After the Miami Dolphins rolled over against a beat-up Indianapolis Colts team last week, it’s not much of a surprise that almost no one is picking them to win against the reigning champs. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have one of the most high-octane offenses in the league and a solid defense while the Dolphins are last or close to last in most measurable categories through the first four weeks of the season. If the Dolphins are going to come out of this matchup with a W, a lot is going to have to go right for them.
First and foremost, the Dolphins are going to have to find a way to protect the quarterback. The Buccaneers front seven is nothing short of spooky. With names like Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul, Vita Vea, Shaq Barrett, Lavonte David, and Devin White, it feels inevitable that Jacoby Brissett will be running for his life on Sunday.
Dolphins’ quarterbacks have been sacked 3.2 times per game so far this season, which is the fourth-most in the league. If the Dolphins are going to beat the Bucs, the offensive line is going to have to find a way to give Brissett some time to find his open receivers.
On the other side of the ball, the Dolphins are going to have to get some pressure on Tom Brady if they want to have any chance at winning this game. It’s an open secret that the only way to beat Brady is to get pressure on him consistently. He has an incredibly fast release and a ton of targets to throw to.
Emmanuel Ogbah is having a great season so far with eight quarterback hits. Rookie Jaelan Phillips has been improving each week and even got his first (half) sack last week along with six quarterback pressures on just twenty-two snaps. If the pass-rush can make Tom Brady uncomfortable early and keep him from stepping up in the pocket and extending plays, they might be able to slow down the Bucs just enough to hang in this game.
Finally, the Dolphins are going to have to commit to getting the ball into the hands of their playmakers. They need to use Jaylen Waddle like the top-ten draft pick that he is. The rookie has shown flashes of what he can be but hasn’t has a stellar performance yet this season. His ability to get open quickly should help Brissett get the ball out quickly to avoid getting swallowed up by Tampa Bay’s defensive line. It also makes no sense that Mike Gesicki isn’t getting more targets this season. He was practically invisible in last week’s contest against the Colts right up until the game was already out of hand.
Running back Myles Gaskin should also get more involved in the short passing game. Establishing the run is going to be difficult with the state of the offensive line, but Gaskin has shown that he can be used as a weapon in the short-yardage passing game. If the Dolphins commit to getting the ball in the hands of these three playmakers, and doing it quickly, they will give themselves the best chance to pull off the upset.
It’s going to be an uphill battle, and the Dolphins will basically have to play a perfect game, but it’s entirely possible for them to take down the defending champs this weekend.