Dolphins Packers Preview
By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins are in Green Bay this weekend for a fight in the land of cheese. For both teams it is a matter of not knowing which of their teams will show up.
Will the Dolphins high octane blitz machine that was evident against the Vikings in week 2 take the field or will the special teams once again rear it’s ugly head instead and steal the show? On the other side of the field, fans have to wonder where the real Green Bay Packers are. Will they show up to the game or will the slop fest that lost to Washington and Chicago be introduced before the game?
Both teams were expected to do more and neither have done much lately to prove they deserve anything remotely connected to the pre-season accolades. While the Packers don’t have their backs against the wall yet, it’s getting close.
For the Dolphins, their backs are against the wall within the division and this game is shaping up to be one of those early season must win games.
For the Dolphins defense it’s all about pressure. Aaron Rodgers is likely to play after suffering a concussion on the final play last week against the Redskins. He has been sacked nine times this season and the Dolphins will hopefully be smelling blood in the water come Sunday. While the Packers are desperately trying to get WR Greg Jennings back in the fold, the Packers lost TE Jermichael Finley for the season and let’s face it, a strong TE alone can demoralize the Dolphins defense.
The Packers have yet to demonstrate the offensive firepower that many predicted. While they have been able to put points on the board it’s hardly been a 100 yard cake walk up and down the field. The Pack lack a serious threat in the running game and mostly use the legs of Brandon Jackson to keep teams honest. That hasn’t worked as well as they would like. Over the past few weekends the Pack have relied heavily on the TE’s. As mentioned, Finley is out as is Donald Lee. This leaves 1 year pro Tom Crabtree and rookie Andrew Quarles to dismantle the Dolphins defense.
Cameron Wake and Co. must find a way to keep Rodgers out of any rhythm. The problem is containment. While Wake will get his chances to get into the pocket, it’s Rodgers ability to get out of the pocket that will pose a threat. I fully expect to see Rodgers using his legs often to escape pressure and that is when coverage breakdowns occur for the Phins. Donald Driver and Jennings will find ways to get open if Rodgers is in trouble and can buy time.
With the Phins likely to focus on stopping the pass, forcing the Packers to try and beat them on the ground, the burden of this match-up will lie on the shoulders of the Dolphins defensive front.
While the offense has been sub-par this season the Green Bay defense has been playing much better despite the sticky situations the offense has left them in. Green Bay is ranked 8th in the league in red zone defense allowing TD’s only 38 percent of the time allowing only 5 touchdowns in 13 opposing red-zone trips. The Pack are ranked 13th overall in the league allowing an average of just over 350 combined yards a game. Star LB Clay Mathews leads the league with 8.5 sacks. While he may miss the game this week due to a hamstring injury, DC Dom Capers will use his replacement in the same role.
The Packers are a middle of the road team in terms of defensive averages as they rank 15th against both the run and the pass.
The Dolphins offensively, must get the ball rolling early with their running game. This will allow the Dolphins passing game and specifically Chad Henne to step up. It will set the tone of the game and despite the fact that everyone already knows the Wild Cat formation won’t work, Dan Henning will try it anyways and likely on the first drive. With the Packers being suspect on both facets of the defense, the Dolphins can play a well balanced game of run and pass and should find marginal success in both the air and on the ground (where they should be in control…I know, that is so bad but I really couldn’t help myself.)
I fully expect to see another 10 catch game from Marshall this week and he should get another TD this week and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of Marlon Moore this week as well. Especially if Brian Hartline struggles. Ball control will be the key. If the Dolphins can keep from making stupid turnovers they will be able to win this game offensively. Defensively they need to create some turnovers and keep Aaron Rodgers from moving out of the pocket into the open. They must stop allowing opponents to convert 3rd and long attempts. On special teams, they can’t fall asleep. Another melt-down like their last game and more than a special teams coach will be hear his name being called to head up the unemployment line.
This is a very big game for both teams and which teams show up on each others sidelines will determine who wins it.
Prediction – 28-24 Miami