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Dolphins Offense Needs A Spark To Challenge Atlanta

Dolphins Offense JC Ruiz via Flickr


Dolphins Offense Needs A Spark

Miami travels to Atlanta with Matt Ryan and the Falcons coming off a bye week. The extremely obvious key to this contest will be Jay Cutler and the Dolphins offense to get something going. Adam Gase is upset, the players are upset, and the fans are not exactly pleased with the Dolphins offense. If the Miami defense keeps playing lights out, they can keep the game close.

On paper, Miami is an underdog. On the field, anything can happen. Without further ado, let’s discuss some keys to a Dolphins victory in Week 6.

Get The Offense In A Rhythm

Most of all, Miami needs to run the football early and often. Atlanta ranks among the top 10 in rushing defense, as well as third-down efficiency. There are three major offensive categories in which the Dolphins are ranked last or second to last; total yards, passing yards, and rushing yards-per-game. Also, they are -2 in turnover margin, have zero rushing touchdowns, and are dead last in third-down efficiency.

Jay Ajayi looks like a shell of the player he was in 2016, behind a depleted offensive line. Ajayi breaks many tackles, but he cannot break them all. The wide receivers are not even blocking on some running plays. Miami’s offense needs to stick with the run — even when they are behind. Jay Cutler is not going to win a football game, but he can lose one. Give him short, high-percentage throws and boost his confidence, manage the game. Throw the deep ball when necessary, but don’t expect Aaron Rogers. Avoid putting Cutler in third-and-long situations against a hungry pass rush. As a result, the offense may finally get some rhythm. Getting positive yards on first and second-down will determine how many points Miami gets on the board.

Get An Interception . . . Finally

Heading into Week 6, the Miami Dolphins have not forced an interception. The offense is abysmal, but Jay Cutler needs as many extra possessions as he can get. The scoop and score by Reshad Jones saved them in Week 5, and they are going to need another big turnover this Sunday. Both Xavien Howard (shoulder) and Byron Maxwell (foot) practiced Friday despite being listed as questionable. Their status at kick off will be crucial to stopping the reigning MVP, Matt Ryan.

While the front seven has the big names, the secondary includes the most versatile safety in the NFL. Reshad Jones is rated as the No. 1 safety against the run, and did not allow a single completion despite 33 snaps in coverage last week per Pro Football Focus. Most of all, he is the emotional leader of the defense. Jones needs to create some chaos and turnovers to keep Miami in this game.

Pressure Ryan, Contain Jones

Despite their shaky start, Atlanta is explosive on offense. Mohammed Sanu is officially out. Julio Jones is the real threat. Miami’s secondary has not seen anything like Jones, and will probably be forced to double-team him all game. Head coach Adam Gase spoke on the importance of knowing where Jones is at after Friday’s practice.

“There’s going to be multiple guys that are going to have to cover him at some point, because he’s not going to be in one spot, fire a flare and let everybody know where he’s at. Everybody has got to be ready. We’ve got to be great at our leverage. We’ve got to make sure we know where our help is. Guys are just going to have to be very sound in our coverages.” -Adam Gase

The Falcons rank eighth in points, fourth in yards, seventh in passing yards, and eighth in rushing yards-per-game. However, the Bills pressured Ryan in Week 4, forcing turnovers that won them the game. Miami’s defense ranks third in third-down efficiency. If they want to continue that trend, they need to play within themselves. Even one interception will instill some much-needed confidence and passion in this team. Matt Ryan owns the MVP award for a reason; he can hurt you in all facets of the game. Be that as it may, he showed his mortality in Week 3 by throwing three interceptions. The Dolphins defense must dial-up some exotic blitzes and confuse Ryan.

Bottom Line

In the end, this game will come down to offensive production, giving Atlanta an overwhelming advantage. Miami’s defense is playing at a high level, but they have not faced an elite quarterback. Phillip Rivers, Josh McCown, Drew Brees, and Matt Cassel. Brees is talented, but is not on the same level nor does he possess the weapons Ryan does. Ultimately, the Dolphins offense will take a step forward, or they will lose their third game of the season. Unless Jay Cutler has a career game, this one could get ugly late.

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 38, Miami Dolphins 17