The Miami Dolphins are 25% of the way through the season and appear to be no better than the last. The run game is still nonexistent. The quarterback still plays like a rookie. Their offensive line still struggles to take pressure off quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Even Tannehill is still making the same mistakes. So what if anything can the Dolphins do to get back on track going forward this season?
Miami is at home this weekend against the Tennessee Titans. They’ve had some extra time to heal and game plan after the Thursday Night Football loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. In an awful showing by Miami, the offense again squandered any and all defensive stands. Wide receiver Aj Green caught passes all up and down the field and still only managed to barely find the end zone after a blown tackle. Miami needs their offense to show up this game so who will step up for them?
Who steps up?
The most important person to step up for the Dolphins is Jay Ajayi. Fans for weeks have been calling out quarterback Ryan Tannehill for his lack of play, but for the Dolphins to succeed it needs to be Ajayi. You can blame Tannehill all you want, but there have been plenty of teams who have won with an average, if not just ok, quarterback. Those teams are often lead by a great run game and stellar defense. Miami flashed their talent against a Bengals team, forcing many punts or field goals.
Ajayi needs to be the player Adam Gase hoped he would be. After his trouble early in the season, the running back might have gotten back on Gase’s good side with his overtime touchdown run against the Cleveland Browns. Following that performance, he went on to rush six times for 33 yards(5.5 YAC) on Thurs. If the Dolphins want to be successful, they need to take some of the responsibility off of Tannehill and hand it to their running backs.
Kenyan Drake will also need to be the player Miami hoped they drafted against the Titans. The Titans are allowing 4.4 yards per carry against opposing offenses and Miami needs to become a ground and pound. The passing game should be the second option until their offensive line is 100% healthy. Drake is the perfect compliment to Ajayi’s. His explosiveness on the outside of the tackles earns him 4.9 yards per attempt and 4.3 per reception. 4-5 yards per attempt is good. 4-5 yards gets you first downs. Wake up Miami. All season they’ve preached how they need to get into “3rd and manageable” situations. Find ways to make these guys work.
Who burns them?
Quarterback Marcus Mariota isn’t where the Titans want him to be, yet. In fact, a punt return is sole win came on a punt return for a touchdown. However, with success opposing teams have been having through the air, Mariota could have a breakout game. In that same game, the quarterback also rushed four times for 20 yards. The Titans are no stranger to letting him run either. Out of 13 attempts this season, he’s gained 72 yards. For those keeping track, that’s three yards shy of Miami’s leading back Jay Ajayi with 18 carries for 75 yards. If Miami can’t get pressure on Mariota, look for him to beat them on the ground.
Former Miami Dolphin, Richard Matthews ought to benefit from Miami’s often tired defense. If the Dolphins offense can’t stay on the field, look for the defense to continue their bend but don’t break tendencies. Too many times receivers have career games against the Dolphins because their defense is just too tired. The team just isn’t deep enough in their defensive backs position to last a full game. The Dolphins have too many liabilities in their pass defense to sub out for fresh players. Look for that trend to continue, especially with rookie cornerback Xavien Howard out this week. Matthews is the Titans leading receiver who probably wants payback for his former team letting him walk. Look for him to have a career high against the Miami defense.
At the end of the day Sunday, one of these 1-3 teams will have an extra tally in the loss column. Both have struggled for seasons now, but neither seems to be on their way up. This is a coin toss game here, and neither of the two opponents has done much worthy of bragging, but they’re in good company. Thirteen of the league’s 32 teams is 1-3 or winless. Of those remaining 19 teams, seven of them are only two-win teams. Sunday’s matchup will ultimately come down to which team makes the least amount of mistakes to try and climb back into contention. 12 games remain on each of their schedules, so there’s plenty of football left. When it’s all said and done, the Dolphins barely outlast the Titans 24-21.