Battle of Route One: Full Breakdown of the Dolphins’ Matchup with the Jaguars
The Miami Dolphins put on an underwhelming performance in their Week One game against the Washington Redskins. While the team didn’t play up to their highest potential, they are lucky to be facing an opponent many would perceive as a favorable draw. At first glance it seemed that the Miami Dolphins were dealt an easy hand for the early portion of the season, but the Jacksonville Jaguars are a team that could surprise plenty of people in 2015.
Gus Bradley is the head coach in Jacksonville and has begun building a fairly strong roster in Northern Florida. Quarterback Blake Bortles could be coming into his own, and the offense features young receivers like Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson. The team’s defense has some star power with safety Jonathan Cyprien, Paul Posluszny, and ex-Dolphin Jared Odrick.
Okay, enough of this charade. The Jacksonville Jaguars should be an easy game for the Dolphins. If they cannot manage to win this one in a decisive fashion, then there could be some serious concerns about the season. Jacksonville is not a complete pushover, but much like their city in and of itself, is there really any competition between that and Miami? No. But based on last week’s performance, we can only pray that this game is as decisive as Al Davis drafting a Heisman winner.
Key Individual Matchups:
Kenny Stills VS. Jonathan Cyprien:
Unfortunately the already limited deep pass potential the Miami offense has could dwindle down even more against the Jaguars. Safety Jonathan Cyprien is an up-and-coming star at the position, and is one of the league’s newest ball-hawking defenders. Ryan Tannehill will have to be very cautious going deep in this game.
The Dolphins will need to have a stronger deep threat in this game, and Kenny Stills is that player. Thanks to Bill Lazor’s offense, it isn’t the end of the world if Miami can’t make something happen deep. However if they can break off a few big plays, it would go a long way towards neutralizing one of Jacksonville’s best defensive players. Cyprien will do everything in his power to stop Miami’s main deep threat, Kenny Stills, from beating him downfield. But if Kenny Stills can just make a few plays against Cyprien, it could open up the game for Miami in a serious way.
Koa Misi, Kelvin Sheppard, & Jelani Jenkins VS. TJ Yeldon:
Last weekend the Miami Dolphins struggled against the power running attack of the Washington Redskins. Alfred Morris was able to pick up chunk yardage, mostly due to poor play by the linebackers. Luckily for that unit, TJ Yeldon is not nearly the threat that Morris is, and should be easier to contain. The main goal will have to be shutting down the running game on first down, where Washington was able to pick up 4-6 yards systematically.
The team cannot give the Jaguars positive situations for second and third downs. If they do, Miami will once again be eaten alive in time of possession. The linebackers have to understand that their job is to make plays, and after last week’s performance it will be imperative to show us that they can handle their jobs.
Ndamukong Suh VS. Any Fat Dude Jacksonville Puts in His Way:
I don’t care who is blocking Suh. I don’t care if it is President Barack Obama, Katy Perry, or an actual clone of Ndamukong Suh bred to play on the O-Line. For $100 million, he needs to make an impact. Yes, he was held off well last week against Washington due to their penchant for going low in their blocks. This week, Suh needs to get around whatever Jacksonville throws at him.
If Blake Bortles has pressure coming up the middle from Suh, it will make his job much more difficult in moving the ball down field. One week of jitters is fine, but Ndamukong Suh has the ability to be ten times the player that he was against the Redskins. If he plays well, then the rest of the defensive line will play well. If all of the pass rushers are doing their job, Jacksonville wont have an aerial attack, and Miami will be able to focus on stopping the run. At the end of the day, Suh needs to show up big-time for this game.
What Miami Needs To Do To Win:
The Miami Dolphins have to be able to establish a run game early. We all saw first hand what can happen when a team falls behind in terms of time of possession, as Miami only ran three plays in the first quarter of last weekend’s game. The team is facing a more potent offense in the Jaguars than they did last week, so a quick start will be even more important. Unfortunately, Jacksonville has a strong group of defensive linemen. The big men tasked with protecting Ryan Tannehill and opening up holes for Lamar Miller will have a long day ahead of them if they cannot perform against the Jaguars.
The group of defensive backs for Jacksonville shouldn’t be a massive issue for Miami. Other than Jonathan Cyprien, they lack a true number one player in that group. They do not have a cornerback who can handle one-on-one matchups with Jarvis Landry, so the team should look his way early and often.
The defense will have to apply pressure to Blake Bortles consistently. This will force Jacksonville’s offense to flow through rookie running back TJ Yeldon. Yeldon’s inexperience will not help him against a defensive line with as much firepower as Miami’s. If the Dolphins want to win in a more decisive manner this weekend, it will all come down to pressuring Blake Bortles, and establishing the run early on. That will allow the team to focus on stopping TJ Yeldon on defense, and allow the offense to attack the Jacksonville cornerbacks with passes to Jarvis Landry and co.
The Miami Dolphins need to make a statement. Before Week Three’s key divisional matchup with Buffalo, the team needs to show the league that they should be taken seriously, and that they aren’t the type of team to almost allow the Redskins to defeat them. Ryan Tannehill needs to show poise and progress, while the coaching staff has to show a devotion to Lamar Miller on the ground. The defensive line needs to live up to the hype, starting with Ndamukong Suh. If Suh isn’t getting to the quarterback or blowing up running plays, Miami will have a big problem.
The team heads into Jacksonville 1-0, and thanks to splash plays by Jarvis Landry and Brice McCain, most people see Miami’s performance in a different light than those who didn’t just watch a highlight reel. The Miami Dolphins need cohesion, and they need confidence. If the team can establish that mentality, starting with a decisive win over Jacksonville, they could make some serious noise in the early portion of their schedule.
Final Prediction: Dolphins 24, Jaguars 13