shouldn't be an issue. The addition of Earl Mitchell did good things for the run defense and even Jordan Phillips has played better the last two weeks. If the defense can get after Philip Rivers then they should be feasting on either a rookie QB or a guy who should be holding a clipboard. WR Kenny Britt is having a very good year with 44 catches for 693 yards and 3 TDs. Maxwell needs to lock him down. The Rams have their own Jakeem Grant in Tavon Austin who is a much more polished receiver with the ability to do damage through trickery. Fortunately for Miami he has produced very little this year.
The offense could be fantastic once again but will need key guys to be healthy. If Laremy Tunsil kicks over to left tackle and Kraig Urbak starts at LG it could lead to a decline in the quality of blocking. That in turn may limit what we've seen from the explosive Jay Ajayi and increasingly confident Tannehill. A healthy Devante Parker made a world of difference so let's hope he's back to form. Defenses cannot simply take out Jarvis Landry when they have to focus Parker as well.
This is the type of game where the offense needs to be aggressive early and force the Rams to become one dimensional with suspect QB play. Use the play action to set up shots down field and build an early lead. As I mentioned earlier, the Rams aren't exactly intercepting people like crazy and Miami's receivers have more talent than LA's secondary.
I have a funny feeling this could be a trap game and my gut tells me Miami is due for a stinker. But when you compare the teams and notice that LA's only win in the last five games was against Bryce Petty and the Jets (where LA only scored 9 points) you have to give Miami the edge. As a team Miami has scored 30, 28, 27 and 31 on this winning streak. I'd prefer to wait until the injury report comes out but I will be consistent and keep doing these predictions on what has become VICTORY MONDAY!
Los Angeles 10
Sifting For Gold (Week 11)
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. Partly because of the amazing smells that fill the house in the midst of the frantic food preparation. Partly because of the promise of loved ones gathering together for a day of fun and feasting. Partly because, well, I really, really like good food. But also because it’s a reminder to take stock of what you HAVE and be grateful for it. I’ve been blessed enough to never have to have a Thanksgiving where we couldn’t afford to put on a big family meal the way we want to. Being thankful for what you have is a key to finding peace in your life.
In that spirit, then, I thought I’d revisit a post I made several weeks ago. After the Bengals’ game, in the midst of a grim stretch of games that had most of us doubting whether or not there was any reasonable expectation that this team would win even 4 or 5 games in the whole season, I wrote a blog detailing the players I felt were building blocks for the future. I also listed those that I had hope for, but to that point had not shown enough to say with any conviction that they could be part of the future. Now, in the glow of 3 good wins against competitive teams and establishing a new identity as a physical, attacking team on both sides of the ball, I thought it might be good to revisit that list and see how some of those players are holding up, and whether there might be any new players to add to the list.
Building Blocks for the future: Jarvis Landry, Laremy Tunsil, Devante Parker, Mike Pouncey.
Players to be named later (the “watch list”): Jay Ajayi, Kenyan Drake, Jakeem Grant, Leonte Caroo.
Changes and additions to the list after 10 weeks: Move Ajayi and Damien Williams to the “Building Block” list, add Marquies Gray and Dominique Jones to the “Players to be named later” list. I don’t really know what to do with Ja’Wuan James. Early in the year he played like trash, but he’s improved. He probably deserves to make the watch list as well. What about Ryan Tannehill? He certainly has played well the last few weeks. Keep that up, Ryan, and put yourself into the building block list.
Building Blocks: Ndamukong Suh, Kiko Alonso, Reshad Jones, Xavien Howard.
Players to be named later: Isa Abdul-Quddus, Jordan Phillips, Bobby McCain.
Changes and additions: Move Abdul-Quddus and Andre Branch to the building blocks list. Branch has really stepped up since being inserted into the starting lineup. Jordan Phillips is close as well, but I would wait until I see more consistency for the rest of the season. Add to the Players to be Named Later list Tony Lippett and Neville Hewitt. Lippett has grown into his job as the season has progressed, and while he’s still raw, he has shown enough improvement to keep around. Hewitt has flashed the last couple of games and brings an intensity that I have enjoyed seeing. I am on the fence with Byron Maxwell. He’s improved as well, but is he worth keeping next year? It is telling that there is only one linebacker on the building block list. This had better be a high offseason priority.
Building Blocks: Matt Darr, Andrew Franks, Jakeem Grant.
Changes and additions: Add Walt Aikens to the Building Block list. He deserves to be recognized for his work there, even if he hasn’t developed as a defensive contributor yet.
As expected, with the team figuring out how to win and playing much better the past 3 weeks, we are seeing more players step up and show themselves to be players to build around. I hope to see more clarity of that type over the rest of the season.