The Dolphins got their season off to a good start Sunday with a 19-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. However, Miami got lucky in week one; very, very lucky.
I don’t usually use the word “luck” when describing the outcome of a football game. I believe it takes talent, skill, strategy, toughness, etc. to win in the NFL, but the truth is Miami got lucky in LA.
Quite frankly, the defense was horrible. The defensive line did not get any pressure on Phillip Rivers. The linebackers couldn’t match up with anybody, and the secondary struggled to cover the Chargers’ weapons on the outside.
Rivers went 31/39 (79.5%) for 331 yards and a touchdown. It was too easy for the veteran quarterback.
The Dolphins defense only recorded one sack, and three quarterback hits on Rivers all afternoon. He had all-day to throw and he took advantage of it.
What makes it worse is Rivers didn’t have to do anything fancy to move the ball down the field. The defense was easy to read. The number of times he checked the play at the line was too many to count.
Miami played what Trent Green, color commentator for the Dolphins game on CBS, likes to call “soft coverage”. Defensive coordinator Matt Burke had Miami in a lot of zone coverages throughout the afternoon.
Many fans were probably screaming at the television wondering why Miami didn’t switch to a man-to-man with the LA receivers constantly finding holes in the zone.
Here lies the problem: The Dolphins are not athletic or simply good enough in the secondary to play man-to-man either. Burke tried several times when sending linebackers Mike Hull and Kiko Alonso on blitzes, and Rivers picked the defense apart by sending Keenan Allen or Tyrell Williams on a crossing route over the middle.
Burke could not win with any formation he set the defense in against the Chargers. Sadly, that will be the case for the entire 2017 season.
There is no evidence that shows the defense will improve. And no, Lawrence Timmons does not fix these problems.
Timmons was brought in to help with the run defense which was actually the one bright spot on the defensive side of the ball for Miami. Chargers’ running backs only ran for 44 yards on 12 carries with 26 of those yards coming on one carry from Branden Oliver.
Except for the run defense, all of this proves Miami got outplayed today. This is where the luck comes into play.
The Los Angeles kicker, Younghoe Koo, missed two field goals which cost the Chargers the game. One a 43 yard attempt right before the end of the first half, and the other was a 44 yard kick that missed wide right with 10 seconds left in the game.
That is an easy six points that the Miami defense could have allowed. Also, don’t forget that the last drive started at the Chargers own 20 yard-line, and the defense let Phillip Rivers march 54 yards down the field in 51 seconds to set up the potential game-winner.
A win is a win in the NFL, but man this one was lucky.