How the Miami Dolphins can win Thursday at the Houston Texans
By Austin Ramos
The Miami Dolphins have a key game this Thursday at the Houston Texans, being a game behind the New England Patriots for the AFC East lead.
Following the Miami Dolphins loss to the Detroit Lions the Dolphins dropped to 4-3 and need a win this week to remain active in the play off picture. They head to Houston with key injuries to WR Kenny Stills, QB Ryan Tannehill, and DE Charles Harris all being out this game. WR Albert Wilson is moved to the IR and is likely not to see the field again this season.
Heres what the Dolphins offense can do to help the team win. First, they must run the ball… A lot. If Miami can succeed at running the ball and running down the clock as much as possible to wear out Houston’s front seven then they are in business. That sets them up with many more plays to run with the RPO (Run-Pass Option) that Miami likes to run often. So having Kenyan Drake or Frank Gore set the tone early is a must. Next, the offensive line needs to find ways to neutralize both DE JJ Watt and DE Jadeveon Clowney. Especially after what Clowney had to say about QB Brock Osweiler.
"“I know we didn’t win a lot with him” “Just trying to go against him now and just try to get after him this week up front, make him rattled in the pocket. Hopefully he’ll throw a couple of interceptions, a couple picks.” – Jadeveon Clowney"
The offensive line should take a similar approach to the way they handled Khalil Mack in the Chicago Bears game. Only issue is that Houston has two great rushers. Lastly for the offense, wide receivers Jakeem Grant, Danny Amendola, Devante Parker and Leonte Carroo also tight ends Mike Geiseki and Nick O’Leary all need to be on top of their game and not let balls hit the ground.
Defensively coming off a horrible outing against the Detroit Lions the defense needs to get stops. With Houston not having one of the more explosive offenses in the league the defense should not be having too much of a hard time limiting the Texans offensive gains.
Deshawn Watson has been troubling for many defenses so far in his young career but Miami needs to get enough pressure on him to make tough throws. Applying the right kind of pressure is important being that Watson can also beat you with his legs so containing him to stay in the pocket is vital for the defense.
Houston has a great receiver by the name of DeAndre Hopkins. He is their number one target and the one who carries this team with his 101 yards average per game this season. Expect CB Xavien Howard to be everywhere Hopkins goes following what the two had to say about each other.
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Xavien Howard stated “He likes to push off a lot” about DeAndre Hopkins when it comes to getting separation. Hopkins later stated “Who’s Xavien Howard?” to the media. Basically saying he does not care about Howard or is not scared to face him. When the Dolphins other CB Codrea Tankersley talked about him with (former college teammate at Clemson University) Hopkins talking about how impressed he was with Xavien Howard.
The secondary will need to limit Hopkins and bring him down on the first attempt for he is a large and strong receiver who can break tackles. Expect this to be a key matchup this Thursday night between Xavien Howard and DeAndre Hopkins.
Lastly for the defense, they need to stop the run. It has shown in the Dolphins 3 losses when they allow running backs to get in rhythm it really hurts Miami’s chances off win football games. Lets look at the leading running backs in Miami’s losses.
New England Patriots – Sony Michel – 25 carries for 112 yard and 1 rush touchdown.
Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Mixon – 22 carries 98 yards and a 18 yard reception touchdown.
Detroit Lions – Kerryon Johnson -19 carries 158 yards
These three teams have found a way to run the ball effectively on Miami’s defense and also keep their running backs included in the game plan. Limiting Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue is key.
If the Miami Dolphins execute these keys they should leave Houston with another win in their name and move closer to the Patriots for the AFC East lead.