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T-Rock's Phinfever FFL 2014

ESPN's James Walker

The Bad

Phinfever, Rich Rodriguez, Miami Dolphins, BlogOffensive Line (specifically Dallas Thomas) - Let's call it what it is. Dallas Thomas is not even a mediocre right tackle. 3 sacks and 2 pressures allowed. But to be fair, the entire offensive line struggled. The running lanes disappeared in the 2nd half, when the Dolphins would even bother calling a run, but more importantly, the offensive line failed to protect Ryan Tannehill. 6 sacks and 14 pressures allowed. That means Tannehill was under some kind of duress for about half of his drop backs. This isn't the first time this season that Tannehill is facing some sort of pressure on about half his drop backs. Poor protection doesn't give receivers time to get open when the Dolphins want to go downfield, which isn't often. The announcers kept talking about how the Dolphins didn't go downfield or call deep routes. Well, I can partially understand why seeing as how this offensive line at this point isn't much better than last year's unit at pass protection. There is still work to do, especially at guard and with depth on this unit.

Kevin Coyle's Defense - I specifically mention Kevin Coyle's defense because this is the unit he built. His philosophy of bending but not breaking doesn't work in December. What works is pressure, hitting, aggressiveness. All too often, Dolphins defenders are asked to sit back and react. This gives the offense an advantage, especially when the offense has a competent quarterback. The Dolphins came out aggressive, playing press coverage, hitting, getting penetration. That disappeared towards the end of the first half, when the Dolphins went into their predictable prevent defense against the 2 minute drill. It was completely invisible in the second half. From day one, Coyle put his imprint on this defense, switching it from a very effective 3-4 to the 4-3 unit we see today. That was the first mistake. The second mistake was going more zone heavy and moving away from the press coverage most good defenses in the NFL play. He owns it.

Officiating - The Dolphins lost because they got beat, but the officials certainly didn't help with some bad calls. Specifically the ineligible man downfield calls against Mike Pouncey. Those calls happened on big plays and they were wrong. The worst one was when Tannehill completed a 31 yard pass to Mike Wallace that set up the Dolphins in the red zone. The bad call wiped out the 31 yard play and on the next couple of plays the Dolphins started moving back and were taken out of field goal range. Another call that cost the Dolphins points was when the Dolphins sacked Joe Flacco for a safety. The correct thing to do would have been to call it a safety and then review the play. Because the refs didn't call it a safety, they put the onus on the Dolphins to ask for the play to be reviewed. Another thing to point out is that they kept calling the Dolphins for ineligible man downfield, but failed to call the Ravens for a pick on the Steve Smith touchdown when it was clear Torrey Smith was doing nothing but blocking the DB as soon as the ball was snapped. Every game has bad calls, but they usually even themselves out. They did not in this game at all.

 

Overall

The Dolphins now have a tough road to finish with a winning record, let alone get into the playoffs. The biggest failure on this team has been the coaching, especially on the defensive side of the ball, and the play of the offensive line in protecting the quarterback. At the very least, Kevin Coyle needs to be replaced, but ideally the Dolphins replace Joe Philbin and bring in a coach with more guts. Playing it safe only gets you to around .500 at best. That is what the Dolphins are, a reflection of their head coach.

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.

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