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2015 Free Agency
The 7-5 Baltimore Ravens, coming off a 34-33 loss at home to San Diego in the last minutes of the game, travel to South Florida to take on the 7-5 Dolphins, coming off a tough 16-13 win in New Jersey against the New York Jets. In a tightly bunced AFC Playoff race, this could very well be an elimination game when these 2 teams kickoff today in a 1:00 kickoff.
Let's take a look at these 2 teams and see how they match up.
Offensively, the Dolphins are generating 340.7 yards per game, 220.3 in the air and 120.3 yards on the ground, which ranks 10th in the NFL. The Dolphins are scoring 25.1 points per game, which ranks 10th in the NFL. They face a Ravens defense that is giving up 360.2 yards per game, 273.9 yards via the air, which ranks 31st in the NFL, 86.2 yards via the run, which ranks 4th in the NFL. The Ravens are giving up 20.2 points per game, which ranks 7th in the NFL.
QB Ryan Tannehill comes into the game completing 66.5% of his passes for 2,817 yards, 20 touchdown and 9 interceptions. He is the 2nd leading rusher on the team with 289 yards. RB Lamar Miller is the leading rusher for Miami with 729 yards on 150 carries, which is a 4.9 yard/per carry average and 6 touchdowns. Rookie WR Jarvis "Juice" Landry is the leading WR with 57 catches for 518 yards, followed closely by Mike Wallace with 54 catches for 661 yards and 7 touchdown. Miami has 4 additional WR's with 20 catches or more, which speaks to Tannehill spreading the wealth. The make shift offensivle line continues to battle and compete. Baltimore is lead in tackles by Rookie C.J Mosely and feature DE's Elvis Dummervil and Terrell Suggs on the defensive front. Mosely is also the leader in interceptions with 2. One HUGE piece that will be missing from this defense is Haloti Ngata, who was suspended for the rest of the season for using PED's. This will hurt the Ravens and Miami needs to look to exploit this in the game today.
Even with the fact that the Ravens are stout against the run, the Dolphins have to have balance and have to get RB Lamar Miller touches. The Ravens have been very suspect in the passing game to say the least and San Diego and Phillip Rivers exploited the secondary last week to the tune of 34-45 for 383 yards, 3 touchdowns to 1 interception. Miami offensive line has to play well and handle the 2 defensive ends in Suggs and Dummervil, and if they can, the Dolphins can have success. That is a big key in this game, the play of this make shift offensive line.
Defensively, Miami comes into the game giving up 316.8 yards per game, which ranks 6th. The Dolphins are giving up 198.2 yards in the air, which ranks 2nd in the NFL, but now rank 22nd in run defense giving up 118.6 yards per game, while giving up 19.3 points a game, which ranks 6th in the NFL. They face a Ravens offense that is generating 370.6 yards per game, which ranks 10th in the NFL. Baltimore is producing 238.8 yard per game in the pass game, while producing 131.8 yards per game in the run game, which ranks 5th. The Ravens are scoring 27.3 points per game, which ranks 6th in the NFL.
ILB Jelani Jenkins is the leading tackler while DE Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon leads the DL with 9.5 and 5.5 respectively. Brent Grimes leads the secondary with 5 interceptions. QB Joe Flaco leads the Ravens completing 63.1% of his passes for 2,989 yards, 20 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. RB Justin Forsett leads the Ravens rushing attack with 1,009 yards on 179 carries and 7 touchdowns while averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Steve Smith leads the receivers with 54 catches for 819 yards and 5 touchdowns.
A big, big key in this game will be the Dolphins ability to stop the run. Miami has given up over 200 yards the last 2 weeks, and when you have the 5th ranked rushing attack coming into your stadium, you better believe the Dolphins are going to get a LARGE dose of Forsett and the Ravens Run game. Flacco gives the Ravens the abililty to attack down the field with the deep ball and a passing attack that can hurt the Dolphins. This will be a physical battle, a battle that DT Randy Starks and DT Earl Mitchell NEED to step up and play MUCH better stoping the run, as they will be TESTED.
This is one of the biggest games this young Dolphins have played in a long time. Part of the maturation process is winning games at home against good football teams. Both teams will come out with high intensity levels, as the game means that much. Can the Dolphins get the JOB done? We will find out.
Let's go Miami.
1. Why Did We Not Stack the Box Sooner?
So, I hate to complain about a defense that has not given up a lot of points, but should it be better? I think that is the real question. Last Monday night we saw the Jets gash our defense for 277 yards ... 210 yards in the first half alone. Giving up all those yards is very concerning, but the coaching scheme was a real problem for us in the first half.
Let me wrap my brain around this. First, the Jets are a running team and rank highly in the NFL in that statistic. What are the Jets going to do against a Miami defense which gave up a lot of yards to the Broncos the week before? They are going to run the ball. Second, the Jets have some serious quarterback issues. Geno Smith has been horrible this year throwing very inaccurately and many interceptions. The coaches have zero confidence in Geno Smith ... almost less than Geno has for himself right now. What will the Jets do? They will run the ball and control the clock against the Dolphins defense. The Dolphins have two of the better run-stuffing safeties in the NFL, and one of the biggest playmakers in CB Brent Grimes. What are we going to do? We are going to push our safeties back to support the pass, and have our CBs back off the receivers about 10 yards deep. The Dolphins played this way the entire first half. The fans throughout the entire country are yelling, "Coyle, stack the box! Stack the box!" We saw no real changes to help the run defense. Coyle must be thinking, "The scheme is good. The players just need to step it up and execute." Yes, that makes perfect sense to me.
In the second half Coyle decided to cheat up the safeties to help stuff the run. It should have been the game plan the entire game.
After the game, DC Kevin Coyle said ...
"I’m not going to defend that we gave up 210 yards [rushing] in the first half. They ran the ball almost every play. We weren’t as bad as what it comes off initially. We need to fix some things in terms of these run fits, in terms of dealing with these reverses. They had run reverses but not of the actions they showed last night…. Disappointed in the way we started the game. We have to do a better job.”
While the defense only gave up 10 points, just call it luck that we didn't face a quality team such as Green Bay or Detroit ... or maybe the Ravens which can run and pass the ball. Just because the gameplan worked does not make it a good plan.
2. Mikey, Catch the Friggin' Ball.
I have to say that Mike Wallace has stepped up his game this year. He still does miss passes that a #1 WR should not miss, but with the lack of a deep passing game, he has shown everyone that he is more than a one-trick pony.
However, when Tannehill does deliver a catchable deep pass to him he has to come down with the ball. His one-handed catch attempt brought out a lot of profanity around the country because he has complained about a lack of deep balls only to drop one.
3. Can Tannehill Even Throw a Deep Pass?
In order to throw the deep pass, a quarterback needs the time to throw it. Tannehill does not have the time to step into a deep pass. When he did have time to throw it in the first couple of games, he did miss them then as well. It takes practice and good footwork to throw the deep pass. I think Tannehill will get it eventually.
If you watch any quarterback throw the deep pass, they miss the deep pass more than you think. I watched Tom Brady overthrow a deep pass Tannehill-style last week twice against the Packers. One of those passes could have won the game for them, but no one is saying anything about Brady missing those passes. It is because he does a lot of things right.
Accuracy on passes over 20 yards.
Ryan Tannehill - 32.4% accuracy - ranked 20th
Tom Brady - 32% - ranked 22nd
Ryan Tannehill - 32.8% - ranked 17th
Tom Brady - 39.4% - ranked 12th
Ryan Tannehill - 43.1% - ranked 7th
Tom Brady - 40.5% - ranked 14th
A lot is made about Tannehill's inability to throw the deep pass, but have you seen what he can do? He is like a surgeon on the field picking apart defenses with lazor quick passes. He moves the ball down the field. Are some of his passes off the mark? Occasionally they are, just like any other quarterback. Receivers have to make the difficult catches. The difference in the Lions game was MegaTron catching difficult passes. Tannehill just set the team record for5 passing games in a season with 70% completion rate. We do understand that Dan the Man threw more vertical passes than Tannehill does, so, we really did not expect Danny to hold that record. This year has thrown 20 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. He is protecting the ball and making smart decisions.
So, for all the fans out there that like to blame Tannehill for not being the next Dan Marino, understand that he has done everything that we have asked of a franchise quarterback. He has improved in each of this 3 years, and he is playing consistently good football this year.
The Sun Sentinel's Omar Kelly said at the beginning of this season that if Tannehill finished at a 85 QBR then the Dolphins would finish with double digit wins and would be worth investing in. Right now Tannehill's QBR is 92.1 and Omar still continues to complain about him. While Omar is entertaining I have difficulty in taking his analysis seriously when it comes to the Dolphins.
4. Hey, How Did That 10-Man Defense Work For Us?
I understand that things are crazy down there on the field, but let's try to avoid these mistakes. This play was so wide open that I thought that even Dan Marino could have raced 20 yards down the field and scored a touchdown. By the way, to tell you how futile the Jets have been offensively, that touchdown was the only touchdown that he have made in 11 quarters (almost 3 full games).
5. Dan the Man is Helping With Tanne-Thrill.
Perhaps some of Tannehill's improvement is due to the work that Dan the Man has given him during their time of going over tapes. Marino has been very respectful of Bill Lazor and Ryan Tannehill, and has offered to join them.
Asthe Miami Herald's Barry Jackson wrote this week ....
Dan Marino, who has been watching tape with Tannehill, has been careful not to step on coach’s toes. “There was a time he said, ‘Hey what time are you meeting? Can I come in?’ And that was about all it took,” Lazor said. “He’s been a great professional. He’s at practice most days.”
I just cannot tell you how thrilled I am that owner Stephen Ross has opened up the organization to add Marino, and that Marino is excited to help out in any capacity.