Keys to victory: Dolphins edition
We have come to the point in the season where two of the three top rookie quarterbacks get to come head to head against one another. The Chargers did face the Bengals and the number one overall pick in Joe Burrow, however that was the one game where Justin Herbert wasn’t the starter. The second quarterback taken in this equation was Tua Tagaviloa who had several question marks regarding his health and mainly his hip dislocation has become the full time starter since week 8. Well not only does Tua look healthy and fluid, its hard to tell that he even had a hip dislocation to begin with. Not only Does Tua look fluid and healthy but it seems that since he has taken over as the starter the entire Miami squad looks like it is extra energized. In fact the Miami organization looks as if it has a very bright future for the first time in a long time under head coach Brian Flores. With that being said Miami is a very disaplined team and even though the Chargers are the more talented team on paper the Miami Dolphins are very disciplined and have been able to force turnovers on defense and special teams alike. This is not a team the Bolts can afford to turn the ball over against. It is of note that a few of their key pieces on defense will be out due too covid restrictions. That includes defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, and Raekwon Davis. While the Chargers have several well documented injuries of their own, this should help even the playing field. Here are the keys to victory to help get this team back on track.
Overcoming the outside coverage:
The Dolphins have some big name outside corners in Byron Jones who signed a big money contract in the offseason and Xavier Howard. While both of these corners are well regarded it is of note that they have been playing very streaky this season and it shows up in their coverage grades. Jones has just a 50.4 coverage grade on the season and that bodes well for the ever crafty and underrated Keenan Allen. On the opposite side is Xavier Howard who has a better coverage grade with a 69.0 on the season. While these grades are less than anything to be desired it should be known that both of these corners are streaky in their play and have runs where they can turn completely into shut down corners and times. It will be up to the outside receivers to take advantage of this and up too Herbert to not shy away and to trust his outside weapons. The Dolphins have done a great job of containing tight ends this season so this is why I’m putting more emphasis on the outside weapons.
Don’t let special teams beat you:
This subject goes on both sides, meaning that you cannot let your own special teams beat yourself as we have seen multiple times this year. The same goes for not allowing Miami’s electric kick returner hurt you with field position as he has done for most of the year to opposing teams. Jakeem Grant who is only 5’7” 171 pounds but man can he fly. He was clocked in the 40 yard dash at his pro day at 4.34 seconds. His kick return average through 8 games so far this season is 24.8 yards per return and 13.9 on punt returns. He also had a 88 yard return for a touchdown just two weeks ago against the Rams. When it comes to handling our own business on our side of the street, kicker and self-proclaimed money badger simply cannot cost this team more wins from missed field goals like we saw last week as well as the New Orleans game and nearly the Jacksonville and Cincinnati games as well. However those last two were games that the Chargers were able to pull out so we should let him off the hook for those two. The Bolts have also had punts blocked in the season that directly lead too opposing touchdowns and once a field goal. The Dolphins special teams have been fisting this season on these types of things so this will be an area that the Bolts cannot afford to give free opportunities away.
Run the ball and control the clock:
One of the redeeming qualities this team has had this year is the fact that they have been able to put up a lot of the deep pass long, quick touchdown scores. However this also leads to the defense not getting much time to rest leading to them being gassed and letting up at times. Keep in mind that the Dolphins will be without both of their starting defensive tackles so this bodes well for a team that has had two running backs emerge the last few weeks that can appear to run with power. This include Troymane Pope in week 8 who latter left with a concussion and Kalen Ballage who appeared to run with a lot of power last week against the Raiders. Ballage played with Miami two years ago in what was his rookie year so he may just have a revenge game chip on his shoulder. The most important thing to remember here is that the Dolphins have given up the 7th most yards to running backs this season.