Dolphins Gameplan: Win and stay alive
Ryan Tannehill has been average this year with 2,206 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for an 81.2 passer rating and 37 sacks (Rivers has only been sacked 16 times by the way).
His top receivers, Brian Hartline (43 catches for 534 yards and two touchdowns) and free agent acquisition Mike Wallace (40 receptions for 495 yards and one touchdown) have had solid years, but we may have witnessed the birth of a star last weekend.
Rishard Matthews proved to be a beast of a slot receiver last week with 11 catches on 14 targets for 120 yards and two touchdowns.
I do not expect the San Diego Chargers to have an answer for him. While any of Miami’s wide receivers can have a big game, Mike Wallace will need Ryan Tannehill to trust his speed and stop under-throwing him in order to consistently resemble the player that he was in Pittsburgh.
On the ground, the Dolphins must feature Lamar Miller who has rushed 100 times for 450 yards (4.5 yards per carry) and two touchdowns, and not give carries on Daniel Thomas, who has 64 of them for 214 yards (3.3 yards per carry) and two touchdowns.
The Dolphins do not run the ball enough to merit a two back system. It is much more advisable to make sure the more elusive player gets the plays called for him.
The Chargers defense has been getting production from its young linebackers, led by Manti Te’o who has made nine tackles in consecutive games, Thomas Keiser who got three hits on Peyton Manning last week, and Tourek Williams who is coming off of a game where he recorded a sack and forced a fumble.
Tannehill will have to continue to get the ball out of his hands quickly on most plays, but even more so at the end of games when sacks are completely unacceptable. If a play does need time to develop then it is advisable to roll the quarterback out of the pocket, where he is allowed to throw the ball away by rule.
After analyzing the Buccaneers game film, I discovered that the Buccaneers were not in the Miami Dolphins backfield for every running play because they were being tipped off by the Dolphins, but because they were systematically attacking every potential handoff. The play action worked against the Buccaneers as a result.
The Chargers may overcommit to stuffing the run also and I would not mind seeing Miami throw for 400 yards as a result. Philbin and Sherman have to be able to find a way to throw on a team that has only had four interceptions all season.
Kevin Coyle should mix up the coverages and disguise the blitzes in hopes of forcing Rivers into mistakes. Miami is second in the league in interceptions, with 12, and are just getting started if the corners continue growing in confidence.
Last week, Brent Grimes could have gotten the Miami Dolphins to a fast start if he had gone up for an interception with two hands on the game’s first drive.
He batted the ball out of bounds with his entire left palm on first and goal. He had positioning and did not trust himself to make the play. Tampa Bay went up 7-0 two plays later.
A little bit later he is flagged for a 35 yard pass interference penalty because he deliberately leans into the receiver as he turns to look back for the ball. Had he not worried about being 1 on 1 with a taller receiver he would have come up with an interception on the play as he had remarkable positioning on his man yet again.
While that drive did not directly end in points, it did lead to a punt that was downed at the two yard line, which led to a safety and another drive that began at the 42 yard line and ended in a field goal.
That’s twelve points that get wiped off the board if he allows himself to be as bold as he was against the Cincinnati Bengals, when his 94 yard interception helped stop the losing streak.
The Dolphins have won the last six games against the Chargers at home and I expect that trend to continue with a complete team victory. My Prediction: Miami 23 – San Diego 17