Miami Dolphins Week 3 defensive preview v. the Oakland Raiders
By Shawn Digity
The Miami Dolphins are 2-0 after beating the New York Jets this past Sunday. The defense was the deciding factor in the victory and they will look to help the team to 3-0 this Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.
I don’t think much of an argument can be made that the Miami Dolphins win against the Jets was because of an exceptional defensive performance. That will be how the Dolphins will continue to win. Let’s look ahead to the matchups against the Raiders and see how the defense will size up against their offensive group.
The Miami defensive line was a handful on Sunday. The DTs, Jordan Phillips, Vincent Taylor, Davon Godchaux and Akeem Spence all had disruptive moments throughout the game. They’ll continue to be effective even against a better Raiders offensive line.
Robert Quinn was a force of nature that consistently pressured the QB and set the edge. He only had one sack, but he was much more active than that stat suggests. He’ll be matched up against rookie LT Kolton Miller, so this could become a lopsided battle that favors Quinn.
Oakland has a pretty good offensive line: Miller, Kelechi Osemele, Donald Penn, Gabe Jackson and Rodney Hudson are the starters across the board and this will make for an exciting firefight in the trenches. This one is too close to call, but it’ll be fun to watch these units battle.
Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker have had ups and downs. They’re still continuing to learn and adjust to the game, so they will have some more growing pains, undoubtedly, against the Raiders. McMillan saw much more playing time than Baker—McMillan had 100 percent of the defensive snaps compared to Baker’s 23 percent. I suspect that McMillan will be on the field the whole time again and Baker will see an increase in his reps.
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One of the stars of this season so far is Kiko Alonso, though. He was an animal against the Jets and racked up 13 tackles and was responsible for two fumbles. That will be a major key in any Dolphins game, not just against the Raiders—the turnover battle makes or breaks seasons. The Raiders tight ends are not overwhelming, but the Dolphins have had trouble with Jared Cook in the past, so it’s worth keeping in the back of your mind.
The corners have been another big boon for the Fins so far this season. Xavien Howard is becoming the elite player that he flashed in his first two seasons. He had an interception last week and I’ll go out on a limb and predict him getting another one. The Oakland wide receiver room isn’t full of superstars, so Howard, Bobby McCain and sometimes Minkah Fitzpatrick should have no issues locking down the likes of a strangely lackluster Amari Cooper, past-his-prime Jordy Nelson and enigmatic Martavis Bryant.
Reshad Jones is listed on the injury report as “day to day”, so his presence on Sunday is obviously up in the air right now. If he plays through his shoulder injury it could affect his overall play but I’m not sure how much it would factor in if he is on the field. T.J. McDonald who played 100 percent of the defensive snaps last week and Minkah Fitzpatrick, who played 65 percent, will both be ready for action and will help hold down the fort if Jones cannot play.
It’s worth noting that Fitzpatrick has been a wunderkind so far. He’s been flying all over the field making plays. I look forward to him continuing to make impacts on and off the field whether it’s a 4th-and-goal tackle at the 1 or filing for the “FitzMagic” trademark. He’ll demand even more playing time against the Raiders and that’s only a good thing. The way he’s playing will land him Pro Bowl consideration; the sky’s the limit with Fitzpatrick.
To see a list of all the Miami Dolphins snap percentages, Armando Salguero from the Miami Herald tweeted out a page featuring those numbers from NFL Game Statistics and Information System. It’s a great resource.