With the holiday this week, I haven’t had a chance to do my usual weekly tape study of the team that the Seahawks are playing. Instead, I’m stuck doing an abbreviated version trying to get ready on time for the game on Sunday.
The first question I had when I started was trying to figure out what changed the last few weeks, as the Dolphins have slid from being a potential playoff team into one thats looking more like a team that’ll be in the top 10 in the draft. The answer: very little as far as I can tell.
The Dolphins have simply played one of the easiest schedules in the league. Other than the Texans (who won in a blowout) the ‘Phins haven’t played a team likely to make the playoffs. They’ve beaten the Jets, Raiders, Rams and Bengals. They lost to the Texans, Jets, Bills, Titans and Colts and Cardinals. When you play a schedule like that, you’re going to win some games no matter what happens, and that’s all that happened with this team.
This simply isn’t a very good football team. There just isn’t any one thing that they do exceptionally well on offense. They’re 22nd in passing and 28 in rushing (using yards per attempt, which is infinitely more meaningful than total yards).
Their problems start up front on the line. Other than center Mike Pouncey, the line play has been pretty poor. Even former #1 overall pick Jake Long hasn’t been great. He’s a decent pass blocker, but hasn’t been good at all in run blocking. The rest of the line has been even worse. Rookie Jonathan Martin has been having an especially rough season.
At QB, Rookie Ryan Tannehill has been decent but unspectacular. He’s been better than I expected to be honest. He has all the uncoachable talents to be a great player, but coming into the league he was very raw and needed a ton of seasoning before he was going to be ready to start. Tannehill starting week 1 was a huge surprise to me, but he’s managed to hold his own and not embarrass himself. The kid has a bright future.
As for weapons, this group isn’t all that bad. Both Heartline and Bess at WR are pretty good, and Fasano at TE was better on film than I expected him to be. He’s not much of a blocker, but he’s pretty good as a receiver. Miller has been the best back on the team, (not Reggie Bush, and it’s not even close) but he is far from being a special back.
On defense they’re good against the run. It’s the one thing that this team does well. They can stop the run. I expect them to do a decent job containing Marsahwn Lynch in this game, but I expect the Seahawks to run the ball anyways. The Dolphins have been vulnerable to play-action, so even if the running game isn’t working, the Seahawks can still use it to keep the linebackers honest.
Against the pass is where the Dolphins have trouble. They can’t regularly generate a pass rush without blitzing, and even when they do blitz the linebackers don’t usually get through. The corners aren’t particularly good either. The one strength of the pass defense is the 2 safeties. Both Jones and Clemons are good.
No report on this defense would be completely without mentioning DE Cameron Wake, who’s having an absolutely incredible year. Wake containing Wake will be the first priority for the Seahawks if they want to have any offensive success in this game. Look for Wake to see consistent double teams throughout the entire game.