Miami Dolphin middle linebacker Koa Misi and the rest of the front seven are on notice. The Ravens have seen the tape and know Zach Thomas is no longer in the middle of the Miami defense. Baltimore’s 5th ranked rushing offense will attempt to exploit the weakness exposed in two previous games. Joe Flacco may not be Peyton Manning, but his 93 passer rating and 16th ranked passing offense are a much greater threat than Geno Smith and the hapless Jets.
The the Miami defensive line may end up telling the story of this game when they are left to fend for themselves as the LBs and DBs must back off the line. Cortland Finnegan is a game time decision after being limited in practice and Jamar Taylor is out with a separated shoulder, leaving Miami precariously thin at corner. RJ Stanford and Jimmy Wilson are the only available CBs if Finnegan cannot go.
The NFL is fond of the term “next man up,” but when the next man was preparing to take his insurance sales exam two weeks ago, things are not good. It could be another week of conceding big rushing yards with the consolation of allowing only 13 points as the Miami defense did in defeating the Jets. Issues in the secondary should tempt offenses into airing it out, but a productive running game is difficult for any NFL team to abandon. Denver was able to exploit the Miami secondary when it needed to in the fourth quarter and Baltimore may look to do the same.
It places the onus on the Dolphin offense to be more productive leaving Ryan Tannehill and the Miami receivers a very active part of Sunday’s game plan. The Ravens are ranked 16th defensively, but 30th against the pass, a weakness Miami will look to exploit. The Dolphins lead the NFL in redzone attempts, but barely 50% have resulted in touchdowns. Touchdowns will be critical in keeping pace with the Ravens.
December is the month when playoff teams separate themselves from the pack and both teams need a victory to keep pace. At 7-5 the Dolphins are at the same stage they arrived at the past two seasons before melting down and out of the playoffs. A little more confidence has been flowing from Dolphins camp this season and that solidarity was evident in beating New York while playing an awful game.
There will be off-weeks in every season and some teams manage to come out of those stinkers smelling rosy. It was not so for Miami in recent seasons and perhaps an ugly victory can do more for the psyche than a blowout. Winning is as much about attitude as it is about talent or scheming and the Dolphins showed they can play ugly and still walk out smiling. The Jets wanted nothing more than to ruin a Miami playoff run but the Dolphins came away victorious.
Miami will have the comforts of its own surroundings with some warm muggy air to greet the Ravens Sunday. Denver exploits its home field advantage very well as the Dolphins breathlessly found out in the final quarter. Make no mistake, Miami can be a tough place to play for those not acclimated to the climate. This was an advantage Shula used for years and his victory total is proof of its validity. Time to welcome Baltimore to the sunshine state.
This is a game the Dolphins can win, but they must accept the weakness of their own CB situation and play within those confines. Expect a similar game plan, LBs dropping to help in coverage leaving open running lanes. As the field begins to shrink this type of defense becomes much more difficult to exploit. Miami will take giving up yards as long as the score remains within reach. “Rope a dope” as one of our favorite readers proclaimed.
We must score, that means no showboating one handed attempts at easy TD catches. A shootout does not favor Miami, but Tannehill will have a career game. Miller left and Miller right with short passes to Landry will begin the show to get the juices flowing. Yet, this is the week the Dolphin coaching staff hands the ball to Ryan Tannehill.
At some point Ryan Tannehill is going to complete at least 3 passes for over 50 yards in a single game, it is inevitable. This is the game it will happen.
The Miami deep pass will makes its appearance this week and the NFL will be on notice...
The Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill have arrived.