The more patchwork the Miami Dolphins defense had become from missing starters the more accolades Vance Joseph got. It finally got to the breaking point and things fell apart this game in a blowout loss to the Ravens.
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A consensus is forming that the way the Ravens attacked the center of the field can become a blueprint for other opponents. However the Ravens have been doing this all along, Mike Wallace who is having a good season had a vast majority of his catches in the middle particularly shorter crossing routes in the middle. There were also plays made outside of the numbers on the sidelines. This unit failed in zone coverage across the board aside from a handful of players like Byron Maxwell.
Players that have been playing well fell apart this game like Tony Lippett who had just been earning accolades and Isa Abdul-Quddus who has played pretty solid most of the season. There wasn’t one sack this game and only a slight amount of pressure applied on QB Joe Flacco which makes things harder on the rest of the unit. Add to this the injury to stalwart Kiko Alonso who even himself was failing in zone coverage before getting hurt and there was just too much to try to cover as had been the case during the past wining streak.
Everything built up to this point gets torn down on days like this. Being first in stops for third downs; the Ravens were five of eleven and even two of two on fourth downs. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh called the first one with 5:16 left in the first quarter being up by seven points on his own side of the field. He could see from just one scoring drive that he could have his way with this defense.
This defense continues to get burned to the outside in the end zone allowing touchdowns although it did look like Isa Abdul-Quddus was held once, most of the times no one is in the area of getting free of blocks. And the same play the 49er’s scored on near the goal line last game the Ravens ran successfully sending a receiver/TE off the end of the line on a 45 degree angle unimpeded to get open for the score.
There were a slightly average amount of tackles made this game. The main problem was no tackles made were for losses. So not only was the zone coverage lacking, any acceptable amount of defensive pressure was just not there as well. Vance Joseph got little play from a lot of players.
On a positive note Michael Thomas recovered a fumble (27 yard return) along with Neville Hewitt and Byron Maxwell forced a fumble and had an interception on a play were Mike Wallace was the receiver in the area, he made no attempt to jump and deflect the ball with his alligator arms.
Some grading from profootballfocus
“Quarterback grade: Joe Flacco, 81.9
Flacco’s accuracy leads Baltimore to win
Flacco completed 36 of his 47 pass attempts for 379 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. Flacco was 7-of-14 for 61 yards passing under pressure, throwing one touchdown and one interception. Flacco was 2-of-5 with 33 yards using play-action. Flacco was impressive on shorter and intermediate passes, finding receivers in the soft spots of Miami’s zone coverage and leading Baltimore’s offense to a big performance.
Top offensive grades:
QB Joe Flacco, 81.9
G Marshal Yanda, 80.4
RB Terrance West, 78
TE Dennis Pitta, 76.1
C Jeremy Zuttah, 74.2
Ravens offense clicks in win
Baltimore’s formula for success was found through the air. The Ravens tight ends performed well in finding the open spots in the Dolphins secondary, led by tight end Dennis Pitta’s nine receptions on 10 targets (with one drop) for 88 yards. Running back Terrance West was effective on his carries in the running game, causing three missed tackles on 10 attempts and averaging 3.2 yards after contact. Guard Marshal Yanda was great at protecting Flacco, as he yielded no sacks, hits, or hurries on 47 pass-blocking snaps.”
“Top defensive grades:
CB Byron Maxwell, 87.9
DI Ndamukong Suh 84.3
LB Mike Hull, 78.7
LB Spencer Paysinger, 78.4
S Michael Thomas, 74.0
Dolphins’ passing defense struggles in loss
Flacco’s success throwing to a plethora of receivers against the Dolphins secondary was the story of the game, with defensive backs Tony Lippett and Bobby McCain bearing the burden, albeit in the heavy zone coverage defense Miami employs. There were bright spots for the Dolphins defense, however, as Byron Maxwell had a nice day in coverage responsibilities, as he yielded two receptions on three targets and hauled in an interception. Ndamukong Suh was also a force inside, as he had a hit and two hurries rushing the passer.”
(Andre Branch also had a QB hurry effecting the pass in the first half)
Team Stats Ravens
First Downs 28
Net Pass Yards 386
Total Yards 496
Third Down Conv. 5-11
Fourth Down Conv. 2-2
Time of Possession 29:14
•The Miami Dolphins won the time of possession which is usually a good sign however in this case it is indicative of how fast the Ravens scored on this porous defense.
•Joe Flacco went 36-47 for 381, 4 TDs 1 INT with a QB rating 119.2. His 36 completions is a personal record.
•Tony Lippett went down injured on a play he tried to slam Steve Smith. After the play Smith stood around gloating trying to goat the Dolphins bench. It didn’t work, in fact Vance Joseph shook hands with Smith he is cool under pressure.
•Mike Hull replaced Kiko Alonso when he was out injured which was 36% of the snaps.
• According to Elias sporting stats the Ravens’ 32-point win was the largest margin of victory this century against a team that entered having won six in a row.
The intermediate pass has been an Achilles heal of this defense and the way the Ravens picked it apart was more to do with an already established style of play they have been running as well as the dwindling amount of starting players that Vance Joseph has had to work with. Pair that with little pressure and no sacks made and you have this horrid blowout game. Better coverage and more aggressive and physical play is need to bounce back from this going forward.