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To the Quote the Dolphins’ “Beat the Champion Ravens Forever More!!”

To the Quote the Dolphins’ “Beat the Champion Ravens Forever More!!”

How about Week 5 matchup pitting the Miami Dolphins (3-1) vs. the Reigning Super Bowl Champions Baltimore Ravens (2-2) at home in Miami.

The Ravens no longer have: LB’s Ray Lewis (retired), Dannell Ellerbe (Dolphins), Safety Ed Reed (Ravens), and WR Anquan Boldin (49ers), among others.

For the first time since the 2009 regular season finale, the Dolphins are preparing to face a defending Super Bowl champion with the Baltimore Ravens’ visit to Sun Life Stadium coming up on Sunday.

Because Super Bowl champions don’t become Super Bowl champions by accident, this has proven to be quite a challenge through the years.

The Dolphins will enter the game Sunday with an 8-15 regular season record against defending Super Bowl champions, although they have fared better in such games lately with a 5-5 mark over the past 15 years.

There was another game scheduled against a defending Super Bowl champion that never was played. In 1987, the one Dolphins game that was wiped out after the schedule was shrunk from 16 to 15 games because of the players’ strike was a matchup against the New York Giants, who had defeated the Denver Broncos in the previous Super Bowl.

The Dolphins also have faced a defending Super Bowl champion in the playoffs three times without any success, although it should be pointed out two of the losses came against teams that would go on to repeat — the 1998 Denver Broncos and the 1979 Pittsburgh Steelers.

In the regular season, the Dolphins have a 3-1 record against defending champs who would go on to repeat, with victories against Dallas in 1993, Denver in 1998 and New England in 2004 along with a loss to the Patriots in that ’04 season.

The game against Baltimore Sunday will come exactly 11 years after the Dolphins also faced a defending Super Bowl champion at home, in that case the New England Patriots. The Dolphins beat Tom Brady and company that day, pulling out a 26-13 victory.

Incidentally, that 2002 game also came after the Dolphins had started the season 3-0 before losing in Week 4. The one difference is that New England came to Miami that day with a 3-1 record, whereas the Ravens will bring a 2-2 mark.

That last fact, incidentally, is a rare occurrence for a Dolphins game against a defending Super Bowl champion. Excluding two season openers— in 2006 against Pittsburgh and in 1999 against Denver — only three times out of the other 21 games did the Dolphins face a defending Super Bowl champions that did not have a winning record.

In 2005, the Dolphins faced the 4-4 Patriots in Week 10; in 1997, they faced the 1-1 Green Bay Packers in Week 3; and in 1981, they faced the 4-6 Oakland Raiders in Week 11.

Overall, the Dolphins will take a better record than its opponent in a matchup against a defending Super Bowl champion for only the eighth time.

In a bizarre trend, the overwhelming majority of the Dolphins’ battles against defending Super Bowl champs have come late in the season, with only five of the previous 23 coming before the halfway mark. Those five include the two season openers, the 2002 game against New England, the Green Bay game in 1997, and another game against the Patriots in 2004.

This will be the 13th time the Dolphins have faced a defending Super Bowl champion at home — they had a 5-7 record in the first 12, compared to a 3-8 mark in road games.

The Dolphins have held their own in close games, splitting 10 matchups decided by seven points or less. At the other end, there has been only one Dolphins regular season game against a defending Super Bowl champion decided by 20 points or more, a 44-20 victory by the San Francisco 49ers in Miami in 1995.

When it comes to the significance of beating a defending Super Bowl champ in the regular season, the Dolphins have made the playoffs in four of the eight seasons where they’ve beaten the reigning champions. They’ve also finished with a winning record seven of those eight seasons, the only exception coming in 2004 when they stunned the New England Patriots, who would go on to repeat, in a Monday night game in December after coming in with a 2-11 record.

Here’s the complete rundown of the Dolphins’ victories against defending Super Bowl champions, along with the teams’ record at the time of the meeting:

2005, Week 17, Dolphins (8-7) beat New England (10-5) 28-26, finish the season 9-7
2004, Week 15, Dolphins (2-11) beat New England (12-1) 29-28, finish the season 4-12
2002, Week 5, Dolphins (3-1) beat New England (3-1) 26-13, finish the season 9-7
1999, Week 1, Dolphins (0-0) beat Denver (0-0) 38-21, finish the season 9-7
1998, Week 16, Dolphins (9-5) beat Denver (13-1) 31-21, finish the season 10-6
1993, Week 12, Dolphins (8-2) beat Dallas (8-3) 16-14, finish the season 9-7
1978, Week 10, Dolphins (6-3) beat Dallas (6-3) 23-16, finish the season 11-5
1971, Week 10, Dolphins (7-1-1) beat Baltimore (7-2) 17-14, finish the season 10-3-1

You look at this Ravens’ team and they are average, which is why they are (2-2). Coach John Harbaugh is a solid coach, who knows how to get his team to play.

He needs too, because Miami is coming home pissed off after getting their ASSES handed to them at the hands of the Saints on Monday night.

The Dolphins got WHACKED on Monday Night 38-10. Ryan Tannehill played horrible, 4 turnovers (3 INT’s, fumble lost).

Coach Joe Philbin and OC Mike Sherman needs to get Wallace the ball, and hopefully he will catch and make plays. 3 dropped balls is unacceptable. He needs to live up to that big contract.

One thing Miami has to do is get Mike Wallace involved.

Where’s Wallace?

Receiver Mike Wallace ranks fourth on the team in receptions through four weeks of the regular season. His only 100-yard game occurred in the Week 2 win over the Colts.

B. Hartline 21 33 272 2 68.0
C. Clay 20 25 245 1 61.3
B.Gibson 20 29 208 0 52.0
M. Wallace 15 28 176 1 44.0


 By Armando Salguero


            The Dolphins’ phrase for this week is “not sustainable.”

Joe Philbin used those words to make sure his players, stung by a blowout loss to New Orleans, understood giving up sacks at a team-record pace and yielding turnovers, including four last week, is “not sustainable” over an entire season.

“We are 3-1 at the present time,” Philbin said, “but some of these things aren’t going to lead to continued consistent success.”

Well, here’s something else that is “not sustainable” for the Dolphins:

Using Mike Wallace as he is currently being used — which is to say not nearly enough and, indeed, often misusing him to the point he is disappointed and worried about his first four regular-season weeks with his new team.

“I’m definitely worried about it because it’s Game Four,” Wallace said. “I’m not paranoid or anything, but in Week 4 it’s not the way I imagined my first four weeks going. Definitely not. I’m pretty sure it’s not the way anybody imagined it going.”

When the Dolphins signed Wallace to the biggest free agent contract they ever have offered, the idea was to have the proven deep-threat receiver bring a dimension to the offense that has been lacking since Irving Fryar in the early 1990s.

The Dolphins correctly believed they were getting a player who  could blow the top off the defense, as people in the league say, and  would do that consistently because he had done it for the Pittsburgh Steelers the previous four seasons.

But these first four games haven’t quite gone as planned. Wallace, a career 17.2-yards-per-catch receiver before he arrived, is averaging 11.7 yards now. The man who averaged eight touchdowns per season from 2009 through 2012 is on pace for four touchdowns this season.

“I know one thing — we’re not going to be able to go through a whole year like that,” Wallace said. “We have to make big plays. We have to back defenses up. That’s what we have to do. Extra film work, different plays, extra practice, whatever it is, whatever it’s going to take, we have to do it to get it done. We have to make big plays.

“I got to make big plays. That’s my main thing. I’ve been used to making big plays. And I definitely, definitely  can make big plays. That’s what I do. That’s why I came here. That’s why they signed me. It just hasn’t happened so far for one reason or another.”


There are a handful of reasons the Dolphins are not maximizing Wallace, and everyone involved is responsible for the problem. That means coaches, Wallace, quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and some other players.

Start with Wallace. He dropped a couple of passes against New Orleans, including one that might have been a long gain, if not a long touchdown. He acknowledged that.

“That’s me,” he said.

But that one opportunity for a long play aside, it’s otherwise not on him. Some is on the protection, because Tannehill, often under an angry rush, doesn’t have time to let deep plays develop.

Some is on Tannehill and Wallace as a battery because they have not developed a chemistry to rival that of Tannehill and Brian Hartline or even Tannehill and Brandon Gibson.

And a lot seems to be on Miami coaches, who simply are not tapping into Wallace as the resource he previously  has proved to be.

For instance:

When Wallace had his great seasons in Pittsburgh, then-offensive coordinator Bruce Arians moved him around the formation, sometimes placing him outside, sometimes in the slot, sometimes bunched near the line of scrimmage. Arians also put Wallace in motion ostensibly so defenders would have to chase the speedy receiver even before the play began.

The Dolphins rarely have put Wallace in motion in any game other than the one against Indianapolis. And, curiously, they line him up in the same place practically 90 percent of the time — out wide on the right side of the formation.


“Primarily, when we are in our quick tempo and moving things around, we want to get guys in a position where they can line up a little bit faster, get the play entry in and get the clock moving,” Philbin said. “That’s the primary reason.”

That’s a solid reason, but there are ramifications to that approach, the most obvious of which is it helps the defense, too.

“There will not be a lot of mysteries to what side … to where we line up,” Philbin said before launching a defense of the strategy. “… I can’t speak to how much of an advantage it is [for the defense].

“There’s different ways of doing it. I don’t know if there is any downside. That’s just a decision we made, and that’s how we do it. I don’t know if there is a specific downside to it.”

Here’s a downside, Coach: The Dolphins line up Wallace to the right and ask Tannehill to connect with him deep, although Tannehill is not all that effective throwing deep toward the right side.

Stats tell the story

According to the football metrics website, Tannehill has so far in his career completed 28 of 56 passes (50 percent completion rate) for 504 yards, with seven touchdowns and only one interception throwing passes of 10 yards or more in the air to his left.

Seven touchdowns, one interception throwing deep left.

On his throws of 10 yards or more to the right side in his NFL career, Tannehill has completed 34 of  75 passes (45 percent) for 799 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions.

One touchdown, three interceptions throwing deep right.

That’s not a coincidental statistic, as it spans 20 games. And the numbers for this year’s four games are more startling.

This season, Tannehill has completed 10 of 15 passes for 168 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions throwing passes beyond 10 yards to his left.

He has completed only 4 of 14 attempts for 84 yards without a touchdown or interception throwing to his right beyond 10 yards in the air.

“I don’t even think about it,” Tannehill said.

Perhaps he should start, because the facts are screaming at full throat, demanding that Tannehill improve his deep throws to the right and suggesting to coaches that if they want Tannehill and Wallace to connect more consistently, occasionally putting the receiver on the left side might help.

It also might help if Tannehill and Wallace grew closer. Although both say the right things about their professional relationship, it’s obvious to anyone with eyes Tannehill has a stronger bond with Hartline, who, by the way, almost always lines up on the left side.

Tannehill and Hartline clicked almost instantly last season even though the receiver missed most of the offseason and the entire preseason with an injury. The two come out early before games and toss the ball together. Often they sit next to each other on the bench.

Hartline is Tannehill’s go-to guy.

“I would say so,” Wallace said. “Maybe it’s because they played a whole year together. I don’t know. That’s they’re thing. They do what they do. They prepare how they prepare. I prepare how I prepare. I don’t know what they do together. Honestly, that’s their relationship.”

Dolphins coaches suggest time and hard work is the cure for this issue. That is interesting as both Wallace and Tannehill work as hard as anyone. The quarterback puts in long hours and the receiver regularly catches 250 passes each day, including 100 on the JUGS passing machine.

But those long hours and countless passes are not paying dividends yet.

Something has to change. And, in his mind, Wallace has marked the midway point of the season as his personal zero hour. He wants to see better results by Miami’s eighth game or he’s going to start getting “paranoid,” as he said.

“Then definitely something’s wrong,” he said. “And we’re almost there. We only have four more games before that. We’re already four games in. We don’t have too much longer to figure it out. We got to make it happen. I don’t know what we have to do

“We all got to do a better job and find a way to make it work.”

From: The Miami Dolphins defense has had a weakness in backs catching the football for the entire 2013 NFL season. No game was this exploited more thoroughly than their Monday Night Football match with the New Orleans Saints. Here we will take a look at some of the reasons why the defense has been weak to backs out of the backfield, exploring how the Dolphins might fix the leak in time for Sunday’s Week 5 contest with the Baltimore Ravens.   The Damage In the NFL, the film study and advance scouting processes evolve each and every week. Toward the beginning of the season when there is not much tape of teams available, the process of identifying and exploiting weaknesses can start off a little dull and unfocused. As teams continue to play, it sharpens. Below you will find the damage done by backs out of the backfield against the Dolphins defense, week by week, according to Pro Football Focus(subscription required):
Dolphins Defense vs. Backs in 2013
Week Targets Catches Yards YAC TD
1 7 3 40 33 0
2 5 5 31 45 0
3 8 6 65 75 1
4 15 13 157 162 1

Pro Football Focus

The ability for backs in particular to pull in yards after the catch against Miami’s coverage sharpened each week during the month of September, until the dam finally broke against the Saints on Monday Night Football. Some teams do not throw the football to the backs out of the backfield very many times in the game. It is just not part of some teams’ game plan. For example, the Miami Dolphins have thrown only 15 passes to backs out of their backfield over the course of the 2013 season, an average of under four times per game. The Baltimore Ravens are not the kind of team that will consistently ignore the backs coming out of the backfield. They do not necessarily feature them in the game plan as often as a Norv Turner, for example. However they will utilize the backs when the advance scouting calls for it. This is especially true when Ray Rice is healthy and playing. Given what New Orleans was able to do against the Dolphins, and given Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh’s stated intention to get Ray Rice going any way they can—including the passing game—one can bet on the Ravens featuring backs in the passing game. The last time they did this in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos, they threw to the backs 15 times with 11 catches for 47 yards, including 58 yards after the catch and a touchdown. Ray Rice in particular caught the ball eight times.   The WeaknessThe primary weakness the Dolphins have at times is due to the team’s disguise tendencies and pre-snap alignment. Below is an example against the New Orleans Saints. This play happened on the Saints’ very first drive of the game.

Strong safety Reshad Jones has man coverage responsibility on Darren Sproles, who has come out of the backfield and lined up in the slot to the left of Drew Brees. The Dolphins are in the midst of a disguised blitz look intended to overload the left side of the Saints offensive line. The problem starts before the ball is even snapped. In order to disguise the defense’s coverage, Jones stays deep in a Cover 2 look. This does not fool a quarterback like Drew Brees, who excels at reading the defense after the snap. All it does is assure that Jones has to take an atrocious angle to cover Sproles as he executes his wheel route. Below we see another example of disguise issues creating bad angles before the ball is even snapped.

On this play, the Dolphins show one of their favorite and most common pre-snap looks. They have both Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler up on the line of scrimmage pressing the two “A” gaps, threatening to blitz. Miami will often blitz one player and pull the other back into coverage. Sometimes they blitz both players. Sometimes both players will pull back into coverage. In this case, both players pull back into coverage. However the problem is Wheeler’s assignment is Darren Sproles out of the backfield. The pre-snap spacing between Wheeler and Sproles gives Wheeler an automatic disadvantage covering Sproles if he sprints out to the sideline, which he does. This is another example of how defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle has in many ways set linebacker Philip Wheeler up for the tough season he is having in coverage. This play gains nine yards for the Saints, and the Dolphins are lucky it did not gain more.   The SolutionMiami does not always shoot itself in the foot with respect to covering backs out of the backfield. Sometimes they line up with players in proper position to defend the plays. Here is an example of how a proper pre-snap alignment can put a player with a tough assignment in position to achieve relative success.

On the above play, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe has man coverage on Sproles out of the backfield. However, instead of showing a fake blitz prior to the start of the play, Ellerbe lines up with good spacing over the back in the backfield. Ellerbe does not hesitate in taking flight to cover Sproles on his route. Sproles had just hit the Dolphins up for a 48-yard gain on the previous play, and Ellerbe is keyed on him. Because on this occasion, defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle put his player in the best possible position to do his job, Ellerbe was able to hold Sproles to merely a 4-yard gain on the play. Below is an example of how the Baltimore Ravens might attempt to spring Ray Rice loose for gains in the passing game this Sunday.

As you can see, the Ravens start out with Rice in the backfield and then motion him out to the perimeter. This helps quarterback Joe Flacco identify the kind of coverage Rice is drawing, in this case man coverage. Rice also lines up in a stack behind a wide receiver. This keeps the man coverage from being able get an aggressive pre-snap alignment against Rice, and also keeps him from engaging Rice too early on the route. The alignment itself springs Rice open for what turns out to be a decent 7-yard gain that could have been higher if Rice had broken a tackle.   Conclusion Given the Ravens’ own ability to use alignment to create advantages for their backs coming out of the backfield, the Dolphins need to be careful with their pre-snap disguise tendencies which tend to put their defenders at an alignment disadvantage in their coverage assignments. If they do not pay heed to this, they could easily get hit for another long day trying to cover backs out of the backfield. And if that happens, it could open up other players for the Baltimore Ravens. Here are some more problems: The Dolphins’ issues in pass protection were well advertised heading into the game against the Saints, as the team had already allowed quarterback Ryan Tannehill to take 14 sacks during the first three games. Scoreboard pressure forced Miami to lengthen their focus in the passing game, which in turn necessitated that Tannehill hold the ball longer, allowing the Saints to exploit Miami’s weakness in pass protection with four more sacks. Finally, Miami’s weakness against tight ends was also demonstrable during the first three weeks. The Saints broke this weakness wide open by having tight ends Jimmy Graham and Ben Watson combine for 104 receiving yards on five catches, including three total touchdowns. It is not coincidental that the Dolphins’ margin of dominance has been diminishing week by week after a convincing two-touchdown win against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1. By Week 2 against the Indianapolis Colts, the Dolphins were hanging onto a four-point victory by surviving quarterback Andrew Luck‘s attempt at a final drive. By Week 3, the Dolphins were using a special teams fumble to steal a victory against an opponent that outplayed the team by many measures. By Week 4, the Dolphins were being blown out in front of a national television audience. The NFL is a competitive league, and the film study process, especially toward the beginning of the season, is able to be refined by opponents week after week. The weaknesses that led to the Dolphins being embarrassed on national television were not aberrant. They had persisted for a month. It would behoove the team to not be so quick to put the Saints loss behind them, because they will not win another game until they fix these weaknesses. In the past, head coach Joe Philbin has espoused two statistics that matter to him as temperature checks for where his team is and where they need to be. One of them is turnover differential. Philbin reiterated to the press recently that the Dolphins are the only team with a winning record and a negative turnover differential. The other statistic that Joe Philbin has espoused in the past is net yards per attempt differential between offense and defense. Using statistics from Pro Football Reference we find that the Dolphins currently rank 22nd in the NFL in the the differential between the offense’s net yards per pass attempt and the net yards per pass attempt allowed by the defense. From these we can surmise that in the eyes of the team’s head coach, the Dolphins are in trouble unless they can get their problems corrected in a hurry. Richie Incognito, the veteran offensive guard, had this to say about the anemic protection. Great article here: The offense is on pace to give up a franchise-record 72 sacks this season at the present pace, and veteran offensive guard Richie Incognitois fed up with the protection issues. He’s also tired of talking about the struggles.

<a href=”;;ptype=s;slug=fl-dolphins-notes-1003-20131002;ref=bleacherreportcom;pos=2;sz=234×60;tile=2;at=Sports;at=ProfessionalFootball;at=Football;at=MiamiDolphins;at=NewOrleansSaints;iab=sports?” target=”_b;rg=ur;u=ptype|s!pos|2!sz|234×60!;ord=5762550568? target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”><img scr=”;;ptype=s;slug=fl-dolphins-notes-1003-20131002;ref=bleacherreportcom;pos=2;sz=234×60;tile=2;at=Sports;at=ProfessionalFootball;at=Football;at=MiamiDolphins;at=NewOrleansSaints;iab=sports?” width=”234;rg=ur;u=ptype|s!pos|2!sz|234×60!;ord=5762550568? width=”234″ height=”60″ border=”0″ alt=”"></a&am”If we give up 72 sacks, everybody should be fired. The whole offensive line,” said Incognito, who has started the past three seasons at left guard for the Dolphins. “If [Ryan Tannehill] gets sacked 72 times there is obviously a major problem. I don’t think anybody can handle that many sacks.”

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin is quick to point out Miami’s 18 sacks is a “team” problem, and not just an offensive line issue. Miami’s tailbacks (Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas) have given up three sacks on poor blitz pickups. And the tight ends (Charles Clay and Dion Sims) have also allowed a sack a piece. Tannehill’s questionable pocket presence has also been responsible for a few. The Dolphins gave up all four of the team’s sacks to New Orleans in the third quarter, after the team was trailing 35-10 and the Saints defense was allowed to pin their ears back and hunt down Tannehill while Miami’s offense became pass-happy. “I’ve been on teams in St. Louis that gave up 50 sacks and it is not fun. We’ve been through many quarterbacks and it is our job to step up. There comes a point and time as a competitor where you have to say ‘this is enough,’ ” Incognito said. “We’re getting to that breaking point. We’re sick of hearing about it. We’re sick of talking about it every week. It just comes a point where you got to [man] up and get it done.” Things won’t get any easier for Miami considering Baltimore’s pass rush features Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. Dumervil has accounted for 65.5 sacks in seven seasons, and Suggs has contributed 88.5 in his 11 seasons.,0,1326680.story   The Ravens will be facing their former linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, and Ellerbe said, “It could be a little weird.” Here is the article: Dannell Ellerbe had a good time after his Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl. A really good time. Not just at the victory party in New Orleans, where Beyoncè and Jay Z were guests and Ray Lewis taught Mary J. Blige the Squirrel Dance. But for the next six or so weeks, he enjoyed the glow of being a champ. And then, the party stopped. His Super Bowl ring now sleeps in a safe. The reason: He wasn’t a Raven anymore. On the first day of free agency, Ellerbe signed a contract with the Miami Dolphins worth $35 million over five years. “I just don’t see a reason to walk around and wear [the ring] because I’m trying to get one here with the Dolphins,” Ellerbe said this week. Despite being the Baltimore’s defensive backbone during its title run – and giving the Ravens the right of first refusal on any other deal – he was only offered a below-market deal to stay. Make no mistake: If the Dolphins win Sunday, Ellerbe will most certainly celebrate. He’s facing the team that let him walk away. The defending world champion Ravens are coming to town, with a whole new cast of defensive characters. Ellerbe is in Miami, Ed Reed is in Houston and Lewis is in the broadcast booth. Even still, Ellerbe can expect more than a few pangs of sentimentality once the game arrives. He spent the first four years of his career in Baltimore, developing from a undrafted role player to a major factor in the middle. “It’s going to be business as usual, but I never experienced that before, so it could be a little weird,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.” Likewise on the Baltimore sideline, where the coaches know what’s in store with the league’s third-leading tackler (he has 38 on the year). After playing inside linebacker in the Ravens’ 3-4, he’s a true Mike defender now, running sideline-to-sideline, blowing up screen passes and dropping into coverage. “We see all the things that he ever meant to us here and even better,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “It seems like he’s taken his game to an even higher level.” Perhaps, but neither Ellerbe nor the entire group of linebackers have played to their maximum potential so far this season. The unit was victimized by Darren Sproles and Jimmy Graham in the Dolphins’ 38-17 loss to New Orleans, allowing the running back/tight end tandem to catch a combined 214 yards worth of passes and three touchdowns. Sproles ran for a score, too. Philip Wheeler, who’s also in his first year with Miami, has particularly struggled. Pro Football Focus grades him out as the worst starting 4-3 outside linebacker in the league through four weeks. “I’m my toughest critic, so I’m going to say I played decent,” said Wheeler, who did have a game-ending sack against the Colts in Week 2. “I could do a lot better. I plan to.” Ellerbe, likewise, hasn’t had a ton of big plays – aside from a fumble recovery during garbage time against the Saints. That needs to change, too, he said, and no better time than the present. “I know I can play a whole lot better,” Ellerbe said. “It’s still a learning process. … Coming from Ray running the show and me helping him out and now it’s me running the show and setting everything, I’m still getting used to that. “But I know I’m only going to get better and when it starts to become second nature without any thinking, it’s really going to be an awesome time to see me play.” • Despite not practicing Thursday, the Dolphins had to release an injury report. On it, there were two changes: LB Jason Trusnik and DB Don Jones, each held out of practice Wednesday, would have both had limited participation Thursday. Read more here:

My keys to the game:


1) Run Lamar Miller hard. Miller wants the ball early and often. He wants to prove that he can be an every down running back and make the fans of Miami chant his name. Despite the loss, the Dolphins still managed to run for 115 yards on 19 attempts as a team, with Miller leading the charge with 62 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, good for an average of 5.6 yards per carry.So Miami can run the ball, but what exactly does that mean against Baltimore? Take a look at the Ravens’ run defense and it means a clear advantage Miami has going into the game. The Ravens are currently ranked 16th against the run, allowing 106.8 yards per game. The Buffalo Bills were able to exploit this weakness by running for 203 yards on 55 carries, with 109 of those yards coming straight up the middle. Now the Dolphins likely won’t be running the ball 55 times, but that number should at least be in the 20s. With that number in the 20s, the majority of the carries should go to Lamar Miller. Ryan Tannehill should get a handful of carries as well, with Daniel Thomas being nowhere near the football field at any time during the game. Will the Dolphins do that? Sadly I don’t trust Mike Sherman to adjust to the opponent’s weakness and exploit it the way it should. However if he does and Miami is able to get the ground game going, the game will become that much easier for quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
2) Attack the Ravens’ secondary early and often.. There is no more Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Dannell Ellerbe on defense. Terrell Suggs and Daryl Smith are solid linebackers, but there secondary has been shredded this season.
3) Let Tannehill use his legs. Tannehill is an effective runner and showed his ability to do so, more in the latter part of the season. He ran for 48 yards on Monday.
4) Tannehill protect the ball and no turnovers. Tannehill has 5 INT’s, and 3 fumbles lost. Way TOO MANY!!! Protect the ball!!!!
5) Offensive Line needs to be better. The guys up front have to protect Tannehill better than they did last week. 18 sacks over 4 games is inexcusable. They need to stay at home and create room for Miller and Thomas. A balanced game will give the Dolphins’ a better chance to succeed.
6) Tanenehill better pocket awareness. If he is in trouble, throw the ball away. He doesn’t need to get sacked.
1) Attack the Ravens’ offensive line. From: By Thomas Galicia (Featured Columnist) on October 4, 2013.

I’m trying to turn my snark on, but it’s worth saying. Michael Oher has done more for Sandra Bullock than he has for Joe Flacco. Bullock won the Best Actress Academy Award for her portrayal of Oher’s guardian Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side.  Joe Flacco on the other hand may be a Super Bowl champion, but Oher hasn’t exactly been the best offensive lineman for Flacco or the Ravens. Currently he is Baltimore’s right tackle (ironically not protecting the blind side), but with the Ravens’ trade for Jacksonville’s Eugene Monroe, that could possibly change. As the bookend to Oher, you have Bryant McKinnie, who’s been one of the worst offensive linemen in the NFL this season to not play for the Miami Dolphins. As a whole, the Ravens have allowed 12 sacks in four games this season, which isn’t as many as the Dolphins have allowed, but still a concerning enough number that caused the Ravens to make the trade for Monroe (and make me wonder why Jeff Ireland didn’t step up to the plate to make an offer considering the Ravens are only giving up two mid-round picks). As much as Monroe helps the Ravens’ offensive line, either McKinnie or Oher will still wind up on the opposite side, which brings me back to last season when Monroe played for the Jaguars and Jacksonville played Miami. Monroe was excellent in that game, not allowing any pressure on Chad Henne, but that’s because the right side of the Jaguars offensive line was a virtual turnstile. It’s easy to see something similar occurring, especially with the possibility of Cameron Wake returning this week. Add in a very good pass rush up the middle thanks to Jared Odrick and the return of Paul Soliai, and the Dolphins can make it a very long afternoon for Joe Flacco. The last 2 weeks, the Dolphins have 2 sacks. UNACCEPTABLE!!!!

Hopefully Cameron Wake will play. He missed Monday Night’s game with the knee injury. He is listed as questionable. 2 sacks in 2 weeks. Someone needs to step up out of: Olivier Vernon, Dion Jordan, Derrick Shelby.

2) Stop Ray Rice when he runs and catches the ball. The Ravens’ goal this week, is to get Rice more touches. After what Sproles did to the Dolphins on Monday Night, Rice must be licking his chops. So, Memo to the defense: Stop Rice!!! He is one of the best backs in the game and needs to be stopped!!

3) Cornerbacks better be ready catch. Joe Flacco is 97-169 (57.4%), 1091 yards, 5 TD’s, 7 INT’s, 69.4 QB Rating., Flacco is a solid quarterback, but he is not great. This year, Flacco has been bad and hopefully will the Dolphins will force turnovers.

4) No big plays. Torrey Smith is Flacco’s big play guy, along with Rookie Marlon Brown. Smith has 21 catches/435 yards/TD. Brown has 14 catches/150 yards/3 TD’s. These 2 guys are REAL threats, so Brent Grimes, Reshad Jones better be aware.
5) Linebackers better not let Dallas Clark beat them. Graham beat the crap out of the Dolphins’ secondary. Be Aware!!! Clark is a crafty veteran who knows how to get open.
Special Teams:
1) Caleb Sturgis. Caleb has to make keep making his field goals and extra points, if they are presented which should happen. He is incredible. 7 of 7.
2) No big plays.
3) Make a play. Either a block kick or block a punt.
4) Marcus Thigpen. Thigpen needs to give Miami solid field position for Tannehill and company.
This is a winnable football game for Miami. They have taken down Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan.
As always, I predict the Dolphins to win and my prediction this week is: 24-14 Dolphins.
My predicted stats:
1) Tannehill = 25-335, 300 yards, 2 TD’s, 0 INT’s, 0 Fumbles
2) Wallace = 10 catches, 120 yards, TD
3) Hartline = 9 catches, 100 yards
4) Gibson = 6 catches, 70 yards
5) Clay = 6 catches, 65 yards, TD
6) Miller = 25 carries, 100 yards; TD
7) Sturgis = 42 yd FG, 3 extra points

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My name is Daniel. I love the Miami Dolphins (been a fan since I was 10)...

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