Know your opponent: Miami Dolphins
2013 record: 8-8
Key newcomers: Knowshon Moreno (FA); Louis Delmas (FA); Earl Mitchell (FA); Branden Albert (FA); Brent Grimes (FA); Jarvis Landry (Draft); Ja’Wuan James (Draft).
Key losses: Paul Soliai (FA); Jonathan Martin (Trade).
Guest Blogger: Brian Miller of Phin Phanatic
Pass DEF: 8th (221.6 YPG)
Rush DEF: 13th (110 YPG)
Pass OFF: 25th (217 YPG)
Rush OFF: 6th (136.2 YPG)
Three Key Players
Jelani Jenkins; LB
Dolphins coming off a tough loss
Last Sunday we were rooting for the Dolphins as they held a late lead over the Green Bay Packers. But on Sunday those Dolphins are the Bears opponents at Soldier Field in a game the Bears should win.
With the Dolphins holding a late lead last week, Aaron Rodgers marched the Packers down the field and threw the game-winning touchdown with just three seconds left. A tough loss for the Dolphins who had the game in the bag. But what let the Packers back in the game and gave them the opportunity to win the game on the final drive? Poor game management on the Dolphins second to last drive.
The Dolphins elected to run a draw play on third and nine and failed to convert. It was another questionable call by head coach Joe Philbin who was reported as ‘close to losing his locker room’. That’s not a good thing when a report like that comes out.
It’s going to be interesting to see which Dolphins team shows up on Sunday. The one that is possibly hanging their heads from last week? Or a motivated team ready to try and turn their season around?
A look back at the Brandon Marshall trade
Brandon Marshall just didn’t work out for the Dolphins during his brief time there. So the Dolphins decided to trade Marshall to the Bears which reunited him with his former quarterback Jay Cutler. In just 38 games with the Bears, Marshall has 28 touchdown receptions. In 30 games with the Dolphins? He had just 9.
Marshall needed a change of scenery and he got one. The Dolphins needed to get rid of him and did. In return they received two third round picks in which they turned into three total draft picks. Those players? Will Davis, Michael Egnew and B.J. Cunningham.
Safe to say the Bears got the better of the deal.
The Dolphins offense is led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill who is in his third year with the team. While the Dolphins have high hopes for Tannehill, the offense hasn’t quite figured it out yet. Running a hybrid West Coast offense mixed with a little spread isn’t easy and it’s shown so far this season for the Dolphins. The speed and playmaking has been hit or miss and at times disappears in games.
Here’s what Miller had to say:
The offense can be great for about six plays and then look entirely like a different team the rest of the drive. Miami fans are not sure what the Dolphins do honestly on offense because it gets so scattered. There is no utilization to speak of from the TE’s and the RB’s have little involvement in the passing game outside of running a simple route. Break it down? I would say it’s a work in process.
The Dolphins defense is a hybrid 3-4 / 4-3 but the team runs more of the 4-3 using Earl Mitchell and Jared Odrick on the interior of the line and Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake on the edge. The Dolphins have received pretty good production from their linebackers who were thrown in after week one due to injuries. Koa Misi is however back and Jelani Jenkins is a major surprise. Kevin Coyle is hard to predict for anyone but the opposing team. He has a lot of talent but for whatever reason can’t get them all on the same page. The defense is very inconsistent from series to series but when they are together they are a very good unit. – Brian Miller
Miami’s biggest challenge
Miami’s undersized cornerbacks will have the tough task of trying to contain wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, something that isn’t easy to do. While the Bears will look to establish the run early, it wouldn’t shock me if Cutler came out firing and taking advantage of his mis-matches as well.
The Dolphins must get pressure on Cutler early and often. They could take a look at what Buffalo did to the Bears earlier in the season and pressure Cutler into making mistakes. If that happens, the Dolphins could find themselves stealing a game at Soldier Field.
One rookie to watch?
The Dolphins have a pair of rookies to keep your eye on and both are on the offensive side of the ball. Jarvis Landry got off to a slow start but has seen his role increase. Last week he tied a season high with seven targets and set a season high with six receptions and a touchdown. Landry is certainly someone to watch out for when the Dolphins have the ball.
The other guy is first round pick Ja’Wuan James out of Tennessee. James has the job of protecting Tannehill and slowing the Bears pass rush. It won’t be easy for James however as the Bears lineman have picked up their play the past few weeks.
Jarvis Landry is the show rookie to watch. He caught six balls last week and a score and also returns kicks. With Brandon Gibson out Landry is stepping into a much bigger role. The real rookie however is Ja’Wuan James who has been playing fantastic as the teams right guard. He won’t draw much observation from the ball watchers but it’s his play that has been keeping Ryan Tannehill off his back much of this year. James has played against some of the best defensive ends in the league this year and has only given up a couple of sacks.