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The 7-6 Miami Dolphins, coming off a bitterly disappointing 28-13 lost at home to Baltimore, travel to Foxoboro to take on the 10-3 New England Patriots, coming off a solid 23-14 win in San Diego. Miami is battling for it's playoff life, and a lost would pretty much eliminate Miami, and as it is with a win the Dolphins will still need a lot of help. While Miami struggles to just get in the playoffs, once again their division rival is not only leading the AFC East and will win the AFC East, but are once again fighting for the #1 overall seed and a Super Bowl berth
Let's take a look at the 2 teams to see how they matchup.
Miami comes into the game offensively averaging 333.6 in total offense, 217.7 yards per game via the pass, 115.9 yards a game in the run game, which ranks 12th in the NFL. They face a New England defense that is giving up 349.8 yards per game, 244.2 yards via the pass, 105.6 yards via the run game, which ranks 11th in the NFL. The Patriots are giving up 20.5 points per game, which ranks 9th in the NFL.
QB Ryan Tannehill is completing 66.7% of his passes for 3,044 yards, 21 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, and is the 2nd leading rusher with 295 yards. RB Lamar Miller is the team leading rusher with 162 carries for 782 yards, which comes to a 4.8 yard per carry average while scoring 6 touchdowns. Rookie WR Jarvis Landry is the leading receiver for the Dolphins with 63 catches for 573 yards and 5 touchdowns. Jamie Collins is New England leading tackler and Rob Ninkovich leads the Patriots with 7.0 sacks. Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan and Darrelle Revis all have 2 interceptions.
Miami won the 1st game of the season in Miami 30-20, as the Dolphins were able to gash the Patriots in the run game and dominated the 2nd half, outscoring the Patriots 20-0 in the 2nd half to wipe out a 20-10 Patriots 1st half lead. The OL that was part of that domination has been decimated by injuries, with OLT Bradon Albret out with a torn ACL. ORT Ju'Wuan James, a natural at ORT is now forced to play OLT and he has done a servicable job. The BIG issue is at ORT, where Dallas Thomas has struggled immensely. With that said, the Dolphins NEED to lean on Lamar Miller to get the run game going. OC Bill Lazor needs to get Lamar 20 plus carries and see what he can do against a team that still can be suspect against the run. Also, it has been bought up on numerous occasion about the Dolphins lack of going down the field deep. That has to change. You cannot allow cornerbacks like Darrelle Revis the chance to SIT on shorter routes because they know you are not looking to go deep. Max protect and challenge the Patriots down the field. You have to show that threat. The OL struggled mightly last week, so their play has to improve if the Dolphins are going to have any chance of having success offensively.
Defensively, the Dolphins come into the game giving up 326.8 yards per game, 203.2 yards per game in the pass game, which ranks 3rd, but 123.5 yards per game in the run game, which ranks 22nd. The Dolphins are giving up 20.0 points a game, which ranks 7th in the NFL. They face a potent New England offense that is generating 381.7 yards per game, which ranks 7th in the NFL. 272.6 yards comes via the pass game, which ranks 7th while generating 109.1 yards per game via the run game. The Patriots are scoring 30.8 points per game, which ranks 3rd.
LB Jelani Jenkins is the leading tackler for Miami, but he is doubtful for this game with a foot injury, and LB Koa Misi is doubtful as well. DE Cam Wake leads the Dolphins with 9.5 sacks and CB Brent Grimes is the leader in interceptions with 5. QB Tom Brady is completing 64.7% of his passes for 3,560 yards, 30 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. RB Shane Vereen leads a committee of running backs for the Patriots with 82 carries for 347 yards with 2 touchdowns. WR Julian Edleman is the leading receiver with 85 catches for 884 yards and 3 touchdowns. TE Rob Gronkowski is a MAJOR threat with 73 catches for 997 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The Dolphins come into this game having given up over 180 yards on the ground 3 straight games. New England will come out and POUND the run game this week, and complicating matters for Miami is they will not probably have leading tackler Jelani Jenkins or LB Koa Misi and have lost S Louis Delmas for the season with a torn ACL. Miami LB core is a weakness already, and taking these 2 out of the lineup HURTS. Miami will need to come up with a way to slow the run game down. If they can, I believe DE Cameron Wake and DE Vernon Olivier can cause havoc as they did in the 1st game. But it does boil down to the Dolphins being able to contain the run game. There is speculation that the Dolphins could use OLB/DE Dion Jordon on TE Rob Gronkowski. Jordan has the size and speed to run with Gronkowski, but the coverage skills are a major concern. DC Kevin Coyle has to be more aggressive in this game today. He cannot sit back and let the Patriots dictate to the defense. It not his MO though, so we will have to sit back and see how Coyle defensive game plan looks like.
Miami controlled their own fate going into the Baltimore game in Miami last week, just as they did last year coming down the home stretch. The Dolphins folded last year, and they are in trouble this year as well. Baltimore eventually took control of the game in the 2nd half and ended up physically dominating the Dolphins in the 2nd half. Can Miami turn that around in a game against the best team in the AFC, New England? There fading playoff hopes are on the line.
Let's Go Miami.
Will talk about the QB ever stop? No, QB talk never stops, when the QB is good it goes on, when the QB is bad it goes on, but it especially goes on when the QB is somewhere inbetween. Thats when the debate runs hottest, if the vast majority agree the QB is good or bad there is talk, but lacking in the debate area.
The Dolphins QB question starts to simmer at the end of his third season, do you pick up the 5th year option this offseason, or do the Dolphins have him prove a bit more before they commit to another year. A possible regime change has this question firmly in the air, but just based on performance where do we sit.
Tannehill's Troubling Trends, you might think I'd start this off with the deep ball problems but I'm not, there is a more troubling trend I've become more aware of lately. Tannehill has had his "crunch time critics", I've been among them, but recent play by Tannehill prompted me to look closer.
Going back five games, Tannehill has missed on 4 "can't miss" TD throws, all inside the 11 yard line, all to open recievers, two in the Detroit game, both to Clay, one in the Jet game to Gibson and one in the Raven's game to Wallace.
In Detroit, on two consecutive plays Tannehill missed easy TDs to Clay inside the 4 yard line. The first play was a short pass into the left flat from the 4 yard line, Clay was about 5 yards away from Tanne and just needed the ball in front of him to score a TD, but the pass is thrown behind and down on Clays back left hip. Clay manages to catch the ball but in doing so fell down, having to spin completely backwards to have to make the catch, gain of two.
On the next play, from the two yard line, Clay gets open under the goal posts, about ten yards away and right in front of Tannehill, Tannehill puts the ball low and behind again, this time to the right hip, Clay gets his hands on the ball but a defender knocks it away.
In NY, nearly identicle play to the second Clay throw from Detroit, from the four yard line, Gibson gets open going under the goal posts, Tannehill is high and to the right, Gibson can't get his hands on the ball. Only twelve or so yards seperated Tannehill and Gibson who was clearly open, It made me wonder how you miss that bad from that range.
Against Baltimore, From the eleven yard line, Wallace gets about two yards of seperation going into the endzone, wide open, Tannehill throws wide right, would it have been nice to see Wallace sell out for that pass, yes, does that change the fact that Tannehil missed on an easy pass, no.
The really troubling thing all four of these passes has in common, they were all in crucial situations in the forth quater. Crunch time, just the time when you need him to play his best, and he's leaving gimmy TDs on the field. At Detroit it was a tie game, we had to settle for a FG, at NY we were down by a TD, Miller scored on the next play, and against Baltimore we were down by four points, we could have taken a 17-14 lead in the fourth quater, but were still behind after settling for a FG.
To be clear on this subject, these are not the type of passes that signify that your a franchise QB, not at all, these are automatic for a franchise QB, must make throws for any QB. In the case of both Clay throws and the Gibson throw, there was no defenders between QB and receiver, no one to throw over or around at point blank range, all 3 inside the four yard line. Wallace was wide open, he created a ton of seperation in a short space, there was a lot of area where that ball could have been completed, but Tannehill missed, from the eleven yard line There was a stat posted in the Jet game, Tannehill has a 98 QB rating in the first 3 quaters and a 75 QB rating in the fourth, that sent me looking into Tannehill's splits.
On first and second downs Tannehill completes about 63% of his passes for around an 88 QB rating with 40 TDs and 19 INTs On third down he completes 59%, for a 73.5 QB rating with 16 TDs and 17 INTs.
With less than 10 yards to go for a first down or TD, Tannehill has around a 100 QB rating with 44 TDs to 13 INTs, with over 10 yards to go he has a 74 QB rating with 13 TDs to 26 INTs.
When leading or tied Tannehill completes about 63% for about an 86.6 QB rating with 28 TDs and 15 INTs, when trailing he completes 60% for a 79.5 QB rating with 29 TDs and 24 INTs.
In the first three quaters Tannehill completes about 63% for about an 87 QB rating with 43 TDs and 25 INTs, in the fourth quater Tannehill completes 56% for about a 73 QB rating with 14 TDs and 13 INTs. Also, when trailing with four minutes or less, Tannehill completes in the low 50% range, with a QB rating about the same and 5 TDs to 10 INTs.
These stats are painting a picture of a QB who is not getting it done in crucial situations in particular, take out third downs, fourth quaters and trailing in games and Tannehill has good stats, but you can't do that. He is showing a pattern, a tendency to underperform in crucial situations, like the four passes in the last five weeks.
Then you also have the deep ball issues and the pockect awareness issues as well, but the underperforming in crucial situations is much more important, a QB that is not helping you win those close games isn't going to last. So in the end will Tannehill be just a better version of Henne, a talented QB you have to move on from, because they just aren't it.
Tannehill will have to start playing much better in crucial situations if he wants to make his mark in the NFL, a good start would be a win in NE.