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Scouting Dolphins ahead of week three match-up with Raiders

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Oakland Raiders v Miami Dolphin Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins host the Oakland Raiders in Dolphins stadium at 10am on Sunday morning for the west coast. The Raiders have been a satirical spin-off of the great Charles Dickens A tale of two cities and more like A tale of two halves. Luckily for them the Dolphins aren’t a great team despite what the record may suggest.

Offense

The Dolphins are coached up by Adam Gase and quarterbacked by dual threat Ryan Tannehill. Featuring a two-headed rushing attack spearheaded by Kenyon Drake with a compliment of Frank ‘the inconvenient truth’ Gore. Gore is now in his 13th season in the league and has climbed to fourth all-time with 14,112 rushing yards. Losing Jarvis Landry has significantly limited the passing offense, so has Devante Parker’s injury. Kenny Stills is currently leading the Dolphins with 123 receiving yards (one 75 yard TD catch). Nobody else has more than 70 yards. Danny Amendola is the most targeted receiver with eight, but with the addition of Parker that figures to change soon. Mike Gesiki the starting tight end has two targets and one reception for 11 yards.

The Rams aren’t a good offensive team, I’ll just come right out and say it they have one rushing touchdown and one running back over 100 yards, they also are dead last in the league in terms of pass attempts (51). They managed to hang tough against a couple of teams who suffer scoring issues and won late against the Titans and grounded the Jets early. This offense features plenty of RPO’s (run pass option), misdirection, read option, and short passes. Tannehill is what he is. He can run and he can throw a lil bit short. Every once in a blue moon he will take a shot deep and is capable if it’s there. His 72. 5% completion percentage is more a byproduct of high percentage throws than deadly accuracy and he has put some balls up for grabs as well.

What the Raiders defense needs to do more than anything is set good edges and contain the run game to the inside. Which in essence is controlling the point of attack. Laremy Tunsil and Ju’wan James are not anything special at the tackle positions and should allow for some early pressure opportunities. Blitzing early and often while deploying Clinton Macdonald and Jonathon Hankins at defensive interior positions will surely clog the running lanes and collapse the pocket. The Linebackers and safeties are going to be tested alot with potential eye violations and getting tested deep.

Defense

Stingy is the best description of the Dolphin defense. They are fourth in scoring defense, don’t give up a ton of yards on the ground (3.3 yards/carry) which is third best in the league and have only allowed a single passing touchdown on the season. In terms of yardage allowed they are middle of the pack with 698 yards, and allow an average of 270 yards passing/game.

The Dolphins are tied for the league lead in gifts from opposing quarterbacks....errr... I mean interceptions. Sam Darnold, Marcus Mariota, and Blaine Gabbert have been generous towards the Dolphin secondary with some truly pitiful passing attempts.

This is a young scrappy unit, Xavien Howard and Bobby McCain, are pesky in your face type of corners who like to get handsy but only defensively. Howard has been informed his mission is to shadow Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper all game long. I hope for his sake its combo coverage because one on one he’s in for a long day.

Reshad Jones and TJ MacDonald are the safeties, Jones is nursing a bit of a shoulder injury but still expects to be a go for Sunday’s game. Jones, the eight-year veteran has been a mainstay in this organization throughout his entire career. He is a solid safety. MacDonald when used properly is best as a box safety, a good tackler and a solid pass rusher for his position MacDonald plays best coming downhill rather than overtop.

The linebackers are an interesting bunch as well. Led by Kiko Alonso they have second-year man Reakwon McMillian and Chase Thomas all of these guys are fast twitchy defenders with a nose for the football, McMillian has a fumble recovery and Alonso has an interception on the season. These are a blitzing bunch, but aside from Alonso, they aren’t great in coverage and can be picked apart by a quick hitting passing attack, and blitz beaters. In run support they struggle with consistently setting the edge and let Derrick Henry rumble for a 66-yard stretch run TD before a penalty brought it back.

At the point of attack is where this contest will truly be won or lost on Sunday. Robert Quinn the longtime Ram will be testing the rookie Kolton Miller all game long. Cameron Wake and Donald Penn will lock horns on the other side of the line. Akeem Spence and Davon Godchaux are no slouches in the middle either and have made their presence felt collapsing pockets and penetrating backfields. This is where all the money between these teams was spent, on the line. They swarm to the ball and rush the passer into making ill-advised and oft god-awful throws into coverage.

Special Teams

Jakeem Grant may not wow anybody as a wide receiver as of yet, but with the ball in his hands on special teams he’s every bit as dynamic to watch as Tyreek Hill. Grant is a legitimate threat to go the distance every time he gets the ball. Maintaining proper lanes during punt and kickoff coverage will be a necessity; Grant, only needs a foot and nobody will lay a finger on him.

Interestingly enough worth noting is that the Dolphin coverage teams are nearly as bad as the return teams are good. The Titans took a Kickoff return to the house in the same game that the Dolphins did. The Raiders may have some opportunities in the return game.

Final Thoughts

Another winnable game for the Raiders. While the Raiders are road underdogs, I would hope conditioning won’t be an issue, nor will the early start time. The Dolphins swarm the line of scrimmage and dare teams to throw against them. So far they haven’t been subjected to a full game against a quarterback who can handle the pressure. The Dolphin offense is a mimicry of the dink and dunk style, baiting teams to cheat up and then hitting them over the top. The special teams provide that spark for the Dolphins and gets the other units into it.