Miami Dolphins Vs Oakland Raiders: 6 Pack Of Key Match Ups
The Miami Dolphins enter Week 4 amidst a mild storm of controversy after head coach Joe Philbin failed to give a public endorsement for his quarterback Ryan Tannehill to start against the 0-3 Oakland Raiders in London.
This week’s game is something like a must win for the fish, because losing their 3rd straight game headed into a bye week, could spell changes at the top. Whether that means Philbin loses his job or Tannehill gets sent to the bench, this week’s game can have some major ramifications that would have a ripple effect on the team’s season.
It’s safe to say, a win here could really be beneficial to some individuals on the Dolphins and an overall blessing for the Miami Dolphins team as a whole as they would enter the bye week at .500 and avoid an early season unraveling.
The Raiders haven’t tasted victory yet this season, so there will be some desperation setting in on their part, and the Dolphins witnessed last week the challenge of playing a team on the brink of a lost season. The Dolphins better be on their A game, because they can ill afford to overlook theses Raiders.
Match up 1: Miami Dolphins Secondary vs. Derek Carr
The Miami Dolphins secondary has underachieved so far this season. They have not created a turnover in the first 3 games of the season and have been plagued by struggling safety play with missed tackles at the forefront. The Dolphins can ill afford a bad game in the back end letting the Raider’s rookie quarterback Derek Carr get off, he is a rookie that plays with confidence and if you give him an inch, he will try to take a mile. Carr has a strong arm and a few receivers with deep speed, so don’t be surprised to see him challenge the Dolphins vertically, especially with the safeties struggling as bad as they have been this year.
The Dolphins could combat this by letting their corners play more press man defense, forcing Carr to complete quick passes against Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan while avoiding the Dolphins dangerous pass rush. Give this rookie the opportunity to play against zone schemes and the Raiders will dink and dunk them to death like the Chiefs and Bills did.
Match up 2: Ja’Wuan James vs. Justin Tuck
The Miami Dolphins have not pass protected very well the last 2 weeks, and James has endured some rookie growing pains, particularly last week against the Chief’s Tamba Hali. James will have his hands full today with Justin Tuck, the former Giant and 2 time Super Bowl champ, Tuck isn’t the player he once was but does still have plenty of power left in his game and could pose a difficult challenge for the rookie tackle.
While the offensive line as a whole needs to step up in pass protection, having their most inexperienced player win his individual match up will go a long way in helping the unit’s overall success. The Dolphins also need to continue running the football effectively to maintain a balance that will protect them from long yardage and obvious passing situations, James’ effectiveness versus Tuck will determine if they can run the ball strong-side.
Match up 3: Cameron Wake vs. Khalif Barnes
This is pretty simple, the Raiders have probably the worst right tackle in the game trying to block one of the best pass rushers in the game. Based on sheer talent alone, this should be a match up the Miami Dolphins can count on going in their favor. Issue is, Wake has been shut out the last weeks and while he’s had some favorable match ups, he’s been unable to take full advantage of them by getting to the quarterback.
With playing a rookie quarterback, the best way to keep him off his game is to keep him under pressure, with Wake playing against the most favorable match up along the line, he has to be the catalyst of a savage pass rush in London.
Match up 4: Miami Dolphins Special Teams vs. Oakland Raiders Special Teams
In a game featuring 2 struggling teams, the play in the 3rd phase of the game can dictate the outcome of it. The Miami Dolphins need their coverage units to perform night and day better than it has to open the season, eliminating big returns that steal momentum away from the team. Caleb Sturgis also needs to have a an efficient game, booming kick-offs for touchbacks and making his field goal attempts, because the Raiders have one of the best kickers in the league and Sebastian Janikowski will be doing those things against the Dolphins.
The Dolphins have had some real struggles in this phase of the game, and when you combine that with the struggles they’ve been having on offense and defense, you’re looking at a recipe for a loss. This is a game where the the Dolphins need the special teams to be special.
Match up 5: Lamar Miller vs. Khalil Mack
Mack is a physical phenom who will be the only healthy starting linebacker for the Raiders in this game. Much better as a pass rusher than in coverage, look for the Raiders to try to take advantage of the Dolphins struggles protecting the passer by blitzing Mack early and often during the course of this game.
Lamar Miller, who has been surprisingly effective running the football, will have to show off the completeness of his game this week. He will be tasked with picking up the free blitzer in protection which will pit him against Mack on various occasions. Another way for the Dolphins to combat the blitzing pass rush is too have an effective screen and quick passing game to the backs coming out of the backfield; for this to work though, Miller has to be able to catch the football, a flaw in his game that needs to sured up.
Match up 6: Ryan Tannehill vs. Ryan Tannehill
On paper, this is a game that Tannehill should be able to impact with his overall skill set. He has the weapons on the outside and a relatively reliable running game this year. There aren’t many excuses in personnel that can be pointed to as to why he is struggling. Yes the pass protection can be a lot better, but overall Tannehill has been his own worst enemy this year.
Tannehill has to combat his inaccuracies and hit the open man when the opportunity presents itself. He needs to continue to protect the football, but also make plays on critical downs for his team to reach the next level offensively. Tannehill could also stand to use his legs more and get out of the pocket; the Dolphins would be wise to use some designed pocket movement to get him out on the perimeter instead of letting the defense tee off on him, knowing he’ll be 5 to 7 yards back in the pocket on every pass play. With his seat getting hotter every struggling week, Tannehill would benefit the most of any individual on the team from an impressive game in London.
Overall, this is a pivotal game for the Dolphins season, will they go into the bye week with some momentum or will they limp into the bye on a 3 game losing streak with fans clamoring for someone’s head on a spit? Today’s game will determine how those story lines play out and only the Dolphins players can determine that outcome with their play on the field. They’ve said they’re not taking this game likely, getting off to a fast start would be a welcomed sight and confidence builder for a beleaguered fan base. FINS UP!