This Miami Dolphins defense is extremely banged up, but it has the pieces to still limit Aaron Rodgers and this Green Bay Packers offense.
I wrote an article earlier this week highlighting the Dolphins’ defensive injuries and how because of that my expectations are lower. Even though I find it unfair to expect the Dolphins to dominate opponents defensively; having players still available like Christian Wilkins, Bradley Chubb, and Jevon Holland lets me know there is enough talent to slow the Packers down.
These three guys will have to step up against Aaron Rodgers. I know Rodgers has not been as good this year, but it is week 16. The young Packer receivers have really come on. This is an offense that can put up points in a hurry if you are not prepared.
Despite this being a, “down year,” for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers they still rank seventh in offensive DVOA.
Aaron Rodgers’s numbers are down from last year. Obviously, anytime you lose an elite level receiver like Davonte Adams your numbers go down, but he is just as efficient as last year. His completion percentage is only down a couple points.
The difference is the yards per attempt. His yards per attempt is down a full yard from last year.
That has been the biggest difference for the Packers, and it is a trend the Dolphins’ defense needs to follow.
Do not allow big plays down the field. The Packers currently rank 24th in passing plays over 25 yards. They were 12th last year.
It is difficult in the NFL to run eight plus plays and score. It is way easier to score when you only have to run four plays. We have seen that with the Dolphins’ offense this year.
The secondary is depleted, but they cannot allow big plays over the top to Aaron Rodgers and these young receivers.
The Packers offense is tied for fourth this year in yards per carry. They have two running backs in A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones who are both a little banged up right now, but should be playing on Sunday.
Jones is going to rush for over 1,000 yards this year and Dillon will be close. They are the ultimate one-two punch. Jones is a player who can do everything. He can run between the tackles, he has the speed to run outside the tackles, and he can make plays out of the backfield in the passing game.
Dillon is the bruiser. He will come on to spell Jones when he gets tired, but he is also there for short-yardage situations.
Keeping both of them in check is going to be vital to the success of this Dolphins’ defense.
That is where Pro-Bowl snub Christian Wilkins comes into play. He is having the best year of his career so far, and that will need to continue against this Packers rushing attack.
The red zone defense has to be better. Rodgers has the ability to extend plays as well as any quarterback in the league. He has done it his whole career. That was problematic for the Dolphins in the red zone last week.
On top of that, I have already told you about how well this Packers’ offense runs the football. This Packers’ offense has all the tools to be efficient in the red zone.
This is an area where the Dolphins did not just struggle last week, but have struggled all year. They are 25th in red zone defensive touchdown percentage. That means that 62% of the time when teams get into the red zone against this defense. They score a touchdown. The league average is around 55%.
That are of the Dolphins’ defense has to improve. That is not just for this week either. If they want a legit chance to win the Super Bowl this year, they have to be better in the red zone on defense.