Dolphins defense vs Titans offense
By Josh Binder
The Miami Dolphins defense came into the season with top-10 expectations. They added a pro bowl defensive tackle in Ndamukong Suh to an already solid nucleus of Reshad Jones, Brent Grimes, Cameron Wake, and Olivier Vernon. As all Phins fans know by now, those lofty expectations have not been met thus far into the 2015 season.
According to NFL stats/info, the Dolphins currently rank #29 in total defense. While passing defense has been mediocre (#15), it’s the dead last overall rush defense (#32) that has let the Dolphins down. With a new coach in place, who aims to bring back intensity and competitiveness, lets take a look at how this defense could fair against rookie quarterback, Marcus Mariota.
Mariota has had a successful rookie season. As a point of reference, he’s had a better season, statistically speaking, than Dolphins QB, Ryan Tannehill. Please, PhinPhanatic readers, feast your eyes (image below) on the utter mediocrity of Ryan Tannehill. In contrast, I would also like to bring your attention to the fantastic rookie campaign Mariota has put together in his first four games in the NFL.
This Dolphins team is looking to make a comeback. Luckily, even though Mariota has played well, this Titans offense still isn’t clicking on all cylinders. Furthermore, their rushing offense is average at best (#14) and passing offense has been below-average (#22). What I’m trying to say is, this is Dan Campbell’s team, and if he wants to set the tone on defense, this Titans offense is the perfect unit to do it against.
The Titans have a running back by committee (RBBC) approach, which is headed by Bishop Sankey and Antonio Andrews. Both backs have had their fair share of struggles, but I would still expect the Titans to attempt to establish the run. If successful, Mariota should gain confidence early, opening up the ability to take shots deep to wide-out Kendall Wright. However, I do expect Suh, Wake, and the rest of the defensive line to make a huge leap forward this week. They are all on the hot seat, and the Dolphins coaching staff will look to Suh to make big plays early.
As far as the secondary goes, Grimes should be good-to-go for the Phins. This is great news given the lack of depth at the cornerback position. Expect Grimes to cover the speedy Kendall Wright all day, limiting Mariota’s options when looking to pass downfield. The one area of concern I have is Mariota beating the Dolphins with his legs or with his go-to target, Delanie Walker. The Dolphins have struggled against good tight ends, so strong safety Reshad Jones needs to make plays in the passing game.
If the Dolphins want any chance of making the playoffs, they need to turn over a new leaf when they face off against the Titans this Sunday. While the offense needs to step up in their own right, the defense needs to be the backbone of this Dolphins team. In a new Campbell-led regime, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Dolphins blitz early and often. They will look to make plays and bring pressure into the backfield, forcing Mariota to make standard rookie mistakes–hopefully leading to turnovers. Let me know what you think about the Dolphins week 6 matchup against the Titans by commenting below. Phins up!